[r-t] FCHs

edward martin edward.w.martin at gmail.com
Mon May 24 10:28:11 UTC 2010

On 21 May 2010 21:50, Mark Davies <mark at snowtiger.net> wrote:
> GACJ writes,
>> Yes, but perhaps it is because they had proved everything to their
>> satisfaction with Minor, where the problem doesn't occur because of the
>> nature of the rows. They then just applied the same logic of checking the
>> leadheads and leadends.
> Hmm, possibly. But I don't buy that either - the nature of the rows had been
> known for over a century, and they knew all too clearly that Grandsire
> Doubles was a completely different beast from Grandsire Triples (for
> example). Blindly applying rules from six bells to eight doesn't sound like
> something your average 18th Century hotshot should have done.

Coming in a tad late...as a would-be historian I find it very hard to
think the way that they did. I can understand how In Stedman’s day the
tried & true formula for the extent on N bells was to plain hunt the
treble through the extent of N-1. The revolution of the century was to
apply the treble’s leads of Reverse Grandsire Doubles to the treble’s
leads of plain hunt minor to give us a ‘new’ 720 requiring only two
single changes. To Stedman & his mates it was realised that this could
equally be applied to any six bell method, treble dodging or no; So
far so good. But then, the next generation who were the first with the
concept that a method has a plain course with bobs to be used to
lengthen it drew away from these sound concepts and couldn’t see why
(for example) the 5040 of either Grandsire or Stedman Triples could
not be had by joining course to course using only common bobs.
Benjamin Annables was the first to get away from the old idea of using
hunts in Bob Major by creating plain course structure with 7-8
unaffected and using bobs that kept them in their plain course
relationship. You would think that surely here is a man who understood
composition in a more modern sense,  yet his notebook contains many
asymmetric 6-bell methods  that are just not capable of producing a
true 720. Perhaps it didn’t matter...this asymmetric stuff was fun to

Another point is one of communication. There wasn’t all that much
being rung on 8 bells and compositions for 7 or 8 would have passed
among friends or by word of mouth so that only the centres of advanced
ringing were in a position to discuss problems of composition and this
discussion would only be communicated via spies to other centres of
advanced ringing. Again, for example apart from private notebooks and
the like, there was no means of public communication other than via
the printed word which for the first half of the 18th century meant
the book Campanalogia Improved. This went through ‘editions’ in 1702,
1705, 1733, 1751 and 1766 although each ‘edition’ was little more than
the same old stuff with little new being added. What we now call
Oxford Treble Bob Major first appeared in the 1766 edition together
with a comp for 5120 (a five part called with 4 bobs Before, 2 Wrongs
& 2 Homes per part) However, the 1788book ‘The Clavis’ tells us that
this method and the same 5120 was first rung “performed by the Union
Scholars on December27, 1718, at St. Dunstan’s in the East, near
Billingsgate” ie 48 years before it was made common knowledge.
I think it quite reasonable that (as we are again told in The Clavis)
several composers had a go at 5000s of Oxford TB Major following the
idea of joining course to course by checking only as per Ben Annables
and the horror when it was revealed in  1768 that you needed to check
not only the treble;’s full leads but also her snap leads each aginst
the other. What is incredible is the fact that it was not until 1788
that it was made known that repetition might also occur when treble
was dodging elsewhere. But that’s how it was!
I believe that it was pure luck that the first comp of Oxford TB Major was true


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