[r-t] History

King, Peter R peter.king at imperial.ac.uk
Sun Jun 8 07:48:03 UTC 2014

>5040 might not look like such a nice round number, and may look
>certainly no better than 5000, but in fact it is your base-10 prejudices
>which lead you to conclude that.

I would agree with this except that this concept of purity seems to go out of the window for 8 or more bells. I agree entirely that 7! is the number of permutations of 7 things regardless of base and as such would be a sensible starting point for a definition. I think most people would accept that ringing the extent on 8 or more is impractical (for most people). But, by its construction, you could argue that 7! is just as much a basis for constructing 8!, 9! and so on. In which case all peals should have a minimum length of 5040 as this number is "unsullied" by working in base 10. But, for whatever reason, it was decided that peals of 8 or more should be at least 5000 changes, so the history of the art is already "impure" in that sense. It seems logical to pick a number (arbitrary as it may be) and apply it to all stages. What is illogical is to argue mathematical elegence for 7 or less and convenience for 8 or more.

Furthermore peal ringing isn't everything. there are plenty of bands for which a quarter is a major achievement. Whilst many take the view that 1/4s don't really matter & I see no reference to 1/4s in the decisions I think it would be sensible to bring the definitions in line. In which case there is again an inconsistency. If a peal on 7 or less is to 5040 then 1/4s should be at least 1260 & not 1250. Also they should consist of roundblocks (minimus, doubles) or have no row rung more than twice (minor). I this week's RW there is a 1/4 of 1290 doubles and one of 1252. Now I'm not suggesting a quarter peal police go  out and eradicate these performances after closely interrogating the band but some clarity might help bands for whom such a performance is just as much a challenge as a long length of spliced non-method lock 16 is to others.

Finally on the issue of how to achieve change I think the methods committee and the CC would be perfectly amenable to positive suggestions for what an alternative, cleaner set of decisions might look like, perhaps this list, whose members are predominantly concerned with compositions, method structure, innovations in change ringing would be best placed to formulate some suggestions. My vote would be for a clear distinction between "rules" ie what defines change ringing a peal a quarter etc and definitions, how you would describe that performance to a reasonably average ringer (ie not too technical). The current Decisions mix these two up. I would also suggest that the least number of rules the better.

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