[r-t] What is a 'regular' method

Don Morrison dfm at ringing.org
Mon Feb 6 14:22:55 UTC 2012

On Mon, Feb 6, 2012 at 5:46 AM, Graham John wrote, first quoting Philip Earis:
>> Conceptually, it seems to be a march down the "proscriptive"
>> rather than "descriptive" route
> I disagree. Just saying that method is regular or irregular is in no way proscribing what can be rung. We do however need clear definitions
> of terminology, classification and nomenclature.

Baloney. As soon as you attach a label like this it strongly affects
what people ring. Lots of interesting and worthwhile things are never
rung simply because of silly labels. There are huge swaths of ringers
it's impossible to get to ring some dynamite Treble Bob Methods simply
because their name is "<something> Treble Bob." Until recently,
Delight methods suffered a similar fate, that's probably now finally
being overcome simply because we're running low on decent, new, easy,
unnamed Surprise Major methods. And in the other direction, I believe
almost no one would ring Lincolnshire Surprise Major frequently if it
weren't one of the "Standard" eight.

Many of the things that are prohibited by your proposed definition of
"regular" are disliked only because we've been told for years to
dislike them. If we'd been brought up without these prejudices most of
us would not object to them now. I think were we starting from a slate
cleaned of prejudices, most of us would probably prefer some double
surprise methods to many of the 41.

Even worse, your proposed defintion is primarily a case of taking a
set of restrictions that produce a reasonably tidy and interesting set
of 41 methods, that are a pleasant collection to try to combine, and
arbitrarily extending that notion to all sorts of other places where
it makes no sense at all. As has been noted it's a horrible match for
odd bell methods. And its use just reinforces ill-thought-out
prejudices in major.

There may be reasons, such as ease of conducting or choice of name,
for choosing to ring, say, Holne Surprise Major instead of Double
Glasgow Surprise Major. But it would be sad to encourage folks to
think the former is somehow a significantly better method than the
latter. And yet that's exactly the message many take from the former
being described as regular and the latter as irregular.

Personally I prefer to refer to the minor methods as "the 41" or "the
book methods," but if we must have something like "regular" attaching
a value judgement to them, please let's not try to extend it further.
The fact that the use of "regular" is dying is a good thing.

Don Morrison <dfm at ringing.org>
"I don't understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I'm
frightened of the old ones."                -- John Cage, _Silence_

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