[r-t] New Grandsire [was Old methods]

Philip Earis pje24 at cantab.net
Fri Jul 18 05:58:34 UTC 2008

Matthew Frye:
"...so is there anywhere i could catch up on what exactly PJE's problems 
with the CC decisions are? Perhaps something to back up the statement about 
arguments being "complete rubbish" and "intellectually bankrupt". And more 
interestingly, his suggested changes/replacements for the existing 

Don did a very good job at outlining the philosophical objections. Basically 
the decisions say "this is allowed" and "this is not allowed", based purely 
on personal preferences and without good reason.  This becomes very 
arbitrary. I'm at a complete loss to know why some people don't want to 
recognise, say, methods with six consecutive blows. The reasoning seems to 
be "They are unfamiliar (not currently rung much) and I don't like the 
thought of them, so lets ban them". This is not a sensible framework to 
operate from.

It would be easy but incorrect to take the Robin Woolley view assume that 
the decisions protect the "historic purity" of what was rung in the past. 
But a large proportion of methods featured in the classic ringing texts of 
the 17th and 18th century fall foul.  Also many classic things ring by the 
top bands in the 19th century (eg Stedman minor, first pealed in 1819 to a 
Thomas Thurstans composition; Stedman major was first pealed in 1856 
conducted by Henry Johnson).

And if you actually speak to Tony Smith (and others currently on the methods 
committee), you find out that they are personally a lot more extreme than 
the wording of the decisions. I could give many examples.

Matthew again:
"I think that you seem to be attributing a lot of blame to the conservatism 
of the decisions where i believe that the conservatism of ringers in general 
plays a far bigger role"

I agree that ringers can be very conservative (and I also fully endorse what 
you say about Erin), but to my mind this doesn't mean that we should merely 
do nothing whilst the current decisions are so unhelpful.  To give a couple 
of examples about the power of liberalising decisions, I would say two of 
the biggest areas where ringing has seen growth and innovation in the past 
50 years are in compositions of surprise major (and above) being more 
musical, and in spliced minor. Now interesting both of these had previously 
been held up I think by former miserable decisions - I believe you weren't 
allowed to have singles in surprise methods until (I think) the 1960s, 
whilst multi-extent blocks of minor (with a couple of exceptions) were not 
allowed until more recently.  When the decisions were removed, people really 
started innovating, with great effect.

Matthew again:
"Are you seriously suggesting that all peals of Grandsire with singles (ie. 
all doubles, practically all triples and a lot at higher stages) be 
described as spliced? And is this the start of a campaign against doubles 

The point is tue current decisions don't even classify things well either. 
Grandsire originated as a very neat half-extent of doubles. The tragedy was 
that when people tried to reverse-engineer it to get a plain course, they 
chose the "plain" leads as the plain course, instead of what we know as the 
"bobbed" lead".  This has caused problems ever since. If what we call the 
"bobbed" lead is used for the plain course, everything becomes so much more 
elegant - you have conventional symmetry, the coursing order is preserved 
throughout the course, singles only act over one row, and the method is 
conceptually simpler and easier to ring (ringers tend to go wrong at 
"plains" in my experience)!

Interestingly, I strongly suspect the proto- Tony Smiths screwed up the 
definition of the plain course because in doubles a course of what we call 
"bobbed" leads gives you what Tony would describe as a "differential 
hunter", ie first lead head = 14523.  So this is another example of where 
aversion to the unfamiliar has made things a lot worse.

Doubles variations also don't exist - these are half-lead spliced.

A couple of people have also talked about variable hunt cinques, etc.  This 
is another failure on behalf of the method committee, firstly in the 
reluctance to permit something, and then in that the description they used 
is incredibly inelegant.  It is a lot neater to describe "variable hunt 
stedman cinques" simply as stedman maximus.  But they felt unable to do this 
due to six consecutive blows.

Robin Woolley ranting:
"...By the way, I look forward to the publication of the 'Earis Dictionary 
of Synonyms' containing the entry 'Analysis = Recognition"..."

You are being very disingenuous when say this. Firstly from a practical 
viewpoint this is not being followed (see Richard Smith's examples, I have 
also rung several further peals since 2002 that the RW refused to publish in 
any format and which have probable dropped out of the record accordingly). 
Secondly, and more importantly, you seem to be saying there's no point 
wanting to change the decisions because you don't have to stick to them 
anyway.  In which case, what's the point of them existing at all?

Andrew Craddock:
"The issues faced by church bell ringers are, in general, quite different 
from those faced by peal ringers.  We would be better served by having two 
smaller organisations so that the issues can be discussed properly by the 
appropriate people and not rushed through to accommodate a crowded agenda"

I pretty much agree with this.

Graham John:
"Everyone who criticises the current decisions underestimates the
difficulty of coming up with a replacement set. In practice, gaining
consensus on the detailed definitions is fraught with problems, as Don has 

I agree you will not get complete consensus (there are seemingly a number of 
ayatollahs kicking around), but I disagree that drawing up some replacement 
decisions is difficult.  I think we only need to go to the lowest common 
denominator of what is change ringing.  As such, the decisions need only to 
be based around two words:

"true permutations".

Of course, you need to define true (for multiple-extent peals), and formally 
define permutations. But that's about all.  Add in a couple of conditions 
for peals (eg length - 5000+ changes would satisfy the lowest common 
denominator approach), and you're there.

MBD tried to create some alternative decisions a few years ago.  Whilst they 
were some improvement in places, I think he failed because he started from 
the current set, and tried to tweak them. Them current decisions are already 
an inconsistent set without an underpinning framework - I leaky patched-up 
boat that is sinking, if you will.  Applying a few cosmetic changes won't 
solve the problem.

Right, I need to go to work.  I've written this in a great hurry, and it is 
already quite long.  But I hope you can see where I'm coming from.

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