[r-t] Naming methods & compositional devices

Rebecca Cox r.j.cox at blueyonder.co.uk
Sat Aug 2 10:05:49 UTC 2008

I agree with much of Richard Smith's long message, which I think is very sensible.. 

The current CC decisions are based on a number of underlying assumptions, many of which I would disagree with, and it is these assumptions which dictate the way the decisions are formulated. 

There seems to be general agreement on this list that there needs to be a clear distinction between what constitutes a `peal' and how the changes in that peal are classified. Classification is important as it provides a way of telling what has been rung before and gives a common understanding of what was actually rung, however it is pretty arbitrary and could be done in a number of equally valid ways. The problems of classification should not stop the acceptance of a peal if it meets the basic criteria. It should be noted that at present (D)A defines `Conditions required for all peals' and D(A)11 insists that "The methods and calls used in all peals shall conform to the Definitions and Requirements given in Part A of the Decisions on Methods and Calls". If they don't then what you have rung does not conform so isn't a peal (at least in the CC's view). The analysis purely tells us which `peals' published in the RW didn't conform so aren't considered as peals.

The first assumption in the decisions is that methods can be treated as isolated individual objects separated from the real practical aspects of ringing. This is typified by the statement that calls are not part of a method. As Richard says calls are clearly necessary to do anything other than ring plain courses. Methods do have standard calls and they are the meta-data that provides the information necessary for real ringing.

Another assumption is that the basic building block of ringing is `the method'. I think this is also wrong; once we get past a single change then what we ring are `round blocks' which are usually composed of individual `blocks', smaller round blocks and calls. A method is one particular type of round block but there are others, touches, dixonoids, spliced, etc.

At present the word `method' is used in both a colloquial and a technical way. The definition of a method as I understand it is a round block of changes divisible into a number of equal parts (called leads) and not containing any calls, either explicitly or implicity. Thus the technical definition of a method clearly defines a whole course (a round block), however colloquially we use the term `method' for both shorter and longer versions. A `lead of a method' (a block), isn't the method itself, it is just a part of it, and a `half-lead' isn't even sufficient to define the method unambiguously without making assumptions. Until we have a clear separation of technical and colloquial terminology we will continue to struggle to define what we ring.

Tony Cox
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