Project Pickled Egg - Part 21
In this Part I am going to have a look at a method, or even a couple of methods, that I haven’t actually rung myself but which come highly recommended.
A lot of methods were named after elements in the Periodic Table in peals at Barrow Gurney in the 1980s organised by Tony Cox. Jovium was also first rung there and then. You don’t need to have much Chemistry knowledge to know that Jovium is not actually an element, but perhaps the name is a reference from an alternate fictional world.
Apart from having musical qualities in a method which is not particularly difficult, Jovium is being included because it is one of the simple classic overworks. Experienced 12 bell ringers would instantly see Jovium as being Phobos above, and in fact it is pretty much exactly a contraction of this very popular Maximus method. The key feature of the overwork is that bells start with a fishtail in the next position (when the treble goes from 2nds to 3rds place and a bell makes 4ths), before returning to do a fishtail in the position where they started (when the treble is in 5-6). So 8ths place bell does a fishtail in 5-6, and then goes back up to a fishtail in 7-8. On more bells that this, e.g. in Phobos, after the second of the two fishtails bells just treble bob until the treble gets back to 5-6.
Jovium has already been recognised by composers of Spliced as a ‘goodun’. It has been used in some of the most musical compositions, and at the quarter peal level, a relatively simple split tenors composition can obtain a deluge of back bell runs.
Arguments for inclusion:
• Musical method, particular good for quarter peals and in spliced
• Classic and nice overwork that reinforces being able to see when the treble is in 5-6
• New lead end order
When I wrote about Deva, I commented that ringing methods by above and below works is something regularly practised in Minor ringing. The same is true for ringing different places at the lead end. Methods with Cambridge and Norwich above in particular tend to be rung with their 2nds or 6ths place variants in compositions of spliced, e.g. Beverley / Berwick, Lightfoot / Rossendale.
With Treble Dodging Major, we tend to be much more wedded to the lead end that was used when the method was first rung, and I cannot actually think of any examples of two methods that have anything like equal status for their 2nds and 8ths place lead end variants. Some methods just seem to work better as 8ths place methods than 2nds and vice versa, either from the shape or fluidity of the line, or the ease of generating attractive compositions. You can count peals of Primrose Surprise Major (8ths place Cambridge) on the fingers of one hand!
Cornwall is another good example of this. 2nds place Cornwall is called Falmouth and it’s an F group method. If you compared the blue lines of Falmouth and Cornwall you might think that Falmouth was much easier. However there have been about 25 peals of Falmouth and a handful of quarters this century – compare that with ‘literally’ zillions of performances of Cornwall. Falmouth is too static for most tastes while Cornwall is dynamic.
So uniquely for this method I am going to do something new – I am going to present the 8ths place method as well. 8ths place Jovium is called Bolonium (also not quite a real element!). Neither Jovium nor Bolonium are on the face of it ‘better’ than the other. Jovium is Group D (often referred to as ‘Ashtead’ lead end order), which we haven’t had yet, whereas Bolonium is Group J, which is the same as Deva. We have got quite a lot of 2nds place methods already and fewer 8ths, so Bolonium would balance things out.
I did a quick bit of research on whether ringers who had not seen either method before thought Jovium or Bolonium looked easier to learn and ring. The majority voted for Jovium, which is the answer I expected. Why though, given they are essentially the same?
We start off ringing 2nds place Surprise Major methods. (Kent Treble Bob is 8ths place of course but I don’t think at the time we learn Kent we have really appreciated that fact.) The first 8ths place Surprise Major method we learn in the Standard 8 is Bristol. The concept of dodges at the lead end becomes ingrained – we expect them and we know how the bobs work. The lead end dodge can also be a good opportunity to get right, to the benefit of the conductor and conducted!
We are used to learning blue lines from 2nds place bell - so much so that some people even learn 8ths place methods from 2nds place bell. When I first learned Surprise Major methods I thoughts 2nds place ones were easier, whereas now it makes no difference to me. When I first learned Glasgow I started at 2nds place bell, but changed my mind quickly and learned the rest starting from 8ths.
When rung on higher numbers, this overwork is almost always rung as a 10ths or 12ths place lead end as the methods are considered to flow better, and that is the main argument for Bolonium over Jovium.
One of the reasons therefore for presenting both Jovium and Bolonium as equivalents is to illustrate this point. This is a method equally good with either lead end. Jovium might be easier. Bolonium is more flowing and may feel nicer to ring. You pays your money and takes your choice.
1344 Jovium Surprise Major Composed by Graham A C John
2345678 V I H W (2463785) – – s 2438765 – –
2 part. 37 5678s (18f,19b), 6 6578s (6f,0b), 44 crus, 104 4-bell runs (51f,53b), 192 5678 combinations (96f,96b), 37 8765s (18f,19b), Backrounds.
- The Ringing World, No 5614, 30 Nov 2018, pg 1217.