Compositions of the Decade 3 - Minor

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A Review by Philip Earis - continued

Six bell ringing has continued to flourish over the past ten years. It has been a marvellous decade.

The tendency has been towards multi-method peals, and compositions have been longer, leaner and neater than ever before. The liberalisation of the so-called “decisions” - removing the straightjacket of peals needing to consist of mutually true extents – has continued to be a driving force for progress in spliced minor. Building on compositional breakthroughs in the previous decade (where ringing the 41 “regular” surprise minor methods in a peal became considerably easier), the splices between different methods have now been exploited much more fully, and expanded beyond just surprise methods. A potent combination of formidable composers, principally Richard Smith and John Warboys, being chased (and sometimes directed) by a hungry pack of dogs eager to ring as soon as possible the slabs of compositional meat they tossed down, has created a perfect creative storm.

Michael Foulds published his series of books on spliced treble-dodging minor in 2002, and these have acted as a catalyst for some of the compositional advances also. In parallel to this, an entirely new form of splicing minor – “magic blocks” - sprang up at the beginning of the decade, facilitating the simultaneous splicing of over- and under- works together much more efficiently. Consequently, the boundaries of minor ringing have been pushed back, and previously where ringing the 41-spliced brought some closure, now all 147-regular treble-dodging minor (or even all 729 grids) is the new baseline.

Whilst the majority of effort has been directed towards treble-dodging minor methods, there remains much that is going on. Innovative new extents on other plans have resulted, as we shall see. My pick of the bunch are below. As before, I have concentrated primarily (but not exclusively) on new compositions rather than methods.

1) 147-spliced treble-dodging minor

  • (atw) Richard Smith / John Warboys – April/May 2004
  • (non-atw) – John Warboys – First rung July 2005

Richard and John both composed peals of spliced treble-dodging minor in all 147 regular treble-dodging minor methods 2004. The compositions were on a whole-course plan, to achieve all-the-work. John devised a 33-extent version in April 2004, but before this was attempted he tweaked it to produce a 30-extent (ie 21600 change) composition that was rung in May 2004: http://website.lineone.net/~jswcomps/. Richard simultaneously used all the tools in his considerable toolkit to produce a shorter, 29-extent composition that was rung shortly afterwards.

John subsequently produced a “tour-de-force” 10-extent composition (obviously not atw) of the 147 in 2005: http://website.lineone.net/~jswcomps/147_7200.pdf. This was rung first in tower, on 24th July. The band was kept somewhat in the dark about the structure of the composition, as the composer was fearful it might leak out and be rung in hand first. He probably had good reason – following its publication on 25th July, Andrew Tibbetts called a handbell peal of it the very next day.

2) Magic blocks – Philip Saddleton / Richard Smith / Andrew Tibbetts / David Pipe – December 2003 onwards

Philip Saddleton conceived the idea for “magic blocks” of minor, whereby the established concept of a 6-lead spliced is extended to every working bell, and for both over- and under- works, to produce extents without calls. Richard Smith explains more fully here: http://www.bellringers.net/pipermail/ringing-theory_bellringers.net/2004-August/000003.html

Philip actually communicated the idea by email to Roger Bailey in December 2000, but Roger’s lack of response left the idea un-tapped until I learnt of it following a chance exchange with Philip a few years later. The idea quickly took off in Cambridge, and the first of many minor peals consisting of magic blocks was rung in December 2003.

The concept was developed to fit in more grids, with contributions from Richard Smith, Andrew Tibbetts and David Pipe. A natural conclusion was fitting all 729 “regular” grids into as short a peal as possible – this was done in 19440 changes in January 2005, followed later that year by a 1053-method peal (incorporating methods with -1256- when the treble dodges in 3-4).

Perhaps the zenith of method-packing efficiency came in August 2004, when Richard Smith produced a 7-extent composition of all 324 grid combinations with -12- when the treble dodges in 3-4. The composition was subsequently rung in January 2007, and can be seen at: http://www.cantabgold.net/users/pje24/324x2x.pdf (there is a typo in the notation for Cambridge)

3) 3600 Spliced S. Minor (41 methods) – John Warboys – February 2005

Some ringers regrettably need shorter lengths to tempt them to jump into the minor pool. Even twenty years ago, no-one had even got the standard 41 surprise minor methods into a ten-extent composition, and yet John Warboys has now very neatly managed to fit everything into just 5 extents.

