[r-t] Blocks to be renamed as methods

Richard Smith richard at ex-parrot.com
Thu Apr 20 21:07:43 UTC 2017

Iain Anderson wrote:

> Throw the obscure classifications away.  They are only there because 
> historically we haven't liked the idea of having methods that have no 
> classification.  So we have made up some artificial ones.

I agree.

Where things don't naturally fit into a class of the common
methods, they shouldn't be forced into one, nor should their
title be dictated by irrelevant or incidental properties of
the method.

The reason we typically include a class in the method is to 
convey some useful information about it.  If you're asked 
into a peal of an unfamiliar surprise major method, the fact 
it is suffixed 'Surprise Major' puts considerable 
constraints on how complicated it could be.  But this is 
only useful when the class conveys useful information.  In a 
lot of the recent advanced methods, the class conveys no 
such helpful hints.  Does knowing Slinky is a Differential 
Little Treble Place Maximus method help in ringing it?  I 
don't think so.  This is even more the case with the quark 

A secondary benefit is to give a few different namespaces so 
that if your village name has already been used as the name 
of a method that's beyond the capabilities of your local 
band, there's still an option of naming another method after 
the village and ringing that.

Personally I think many of the changes to method 
classification in the last few decades have been rather 
misguided.  The number of method classes has increased in 
number, and the definitions of many have been relaxed. This 
seemed necessary because peals had to be composed of 
methods, and methods had to belong to one of the recognised 
classes.  When non-method blocks were introduced, this was a 
partial acceptance that these premises to be wrong.  A 
non-method block is really just an unclassified method, and 
had they been conceived in those terms, rather than 
presenting them as second rate denizens of the method world 
things would have been an awful lot better.

Let's tighten up the definitions of common classes so that 
they actually mean what they're commonly assumed to mean, 
and drop all obscure classes that convey no useful 
information.  Anything else can be left unclassified: not a 
non-method block, just a method that isn't currently further 

Let's start by considering the five classes based on the 
treble's path:

1.  Plain methods.  The current definition of what 
consitutes a plain methods seems perfectly satisfactory.

2.  Treble dodging methods.  Virtually all have exactly one 
dodge in each dodging position.  I don't think it's 
particularly useful to classify Eryri or Double Darrowby as 
treble dodging methods as they have little in common with 
them.  They can be unclassified.

3.  Alliance methods should consist of just hunting and 
dodging.  (I'm of two minds whether to go further and just 
say single dodging, but probably not.)  Gluon should not be 
an alliance method.

4.  Treble Place methods are fairly rare, and I don't have 
strong opinions on what they should be.  Historically 
they've usually been variants of treble-dodging methods, so 
I'm inclined to require the treble makes two blows per half 
lead in every position.  And broadly they should involve the 
treble going from the front to the back once in a lead: i.e. 
two leads of plain hunting should not count as a treble 
place method.

5,  Hybrid methods should be abolished as a class.

The number of methods this will affect is small.  But where 
methods are quite different from the established canon, they 
are no longer classified as such.  It is only once new 
styles of method become popular that they should be 
classified.  In one particular respect, I share the view of 
several of conservatives on the Methods Committee that far 
too much time is spent trying to classify sui generis 
performances.  But the solution is not to prohibit them as 
they often advocate.  The solution is to allow them to be 
rung, recognised in peals, named, and otherwise recorded in 
the CC's analysis and methods collections, but not 
necessarily to classify them.  And they certainly shouldn't 
have some ridiculous tag like 'Block' at the end of their 

The tag 'Differential' should either be abolished, or it 
should revert to its original meaning of co-prime cycles of 
bells.  The tag 'Little' should only be required when the 
method is otherwise classified, so Gluon (now unclassified 
as it's no longer alliance) would be just Gluon Maximus, not 
Gluon Little Maximus.

When a method is unclassified there should be no prohibition 
from including a class name as part of the name, so if the 
band who named an unclassified method think it ought to be 
called, say, Something Alliance Major they can still call it 
that, but 'Alliance' would formally be part of the name. 
This means there's no requirement to rename any of the 
methods which would become unclassified as a result of this, 
though if the band who named them so wish, they should be 
allowed to do so.  I for one would be in favour of all the 
quark methods (i.e. those from the cyclic half of the 
particles peals) being just named, e.g. Down Maximus, 
without whatever farcial collection of classes du jour the 
Methods Committee believe it should have.

The absence of a class name now doesn't mean the method is a 
principle, but rather that it's an unclassified method.  For 
the purpose of method naming, principles would also be 
unclassified methods.  That's not to say it's not useful to 
keep refering to them as principles, but there are lots of 
useful ways of classifying methods that don't currently 
appear in their names.  We classify methods by falseness 
groups and their lead heads, but that doesn't appear in the 
name either.  I don't see why principles should be any 

The various sub-classes of plain or treble-dodging methods 
have a long history and well understood meanings.  I'd be 
very happy to see Bob, Place, Slow Course, Treble Bob, 
Delight and Surprise all kept with their current meanings, 
saving that they only allow a single dodge by the treble.

That's not to say we couldn't improve these classes if we 
tried.  I think many of you know that if it were down to me 
personally, I'd tighten up Surprise to require places 
immediately on either side of the treble when it passes 
between dodging positions.  That would change nothing on six 
bells, but would mean many Surprise Major methods were 
reclassified as Delight, including Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, 
Rutland, Pudsey and London, and a smaller number as Treble 
Bob.  Such a definition means Surprise would correspond to 
an readily observable property of the blue line, and would 
force ringers to stop ignoring Delight and Treble Bob 
methods.  Similarly, if it were down to me, I'd reintroduce 
the old Court classification with a meaning the same as 
Surprise, but when there is a plain-hunting treble path. 
And I would have no problem if Slow Course got lost along 
the way.  Nevertheless, I don't actually expect changes like 
these to these well-established classes to happen.


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