[r-t] Covering bells as degenerate hunt bells

Philip Earis pje24 at cantab.net
Sun Aug 3 20:46:12 UTC 2008

Many thanks to Graham, Don and MBD for all the further feedback. I've now 
made some further changes incorporating the specific points.

The main stumbling block seems to be the point about whether a method is 
different when different cover bells, leading bells etc are added.  I do 
have a lot of sympathy with Don when he says,

"What's wrong with just coming up with some simple, plain, understandable to 
non-specialists language that says "you have N bells changing positions, and 
that's the stage and method we'll record; you can also have as many other 
bells ringing at the same time but not changing positions as you like". I 
haven't thought how to word that formally, but I think the idea is sound".

This may indeed be the way forward.  However, at the risk of sacrificing 
myself on the altar of ideological purity, my gut feel is that at a basic 
level a method is defined by its notation, and covering bells etc should be 
incorporated into this if they exist. The simplest consistent way of 
describing things will be the best.

To do otherwise immediately introduces lots of (intractable) inconsistencies 
regarding "variable cover, etc". It's a tricky one.  Though after all, even 
under the current rules Arist Royal is a different method from, say, Plain 
Bob Major.

"I therefore think that a few of your changes which result in renaming 
method classes or making all place notation even-bell, except in a few 
clearly argued cases, should be avoided"

Leaving aside the even-bell argument, which of my changes would result in 
renaming method classes?

Graham again:
"...Then, separate from the decisions we can move all the method stuff in 
(E) into a technical dictionary and classification system. I feel that this 
should be much broader than methods, covering definitions of any technical 
term associated with change ringing, with examples to help understanding"

I do thing this could be potentially attractive.  The problem, though, is 
that Tony Smith's current view is the diametric opposite: he thinks we 
should have very strict rules regarding methods, and be absolutely adamant 
that peals have to be in "recognised methods".

Now I feel a peal is fundamentally a standardised performance for a few 
hours.  Tony's argument is that nothing is stopping people ringing such 
performances at the moment - his (and Robin Wooley etc) view is why do 
ringers feel the need for "non-compliant" performances to be "recognised" in 
a way that meets the current method descriptions?

As such, without liberalising what constitutes a method I fear we may never 
break out of the present restrictive and vicious cycle.

Don again:
"I believe what you have written here requires a peal of covered doubles to 
include multiples of six of what we would today consider extents of doubles, 
one with each bell in turn covering. Otherwise you don't end up with an 
extent of minor, which it is my understanding you are asserting covered 
doubles will be viewed as. I doubt this is what you intend, but it appears 
to be what is being said, at least when I combine the language here with 
your explanations elsewhere"

Agreed.  This may need more thinking about.  I don't actually have much of a 
problem with what you call "mixed stages" though - but I agree this could 
currently be less liberalising.  At least it is consistent though.  How 
would the current decisions treat a peal of mixed minimus, doubles, minor 
and triples?  It doesn't seem clear.  At the least, my decisions are clear.

Don again:
"That's three methods, (a), (b)+(b*), and (c). Which is Plain Bob Major? 
Which is Plain Bob Triples? And what's the third one called?"

It boils down to a claissification problem.  Your method (a) is plain bob 
major. I'd list (b) and (b*) (which are the same method) in the major lists 
as "Plain Bob Triples". So the absolutely formal name I suppose would could 
be "Plain Bob Triples Major", but it would still universally be known even 
under the current name.

Any classification system can seem a bit strange when applied retro-actively 
to names which have been given under various systems over hundreds of years.

Indeed, whilst this example under my Decisions may sound a bit peculiar, 
such things still often happen with the current system - some bits of method 
names are nearly always ignored (the RW prints plenty of peals as Reverse 
Canterbury, ignoring the "Pleasure Place" bit, for example).

Method (c) would be formally Plain Bob Triples.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: Don Morrison
To: Ringing Theory List
Sent: Sunday, August 03, 2008 8:27 PM
Subject: [r-t] Covering bells as degenerate hunt bells

Regarding your proposal to view covered lower stages as really
being rung at the higher stage, and notated and recorded as such:

In the Wiki in response to something I wrote you replied 'Eh? This
seems wrong on two counts. Firstly the concept of "variable cover"
disappears under my Decisions. The variable cover bit would just be
achieved with calls.' My apologies for not being clear. I was not
trying to imply it should be called variable cover in the future, I
was just trying to describe what I was postulating might be rung,
using the currently blessed terminology. I understand, and I think
agree, that variable cover is more a matter of the calls than of the

More generally, though, I think one of us is not understanding the
other correctly. Odds are it's me not understanding you correctly.
Anyway, in an attempt to get me onto the same page as you, here are
some concrete examples that may help clarify things.

Imagine I am a part of a band that rings four peals.

a) One is of what today we think of as Plain Bob Major, rung on eight

b) The second is of what today we think of as Plain Bob Triples, rung on
eight bells with the tenor covering throughout.

b*) The third is of what today would be called Plain Bob Variable Cover
Triples, rung on eight bells with a variety of different bells
covering at different points during the peal.

c) The fourth is of what today would be called Plain Bob Triples, rung
uncovered on seven bells.

As I understand what you have suggested both (b) and (b*) are really
eight bell methods, with one bell making really long eighths. I
further believe you are asserting that they are the same method, which
seems reasonable. The case in (a) is also an eight bell method, but
clearly a different one than (b) and (b*). The case in (c) is a seven
bell method, and is thus distinct from (a) and from (b)+(b*).

That's three methods, (a), (b)+(b*), and (c). Which is Plain Bob
Major? Which is Plain Bob Triples? And what's the third one called?

In particular, what do I write down when I send each of the four peals
(a), (b), (b*) and (c) to the Ringing World for publication?

More information about the ringing-theory mailing list