   23456  Ke We Li Li
 - 23564  Lo
 - 45236  Lo We Lo We
 - 45362  Li Lo Ke We Co
 - 34562  We
 - 25346  We Lo Lo We
 - 25463  Cu Cu Cu Cu Cu
 - 42563  We
 - 35426  Ke Lo Co Co
 - 35264  Lo
   23456  Ct Mo
 - 42356  Mo Ct
 - 34256  Ch Ch
 - 45623  Mu Nb Sa Nb Mu
 - 64523  Nw Ak Ak
 - 35642  Ch Ch Mu Cl Mu
 - 63542  Ak Ak Nw
 - 25634  Nb Ch Cl Nb Sa
 - 62534  Wh Wo Nb
 s 26345  Bv
 - 64532  Ip Bv
 - 64325  Bv Pr Bk Su Su
 - 25364  Nf
 - 43256  He Pr He Bk Bk
 - 43562  He Hu Pr Nf Nf
 - 43625  He Bo
 - 56432  Yo Du Yo Du Yo
 - 45632  Cm Ip Bo Ip
 - 32645  Wm
 - 24563  Wk St
 - 24635  Wk
 - 62435  Wk
 - 46235  Ab No Wk
 - 46352  Ab Ab
 - 34652  Wk No Ab
 - 34526  Wk
 - 53426  Wk
 - 45326  Ro Wk
 - 45263  Ab No Wk
 - 45632  Ne Bm Ne
 - 64532  Wk Bc Wk
 - 43256  Ne Bm Ne
 - 24356  Wk
 - 32456  Ab No No
 - 32564  No
 - 53264  No Ne St Ne Ro
 - 64253  Ws
 - 64532  Ws Ws
 - 43256  Ad
 - 43562  Lf Ab Wm Ab No
 - 62543  No No Ne Ad
 - 24356  Lf
 - 45632  Ad Ab No
 - 32645  No Ne Ro Ne
 s 23456
Based on a plan by Peter Ellis Contains no 65’s at backstroke

4) 5040 Spliced Treble-Dodging Minor (113m) – John Warboys – First rung January 2004

This composition achieves packing the highest number of the standard 147 in a 5040-change peal to date.

   23456  Ba Sd Ri Pe Ba
 - 23564  Fg Ls Wv Cs Ri
 s 32645  Pv Wf Os Pv Le
 - 45632  Bw Cc Li Le Pm
 - 64532  Km Km
 - 56432  Kt Wt Kt Sn Km
 - 56324  Kt Wt Kt Km Sn
 - 56243  Kt Ck Kt
 - 64325  Mp Pm By Md Li
 - 36425  Bh By Md Co Mp
 - 43625  Md Wf Ed Bt Cc
 - 25643  Kt
 - 62543  Cc Bt
 - 35624  Kt Tr Po Sn Kt
 - 24635  Bt Kh Os
 - 62435  Sn Km Kt Ck Kt
 - 62354  Qu Dt Sn Kt
 s 34625  Ci Wv Sk Ks Pe
 - 34256  Wl Wl
 - 34562  Bg Dk Cf Dn Bp
 - 53462  Bp Oc Rs Kn Ny
 - 45362  Ny Cn Kn
 - 23456
23456 Yo Hu Ol Lv El - 56423 Ab Ab - 45623 Wa He Bk Pr He - 45236 St St Me Ro Ro - 45362 Hm Br Ab - 56234 Ns Sl Cw Bc Wr - 56342 Ol Bm Cb Ng Wi - 35642 Du - 35426 Wm Be Wm Lf Lf - 43526 Bu Ki Wi El Bo - 54326 Du Du Yo Du - 63542 Wr Bo - 63425 Ta Ma Ne Ma Ne - 46325 Cm Bs Su Bv Su - 34625 Cr Bo Yo s 24563 Ct Mo Mo Ct Mo - 24635 Sh Ml Ev Wo Ml - 24356 Te - 63245 Gl Mu Cl Ch Mu - 26345 Ak Nw Nw Ak Nw - 32645 Ak Te Fo Fo - 32456 Te Ti Sa Fo Fo - 43256 Av - 43562 Lo We We Lo - 43625 Ce Va Cd Sw Ce - 64325 Cu Cu Av Ca Av - 36425 Lo - 54362 So We We Lo We - 35462 Cu Cu Ca Cu - 24356 Ce Va Cd Ke Sw s 23456
All singles are made in 1234.

