[r-t] A renaissance in Triples composition

Don Morrison dfm at ringing.org
Sat Aug 9 02:18:40 UTC 2008

On Fri, Aug 8, 2008 at 7:44 PM, Mark Davies <mark at snowtiger.net> wrote:
> Actually the possibilities for 5040+ change peals of Triples are a lot more
> exciting than I thought.

I think this is typical, though in your case an unusually rapid

Several folks have commented, either publicly or privately, in ways
that seem to imply "but why bother worrying about loosening these
rules that you claim are so arbitrary--do you have something that is
worth ringing that is prohibted by the current rules?" Which, of
course, is also the implicit position of the current rules--you are
required to break them and justify forgiveness of that action as a
precondition to getting them relaxed.

Part of why I think I object to this is that it does indeed constrain
the interesting things we look for. We are so shackled by our
preconceptions, that we don't look for things that break the rules.
Why invest all that effort in things that are against the rules, and
that you have to work harder to convince people to ring, than in
things that fit within the rules and will receive a warmer reception?

I think an example of this is probably some of the wonderful advances
in minor ringing made in recent years.

My understanding, which may be flawed, is that all the fights over how
restrictive or lax the rules about multi-extent blocks would be
concerned mostly single methods, or at least not radically ground
breaking spliced. Eventually it evolved into the current, I think far
more sensible, acceptance of a broader standard than many wanted to
enforce in the past, but without any showing anything truly ground
breaking. When first accepted it was mostly for entertainment value. I
think a lot of folks find ringing Roger Bailey's 5,040 of Cambridge
more fun than ringing seven extents, even seven different extents, of
it. But is more for mild entertainment and novelty.

Subsequent to that loosening of the rules, however, there have been
real strides forward. In particular, the wonderful splices using
singles across blocks that are individually false, but collaboratively
trued, devised first I think by Philip Saddleton, that have led to so
much of the revolution in spliced minor ringing.

Philip will have to correct me if my conjecture here is false. But I
suspect that a natural precondition to his putting so much effort into
discovering these splices, which have been so widely developed by
others as well now, was that the ground work of making such
constructions legal had gone on before. If at the time he started this
work it were still the case that peals were only allowed to contain
whole, true blocks, possbily joined by rows other than rounds, but
having to each be true individually, I suspect he would not have been
as motivated to search for the wonderful solutions that are now so
widely rung. After all, even if he found them they were illegal and it
would have been hard to get folks interested in ringing them.

If my guess here is true (I obviously can't know what Philip's
motivations were) then this is an excellent example of where broadening
the rules by eliminating arbitrary restrictions was a good thing that
led to useful, valued discoveries. And that leaving such arbitrary
restrictions in place until such discoveries had been made to justify
such relaxation would have prevented them being made altogether.

And this whole example raises another interesting comparison for a
point Mark holds dear to his heart.

As far as I know we still can't get all 41 book minor methods into
seven extents of minor. This was a long standing thing folks would
have liked to do, but can't. Has the ability to get them all into some
MEBs cheapened the world of minor ringing, or devalued the efforts of
the earlier composers? I don't think so. I think it has enriched it. I
may be mistaken, but I think some folks that in the past weren't very
interested in ringing minor have gone out of their way to ring, and
enjoy ringing, the 41 stitched together. Or even more rarefied things.

I don't think the efforts of the great Grandsire Triples composers of
the past will in any way be cheapened if someone makes a common bobs
only 5,025, or 5,053. It might even rekindle some interest in a method
of great historic interest, that is really far more fun to ring than
many give it credit for. I am personally a little sad at how interest
in it has apparently declined in recent years.

Don Morrison <dfm at ringing.org>
"It's amazing how people define roles for themselves and put handcuffs
on their experience and are constantly surprised at the things a
roulette universe spins at them."       -- Terry Pratchett, _Hogfather_

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