[r-t] Composers of popular maximus methods

Richard Smith richard at ex-parrot.com
Tue Oct 25 17:30:37 UTC 2016

There have been a couple of interesting discussions on 
Facebook recently about maximus methods.  Following last 
month's peal of Snow Tiger at St Philip's, Mark Davies 
commented how hard it is to get a new method accepted into 
the canon of standard maximus methods, and that only a tiny 
number of method designers had succeeded.  Then a few weeks 
later someone asked why we only record the authorship of 
compositions and not of methods.  The answer is doubtless 
that until method design and composition came to be 
considered part of the same process, each feeding into the 
other -- the process Philip Earis called architecting -- 
method design was trivial and the designer was not 
considered worth recording.  This makes it hard to assess 
how many method designers have succeeded in getting their 
methods in to the maximus canon.

Since the war, only 20 methods have accounted for more than 
1% of the single-method peals of maximus in a decade, with 
three methods being far ahead of the others.  In decreasing 
order of popularity, they are:


   Plain Bob


I've appended Phobos to this list, despite it not being one 
of the 20 most popular single methods: for good reason, it's 
almost never rung as a single method (it's only been pealed 
seven times), but is nevertheless rung in well over 1% of 
peals of maximus these days.  I lack the data to know 
whether any other methods may have fallen into this category 
last century, but very probably Albanian and Lyddington 
did, and I have included them on that assumption.

The name of the designer of Plain Bob is lost in early 
history of ringing.  (Some attribute it to Robert Roan, but 
there's no evidence he contributed more than just the WHW 
calling used in minor.)  Several other methods -- certainly 
including Kent, Cambridge, Yorkshire, Pudsey and Bristol -- 
are such obvious continuations of an extension series that 
it's meaningless to talk about a composer for the maximus 
version.  In the case of Britol, Bankes James designed bot 
the major and royal version, so if anyone is to be credited 
with the maximus version it should probably be him, 
regardless of whether he was first to actually write it out.

What of the other methods on the list?  I'm fairly sure 
David Pipe designed Phobos together with Deimos specifically 
for use in what has become his classic 11-part cyclic 6.

In 2000 Rod Pipe wrote a introduction to a collection of 
Peter Border's peal compositions which says that Border 
produced Newgate, Barford and Avon, and the underwork of 
Orion, Rod Pipe having already supplied its overwork.


That's about where my knowledge ends.  Can anyone else 
supply some of the missing names?


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