[r-t] applicability and timing (was The null change)

Don Morrison dfm at ringing.org
Thu Jan 1 18:06:30 UTC 2015

On Thu, Jan 1, 2015 at 11:59 AM, Tim Barnes <tjbarnes23 at gmail.com> wrote:
> I had been wondering whether Don's inclusion in his top level method
> definition of the words "to permute a row" intended that cylindrical
> ringing is not method ringing.

All depends how you define "row". A particular definition thereof is,
I think, exactly what Philip's line in the sand specified. If we
accept that, and I don't think anyone has yet demurred, it does
clearly exclude cylindrical and its ilk.

> Is the top level definition of method so broad that it could include
> call changes?

If we're sufficiently clever, and have a sufficiently fast talking
conductor, there's nothing to stop us ringing call changes in half-pulls

2 to 1, 3 to 4, 5 to 6; gasp for air.
1 to 2, 3 to 6.
2 to 1, 4 to 6, 3 to 5; gasp again.
1 to 6, 5 to 3.

is just a long-winded way of saying "Go Cambridge."

Some folks do something exceedingly similar today, calling out place
notation. I've been in some bands that have rung methods in hand some
of the band didn't know, simply by having one of the band call out the
places. Granted just for a course or two, not a recordable length, but
it was still change ringing.

It is not at all uncommon during a hand bell peal for someone to start
muttering the places out loud for half a lead or so when the ringing
starts to go wobbly.

I think, to the extent possible, we should steer clear of confounding
what folks say during ringing with what it is they are ringing.

And we're veering into the realm of telling folks what they may do,
instead of simply describing what they've chosen to do.

> A key feature of methods seems to be that they involve memorization
> by ringers

Really? Apart from the conductor, there's not a whole lot of
memorization required to ring a peal of Original. Or the treble to
a peal of Bastow. Or the tenor to one of Stedman Cinques.

And if you really are going to twist memorization into the definition
of what it means to be a method, you're going to have to define
precisely what "memorization" means--I suspect that is quite an
interesting challenge :-)

And again, focusing on memorization confounds what we ring with
how the ringers interact with another to accomplish it. We probably
can't divorce the two completely, but we should shy away from
confusing them any more than necessary.

> - By defining a method as a round block,

Yes, on reflection, I do think the broadest definition of a method
should not include round-block-ishness after all (you'll recall I was
kind of wishy-washy about this even when I first wrote it). As soon as
we recognize that a sufficiently bizarre method might not necessarily
even be of finite length round-block-iness kind of goes out the

> it's a shame that the definition of method needs to refer to a row
> at all

Why? The row is really the fundamental unit of ringing. It's the thing
we actually pull on the ropes to ring. It's the thing we reason about
for truth. It's the thing we listen to. It's why we're fixated on
numbers like 120, 720 and 5,040. Changes exist solely because we need
them to permute rows, not the other way around.

> if you want to distinguish between α and β...I'm wondering whether a
> 3-level hierarchy is needed.

It's certainly a subjective choice. There's no reason you couldn't
jump from general, can be bizarre as all get out, methods, straight to
the next tightest category is β-methods. But do we want to do that?
That leaves reasonably well behaved things, like Dixon's, in the
miserable purgatory of the truly bizarre. People have rung non-β
α-methods, I don't think anyone has ever (deliberately) rung a
non-α-method. Perhaps whether we want a two or three level hierarchy
is a fit subject for a future poll (best delayed a while, so we can
concentrate on β-methods, and not make poor Mark apoplectic)?

> A β-method is a method that is a static sequence of finite changes.

What's a "static sequence"? What's a "finite change"? Whatever it is
they are (I honestly don't know, sorry!), can you define them without
reference to rows?

> A method at stage N is a process for generating a sequence of
> changes at that stage, which are memorized by ringers for the
> purpose of generating permutations of N bells where each bell rings
> once and only once.

Ah, err, sorry, contrary to what I think you intended, this *does*
cite rows. It just calls them "permutations of N bells where each bell
rings once and only once."

Don Morrison <dfm at ringing.org>
"The process by which Congress is supposed to create and implement its
budgets is laid out in detail in various budget laws and internal
rules of the two houses of Congress. These rules can be called
Byzantine only if one imagines the Byzantines having a very pissy
day."       -- Edward D Kleinbard, _We Are Better Than This_

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