Project Pickled Egg - Part 1
Discussions on replacing the Standard 8 with better methods are almost as old as the Standard 8 themselves, and usually dissolve into nominations of ringers’ favourite methods and hatred of Pudsey and Rutland in particular. Ashtead and Uxbridge are often informally added to the Standard 8 without them having any particular merit, and Glasgow and Belfast have become relatively standard additional methods for those wanting more of a challenge. Ringers starting out ringing Surprise Major are almost always steered down the path of learning the Standard 8 in some order, usually the Cambridge above ones, then Bristol, etc. The benefit of learning the Standard 8 is that you are learning methods that your fellow ringers are likely to know, and you will be equipped with the skills to ring in the “touch of 8 spliced” which may be the Holy Grail of a Surprise Major practice. Compositionally, pursuit of the Standard 8 has created a vast body of compositions which are hampered rather than enhanced by the inclusion of all of these eight particular methods. Pitman’s 4 doesn’t really get any better by adding Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, Pudsey and Rutland. It is difficult for composers to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, although some have made admirable attempts. History has got us to the point where most ringers of Surprise Major have the basic ingredients of the Standard 8 in their larder. They are our staples, but unfortunately, they do not make a very good cake.
Project Pickled Egg aims to develop properly a new set of Core Surprise Major methods to replace the Standard 8, with the degree of thought, consultation and follow-up resource that could have traction. There won’t be eight and they won’t be called ‘Standard’. They may not even all be Surprise.The whole point would be that it would be a set of core methods that would teach ringers how to ring Surprise Major in a progressive way, with each additional method building on what has come before, and clear reasoning for why it adds value.The emergence of ART, a reforming Central Council, and a new generation of young ringers coming through events such as the Ringing World National Youth Contest means there is a chance now to teach a whole new generation of ringers a different set of Surprise Major methods. We can stock these ringers’ larders with fresh and much more exciting ingredients than generations before had, which not only make better cakes, but teach them how to cook and how to shop for more ingredients. This will be a larder without any pickled eggs in!
A small group of collaborators (generally experts in composition and method construction, plus me) has been discussing and working on Project Pickled Egg since the idea was conceived on a ringing friends holiday in summer 2017. It has now got to the point where the thoughts are worth sharing. Immediately prior to this article appearing in The Ringing World it was presented to the St Martin’s Guild, some members of which embraced it straight away!
ST MARTIN'S GUILD OF CHURCH BELL RINGERS EDGBASTON, W Mids, St Bartholomew Fri Jan 12 2018 2h44 (10) 5024 Cooktown Orchid D Major Comp. Donald F Morrison (No.1745) 1 Christine Mills 2 Mark R Eccleston 3 Stephanie J Warboys 4 Catherine R Taylor 5 James P Ramsbottom 6 Michael P R H Woolley 7 Alistair J Cherry (C) 8 Jack E Page #projectpickledegg. In 8 peals, Jack has now circled the tower in order from treble to tenor. Well done Jack!
In Part 2 I will explain the methodology being used to consider whether a method makes it into the larder, as well as looking back at how the current Standard 8 got there in the first place.
- The Ringing World, No 5569, 19 January 2018, pg 55.