[r-t] Extension

Alan Reading alan.reading at googlemail.com
Mon Mar 20 11:25:16 UTC 2017

There does seem to be a common misconception that any method somehow should
and will have an extension - possibly even a unique one.
I don't much like the whole concept of extension myself.
Certainly there are plenty of nice examples of families of methods (the
fact that many of these are standard methods is partly what fuels the
obsession), there are cases where an extension appears to go through one
stage and then stops (eg London S Minor, London S Major) and then there are
the vast majority of methods that don't really extend in any meaningful way
at all. In these cases you can usually produce various higher stage methods
that purport to capture the spirit of the parent and that's about as far as
it goes.
I think in a sense by codifying extension rules the CC is responding to a
misguided popular belief in the general concept of extension.


On 20 March 2017 at 11:01, Philip Earis <pje24 at cantab.net> wrote:

> Aaargh.  Mark, a year on the Methods Committee and you seem to have become
> institutionalized...
> Your message is an illustrative example of how good intentions, coupled
> with an excess desire to categorize (as Dr Barnes sagely points out),
> coupled with a dogmatic fixation on making rules (as Robin does with
> grasping onto place-notations...Roddy wisely points out the risks) leads
> to an ever-lengthening mess.
> Specifically, here you take a broad principle "There is a piece of work in
> the extension if and only if it is in the parent" that sounds a fair basis
> to work from.  Quickly you realise the limitations though, but rather than
> accept the principle isn't fit for purpose you try to add a refinement
> (masked in technical language), saying we can violate this principle, by
> decreeing the parent contains zero examples of a piece of work.
> And soon, you'll get into more and more patches and value judgements and
> arbitrary stipulations and contradictions, each requiring an
> ever-lengthening codifying, and all the while ever-fewer people support
> this.
> It's just like introducing the concept of epicycles to patch up a
> geocentric model of the universe.
> That's why - of all the subjects the Central Council has ever deigned to
> make wordy "Decisions" on - almost a quarter of the Decisions still relate
> to extending methods. It's mad.
> One simply can't put together a short, succinct, self-consistent extension
> system that is broadly applicable.  It's not just esoteric methods that
> will show the absurdities of this - plain bob, grandsire, little bob,
> little penultimus are all conceptually very simple...and yet I'd challenge
> you to come up with an codified extension system that doesn't have to
> carve out special cases here.
> Even Robin inadvertently highlights the craziness when he admits his
> current "notation-based" approach (which should be very easy to produce
> algorithms to show "valid extensions of") is very difficult to do just
> this basic task. So there is no simple app on the Methods Committee
> website...much better for the proles to supplicate before the experts and
> guardians of method purity for answers instead.
> Please just accept that no one unifying extension framework is possible,
> and that ringing (and the CC, and the Methods Committee) gains nothing
> (and loses a lot) by trying to pretend this isn't the case.
> It would be much better to delete the whole lot of current Decisions here.
>  By all means publish on the website some advisory guidelines that people
> can use if they really want to generate an "extension", but don't try to
> mandate a broken system as something that has to be followed by all.
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