5) 5040 Spliced S Minor (21 methods) - Richard Pearce – First rung December 2000

One criticism sometimes levelled at peals of spliced minor is that methods with the same overwork are often grouped together, which can lead to compositions feeling a bit different from spliced on higher stages.

Richard Pearce had previously shown his mastery of minor composing with an incredibly beautiful 42-spliced 5040 in complete whole courses. This was reproduced in the very first message to Ringing Theory http://www.bellringers.net/pipermail/ringing-theory_bellringers.net/2004-August/000000.html, but as it was published in 1996 pre-dates the scope of this article.

However, at the very beginning of this decade, Richard composed a notable peal of 21 methods from the Standard 41. It is extremely fluid, with a change of method every lead, but within this there is also a change of overwork at every lead. In Richard’s words, “there are at least half-a-dozen changes from any one backwork to any other backwork”.

Moreover, the composition is all-the-work, and with an exactly equal method balance. Like many of Richard’s compositions, it contains no 65s at backstroke, which some people still seem to aim for.

   23456 Co Su Nb
 - 23564 Du
 - 23645 Ke Bo Ne Bo Ne
 - 62345 Li Bv Lf Bv Lf
 - 36245 Cl Du Cl Du
 - 52364 Ke Bo Ne Bo Ne
 - 35264 Su Nb
 s 24356 Ws
 - 24563 Ch Ws Ch Ws Ch
 s 25463 Co Su Nb Su Nb
 - 42563 Du
 s 24635 Sa Bm Sa Bm
 s 42356 Su Co Su Nb Co
 s 43256 Sa
 s 26435 Du Cl Du
 s 53426 Sa
 s 46532 Li Bv Lf Bv Lf
 s 45632 Sa Bm Sa Bm
 s 54326 Cl
 s 45263 Ws Ch Ws Ch
 s 23456 Ro Bk
 - 56423 Wh He Wh He Wh
 - 56234 Bk Ro Bk Ro
 - 25634 He Wh He Wh He
 s 25364 Wo Bc Wo Bc Wo
 - 25643 Bc Wo Bc Wo Bc
 s 25463 Bk
 - 56342 Ro Bk Ro
   23456
23456 Su Nb Co - 23564 Cl - 23645 Bo Ne Ke Ne Ke - 62345 Bv Lf Li Lf Li - 36245 Du Cl Du Cl - 52364 Bo Ne Ke Ne Ke - 35264 Nb Co s 24356 Ch - 24563 Ws Ch Ws Ch Ws s 25463 Su Nb Co Nb Co - 42563 Cl s 24635 Bm Sa Bm Sa Bm s 26435 Cl Du Cl s 53426 Bm s 46532 Bv Lf Li Lf Li s 45632 Bm Sa Bm Sa s 54326 Du s 45263 Ch Ws Ch Ws s 23456 Bk Ro - 56423 He Wh He Wh He - 56234 Ro Bk Ro Bk - 25634 Wh He Wh He Wh s 25364 Bc Wo Bc Wo Bc - 25643 Wo Bc Wo Bc Wo s 25463 Ro - 56342 Bk Ro Bk 23456
23456 Nb Co Su - 23564 Li Bv Li - 23645 Ne Ke Bo Ke Bo - 62345 Lf Li Bv Li Bv - 36245 Lf Bv - 52364 Ne Ke Bo Ke Bo - 35264 Co Su 23456
Singles are 1234 in 2nds place methods and 1456 in 6ths place methods.

6) MUG minor – Ander Holroyd – First rung November 2004

MUG is a simple 8-change principle (&34.2.34-, 1), with pairs of bells working together in 1-2, 3-4 and 5-6 for a division before hunting on.

