[r-t] Definitions so far

Richard Smith richard at ex-parrot.com
Sat Jan 17 18:19:49 UTC 2015

Graham John wrote:

> RAS wrote:
>> A literal interpretation of these definitions suggest it 
>> is both a jump change and an ordinary change... I rather 
>> suspect this isn't what you intended.
> Good point. It demonstrates the difficulty of coming up 
> with a definition that is short, simple, yet precise and 
> unambiguous. Do you have a suggestion of how it could be 
> worded better?

I can certainly tell you how I defined it in a set of 
definitions I produced a few years ago.  I've appended the 
full set of definitions up to that point as the later ones 
depend on the earlier ones, but the relevant ones are C.2 
and C.5.

>>> Row: A sequence of bells at a given Stage in which each 
>>> bell rings once and only once.
>> This excludes a cylindrical row.
> I thought there was no appetite for catering for 
> cylindrical at the moment. It would require a whole new 
> set of thinking, particularly in terms of truth and even 
> what an extent is.

I agree there's no appetite for classifying such things, but 
it doesn't mean we should recognise their existence.  Doing 
that certainly doesn't requires a new way of thinking or any 
particularly intrusive changes to the definitions.  We just 
need to be a little bit careful which definitions we apply 
to all rows and which to just ordinary rows.  E.g. we can 
define the meaning of truth and the extent for ordinary rows 
while leaving them undefined in the general case.



A.  Definitions concerning bells

1.  A /bell/ is traditionally a tuned percussion instrument,
frequently cup-shaped and cast from a bronze alloy, that is

   (a) a /tower bell/, typically weighing several
   hundredweight, hung from a headstock with an attached
   wheel from which a rope allows the bell to be rung in
   a full circle; or

   (b) a /handbell/, weighing much less, and attached to
   handle by which the bell is held and rung manually.

2.  It is recognised that bells of many other types exist. 
For example,

   (a) simulated bells, which are rung in a conventional
   manner, but where the sound is produced by electronic
   or non-standard mechanical means;

   (b) bells may be made from other materials, such as

   (c) tower bells may be hung using widely differing
   arrangements, such as those at East Bergholt; and even

   (d) completely different instruments, such as angklungs,
   may be used in place of bells.

Except where explicitly noted, the term 'bell' shall be 
construed as widely as possible to include all such 

3.  Bells are conventionally numbered with '1' denoting the
highest pitched bell being used at the time, '2' denoting the
second highest pitched bell, and so on.  In writing, the
/bell symbols/ '0', 'E', 'T', 'A', 'B', 'C' and 'D' are used for
bells 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16 respectively.

4.  The highest pitched bell is also refered to as the
/treble/, and the lowest pitched bell, the /tenor/.

5.  A /blow/ is the idealised representation of the moment
that an individual bell sounds or is supposed to sound.  As an
idealised representation, a bell that sounds multiple times in
rapid succession (for example if the clapper bounces) is not
deemed to have resulted in more than one blow.

6.  Alternate blows from bell typically sounded by two
different physical actions or /stroke/, called the
/handstroke/ and /backstroke/.

   (a) On tower bells, the handstroke normally involves pulling
   a wollen sally woven into the rope some distance from its
   end, while the backstroke involves pulling the tail end of the

   (b) On handbells, the handstroke is usually sounded by an
   upwards motion resulting in the clapper hitting the top
   surface of the bell, and the backstroke is made with a
   downwards motion.

Even if no distinct physical actions are involved, blows are
still notionally considered to alternate between strokes.

B.  Definitions concerning rows

1.  A /row/ is a sequence of one or more blow.  Only the order
of the blows is considered relevant to the row, their precise
timing is incidental.  Every blow shall be part of exactly one
row, and all the blows of a given row shall occur before the
first blow of the next row.

2.  An /ordinary row/ is one in which every bell in use 
sounds exactly once.  It is normal for every blow in an
ordinary row to be struck by bells at the same stroke.

3.  Rows other than ordinary rows can exist.  For example, a 
/cylindrical row/ is one in which one bell does not sound, 
another bell sounds first and last in the row, and every 
other bell sounds exactly once.  As there is little 
established practice for the use of rows other than ordinary 
rows, these definitions do not seek to discuss or classify 
them further.

4.  Rows are conventionally denoted by writing in sequence the
number of the bells sounding each of its constituent blows.

