Different bobs

We had a rehearsal tonight with just three of us (Jane, Maggie, Randy). And with all our recent successes ringing quarter peals, we decided to do something different.

For the first 15 minutes or so, we rang plain bob minor, but with Maggie on 3-4, which she hasn’t done much before. She did well enough that we needed to continue on to something different. We had tried ringing reverse bob a few weeks back, and so decided to focus on that for a while.

Plain bob has a dodge whenever the treble leads. The dodge causes bells in positions 1 and 2 to stay in their positions, and the other positions to swap with their neighbor.

Reverse bob has a dodge whenever the treble is at the back, and causes bells in positions 5 and 6 to stay in their positions, and the other positions to swap with their neighbor. When you have rung plain bob for years, ringing reverse bob is disconcerting because the lead bell may not ring on both the handstroke and backstroke, which is something you get very used to when ringing plain bob!

So, after struggling with reverse bob for a while, we finally rung a plain course of reverse bob successfully! Maggie on the trebles, Randy on 3-4, and Jane on the tenors. After ringing it successfully a few times, we decided to up the ante.

Double bob has a dodge when the treble is on the front, and when it is on the back! On the front is easy – it is what we do with plain bob every time we ring it. But combining that with the dodge on the back promised to cause trouble. So we started. And rang it correctly on the first attempt! We were surprised, but perhaps unfairly so. We have been ringing together for quite a few years now, and are really starting to meld. And tonight proved that with that first attempt success.

We rang it a couple more times, just to prove that the success was not a fluke, and were able to ring the method successfully again and again.

So, we upped the ante again, and decided to attempt a touch of double bob. Sadly, we could not ring that successfully, even after multiple attempts. But we were able to get to the first bob successfully, and so we were quite pleased with ourselves.

Different bobs

Working towards a new quarter peal

The group has decided to work on a new quarter peal. Well, we are always doing something that will help towards that goal, but for the past few weeks we have made a point of each person ringing the same bells all the time, rather than learn new positions.

This time, we are working on a quarter peal of Bob Major. For those who don’t know, that means that we are a quartet ringing eight bells. Maggie has the trebles, Randy has 3-4, Andrew has 5-6, and Jane has the tenors. Occasionally, Randy and Andrew switch, but with the goal now to work hard towards the quarter, that will no longer be happening!

Karen and Genine have mostly been absent during this training, giving us a chance to focus. Though it will be good to have them back on a regular basis.

In order to ring a quarter peal, we need to understand bobs and singles for the method, and so we started with that. So for the past few weeks, we have been ringing longer methods, mostly 336 changes (3 bobs at home).

Last night, we were able to almost ring a full 672 method, though we didn’t start at the beginning (one advantage of ringing handbells!) Instead of starting at the beginning, we started halfway through the last lead of the first plain course (87654312), and immediately called a bob at the lead end. We were struggling through the last course, which is simply a plain course, but with 3-4 reversed. When we got to rounds, there was a bit of rejoicing! Though not something we can post on bellboard (since we didn’t actually ring the full method), it is an achievement we are proud of in our goal of ringing a quarter peal of Bob Major.

Working towards a new quarter peal

Something different

On 21 May, we tried something different. One of our members (Maggie) found a YouTube video of a group ringing changes by switching bells with the person next to them, rather than remembering the blue lines. She sent a link to the video to our fearless leader (Jane) who suggested that we try this method!

The method is called Stedman Cinques, and the place notation for the method can be given easily as 3 1 E 3 1 3 1 3 E 1 3 1 (where E stands for bell eleven). The method is rung with 11 bells (that’s what Cinques means), though you actually ring 12 bells. It’s just that the tenor (lowest bell) always rings in the same place.

That place notation means that, at the first change (given by 3), the bell in the third position stays in third, bells in the 1 and 2 position switch places, 4 switches with 5, 6 switches with 7, 8 switches with 9, and 10 switches with 11.

The second change (given by 1) means that the bell in the first position stays in first, and everyone else switches with their neighbor.

And the third change (given by E) means that everyone switches, except for 11 (and 12, which never moves).

The last thing to note is that to switch bells with your neighbor, you actually place the bell in her lap, and she places the replacement bell in your lap. Fortunately we are all good friends!

After a few minutes of explanation, we wrote that place notation on a piece of paper we could all see, and gave it a shot. Randy on 1,2. Karen on 3,4. Jane on 5,6. Maggie on 7,8. Andrew on 9,10. And Genine on 11,12. Of course, the first few attempts were comical. But by the end of the evening we had actually rung a plain course of Stedman Cinques! Which felt like quite an accomplishment.

And kudos to Karen, who did an amazing job of keeping us all in the right place, to the point of correcting Jane more than once!

Sadly, we don’t have any recording of the event. This was our first attempt! But you can see a much better group than us ringing this if you click the link above.

And maybe we’ll continue working on this, to the point of doing it from memory instead of reading the changes while we ring.

Wish us luck!

Something different

Rehearsal – Feb 19, 2018

We had a visitor this week, someone who is experienced in both tower bells and handbells. Lian from Washington, DC joined us for an evening of ringing. With Lian, we had 5 ringers, and rang a bit of Bob Royal, which we don’t get to do very often.

I didn’t get a full bio from her, but from what I remember, Lian started ringing in London a few years back. Her first few experiences were watching and driving ringers on a tower tour before she was actually given a rope to pull. In Washington, DC, she rings at the National Cathedral, and is also in a handbell group. In handbells, she is quite a bit more experienced than we are, having rung methods that we have only heard of (or which Jane has only rung in a tower).

