[r-t] Descriptions (was: A date to pencil ...)

Alexander Holroyd holroyd at math.ubc.ca
Tue Sep 8 22:11:18 UTC 2015

On Tue, 8 Sep 2015, John Harrison wrote:

> In article <Pine.GSO.4.64.1509071519590.26089 at pascal.math.ubc.ca>,
>   Alexander Holroyd <holroyd at math.ubc.ca> wrote:
>> Yet again the debate seems to have got sucked into the rabbit hole of
>> trying to legislate about how people should describe perfomances.
> It seems to be an occupational hazard.  I think it helps to remind
> ourselves that we should not be describing 'rules' (which carries the
> connotation of what people should or should not do) but a 'description
> service'.
> To make the latter efficient it needs a codification scheme based on the
> type of things that people mostly ring but it must also be capable of
> describing (probably less compactly) anything that might plausibly ring
> within the area of interest of the community being served, ie 'change
> ringing'.

Here is where I disagree.  It is fine to have a "codification scheme" for 
the most commonly rung things, but there is no reason whatever to require 
eveything to be shoe-horned into it.

Again, look at the parallel world of notation for compositions.  There are 
a number of standardized formats, e.g. for twin-bob Stedman Triples 
(although interestingly they appear to have been "standardized" largely 
without the need for anyone to lay down official regulations).  But if I 
want to write down a composition involving changing the observation bell, 
half lead splicing, mixing turning courses with observation-based calls, 
varying the hunt bell, calls that change the lead length, etc, my best bet 
is to come up with my own variant of existing notation to suit the task in 
hand.  Composers do this all the time, and I have rarely heard anyone 
getting upset about it.

Why can't we just extend this idea down to the level of rows?  You can 
ring any sequence of rows you want.  If it satisfies the basic criteria of 
truth etc (nothing to do with methods), it can be accepted as a peal.  If 
it fits into one of the common categories like spliced surprise, you can 
describe it as such, (and name new surprsie methods or claim the record 
for the most methods spliced etc).  If not, you can describe it any way 
you want: in words; a string of place notation; a bunch of wierd methods 
spliced; an algorithm for generating place notation, etc.  And, if you 
want people to appreciate what you've rung, rather than looking foolish, 
take the time to find a description that is helpful.

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