5.  The specific row in which the bells sound in descending
order of pitch is called /rounds/ and is denoted 123456....
It is an ordinary row.

6.  The bell that sounds first blow in a row is said to
/strike/ in /first place/; the bell that sounds the second
blow is in /seconds place/; and so on.

7.  When one or more bells sound in the same order the last
blows of each row for an extended period, these bell are said
to be /covering/.  When a covering bell is present, it is most
commonly the tenor.

8.  A /working row/ is the representation of a row once any
covering bells have been removed.  An /ordinary working row/
is a working row which is also an ordinary row.  In casual
speech, it is normal to refer to an ordinary working row as a
"row", or even as a "change".  The latter use is discouraged.

9.  The terms /leading/ and /lying/ are synonymous to striking
in first and last place, respectively, within the working row.

10.  The /stage/ is the number of distinct bells striking in a
working row.   Stages are often referred to via a /stage
name/, as follows:

   (a) The names of the even stages 4, 6, 8, 10 and 12 are
   /Minimus/, /Minor/, /Major/, /Royal/ and /Maximus/,

   (b) Higher even stages are simply named by the English
   name for the number denoting the stage: /Fourteen/,
   /Sixteen/, etc.

   (c) The names of the odd stages 3, 5, 7, 9, 11 are
   /Singles/, /Doubles/, /Triples/, /Caters/ and /Cinques/,

   (d) Any higher odd stages, 2n+1, is named using
   Latin-derived name for an n-tuple names: 13 is /Sextuples/
   from the Latin /sex/ meaning six, 15 is /Septuples/ from
   /septem/ meaning seven, etc.

   (e) Historically, the names /Quadruples/ and /Quintuples/
   were sometimes used in place of the French-derived names
   /Caters/ and /Cinques/.  Their use is discouraged.

   (f) No generally accepted name exists for stages 1 and 2.

C.  Definitions concerning changes

1.  A /change/ is the transposition that effects the
progression from one row to the next.  They are defined in
terms of the places of the bells affected rather than the
bells striking in those places.  Thus a change that just swaps
the bells in seconds and thirds place is the same as any other
change that just swaps the bells in those place, regardless of
the particular bells striking in seconds and thirds place.

2.  Changes between ordinary rows may be classified as

   (a)  The /null change/ is the change in which no bells change
   place.  The row preceding the change is the same as the row
   following it.

   (b)  A /plain change/ is any change effected by the
   interchange of precisely one pair of bells striking
   consecutive blows in an ordinary row.

   (c)  A /multiple change/ is any change that combines the
   effect of two or more plain changes, each of which affects
   different bells.

   (d)  A /jump change/ is any progression between ordinary
   rows that is not a null change, a plain change or a multiple
   change.  Jump changes necessarily involve bells moving more
   than one place between consecutive rows: such motion is
   called /jumping/.  Although documented in both the early and
   recent history of change ringing, jump changes are not
   commonly used.

3.  A bell whose position in the working row is not affected
by the change is said to make a /place/.  A bell that makes a
place in seconds place is said to /make seconds/, and
similarly for other positions.  A covering bell is not
considered to be making a place as it is not part of the
working row.

3.  A /stage change/ is a change that progresses from a row of
one stage to a row of a different stage.

4.  A /cover change/ is change other than a stage change which
either alters the choice of covering bell or bells, or alters
the order in which they strike.

5.  An /ordinary change/ is a change which is both (i) a
plain change or a multiple change, and (ii) neither a stage change
nor a cover change.  The null change is excluded from this
definition by convention.  Ordinary changes may be further
classified as follows:

   (a) As a /single change/ if it is a plain change.  The terms
   plain change and single change are not entirely synonymous
   as a single change may not be a change of method.

   (b) As a /double change/, /triple change/, /quadruple
   change/, etc. if it is a multiple change in which
   respectively only two, three or four pairs of bells are

   (c) As the /cross change/ if every bell swaps places with an
   adjacent bell.  The term is only defined on even stages, and
   will be synonymous with one of the above terms: for example,
   in Minor the cross change is the only possible triple change.

6.  Ordinary changes (and the null change) are conventionally
denoted by writing in order the places made.  For example, in
Minimus the single change that swaps the bells in seconds and
thirds place is denoted '14', as places are made in first and
fourths place.  Bell symbols are used for places above ninths
place.  The cross change is variously denoted 'X', 'x' or '-'.
This representation of a change is called its /place notation/.

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