On Monday, we rang a plain course of Bob Royal with the smaller bells, finally succeeding after three attempts. We then reduced to ringing Bob Major, and worked on speed, finishing a couple of plain courses with different people. We then finished the evening ringing Plain Hunt with the bigger bells, “under the crystal” where the acoustics are especially fine. We again worked on speed, and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We hope to see Lian again.

In fact, if you are ever visiting the San Diego area, we would love to ring with you. Just email us (at this blog). We normally rehearse on Monday evenings, but with as little a day or two notice, we can normally gather enough people to ring at any time.

Rehearsal – Feb 19, 2018

New call changes

Four of us gathered this evening to ring bells. Jane, Genine, Karen, and Randy. We rang a few plain courses of bob major, just to remind ourselves that we could do it. Karen on the trebles (1-2), Genine on 3-4, Randy and Jane switching between 5-6 and 7-8. It went well.

But then Jane decided we needed to do something completely different, and called us over to the crystal chandelier to ring some call changes. We rang rounds (1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8). We rang Queens (1 3 5 7 2 4 6 8). We rang tit-tums (1 5 2 6 3 7 4 8). We rang Whittingtons (1 2 7 5 3 4 6 8). And then Jane decided we needed to ring some new call changes. (Randy made a joke about our quarter peal last week “unlocking” some new features of the game. But nobody laughed but him.)

So we rang Reverse Queens (7 5 3 1 2 4 6 8). We rang a change (1 2 5 6 3 4 7 8) that we decided to call Double Tit-tums. And we rang Reverse Rounds, or back rounds, but ending with the tenor: (7 6 5 4 3 2 1 8).

Fun and a little silly.

Then back to work. Genine was getting a little tired, and so we decided to remind Karen about bobs. And so we rang on 6, with Karen on the trebles, Randy on 3-4, and Jane calling the bobs from 5-6. Karen did quite well, considering she hadn’t rung in more than 3 months.

A very fun evening of bells.

New call changes

And Finally!

For the past few months, we have all been working to learn to ring touches. When there are more than three of us together, we will ring bob major or bob royal, but over the summer we have usually just been three ringers. Almost always Jane and Randy, with Genine or Maggie or Karen added. And mostly Genine as the third. So we have had a lot of time to practice touches of bob minor. And have been working towards a quarter peal.

We even got the three of us together off of our normal schedule in order to ring the quarter. Sometimes on a Sunday afternoon, or a Saturday morning. Or whatever works for the three of us.

Most recently, we gathered on September 24, 2017, to try for the quarter. We met at Genine’s house and rang outdoors. It was a beautiful evening, and we had scheduled 2 hours to reach success. And so we started. Genine on 1-2, Randy on 3-4, Jane on 5-6 conducting. Randy had had a late night the previous evening, and then a busy Sunday, and so wasn’t feeling his best. But Jane and Genine were ready.

We first rang a 720 (as usual when ringing on 6). Genine had never rung a quarter on 6 bells, and so when we got to rounds, she got a little confused. But she kept going, and we continued. And then at the 38 minute mark, with about 180 changes to go, Randy missed a lead end and rang rounds. Failure. And Randy was not feeling well enough to make another attempt.

The next night was our normal ringing rehearsal, and Maggie is travelling, and Karen is dealing with start of school with her kids, so again it was Genine, Jane, and Randy (who was feeling much better – thanks for asking!). Let’s give it another go.

At the 4 minute mark, Jane realized that bells 2 and 3 were swapped (and being rung by different people, so almost impossible to correct). So we stopped. Started again, and this time we failed at the 18 minute mark. (Though that sounds like 22 minutes, we had really been gathered for closer to 45 minutes.) “Shall we ring something else?” asked Jane. After a short discussion, we decided to make one more attempt. We normally ring for 90 minutes, and if we were successful, we would go over that (soft) time limit. But what the hell, let’s give it a try.

And succeeded!

There were some scary moments when it looked like we might get into trouble. And Jane was sure to make sure Randy didn’t make the same mistake he had made the night before (and Randy was going to make sure of the same thing!). But we have now rung a quarter peal.

This quarter peal is a first for Genine. And a first for Randy on 3-4. And feels like a real accomplishment.

Entry on Bell Board is here.

And Finally!

We rang a 720

I really wanted to title this post “6!”, meaning of course, 6 factorial, which is the number of possible changes you can ring with 6 bells without repeating any. That value is 720, of course. And we were able to ring a 720 change method tonight.

We gathered as usual at Jane’s house to ring. Tonight we had Jane, Randy, and Genine. After some discussion about some bell-related artwork that Genine is creating (more on that later!), we started ringing. Jane started a timer. Genine on the trebles, Randy on 3-4, Jane on the tenors.

Discussions about the actual bobs and singles that were called is probably not interesting unless you are a bell conductor. And I’m not! So I won’t (can’t) bore you with the details. Suffice to say that after 17 minutes of solid ringing at a decent pace, we fell apart. I’m not sure how many changes we rang on that attempt.

We then had a discussion about how we failed (Randy mentioned a particular bob he was having trouble with, ringing 3,4, and coursing before a bob is called, being in position 3,5 at the bob, and coming down 2,6. “How can I start so close together, and end up so far apart?” Of course, that’s just how it is at that place. He was also having trouble with a particular single call, but couldn’t remember the details.

This followed with a discussion about a local church wanting us to ring our bells at church. Not as a change-ringing band, but rather as accompaniment to a song the choir is singing this Fall. We don’t really have the equipment to do this, but no decision was made, one way or the other.

We then got back to ringing, in the same configuration. This time, the attempt was successful. After 23 minutes, we got to rounds, having rung a 720 change touch of bob minor. This was a first for Randy in 3-4, and a first for Genine in any position.

Who brought the champagne?!?!?

We rang a 720