[r-t] A caters stimulus package?

Alexander Holroyd holroyd at math.ubc.ca
Mon Dec 21 05:36:49 UTC 2009

I hadn't really thought about it before, but I'm inclined to agree with 
Philip here:

> It's hard to know what to say about Caters. And whilst you could 
> interpret that as I don't know what I'm saying about Caters, there is 
> some clear evidence suggesting that there isn't in fact much new to say. 
> The stage is really rather moribund in many regards. Whether a cause, an 
> effect or both, it undoubtedly remains dominated by Stedman and 
> Grandsire.

With a few notable exceptions such as Flada (an ambitious stab in a 
promising new direction), the usual diet is indeed a bland mix of 
Grandsire, Stedman, and occasional Erin.  All decent methods and 
well-known (obviously), but perhaps not the way to get the best out of 
caters.  The innovative compositions in these three methods that Philip 
highlighted are impressive, and doubtless fun to ring (although probably 
most of all fun for their composers).  But I can't help feeling that, 
while not flogging a dead horse, this exercise is maybe over-riding a 
horse that would be happier left out to pasture.

One can make a case that Caters should have the most to offer of any 
stage.  On the practical side, decent ringing is for many bands far more 
within reach than in royal, cinques, or max.  To many, the rhythm and 
harmony of 10 bells is particularly special.  A peal is only 1/72 of the 
extent, so falseness should be barely an issue.  And most importantly, 
there is vast opportunity for music:

- there are 480 possible 5-runs front or back (1/11 of a peal) and a 
whopping 2880 4-runs (> 1/2 a peal) available - has any composition ever 
come anywhere close to realising this?  I doubt it.  (For comparison, my 
5022 Erin, imagined by some to be good for its run-music, has a puny 216 
4-runs at the back).

- as exploited even in traditional compositions, the tenor behind means 
that a good fraction of all back-bell combinations sound good, and lots 
are really good: try a few unusual ones -97680 -98760 -97860 -96780 

- 9 bells is enough that some "higher numbers effects" such as 
mega-tittums can be expolited to good effect.

- I will make the bold claim that in caters, no row sounds really 
objectionable.  (Compare: while baulking at 82's and 87's in major may be 
out of fashion, there are plenty of unpalatable max rows.)  So you don't 
need to worry much that your clever turning course will bring up grimaces 

It seems to me that something should be done about this situation, and the 
readers of this list are the likely folks to do it.

So, I propose a Christmas challenge:

Produce a composition that realises the true musical potential of caters. 
It doesn't need to be fiendishly hard, of course - probably better for 
wide adoption if it's not.  But it certainly requires major innovation, 
and, it would appear, new method(s).


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