Compositions of the Decade 2000-2009 - 5 - Major
A Review by Philip Earis - continued
Quite simply, things have got better and better for eight bell compositions over the decade.
It may be a slight caricature, but for the last quarter of the 20th century much (most?) 8-bell ringing was objectionable. There was a preponderance of mediocre compositions and bad methods.
Single Method Madness
The problems were acute for many single method peals. Misguided preconceptions led to a fixation on "surprise" methods, on bad methods with familiar overworks and non-descript underworks (indeed many awful new rung methods were simply selected because they had an unrung notation), on keeping the tenors together, on avoiding 87s at backstroke, and on CRU-based compositions (often 3-parts).
The advent of software like BYROC both typified the problem and made things worse - instead of being a tool to allow better possibilities, it was built with pre-conceptions about desired outputs, and actually exacerbated the problem.
Sadly, when bands also ventured into spliced major ringing it was like a race to the bottom. The so-called "standard 8" seemed to be the default option, with occasional forays into Pitman's series. Prior to the current decade, I'm struggling to think of a single spliced major composition that has significant musical, as opposed to historic or challenging, merit.
A Decade of Improvement
So how have things changed in the past decade? Well, happily there has been an improvement across the board. Whilst 8-bell ringing is still predominately based on treble-dodging major, people are not so obsessed with surprise. Delight methods (and good delight methods) seem much more common.
Looking at the methods that people ring, the overall number of peals has been stable. However, towerbell peals of Rutland, Lincolnshire and Pudsey Major (a barometer for mediocrity) are down 25%, 11% and 31% respectively over the current decade compared with the 1990s.
A very tangible advance has been in composition for single method peals. The meritless three-part seems a lot less common these days, whilst the bespoke one part containing lots of runs has been on the up. BYROC feels very anachronistic - the vastly superior SMC32 seems to be used much more frequently, giving genuinely worthwhile results. Congratulations must go to Mark Davies and Graham John, its architects.
The Extent of Hull
One of the main drivers for progress over the decade has been David Hull. He has produced consistently great new methods and compositions, which have been very influential. The problem with trying to pick out "compositions of the decade" is that it's hard to reflect a consistent high-quality body of work - there perhaps isn't any one particular Hull single-method composition that stands out (though I do like the look of his 5152 no.2 of Superlative).
So whilst I haven't included anything of his on the list below, I think homage to the un-specified Hull 1-part composition should be paid. Consider it item (0) on the list.
New composers like Alan Reading have also come onto the scene, again consistently delivering neat and "tuned" compositions. More generally, many of the compositions I have selected below come from relatively young composers. This must be healthy for ringing.
A Tangled Web
Another notable feature of the ringing decade has been the continued rise of computers for generating and the internet for storing and sharing ringing information. Don Morrison - surely the decade's most prolific composer - deserves much credit for his ongoing work with www.ringing.org<http://www.ringing.org>, including seeding it with a lively mix of his own compositions. Meanwhile Michael Wilby's www.compositions.org.uk<http://www.compositions.org.uk>, populated by a high-powered more select stable of composers, has been a consistently excellent resource.
This notwithstanding, compositions remain scattered across the web in an ad-hoc way. I repeat my desire for a more stable, consistent repository, and it is hoped the Graham John's recent efforts at spearheading a comprehensive new database will bear fruit in the months and years to come.
A New Generation of Spliced Compositions
In parallel to the developments with single-method peal developments over the decade, another huge theme has been with advances with spliced major. It has been a superb decade for spliced major - a real golden age. Clever thinking and eager peal bands have pushed back limits of length and complexity. Indeed, it has been arguably the first time in history of ringing where long-length attempts have really involved cutting edge multi-method compositions.
Enhanced computer power has helped here, and not always new software. Philip Saddleton's SCAMP has played a part in several of my selected compositions, whilst many other composers have used their own customised tool-kits to produce innovative new compositions in familiar sets of methods, as we shall see.
Thinking away from the most cutting edge, there has been an across-the-board shift in spliced major ringing. Moving away from the over-emphasis on ringing "8-spliced", the decade has seen a clear branching out into more exciting terrain. As a crude indicator of this, by comparing the current decade to the 1990s we see that the number of peals of 8-spliced has dropped by 19%, whilst the number of peals of 23-spliced has risen by more than 29%.
