[r-t] Extension question
bells at tedsteele.plus.com
Wed Jun 29 11:55:59 UTC 2016
On 28/06/2016 23:44, Mark Davies wrote:
> Ted writes,
>> I am not familiar with all the rules of extension but know only that I
>> have often thought they seem very illogical. I also wrote some stuff about Stedman Singles that Robin Woolley responded to.
> MD Said: The rules codified in "Decision G", which I suppose you are referring
> to, ...<snip>... do have some logic to them, ....<big snip>.. (but are) very obtuse, and hard to work with by hand.
> We've debated before whether there is indeed any need for a set of
> method extension rules,.....
> My view is that, for a method to be an extension, you ought to be able
> to demonstrate a rational algorithm which can construct it from its
> parent (or vice versa),
Thank you Mark for a fulsome and informative reply; I think that we
broadly agree. I have perhaps been a tad disingenuous, (although my
comment about Stedman was intended to be tongue-in-cheek), in that I
inferred very little knowledge of the subject of extension. It is true
that I know very little specifically about the current decisions on
extension and that I find them confusing but I am not entirely ignorant
of the underlying problems and issues. My knowledge derives from Alfred
York-Bramble's "Method Structure in Change Ringing" and his essays
therein on London Surprise Major and Royal. This is obviously way out of
date now and it is true that I have not followed the development of
extension closely since then, so there is indeed much in Decision G that
I am unfamiliar with.
One of the reasons that I didn't follow the development of the decisions
was that I felt that the whole thing had rather lost its way; that there
was some kind of idea that everything should have an extension or
contraction and all methods should be part of related families. No doubt
that feeling is far from an accurate description of what actually
occurred but it is what I felt.
I subscribed very much to the old-fashioned idea that methods are based
upon principles; not only principles in the sense of them being methods
but as being clearly stated plans for a method's construction. Thus
Stedman is intrinsically based upon the principle of the sixes on three
bells, which makes the singles stage entirely legitimate, although false
at this stage. At later stages the extra rows available allow the
principle to produce a true method but it is still Stedman's three bell
principle at heart. It is this which enables us to say that the
extension of Stedman doubles to triples is 3.1.3 etc. rather than 5.1.5
etc. and that the progress is in sixes and not tens. It also means that
when we see the ultimate place made in singles it does not mean that it
must become an ultimate place in doubles and upwards, but becomes an
internal place. Robin Woolley explains that "The singles is unrelated
decisionwise to all higher stages". I accept that is true of the
decisions but why should it be so when the singles is the heart of the
thing? It is as illogical, in my view, as claiming that the extension of
Plain Bob Minor to seven bells is Grandsire triples, but I had better
not go into why; I expect it has all been said before.
The point is that methods like Stedman and many others employ a
principle of construction that is not stage specific but consists of a
set of rules that apply across the entire method regardless of stage.
But there are also very many methods that do not have a design plan that
applies across the whole method and which uniquely describes that method
at multiple stages. Examples are those treble dodging methods where the
places made when the treble is in 1-2, 3-4, 5-6. 7-8 appear arbitrary
and unsystematic and where it is anyone's guess what should appear in
9-10 and 11-12 to provide appropriate extensions.
We recognise of course that there can be several possible extensions in
such cases and so the whole thing becomes a fudge. I prefer the idea
that we recognise that certain methods are based upon clear design
principles that mean they exist as members of a family of stages that
can extend indefinitely (not necessarily in consecutive stages) and that
the vast majority do not. We could then allow method designers to
publish their new methods in families, or not, as the case might be,
along with a clear statement of the design principle involved and the
method of extension to be employed if one exists. This might indeed
produce a free for all but I think it would be conducive to better
method design as it would lead to an emphasis on why a method has been
designed in a specific way.
When Sir Arthur P Heywood designed Duffield he described it in detail.
Had he not done so we might have thought that Duffield Royal was the
entirely acceptable x38x38x38x38x10. Would we have known that this was
not what he intended? How do we know that Kent Treble Bob Major
shouldn't begin with 56pn rather than the accepted 34? Only because
someone has deemed it so; it is arbitrary and only one of several
equally acceptable alternatives. We need to accept that there are no
hard and fast rules unless they are an integral part of a methods design
and identified at the design stage. For most methods we shall never know
what the designers intention was and so we have accepted what history
has brought down to us. We can live with that and stop trying to
legislate for every eventuality.
So it is true that I have little understanding of the detail and logic
of the current Decisions but have long ago stopped looking for it. I do
accept that there must be a system of sorts in Decision G, albeit it
based on fairly arbitrary assumptions.
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