Project Pickled Egg - Part 17
There should be room in any larder for a few luxuries. These will not necessarily be used for everyday cooking, but are there to satisfy the occasional need for an indulgence.
Cooktown Orchid is a superstar amongst methods. When you look at the line it might not look like anything special, but it is one of ringing’s best kept secrets. It had multiple recommendations for inclusion from the initial consultees, summarised as follows:
• Supremely musical method
• Relatively easy, right place
• Different lead end order (a group)
• Very good in spliced
• Delight method, so breaks the illogical aversion to Delight methods
That final point, that Cooktown Orchid is a Delight method, has underpinned its recommendation for Project Pickled Egg. In developing the initial method suggestion list, Cooktown Orchid was going to get in anyway on merit, but the fact that it is Delight meant we didn’t have to look any further to ensure one such method was included.
Before explaining why we felt this delightful urge, I will give as untechnical an explanation as I can of the difference between Surprise and Delight. It is to do with places made when the treble moves between dodging positions (called the ‘cross sections’), i.e. from 1-2 to 3-4, or 3-4 to 5-6, not including a bell leading or lying behind. A Treble Bob method doesn’t have internal places made at any cross section, a Surprise method has an internal place made at every cross section, and a Delight method has an internal place made at some of them (not all or none).
What is the practical effect of this? Delight methods are a little bit more fluid than Surprise methods, as they have fewer internal places and more hunting. This is noticeable on six bells, but on eight or more it makes little practical difference. Some would argue that Delight methods can actually be better than Surprise. The term Surprise was only first coined as a catch-all term for all the emerging methods that were not Treble Bob or Delight! We would probably be better off if no one had invented the terms in the first place, but we are stuck with them.
On ten bells, Triton is a popular London-type method and no one cares that it is Delight, whilst on 12, Avon (Delight) is a firm favourite of bands pushing the boat out beyond Bristol (Surprise) Maximus. The Bretton handbell band has just completed the Delight Royal alphabet on handbells. Yet on eight there seems to be reluctance to ring non-Surprise methods, and certainly a reluctance to include them in peals of spliced which would otherwise be described as ‘Spliced Surprise’.
Inclusion of a Delight method in the Project Pickled Egg selection is intended to demonstrate that Delight methods aren’t some inferior caste, but should sit alongside and amongst Surprise methods at least as equals. Cooktown Orchid, whether rung on its own or in spliced, will be found to be a great method and extremely musical. It is not difficult, although the below and above works both need learning as they will be unfamiliar.
Alan Reading had this to say about it: “Having rung/composed/called a number of peals of Cooktown Orchid myself I believe that actually it does flow very well and produce the music in nice ways. It's also interesting to note that about 69% of the lead is the same as Cambridge anyway in terms of place notation – it’s only the part of the lead surrounding the quarter and three quarter lead that differs. The fact it captures some of the nice structure of Cambridge but with vastly improved opportunities for all kinds of quantifiable music and significantly reduced falseness is one of the best things about it in my opinion!”
One issue with Delight methods is that including them in compositions of spliced makes the description of such performances less elegant. When all the methods in a composition are Surprise, the title of the performance becomes ‘Spliced Surprise’ and the individual methods are listed excluding the ‘class descriptors’, e.g. Bristol, Lessness, Superlative, etc, rather than Bristol Surprise, or Bristol S. But when methods with more than one class descriptor are used (e.g. Surprise and Delight), things change. Surprise and Delight (and Treble Bob) all belong to a ‘parent class’ called ‘Treble Dodging’, so you use that in the performance title. This protocol is set out in the draft Framework for Method Ringing which says:
If the Methods that were spliced have more than one Class Descriptor, any common class elements are included in the Performance title, and the remainder are included in the Method list. For example:
Performance Title: 1280 Spliced Treble Dodging Major Performance Detail: 3m: 416 each Cambridge Surprise, Megan Delight; 448 Imperial Treble Bob; 2 com; atw
In this example the Methods rung do not have the same Class Descriptors, but they are all Treble Dodging Methods. Treble Dodging is therefore included in the Performance Title, and the Method Names and Class Descriptors are included in the Performance Detail.
Compositions of spliced including Cooktown Orchid will therefore either need to appear as Spliced Treble Dodging Major (as tends to have been the case to date), or could just be referred to as Spliced Major, with abbreviated method class in the description, e.g. Bristol S, Cooktown Orchid D, Superlative S. The obvious temptation is to miss the class descriptor altogether, but this doesn’t enable the performance to be described precisely as the same method names have been used for more than one class (Kent Treble Bob and Kent Surprise).
Cooktown Orchid is musical in the plain course, generating 5678 runs off the front and back, but comes into its own in longer compositions. AJB offers this particular favourite for a quarter peal:
1344 Cooktown Orchid Delight Major Generated by Arr AJB (SMC32)
2345678 W V 4 M H 4235678 - 7354628 - - 2348765 2
18 5678, 6 6578, 18 8765, 96 back combinations of 5678 16 front 8765, 16 front 5678, 96 front combinations 5678 24 CRUs 8 1234s front/back, 8 4321s front/back
Put Cooktown Orchid in the larder. And don’t just save it for special occasions!
- The Ringing World, No 5589, 8 June 2018, pg 544.