Scope for Further Progress
Despite the rosy optimism, we are not in the promised land yet. Trends are evident, but there remains a lot of intransigence and ignorance. There have still been 700 peals of Rutland Major rung in the past decade. Plain, alliance and treble place methods are still neglected. Different types of symmetries and lead heads (including cyclic methods) continue to have much potential. Near the beginning of the decade Philip Saddleton produced a method with double offset symmetry which remains unrung - +(x184.108.40.206.5x220.127.116.11.6x18.104.22.168.4x22.214.171.124.3), which shows both the progress of the past decade, and the change in attitudes that is still needed.
Onwards and upwards...
1)12-spliced major (cyclic 7-part palindrome with all 96 runs) - Rob Lee - February 2009
The decade has seen huge progress in the development of spliced major compositions. A key factor has been using cyclic 7-part constructions, both to get all-the-work and to ensure that music in any one part is multiplied across all the parts.
Right at the end of 1999 David Hull produced his cyclic 23-spliced composition - this set a new benchmark, containing 40 of the 96 possible run-rows of each type (ie 5678xxxx, 8765xxxx, xxxx5678, xxxx8765).
A fair few composers have turned to the cyclic construction to produce new compositions in familiar groups of methods like Smiths and Chandlers 23-spliced, as we shall later in this article.
However, since David Hull's composition, particular attention has been given to increasing the run-count up to the ideal maximum of 96. Various compositions were put together by for example Don Morrison containing 55 / 96 run rows (http://ringing.org/main/pages/printable?id=853&collection=peals), by me containing between 65-89 / 96 runs rows (eg http://www.cantabgold.net/users/pje24/earis23.html), and by Alan Reading, who ultimately got all 96 runs in both 6-method and 23-method compositions.
However, the shining light of all of these is Rob Lee's palindromic 12-method composition which he produced earlier in 2009, and about which I expounded at length in September (http://www.bellringers.org/pipermail/ringing-theory_bellringers.net/2009-September/003031.html)
It combines a clever design structure with nice methods to produce a supreme composition.
5152 Spliced S Major (14  methods) 2345678 Straker's Passage S 3527486 Speedball S 4263857 Revolver S 6482735 Speedball S 7856342 Straker's Passage S -7864523 Zonda S 3526478 Taunton S 4283756 Panamera S 8472635 Helium S 6758342 Xanadu S -5678342 Tattersalls S 6854723 Bolonium S 2347856 Uracco S -4237856 Evora S 8364527 Evora S -7568234 Uracco S 6725483 Jovium S 3482567 Tattersalls S -3426875 Xanadu S 2384567 Bridgwater S 8253746 Panamera S 5872634 Taunton S 6745382 Zonda S -8234567
2) 22400 Spliced Surprise Major (100m atw) - Paul Needham - Rung October 2005
Simon Linford promised the College Youths that before his year as Master was over, there would be several ground-breaking Society ringing performances. Like JFK's pledge to put a man on the moon, this promise left a bit of work for other people to fill in some of the details...
Paul Needham fully succeeded in meeting Simon's challenge to produce an appropriate 100 method all-the-work peal of major. Unlike Philip Saddleton, who had previously turned his hand to the problem, Paul cleverly started with Norman Smith's familiar 23-spliced as a template, and then expanded by inserting additional methods into the framework.
His composition contains all 12 leadhead groups, all of Smith's methods, and all but two of Chandler's 23-spliced methods also. There is no "trick" to the new methods used, nor use of multiple trivial variations.
Instead, we just see new rows inserted using a wide range of regular methods that will accommodate them. Many of the methods used are amongst the "falsest" ever rung, though this is of no consequence in a multi-spliced peal.
The composition has pushed back boundaries in several regards, and its influence will be felt in years to come.
