[r-t] 23 Spliced Treble Dodging Major (all the runs)

Philip Earis Earisp at rsc.org
Thu Jul 30 17:41:10 UTC 2009

This is a really good achievement by Alan, and I offer my congratulations. I'm especially keen as this mixes many concepts close to my heart - cyclic, mega-tittums, and multi-spliced - to a great symbiotic effect.

As he says, Superlative really comes to light in the mega-tittums coursing order of 8765432, with different cycles of runs around each half-lead and leadend. This was discussed on this list in March this year, after an initial reference to Muppet Show S Major (see eg <http://bellringers.net/pipermail/ringing-theory_bellringers.net/2009-March/002841.html>)

This property of Superlative has been exploited before, for example the coursing order comes towards the end of Tony Cox's classic 4-part composition:

5,120 Superlative Surprise Major
Anthony J Cox 

(25364)   1  1½  M  W 
 43526    s  -      3
 46352    s  -      -*
 26453           2   
4 part. Call Single for -* in alternate parts. 
Start and finish at treble snap.

Superlative in the mega-tittums course is a great lead to base a 7-part spliced composition around - I suspect Tony's influence is manifesting itself in Alan's compositions :-)

As Alan says, the mega-tittums coursing order is the same in every part, as it is invariant under the cyclic rotation. This of course means that you get the whole course of it just by having a single lead in each part (but conversely, you can only have one lead in each part).

Now the concept of progressively calling bobs to get to mega-tittums, having a lead to "cyclic shunt" as Alan puts it, and then reversing the concept is exciting, but not completely new.  Rob Lee sent this elegant prototype composition below to this list a couple of a years ago:

  5104 Spliced Maximus
  (4m: 1584 Avon D., Bristol S., Orion S.,
  352 Littleport Little S., 98 com, atw)
       234567890ET   Br
       795E3T20486   Br
       T0E89674523   Av
  14   ET089674523   Or
  16   0E9T8674523   Av
  18   908E7T64523   Or
  10   89706E5T423   Br
  10   ET029384567   Av
  18   0E9T8234567   Li
  16   908ET234567   Or
  14   890ET234567
  11 part.

And the concept was further used in spliced maximus compositions by me and then much improved versions by David Pipe.  With higher numbers of bells the intention of getting to mega-tittums is usually to exploit the majestic coursing music. However, DJP in his "Jupiter" 12-part classic uses the method Ganymede in the mega-tittums, and Amalthea around it, to produce shed-loads of unexpected runs.

Back on 8 bells, packing in all 96 runs is indeed what I'd call the "holy grail".  It's hard to describe how good a composition with so many runs sounds - there are orders of magnitude more runs than in most standard major compositions.

I think it was Alan who composed the first peal on this plan, as below:

  5376/5088/5024 6 Spliced Treble Dodging Major
  A G Reading

  2345678 Americium
 -2357486 Americium
 -2378564 Americium
(-2386745 Dunster
  5748623 Barnstormer
  4567382 Dunster
 s2836745 Bristol
 -3286745 Rare Hare
 -8326745 Bristol
 s8236745 Dunster
  5743682 Barnstormer
  4567238 Dunster
-)3826745 Gem
  7253486 Bristol
  5742638 Gem
 -6457823 Dunster
  3825764 Barnstormer
  2378456 Dunster
(s6547823 Bristol
 -4657823 Rare Hare
 -5467823 Bristol
s)5647823 Dunster 
  3824756 Barnstormer
  2378645 Dunster
  7 Part.

Whilst still very good, the composition makes use of extended blocks of bobbed / singled mx leads, meaning that runs of the same type get heavily concentrated together.

The calling structure of Alan's new 23-spliced is certainly, I feel, more elegant.  The challenge of squeezing all of the runs in takes much effort and many hours of playing around and frustration, as Alan alludes to.  I know only too well where he's coming from here, and to complete the puzzle without a computer shows considerable skill.

When putting together peal of spliced to try and pack in all the runs, there's a balance between retaining familiar methods and pushing up the run-count.  Sadly the two are not always compatible. Alan has pushed out in the direction of new methods here, with 18 of the 23 being unrung. The danger is the unfamiliarity pushes the composition beyond the range of even experienced bands. 

The new methods are certainly used to good effect, though, and there are some real "musical blockbuster" leads in the composition - the prospect of 10 runs coming in a lead has me salivating.  

Perhaps as a consequence of the way he put it together, many of Alan's new methods share similarities. This is not a problem per se, but of the 23 methods there is a distinct bias towards right-place overworks, or at least the first two sections.  Indeed, 17 of the methods begin -a-b-c-d , 18 if you include the 34-34 start instead.  

This is hard to tweak in a specific composition like this while maintaining the music - knock out one method and the danger is the whole house of cards comes down. Whilst more familiarity or range of methods would be preferable, that shouldn't detract too much from this composition.

There are parallels between Alan's composition and Rob Lee's new masterpiece, which should be unveiled shortly.  Rob has also obtained all 96 run rows in a cyclic peal of spliced, but with the added advantages of an elegant palindromic structure (leading to 12-spliced rather than 23), and a better mix of methods, with very varied over- and under-works. 

Alan's pioneering composition has shown what is possible, but Rob's will, I feel, set a new standard.  Alan and Rob, two of ringing's finest minds, are building on hundreds of years of compositional developments to raise the bar considerably higher. It's turning into a very exciting year for new compositions...



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