Project Pickled Egg - Part 14

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Deva Surprise Major

I am now starting on an as yet undefined number of methods which progress beyond the Starter Seven. Most of them will be progressive in that they will introduce something that has not been met before such as a new above work, a different structure, or a challenge to the way one learns or rings methods. The first seven methods have merit as a group and a target in themselves, but they are really only a gateway to the world of Surprise Major, which offers much more to discover and enjoy.

The first new method for consideration is Deva Surprise Major.

Arguments for inclusion:

  • The way it is constructed from existing known methods (Bristol, Superlative) makes it very good for understanding method construction, and presents a great challenge for ringers piecing together sections of methods they know and ending up with something that feels completely different
  • It introduces a new lead end group
  • The plain course is very musical
  • Calling three bobs at Home is a lead shorter than the plain course, and absolutely packed with attractive rows
  • The falseness is unusual, but not particularly constraining
  • Very useful in spliced compositions

On the face of it, Deva is not any more difficult than anything that has gone before, being made up of Bristol above the treble and Superlative below. It might not look like Superlative from the blue line, but all that has changed is that instead of 7ths being made under the treble at the half-lead, 1sts place is made and other bells plain hunt rather than dodge. Anyone who knows Bristol and Superlative, and also knows which dodges in Superlative are happening when the treble is making 8ths, can in theory ring Deva unencumbered by another blue line. In theory…

Ringing methods by above and below works is something regularly practised in Minor ringing. It is a very efficient way of being able to learn and ring lots of methods, especially when combined with an awareness of where the half-lead is, and how to adapt to different places being made at that point. Ringing this way is not common in Surprise Major because too many of the methods resulting from combining some above and below works either wouldn’t be any good or wouldn’t work at all.

Deva is an exception because its constituent parts are well known and so it can be rung as Superlative below Bristol. However some ringers who have learned and rung Deva without seeing the Superlative didn’t find the below work very difficult to learn anyway. Project Pickled Egg is aiming to encourage an appreciation of method structure, and so being able to see that Deva is Superlative below is good. If it also gives an awareness of where the half-lead dodges are in Superlative – even better. If you have never rung a method by above and below, how do you do it? In the same way that learning place bells enables you to switch methods at a lead end, the key to above and below is to learn all the places on the blue line or in the structure where you meet the treble, either dodging with it or passing it. Then you switch to the same point on the other method. This may seem as though a lot more knowledge is needed, but there is much to be gained from learning a method including where the treble passing points are anyway, and is why the most decent blue lines show the treble as well.

I confess that the first time I rang a course of Deva, knowing its structure but not its line, I wish I had spent a little bit of time in advance working out what would happen in practice – fortunately others fired it out before my own lack of preparation became apparent! My suggestion therefore is to learn the line if you have to, but try and see the Bristol, the Superlative, and the effect of the 18 half-lead, as you are ringing it. You may soon be liberated from the ‘crutch’ of the blue line.

Deva is a j group method, typically rung with a 4ths place bob. Just like in Bristol, a 4ths place bob when called in an 8ths place method causes all the bells above 4ths place to dodge at the lead end when they otherwise wouldn’t, with the bells in 2nds and 3rds unaffected. In Bristol the bob causes the bells above 4ths to repeat the lead they have just rung. In Deva the call causes the last two leads to be repeated – the tenor ‘jumps’ back two leads on the blue line and rings them again. This makes j group methods particularly attractive. Anthony Barnfield described it thus on the PPE Facebook group “Deva is excellent for shunt and pad compositions. You shunt the bells into whatever position you fancy (2468s or 8765s, whatever) and then you can pad with blocks of three (or more) using fourths place calls at alternate leads. Within the two leads whatever you are getting at the back you get off the front.” This is a method that is not only intrinsically musical, but its lead-end group enables that to be exploited to good effect.

For each of these additional methods I am going to offer one or two quarter peal compositions. The first one, suggested by Anthony Barnfield, exploits the ‘shunt and pad’ property explained above. It might look complex but a straightforward option is to ring the 4th and call yourself 5ths, 7ths, In, Out, Make – a four-part with singles halfway and end on the Makes. The ‘In Out Make’ section (the sets of 3 Middles and Homes below for the tenor) is repeating pairs of musical leads to generate the 5678 combinations.

1280 Deva Surprise Major
Arr AJB (SMC32)

 234567   B  2  H  4  M  V
(372546)  -              -        
(372546)              3           
 436257            -              
 324567   -     3*        
 2 part

3* = b b s

Contains all 24 each 5678 and 8765 off front and back, 256 combinations of 5678 off the back, 192 combinations of 5678 off the front, 24 1234s off front and back, and 18 4321s off front and back

Another option

1344 Deva Surprise Major
Donald F Morrison

 23456   B  H
 24356      s
 43625   -  a
 34256   -  s
 Repeat twice

a = V,M,F.

Contains all 24 each 56s and 5678s off the front, 12 each 65s, 8765s, 8756s and 8765s off the front, 6 each 6578s off the front and 8756s off the front, and back rounds, and is all the work.

Venusium is a ‘try also’ alongside Deva. Venusium is just Dublin above rather than Bristol, and is at least as good as Deva. Mark Davies has used Venusium to good effect in his challenging compositions of 10-spliced which he called “the Renaissance 10.”

I know a local band that has Deva on their standard methods list, and I have made it the special method for tours. It is well worth trying to persuade others to look at it as any band should enjoy ringing Deva.