[r-t] Anything Goes vs Peals Mean Something

ted.steele at tesco.net ted.steele at tesco.net
Mon Aug 11 15:08:17 UTC 2008

Several people wrote at length about truth in peals; the total being about as free of repetition as a peal of singles.

If any row occurs twice in a touch (peal length or otherwise) then the touch is false. No ifs, buts or maybes; it’s false. 

A row is the sequence of bells as they are heard and thus includes any cover or any other fixed bell; the entire row has to be true. A row sounds the same however we might describe it. Our ultimate object is to “ring the changes” not describe them or compose them (however interesting those things may be). Any two rows with the same bells in the same order are the same row and will sound the same regardless of the changes required to produce them, whether we consider those changes in terms of permutations, splices, calls, methods, variable covers or any other device capable of altering the order in which bells are rung or numbers are written down.

A touch does not become true by saying that within a repeated row some of the bells are ringing a different method or stage than in its double; it remains the same row and it’s false.

Peals have to be composed of true touches, being extents as far as possible on seven or less; that has been determined by convention over many years. Ringing without repetition of rows as they are heard is the basis of “ringing the changes”.

The convention of truth applies equally to short touches, by consensus and custom if nothing else as well as to peals, so I think all this stuff about proving truth may have to be adjusted to include that; it is not just about peals. Has no-one considered the implications for a 720 of minor or a 120 of doubles, either of which are standard components of peals now apart from being rung frequently for their own sake? Perhaps this is well covered but the arguments so far have become so confusing as to leave me unsure.

The composer’s task is and has always been to achieve the desired length and the best possible music within the constraints of the method(s) being rung and without repeating rows. Why devalue that by trying to make repeated rows acceptable in higher stages? The chances of the CCCBR and, more importantly the exercise at large accepting such a concept is about zero I think. If one wants to mix stages and methods what is the objection to having to ensure that whole rows remain true? It may make composition more difficult but when was that anything other than a welcome challenge to composers? 

We could go on forever finding different circumstances that need to be accommodated within  the rules. What happens if a clapper drops out mid-peal but ringing continues? Do we now have a variable stage peal, a normal peal with one silent bell, a false peal (because *2345 will sound the same, apart from the gap as 2*345 and 2345*)? What if the chap drumming the tenor decides to pack up and go home? Since we can mix covers and splice odd and even stages presumably it’s also acceptable to mix cover with no cover. Suppose someone really clever decided to ring at Rugby’s twin towers using both rings: doubles on the light five and covered triples on the eight, spaced out so that all the rows interlock neatly to sound like continuous 13 bell ringing. Do we have two separate peals with very wide leads, a single peal of mixed stage maximus with a cover or just a very clever performance that might very well be worth recording as a curiosity? The possibilities are endless. 

Efforts to find rules that allow every conceivable innovation have led to the whole discussion becoming rather ridiculous and the reasonable aim of finding ways to better encourage and facilitate innovation has been left way behind. If discussion of something as fundamental as truth can only lead to this then I dread moving on to methods, compositions and calls.

The nature of change production is such that similar rows can be reached and described in several ways but it is the rows that we ring and hear in their different relationships to each other and not the rules that were followed to get them there. The truth or falseness that exists between rows is an absolute and our conventions are very clear that repetition is only acceptable where it is unavoidable. So why not stop trying to reinvent change-ringing and start looking at ways in which the CCCBR might be compelled to publicise, record and report upon new innovations when included in peals and to amend its decisions appropriately where these seem worthwhile? This at least may be achievable.


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