February 19, 2005

Surprise, surprise — putting it all together

So, we have looked (first here and then here) at the main sections of a plain course of Cambridge Surprise Minor. Now we have to stitch those bits together. This is how it works. We will consider bell 2, which starts in the middle of the front work, as if it had just made 2nd place over the treble. We continue with:

  • the second half of the front work
  • plain hunt towards the back
  • double dodge in 5-6 up, two blows behind, one dodge in 5-6 down (‘two and one’)
  • plain hunt down towards the front
  • lead full and dodge in 1-2 up
  • Cambridge places in 3-4 up, followed by…
  • the back work, and then…
  • Cambridge places in 3-4 down
  • dodge in 1-2 down and lead full
  • plain hunt towards the back
  • dodge in 5-6 up, two blows behind, double dodge in 5-6 down (‘one and two’)
  • plain hunt towards the lead
  • and begin the front work

The tricky bits here are remembering the extra dodges at the front and back, and the order in which they come.

We can now do two things. We can trace out the entire plain course of a single bell. Or we can write out a single lead end for all six bells. In fact these are equivalent things, as we shall see in a moment, and the single lead end is a more compact format.

This is what the lead looks like:



At the end of each lead what we have done is to change the order of the bells, and they then do the work that the bell in that place did in the just-finished lead. For example, if we trace bell 2 through a single lead, then it will end up in 6th place, and that means that what it does next is whatever bell 6 did in that lead end. It has become the 6ths place bell. So we can continue tracing the path of this bell by following the 6 through the lead end. We can do the same for each place bell, noting where it starts, and which place bell it becomes:

2, or rather seconds place bell: second half of frontwork, dodge ‘two and one’ at the back; become sixths place bell

sixths place bell: down to front, lead and dodge; places up; become thirds place bell

thirds place bell: straight up to the back and do back work, dodge 3-4 down; become fourths place bell

fourths place bell: make 3rds place at start of places down; dodge and lead; up to back and dodge 5-6 up (start of ‘one and two’); become fifths place bell

fifths place bell: two blows behind and double dodge 5-6 down (end of ‘one and two’); down to lead and begin frontwork; make 2nds over the treble to become the seconds place bell

One other point is perhaps worth noting. In Kent Treble Bob, we always dodged and made places with the same bell in each dodging position (except when the treble was there) — in Kent when you are making 3rds and 4ths up (Kent places) another bell is making 3rd and 4ths down at the same time. But in Cambridge Surprise, the dodges and places are made with a different bell each time — and only one bell is making (Cambridge) places at any one time. It’s a much more complicated dance, all together.

Posted by Simon Kershaw at 5:42 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 17, 2005

Surprise, surprise (continued)

In learning the blue line for Cambridge Surprise Minor we have looked first at what happens when you make ‘Cambridge places’. Next we will look at the back work and the front work. (The warning given before still applies: if you are reading this and trying to learn Cambridge, then don’t assume that the instructions here are right. I am doing this from memory as part of my own learning process.)

The back work in Cambridge is like this:

double dodge 5-6 up, lie behind, dodge 5-6 down with the treble, make 5th place (below the treble), dodge 5-6 up with the treble, lie behind, double dodge 5-6 down.

And we can draw this in diagrammatic form, like this:

1---x- double dodge 5-6 up
---1-x two blows at the back
----1x and dodge 5-6 down with the treble
----x1 make 5th place below the treble
----1x and dodge 5-6 up with the treble
----1x two blows at the back
--1-x- and double dodge 5-6 down
-1-x-- and continue

Next, we come to the front work, which is something like this:

dodge 1-2 down, lead full, dodge 1-2 up, make 2nd place, lead full, dodge 1-2 up with the treble, make 2nd place over the treble, dodge 1-2 down with the treble, lead full, make 2nd place, dodge 1-2 down, lead full, dodge 1-2 up, and continue.

Got that? Perhaps a diagram will help:

-x--1- start with a dodge 1-2 down
x---1- lead
-x--1- and dodge 1-2 up
-x1--- make 2nd place
x-1--- lead again
1x---- dodge 1-2 up with the treble
1x---- make 2nd place over the treble
x1---- dodge 1-2 down with the treble
x1---- and lead agan
-x-1-- make 2nd place again
x--1-- dodge 1-2 down
x----1 lead
-x---1 dodge 1-2 up
--x--1 and onward

Now we have each of the components of Cambridge Surprise Minor. We just have to put them together, along with a few more dodges and some plain hunting.

Posted by Simon Kershaw at 9:20 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Surprise, surprise

I went yesterday to practice at Hemingford Grey. Although the tower captain there is away on an extended holiday, this is still a weekly gathering of more experienced ringers. At the end of the practice I was asked, ‘What method are you learning at the moment?’ Hmm, I thought, ‘Nothing really, busy running practices and teaching some beginners.’ Back came the suggestion ‘You could start having a look at Cambridge.’

