richard at ex-parrot.com
Mon Jun 9 11:16:07 UTC 2014
Don Morrison wrote, quoting Graham John:
>> change is then not a change, you just do not count it as
>> a change.
> I'm sorry, but I think this is an exceedingly ill-advised
I'm broadly with Don on this one. Defining the null change
not to be a change, and therefore not contributing to the
length of the performance seems wrong to me. If you ring
Don's 240 of PB5, it's clearly a 240 not a 238.
I think part of the problem is one of terminology. We talk
about the number of changes in a touch or a peal, whereas we
probably really mean the number of rows. For a normal round
block, they're the same, but as Don said "What we ringers
ring are rows, not changes." The use of the word 'changes'
to refer to the length is an anomaly that exists because
historically the word 'changes' was used to mean both
changes and rows.
Let's have a definition saying
The /length/ of a piece of change ringing is defined to be
the number of rows rung. [Note: In everyday usage it is
common to use the term /number of changes/ or simply
/changes/ or to refer to length. For a round block, the
number of changes rung and the number of rows are the
This definition has a number of advantages.
- It goes some way to acknowledging the explanation of the
term 'true changes'. It's not the changes that are true:
it is the rows.
- In Don's 240 of Plain Bob, it still 240 rows long, even if
you accept Graham's definition with the result that it only
encompasses 238 changes.
- The 5039 of Grandsire at Garlickhythe would be described
as a 5040, but not a round block. This is a more accurate
description as the whole point was that it included all 5040
To return to the null change and whether or not it is a
change, personally I think it is preferable to have a broad
definition of basic concepts like a change. I've said
before that a clear generally accepted list of definitions
is something beneficial that the CC should be providing.
But they should be useful for discussion and description,
rather than just regulation.
For the former purpose, it's pretty clear you want the
definition of a change to include the null change. What is
the null change if it isn't a change? What term do you use
to denote a change or null change? You end up with a
situation much like the one in the newly-adopted Decisions
where the cumbersome phrase 'block or non-method block'
is repeatedly required.
I think a fundamental flaw in the definitions in the present
Decisions is that they are designed solely for the purpose
of regulation. There's nothing inherently wrong with that.
If I look at a technical standard or an act of parliament,
it will generally include definitions, and they will be what
are required for the particular purpose at hand. But those
documents are usually careful either to make it clear that
their definitions are only for that particular purpose, or
they invent new terms to define thereby avoid redefining
commonly used concepts.
Were the CC to do similarly, I wouldn't particularly mind.
For example, they could say:
For the purpose of determing whether a peal is
recognised, a /change/ is defined as the progress from
one row to the next, effected by the interchange of bells
in adjacent positions in the row.
Or, much better if you want the definitions to have
applicability outside the purpose of regulating peals, they
An /ordinary change/ is defined as ...
(It's probably possible to find a better word than
'ordinary', though I think 'ordinary' is fairly
descriptive.) That then allows you to define a change as
broadly as possible:
A /change/ is the progress from one row to the next.
A jump change is a type of change. The null change is a
type of change. And *if* the 'rows' like 21432 rung in
cylindrical are deemed to be rows, the changes needed to
reach the are also considered changes.
An /ordinary change/ is a change effected by the
interchange of bells in adjacent positions in the row.
A /null change/ is the change in which no bells change
place. It is not an ordinary change.
A /jump change/ is a change that is neither an ordinary
change nor a null change.
This gives a good, descriptive vocabulary that allows us to
talk about performances outside the norms of ringing. In my
opinion, that is one of the main points of having such
*If* the CC wish only to recognise peals made entirely of
ordinary changes, it is trivial to do so. But it shouldn't
be part of the definition of a change (or, ideally, of a
peal). There should be a separate section, after a peal has
been defined which lists any additional properties that the
CC believe a peal should have in order to be recognised by
the CC as a peal.
A peal will not be recognised if it includes changes other
than ordinary changes.
Or rather better, they could simply require the fact to be
If a peal contains null changes or jump changes, this
fact shall be recorded in the peal report.
This means we can have a really short, simple definition of
A /peal/ is a true round block that meets a specified
minimum length, and is rung to a high standard.
That's a good definition as it is one that any ringer will
be able to understand, and it captures all the essential
details. I'd rather say 'of at least 5000 rows' than 'that
meets a specified minimum length', but I'm allowing for the
possibility that we might want to retain the separate 5000
and 5040 minimum lengths.
I have debated whether or not to include the word 'round' in
that definition. On balance, I think it appropriate, though
somewhat contradictorily I also think that the Garlickhythe
performance should count as a peal, albeit a rather unusual
one. I think the solution is to allow the band to fudge the
A performance that does not meet the definition of a peal
by virtue of not being a true round block may
nevertheless be deemed to be a peal by the band if they
believe in good conscience that the deviation from the
strict definition is necessary to achieve some worthwhile
compositional objective. The nature of the deviation
and its objective shall be recorded in the peal report.
I dare say the wording can be improved, but I think the key
elements are right. The long length we fired out at Bow
last autumn after about 5000 changes does not count as a
peal because firing out isn't a worthwhile compositional
objective. Many people would agree that getting 5040 rows
of bobs-only Grandsire Triples is a worthwhile compositional
objective, and if the band wished it to be counted as a
peal, this would allow it. What constitutes worthwhile is
the band's decision, not the CC's, and the CC only get to
overturn the band's wishes if the CC believes the band are
not acting in good conscience.
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