12345678 Yorkshire - 13578264 Uxbridge - 12735486 Go 13247658 Old Kent Road - 13275486 Whitechapel Road 12538764 Kings Cross - 15864273 Angel - 16584273 Euston Road - 18654273 Pentonville Road - 12586347 Just Visiting 13872456 Pall Mall - 18256347 Electric 13578426 White Hall 16427835 Northumberland Avenue - 15826347 Marylebone Station 14763825 Bow Street - 17325486 Cornwall 14267835 Double Dublin 16482573 Bristol 18654327 Whalley - 13586742 Watford 18375264 London 17823456 Tavistock 15634827 Glasgow 16452378 Cambridge - 14278635 Mulcaster - 17428635 Willesden - 15627348 Marlborough Street 12536874 Vine Street - 12567348 Free Parking 17458236 Strand£220 13682457 Fleet Street - 16257348 Esplanade 13586427 Sussex - 12748635 Cassiobury - 18356742 Lindum 15873264 Superlative - 18364527 Mont du Jubile - 16834527 Newcastle 18462375 Glamorgan 12745836 Essex 15376284 Columbium - 13684527 Wembley - 15836742 Rutland - 17358264 Jersey 18634725 Preston 14265873 Ipswich - 17386542 Trafalgar Square 13674825 Fenchurch Street Station - 14258673 Leicester Square 18723465 Coventry Street - 15428673 Waterworks - 12548673 Piccalilli 15827436 Go To Jail - 18736542 Regent Street 14265738 Oxford Street - 13876542 Cray 15723486 Ashtead - 18642357 Kingwood 17354286 Northampton - 12573648 Hertfordshire - 17253648 Ebeneezer - 18657423 Spilsby 12374658 Beaumont Hill - 13458267 Belfast - 15348267 Hertford - 14538267 Sonning - 15867423 Tellurium 18752634 Buckfastleigh 14635287 Eggybread 12374865 Moulton - 16587423 Aldenham - 15723648 Corbiere - 13486725 Yeading - 18346725 Antioch - 12574683 Lonestar - 12548736 Chertsey - 14258736 Maufont - 15428736 Claybrooke - 17254683 Sir Isaac Newton - 12483765 Bond 007 - 18243765 Liverpool Street Station - 14823765 Chesterfield - 15724683 Lulworth - 14836725 Lincoln - 18625473 Lamoye - 12865473 Petersfield - 14628357 Ardotalia - 12468357 Isle Of Wight 18547236 Park Lane - 16248357 Malpas 13476528 Amersham - 16285473 Richmond - 14862357 Herefordshire 12587436 Newlyn 13674582 Oxney - 16482357 Lincolnshire - 14257638 Ditchling - 15427638 Hereford - 12547638 Pudsey -------- - 15738264
3) 5056 Bristol Surprise Major - Mark B Davies - Rung December 2007
Bristol major is hardly an unexplored field, but the huge majority of previously-rung Bristol compositions have contained multiple calls around the course-end, often in the misguided attempt to load up on CRUs.
Mark instead took the simple but brilliant approach of letting the glorious method generate the music more naturally. He has put together a series of very innovative Bristol Major compositions, which have many fewer calls (and consequently more courses) than previous examples.
The pick of the bunch is Mark's 5056, which in his words, "...is special because it also achieves the goal of 'no duffers' - that is, not one of its 19 courses contain undesirable coursing orders, apart from isolated transitional leads around the course end. This is a remarkable achievement which I have not discovered in any other 'short-course' arrangement. The seamless link from one musical course to the next is achieved, on average, by fewer than 1.8 calls"
This is a most beautiful single-method composition - everything about it just "works".
5056 no.1 / 5120 no.2 23456 M B W H -------------- 42356 - 54326 - 54263 - - 32465 - 5 - 26354 - 43652 - - 43526 - - 24536 - 43265 - 45362 2 - 63254 - - 52436 - - 34625 - - * 26543 - - 64352 - 2 23456 - - -------------- For 5120, call 2M B 2W for course marked *
4) 40320 Spliced TD major (4-360m) - Ander Holroyd - composed September 2004
(Also a "shout" to a composition on a different plan by Tony Cox, 2002)
Extents of plain major have been around for many years. Treble-dodging methods are much harder to find extents for. Internal falseness rules out extents for the huge majority of methods.
Nevertheless, extents for some treble dodging methods have been known for some time. A few methods with the "cleanest" falseness, such as Derwent, lend themselves easily to extents. In 1974 Colin Wyld published an extent of Yorkshire Major - Richard Smith deconstructed this in a June 2005 message to this list: <http://www.bellringers.org/pipermail/ringing-theory_bellringers.net/2005-June/000951.html>
However, before the present decade I don't think any extents of spliced treble-dodging major (at least apart from trivial lead-splice Derwent variants) were known.
Ander Holroyd changed all that in 2004, producing clever extents first in 4 methods (including on a 7-part plan), rising up to 360 methods.