Finding a set of mutually true leads is easy, but joining them together to produce an extent had proved extremely difficult. Since at least the early 1970s, composers had struggled to get a recognisably extent from the method. Graham John in particular had exhausted his patience with this. Following a long discussion on this list in the autumn of 2004, Ander Holroyd managed to put together the following:

 720 MUG minor
 %  2 4%  5  6    123456
 -----------------------
 s        -       154263
       s     -    324615
    -     -       451236
 -----------------------
 5 part
 hls = 345
 bob = 4

7) Mersey Ferry treble jump minor – Ander Holroyd – First rung June 2003

From the sublime to the ridiculous, Mersey Ferry is the first method with no treble-fixed falseness. The treble jumps, so that it rings only once in each position in the lead, meaning that obtaining a composition for an extent trivially requires ringing every possible lead.

 (13)4.(35)-(64)3.(42)-
123456 ------ 231465 324615 236451 326145 312654 136245 ------
1 2 3 2345 s s s 3524 s s 5342 s 4352 s (s)3425
6 part, omitting (s) in parts 3 and 6 Single = 56 as treble hunts 2-1

8) Out-of-course splicing – Richard Smith – Composed September 2004

Richard turned his mathematical skills to analysing singles in treble-dodging minor, and generated lists of methods which splice out of course, with the results documented at http://www.bellringers.net/pipermail/ringing-theory_bellringers.net/2004-September/000175.html.

The technique had been used previously in examples by Glen Taylor, Roger Bailey and others, but Richard’s thorough and rigorous approach produced a gem of a spliced Kent and Oxford composition, exploiting the fact the two methods are out-of-course lead splices:

   123456 Kt Kt
 s 164253 Ox
 s 126435 Kt Kt
 s 154236 Ox Ox
 s 162534 Kt Kt Kt
   ------
   134256
s = 1456 Twice repeated.

Other interesting compositions also resulted, including using out-of-course 3-lead splices:

 720 Spliced Surprise Minor (4m)
123456 Yo s 132456 Lo Yo = York S s 146532 Yo Yo Yo Du Du = Durham S s 152346 We Lo = London S s 136452 Yo Du We = Wells S s 156324 We ------ s 134256
s = 1236 Twice repeated

9) Minor principles (plain course generates extent) – Chris Munday – published August 2006

Chris Munday has published an exhaustive list of 'perfect' 6-part principle extents of minor (ie a plain course with 120 rows per lead which generates the extent), which have no more than two consecutive blows, and consist only of the changes x, 12, 14, 16, 34 and 36.

There are 141,235 such examples – none have ever been rung or to the best of my knowledge previously published. The methods can be seen at: <http://www.rrhorton.net/minor_principles.html>, and would be a significant challenge to ring.

10) Variable treble extents based on the Hudson group – Richard Smith – First rung January 2004

Hudson's Group is a group of order 60 that is generated by the changes 12, 16, 34. It can be used to construct interesting variable treble extents. Richard explained the theory here: http://www.bellringers.net/pipermail/ringing-theory_bellringers.net/2004-September/000110.html

Perhaps the most interesting method produced is Hudson Delight Minor (&3-3.4-2-1.4-4.5,2), which is London over the treble. The extent is simply 5*(spppps), where a single is 34. Further examples of Hudson methods can be seen here: http://www.cantabgold.net/users/pje24/hudson7.pdf

Interesting, a variable-treble extent can be achieved with precisely one “regular” treble-dodging major method – Disley Delight – as documented by Jonathan Deane in 1991. Mike Ovenden wrote an interesting deconstruction of this at: http://www.bellringers.net/pipermail/ringing-theory_bellringers.net/2005-December/001221.html

11) Pseudo-double Dixon's Bob Minor – Philip Saddleton - Published 2002

The extent of Dixon’s Bob minor dates from the mid 19th century. In Dixon’s, all bell plain hunt, with 2nds being made when the treble leads, and 4ths being made when bells 2 or 4 lead. The concept can be expanded to produce a very tricky and yet elegant extent. If at alternate backstrokes, Dixon's Bob minor rules and reverse Dixon's Bob Minor rules (ie 3rds made if bells 3 or 5 are lying, and 5ths under the treble) are applied, an extent can be obtained.

 720 Pseudo-Double Dixon's Bob Minor
 P A B Saddleton
23456 - 35462 4 - 43562 1 - 52346 1 - 35246 1 - 45632 2 - 64532 3 - 56432 4 - 45326 4 - 52634 1 - 65234 4 - 23546 1 - 62543 3 p 23456

The figures shown refer only to changes where the treble leads in the Dixon's section, not the reverse Dixon's section. All bobs are 14.

