[r-t] What IS a rotation of a method?

Don Morrison dfm at ringing.org
Sun Oct 19 20:04:49 UTC 2014

On Sun, Oct 19, 2014 at 11:55 AM, Matthew Frye <matthew at frye.org.uk> wrote:
> I think this probably goes to the heart of the disagreements over
> Grandsire/New Grandsire, namely that some people think of it as a
> rotation and some as a reversal.

I'm not so sure.

Having pondered more about this distinction between funny starts and
more meaningful rotations of methods I think perhaps it has to do with
what the ringers actually ringing something think they are ringing. In
particular, what the repeated building block is.

When we ring Stedman we're just tacking a few extra changes on from a
different six at the start, but we're still thinking of all the sixes
starting and ending at the same place, and at the same stroke, no
matter what the start. When things start to go wonky the conductor
bellows "new six this handstroke" at exactly the same place. And all
the calls go in at normal six ends (assuming we're ringing triples or

When we ring Superlative with a snap start we're again just tacking a
fractional lead onto the front, but are still thinking of all the lead
ends as coming at the same place, not rotated. When things go wonky
the conductor shouts "lead end" or "half lead" at the same point, and
puts all the calls in at the lead end (or, perhaps, even half lead)
without any of that having been rotated by 2 blows like the start was.

But when we ring New Grandsire most ringers' brains will, I'm
reasonably confident, think of the point where the treble is leading
as the lead end, not the point where the first of the two hunt bells
is leading. That is, we've completely changed our frame of reference
for the method with that rotation by 2.

That we tell those ringers that they're really ringing Grandsire, with
the normal Grandsire leadend coming two blows before they think it is,
and with the calls changing the other hunt bell than normal, seems
remarkably similar to telling folks who have rung a link method that
is false in the plain course "no, no, you've not rung what you thought
you did, you've instead rung a similar method with a different lead
end and different classification, but with a silent funny call
'called' at every lead end."

I think it all comes back to the recurring issue of whether those
actually ringing know what they've rung, or if those with the tidy
formalism into which they're trying to fit it know better. Does the
dog wag its tail, or the tail wag the dog?

Don Morrison <dfm at ringing.org>
"Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth."
         -- Albert Einstein, letter to Jost Winteler (1901)

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