The extents draw on developments in magic-block minor ringing. In Ander's composition, though, the overwork always changes at the leadhead, whilst the underwork always changes at the halflead. By using asymmetric over and underworks, the effect of a "pseudo-single" at each halflead and leadend can be achieved, making the problem of getting an extent analogous to minor. 2345678 ---------------------------------------------------------- UqoP GaqG ZqlQ Fsh& NguI ZxmY A=hF Wa<F @br# Kb>I 4582673 Pg=N YirE XcyP GtmF TpjQ HfvA Yhy$ NkuF [email protected] OvdF 2735864 Q<jC PcuB WdvE $brV ObvM RfrB TtdD @zcE &=nB Q+a& 7425386 E>fI PkuE $zhB Vm>R IsgR Jsk# Ee+# KkyW DczP MtdY 8573264 AtiT HucM PwoN &tbX Kg=L X+jI RrdA $eqT HbtU GxfK 6237584 $+lZ JxfQ B>fO WqlU Ce+H @vf# EmtZ JkzV BxfM SqlR 5467382 MqaB Wh=S GpaF Qg=J R+lO @mxF Ta<B VepO @c=P GmvS 3257864 GnyX ApoW DpoJ ZnuQ BdrQ HwlT DoqO VbvD V>iQ HriF 4287653 WnsZ GynF @ugI Z<lI UsnN YshV Oj+N Y<aL XksN &o<N 4763258 #sg$ KrfC Sm>@ DqaJ RksL XguY K+aU JyhD W=nU JixY 8523746 L+lK Y>iI ZpjM Pb>K XwoG [email protected] DynT HkuR I+jU CtiZ 8726435 MbrF @eqC PvdE $woA &ycV DtbE [email protected] Hl<T BmvC Rzc$ 6357248 AqoL #gzE #i>H VdxL #jwO WtiU IkyS MpeS CcyN #lwK 7348562 $kzC Uf>Q OtmW BirI U<lC RwlM Zap& Ln=G UpjK XzkQ 7283456 OzhA XopS J<o$ NapW Oc=$ NixU J+eA &m># LkyL Ya+P 5428637 I<jT BshS JgzM SdxT DewV D=hE XvfZ GdrY KzgH VvbR 5437286 CpeP Cb>F Wxd& LgsQ OewE &qeM ZjwC So<L &xiL YnsT 7238546 DmxN #ucA X=cS JnuV HjwM Rj<# Kun& Amv$ [email protected] HzhG 8234567 ---------------------------------------------------------- 7 part
Each group of 4 symbols represents one lead. All lead ends and half leads rung 18.
Methods Above A: -5-4-5-36 B: -5-4-5-3 C: -5-4-56-36 D: -5-4-56-3 E: -56-4-5-36 F: -56-4-5-3 G: -56-4-56-3 H: 56-5.4.5-5.36 I: 56-5.4.56-5.36 J: 56-5.4.5-56.3 K: 56-5.4.56-56.3 L: 56-56.4.5-5.36 M: 56-56.4.56-5.36 N: 56-56.4.5-56.3 O: 56-56.4.56-56.3 P: -5-4.5-5.36 Q: -5-4.56-5.36 R: -5-4.5-56.3 S: -5-4.56-56.3 T: -56-4.5-5.36 U: -56-4.56-5.36 V: -56-4.5-56.3 W: -56-4.56-56.3 X: 56-5.4-5-36 Y: 56-5.4-5-3 Z: 56-5.4-56-36 &: 56-5.4-56-3 @: 56-56.4-5-36 #: 56-56.4-5-3 $: 56-56.4-56-3 Below a: -4-5-4- b: -4-5-34- c: -4-5-2- d: -34-5-4- e: -2-5-4- f: 4-4.5.4-34 g: 4-4.5.2-34 h: 4-34.5.4-34 i: 4-34.5.2-34 j: 4-2.5.4-34 k: 4-2.5.2-34 l: 2-4.5.4-34 m: 2-4.5.2-34 n: 2-34.5.4-34 o: 2-2.5.4-34 p: -4-5.4-34 q: -34-5.4-34 r: -2-5.4-34 s: 4-4.5-4- t: 4-4.5-34- u: 4-4.5-2- v: 4-34.5-4- w: 4-34.5-34- x: 4-34.5-2- y: 4-2.5-4- z: 4-2.5-34- <: 4-2.5-2- >: 2-4.5-4- +: 2-4.5-34- =: 2-4.5-2-
Working independently a couple of years before Ander, Tony Cox put together an extent based on systematically joining together quarter-leads from three treble-dodging methods "...so that 78 never make any internal places within a section and just ring a stretched version of Double Norwich"
A k -56-14-56-36-34-58-34-18 (Norfolk) B k -78-14-78-36-12-58-12-18 C k -34-14-12-18-78-58-56-18
Tony's basic block of 3 courses with sixths place bobs at 4ths is
AABB AACB CAAC (bob) AACA BABC CBAB ACAA CABA BCCB ABAC (bob) AAAB BAAA CBAA BBAA ABBA AABB AABC (bob) BCAA BBAA CBCA ACBC
In Tony's words, "Note the quarter lead change is 16 when the first quarter lead is C and 38 when the second quarter is C. In the second half of the lead it is 38 at the 3/4 lead if C is used in the 3 quarter and 16 if C is used in the 4th quarter.