12) John Warboys SU0713 which contains the 41 Surprise Minor in regular 3 part blocks of 720 changes

After prompting by Ian Fielding, two more entries were added:-

 5040 Spliced S. Minor (41 methods) SU0713
23456 Du ) Repeat twice, calling He - 23564 Cm Pr Bo Nf Nf ) for Bk in 2nd part, giving - 64523 Du Hu Bk Bo ) 23456 - 42356 )
23456 Bo Ip Ip ) Repeat twice, calling Bv - 23564 Yo Su Yo ) for Su in 2nd part, and - 45236 Bo Bo ) calling single at end, - 45362 Bo Du ) giving 24356 34256 )
24356 Mo Wo ) - 24563 Wo Wh Nb Cl Cl ) Repeat twice, giving 24356 - 63524 Wo Nw Ch ) - 32456 )
24356 Nb ) - 45632 Wo Ak Mu Ct Sa ) Repeat twice, calling Ch - 32645 Sa ) for Mu in 2nd part, giving - 56324 Wh Ak Sa ) 24356 43256 )
24356 Cu ) Repeat twice, calling Co - 24563 Lo ) for Li in 2nd part, and - 35246 Li Cu Cu Co ) calling single at end, - 35462 Ke Lo We Ke ) giving 23456 43256 )
23456 Lf ) - 35642 Ws Lf Bm ) - 54263 No ) Repeat twice, calling Ad - 25463 Ab Wk Bc ) for Ws in 2nd part, giving - 42563 Ab ) 23456 - 63542 Ro St ) 42356 )
23456 Bc ) - 64235 Wk ) Repeat twice, giving 23456 - 26435 Wm Bm Ne Ad ) - 42635 Bc No Bm ) - 42356 )

Alternative (1) for Norwich-over blocks: SU0714

   23456 Ro Ab Ro Bc      )
 - 56423 Bc               ) Repeat twice, giving 23456
   34256                  )
23456 Bc ) - 64235 Wk Ne Bm Lf Ws ) Repeat twice, calling Ws - 52643 No Wk ) for Ad in 2nd part, giving - 36524 Wm Ad Ne Bc No ) 23456 - 45362 Bc St ) 34256 )

Alternative (2) for Norwich-over blocks: SU0715

   23456 Bm               )
 - 64235 Wk               )
 - 26435 Bm Ne            ) Repeat twice, giving 23456
 - 63542 Wk No            )
 - 25634 Ad Lf            )
 - 34625 Wm Bm            )
   42356                  )
23456 Ro Ab Ro - 42356 Lf - 25634 Bm Ab No - 25346 Ne Bm Wm Ws - 32546 Bc Bc - 24653 Ws - 24536 Bm - 65243 Bm Ne - 54326 No Bc St Ab - 54263 No - 25463 Ne Bm Lf - 34256 Lf Bm - 34562 Ws St - 62534 Lf - 23456

Compositions SU0713 and SU0714 are entirely 3-part callings with single-lead substitutions of lead splicers to ensure a plain lead of every method. All three versions contain no 65's at backstroke.

13) Peter Ellis whole course 21 Surprise Minor (atw) with bobs only and a change of backwork every course (November 2005)

 14 or 21 SPLICED SURPRISE MINOR in whole courses
14 methods: call Part I or III three times. 21 methods: call Part I once and Part III twice, or Part I twice and Part III once as shown below.
PART I 123456 Warkworth -123564 Carlisle -152364 London -135264 Berwick -135642 Morpeth -135426 Bacup -135264 Cunecastre -123564 Primrose -123645 Westminster -162345 York -136245 Lightfoot -123645 Whitley -123456 Cambridge -142356 Chester -134256
PART I 134256 Warkworth -134562 Carlisle -153462 London -145362 Berwick -145623 Morpeth -145236 Bacup -145362 Cunecastre -134562 Primrose -134625 Westminster -163425 York -146325 Lightfoot -134625 Whitley -134256 Cambridge -123456 Chester -142356
PART III 142356 Warkworth -142563 Northumberland -154263 London -125463 Hexham -125634 Morpeth -125346 Bacup -125463 Cunecastre -142563 Norfolk -142635 Allendale -164235 York -126435 Netherseale -142635 Whitley -142356 Ipswich -134256 Munden -123456

See Also