[r-t] History

Mark Davies mark at snowtiger.net
Fri Jun 6 08:28:38 UTC 2014

Pete King writes,

 > On the whole I think it is probably best to get away from the
 > preconceptions that existing decisions have left and start again.
 > If you were inventing change ringing now how would you do it?
 > I think you would find that the fewer restrictions there
 > are the easier it would be to capture the history as well.

An interesting point. Do we want innovation in change-ringing whilst 
respecting our Art's long and fascinating history? I think we absolutely do.

In the early days of changeringing, the extent was all. Grandsire 
Doubles was not viewed as a method with a plain course and calls; rather 
the "sixscore" was the basic unit which was rung. Whilst we have moved 
on from this perspective, I think it has an important legacy for us today:

1. The extent is more important than we realise. I think in some senses 
it is at the heart of our concept of truth. It has certainly been the 
focus of changeringing technology for four hundred years, and I believe 
one corollary is that a peal of Triples really ought to be nothing less 
than 5040 true changes, if we are not to wipe out those centuries.

2. Conversely, the method is probably not as important as we like to 
think. So, should we care if the method is false in the "plain" course, 
if we have true peals and even extents of it? Of course not.

The concept of the round block was also well-known from the earliest 
days, and I think too often we forget the importance of that, too. A 
touch rotated to a different starting point is still the same touch. A 
method started from a different place to usual is still the same method.

Given that, should we care if a composition (like Don's) calls for 
various different starts in the same method? I don't think so. It looks 
like a fun and interesting thing to ring. It's clearly the same method 
all the way through.

However it does raise some questions. It feels like something is 
happening in Don's peal that is more than just ringing Cambridge with 
unusual calls. There are no changes of method, but there are "changes of 
start", and it is conceivable that with very small snippets of a method 
being rung, questions about all-the-work and doubts about whether one 
has even rung the method could be raised.

Again looking to our history, in the 1930s there were similar 
uncertainties about "normal" Spliced. These were gradually resolved into 
the understanding we have today. Perhaps all we need is some new terms - 
"120 changes of start, 90 changes of method".


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