The extent is then obtained by adding calls to the tenor-together courses to join the 60 in-course courses together". For example for a 3 part:
IOOO 35426 IVOOO 62534 IVOOO 43265 V 53462 IIIVO 35264 VVOSHSH 54263 OO 25463 VOO 23564 Repeat twice
5) Assorted fun with Smith's and Chandler's
John Goldthorpe (8-part Chandlers) - January 2007
John Goldthorpe (45-spliced major) - 2005
Don Morrison (Cyclic Smiths, Cyclic Chandlers) - 2002
Richard Pearce (23 spliced)
There has been lots of development with "established" groups of 23-spliced methods in the past decade. Don Morrison has published a lively range of new compositions for the sets of both Smith's and Chandler's methods. He has produced alternative compositions with both cyclic and regular partends. Don's cyclic Chandler's is perhaps the pick of the bunch:
5,152 Spliced Surprise Major (23 methods) Donald F Morrison (no. 5) 2345678 Newlyn 7856342 Moulton -4235678 Sonning 5728463 Pudsey 8673542 Essex 3462857 Claybrooke -8634725 London 3876542 Richmond 7358264 Sussex -6425873 Whalley 2684357 Malpas -3826745 Caterham -2386745 Newcastle 3624857 Colnbrook 6435278 Buckfastleigh 8273564 Northampton 7852436 Willesden -6457382 Yeading 5634278 Belfast 3526847 Chertsey 2385764 Chesterfield 7842635 Glasgow 8273456 Bristol -7823456
John Goldthorpe meanwhile has put together 8-part all the work compositions of Chandlers, including the neat feature of using a "x" as the change to vary the treble.
5632 Spliced Surprise Major (22 methods) John M Goldthorpe (No 2) 12345678 Willesden S 61482735 Whalley 68174523 Richmond S 76851342 Malpas 73526481 Claybrooke S 27345168 Colnbrook 23576481 Moulton 21487635 Sonning S 72345168 Sussex S 87164523 Chertsey S 78164523 Huddersfield S 47213856 Caterham 41782635 Bristol 48167523 Northampton 46851372 Chesterfield 43526781 Newcastle S 54638217 Belfast 53426781 Buckfastleigh 51782634 London 58167423 Newlyn S 25374168 Yeading 27513846 Essex 23456781 8 part. S=x.
John also has produced an enticing 8-part Chandler's composition with treble changing singles at most leads:
5888 Spliced Surprise Major (23 methods) John M Goldthorpe 12345678 Willesden S 61847235 Caterham S 16482735 Newcastle S 41628357 Essex S 54876321 Chertsey S 45783621 Sonning S 34725168 Northampton S 23148756 Bristol S 32417856 Buckfastleigh S 83615247 London 81326754 Newlyn S 58643721 Claybrooke S 45781632 Colnbrook S 74518326 Moulton S 67238145 Chesterfield S 16534728 Sussex S 81274365 Richmond S 78315246 Whalley 71823654 Malpas 76241583 Belfast S 67425183 Pudsey S 56487312 Yeading 58634271 Huddersfield -------- S 45678123 8 part. S=3456. 256 of each method. 183 com, all the work.
A further Goldthorpe composition of note is his 45m atw 10080 change composition incorporating all of Smiths and Chandler's methods, with a few requested others to push the peal over 10000 changes.
Finally in this section, Richard Pearce has a tidy and elegant "bonus" 23-spliced composition which doesn't need much learning, as it incorporates methods from several established "series" of one part peals of Spliced Surprise Major (specifically Pitman's 9, the "Nottingham 8", Crosland's series, and the so-called "Standard" 8, Belfast and Glasgow.
5152 Spliced Surprise Major 12345678 Rutland ------------------- 14263857 Superlative -12357486 Belfast 15243678 Lincoln -12378564 Dorchester 18634257 Lessness -12386745 Lindum 18273564 Yorkshire 13624857 Cambridge 14567382 Glasgow 15748623 Cassiobury -18236745 London 13872564 Pudsey 12684357 Adelaide 15743682 Ealing -16457238 Brighton 17348625 Eccleston -13825764 Cornwall 17243685 Watford 14762538 Chesterfield 15684372 Wembley 18536247 Lincolnshire -15647823 Bristol ------------------- -14567823 7 part
Whilst in all these compositions the musical content is not especially notable, it is often reasonable and they are all fine examples of well-crafted compositions following a tightly-constrained method selection.