[r-t] Consultation

Robin Woolley robin at robinw.org.uk
Thu Apr 13 05:19:14 UTC 2017

Hi All,

PRK: Apologies.

On lettering!

I have a copy of the CC Collection of Minor Methods – 5^th Edn. – 1975.

When I was learning to ring, the tower hade a copy of the previous 
edition of this book along with the companion Doubles volume. I have an 
idea that the date of these was 1961 but it seemed to me at the time 
that the 5^th Edition was a simple reprint of the 4^th especially as it 
refers to the first three editions only in the Preface. Perhaps someone 
could confirm this.

Inter alia, the Preface also contains this statement: ‘all new methods 
in the book have been named with reference to prominent six-bell towers 
throughout the country..’!

The Minor book used G – O for the method groups. How long this went back 
I do not know, but it seems to be that way because A – F had been used 
for the 2nds & omit lead-end Doubles methods. This could be perfectly 
logical given the mind-set of the time when rings of twelve were few and 
far between.

The problem here is that 14 (+1) letters have already been used and 
8-bell ringing needs 12 more letters – that’s <mailto:that at s> one too 
many – so the scheme re-starts with ‘A’ on 8-bells. This was only 
arranged for eight bells so the scheme on eight or more is, basically, 
‘A’ – ‘M’. We can argue until the cows come home as to whether the use 
of C1 for Royal methods with lead-end 1907.. makes some sort of sense, 
but something like this would have to be done even if we had used ‘A’ – 
‘Z’. 16 bells has 30 possible lead-end types after all and there are at 
most 26 letters.

At some point, someone decided to make it more logical by having Plain 
Bob (on even numbers) all use the same letter – as for Kent, Cambridge, 
etc – so that’s why the change was made. Now we seemingly have 
complaints about making this consistent when we’ve had complaints about 

To whom does this matter? Composers and conductors chiefly. If they 
(composers especially) are incapable of coping with this, well!!! It is 
most convenient in composing spliced, of course. I used it myself some 
years ago when generating all seventy two, distinct, complete courses of 
spliced surprise major (with same lead-end place) along with all 4320 
spliced courses of mixed 2nds and 8ths place lead-ends – using BASIC. (I 
then did it for 10 bells). Most people do not conduct and fewer compose 
so, as I say, they ‘have no interest’ – as in ‘need-to-know’. When I 
generated all the touches of Minor methods, I used ‘G’ – ‘K’ and I quite 
happily use either system as the fancy takes me at the time.

Best wishes
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