So, I had a quick look at Cambridge Surprise Minor in Steve Coleman to see what is involved. I also glanced at Cambridge Surprise major, and quickly decided that I’d concentrate on Minor for now. If the Hemingford captain were around he’d probably throw me into the deep end with Major (as he threw me into Stedman Triples and Kent Treble Bob Major without first trying Doubles and Minor).

Anyway, after reading what Coleman has to say on the subject, the next step is to commit this to memory, and part of that process is to regurgitate it here. (Warning: if you are reading this and trying to learn Cambridge, then don’t assume that the instructions here are right. I am doing this from memory as part of my own learning process.)

We can divide a plain course of Cambridge into several pieces of work: the front work, the back work, and the places, which combined with a couple of other dodges, and some pieces of plain hunt, make up the method.

Coleman calls the places the most difficult bit, but they looked fairly easy to remember to me (though perhaps not so easy to remember when ringing, of course). Places are made in 3-4 up and in 3-4 down. Cambridge places in 3-4 up work as follows:

dodge 3-4 up, make 4ths place, make 3rds place, dodge 3-4 up, make 4ths place, make 3rds place, dodge 3-4 up

That’s it. Cambridge places down are the exact opposite of this:

dodge 3-4 down, make 3rds place, make 4ths place, dodge 3-4 down, make 3rds place, make 4ths place, dodge 3-4 down

If I remember correctly, then the dodge in the middle of the places work is made with the treble.

So, we can build a skeleton diagram of this, showing the treble and the bell making places.

First, Cambridge places up:

--x-1- dodge 3-4 up
---x1- make 4ths place
--x-1- make 3rds place
--1x-- dodge 3-4 up with the treble
--1x-- make 4ths place
1-x--- make 3rds place
1--x-- dodge 3-4 up
1---x- and continue

And secondly, Cambridge places down:

-1-x-- dodge 3-4 down
-1x--- make 3rds place
-1-x-- make 4ths place
--x1-- dodge 3-4 down with the treble
--x1-- make 3rds place
---x-1 make 4ths place
--x--1 dodge 3-4 down
-x---1 and continue

That’s enough for now. Next we’ll look at the front work and the back work, and then we’ll put it all together.

Posted by Simon Kershaw at 12:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 13, 2005

teaching and learning

For the last few weeks our ringing teacher has been away on an extended holiday. This means that I have to run practices, and that I have to deal with learners. Of course, we are all learners, and there are various ringers in the band at different stages.

One of the band, R, is just at the stage of being able to plain hunt on the treble reasonably competently, and beginning to take the step of trying to ring Bob Doubles on bell 2. At one practice where we had just enough competent ringers I stood behind R and helped him count his place. Learning to count one’s place is a big step — moving from the security of following known bells in a known order to having to acquire ropesight and see which position you should be ringing in. The very concept of ‘place’ can be difficult to get hold of, let alone move to. So the two of us sat down after practice and went through some of the theory of places and blue lines. When I was doing this myself I gradually made sense of it by reading and trying to understand the theory and then trying to ring it. Week by week I made a little progress until it had clicked into place. We shall have to see whether this works for R.

Some of our other ringers can just about ring a plain course of Bob Doubles on bell 2, and now they need to move to a different bell, so that between us we can ring Plain Bob more often (as well as aspire to greater things; but Plain Bob Doubles will do for now!). One thing that helps them get through a plain course is to be reminded what action they need to take each time the treble leads. When I am ringing bell 5 for a plain course the ‘partner bell’ is number 2. This is the bell that is dodging 3-4 down when you are dodging 3-4 up and vice versa, and is making long fifths when you are making 2nds, and vice versa. So it is fairly easy to tell this ‘partner bell’ what to do: either dodge with me, up or down as I am dodging down or up; or stay at the back when I am staying at the front (and when they make 2nds that’s rounds).

A little bit harder is to tell one of the other bells what to do, since they are busy dodging with a different bell. This morning I was able to tell bell 4 each time what they should be doing. I knew that at the first lead end they needed to be making long fifths, and was therefore able to work out, as we were ringing that at the next lead end they should be dodging 3-4 up, whilst at the same time not forgetting that I needed to be making 2nds. And then at the next lead end they should be making 2nds and I should be dodging 3-4 down. It’s nice to be able to have time to think about what another bell should be doing whilst having enough time to remember what to do myself, and at the same time still be counting my own place and ringing in that place. For a long time when I first saw this done I was amazed at the ability of the conductor to keep these different bells’ courses in his head. Now I find that I can do a little of this too, even if it is only one other bell in a plain course of Bob Doubles!

Posted by Simon Kershaw at 8:14 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack