UNDERSTANDING COURSING ORDER
By John Heaton of Derby Cathedral
Before beginning to explain the principles of conducting, a look at the structure of a typical method would be useful. All methods consist of blocks of changes, or rows. These blocks are known as leads and start with the backstroke of the Treble's full lead and end with the handstroke of the Treble's next full lead (in some methods, the lead may start at some different point, e.g. Grandsire, but for the moment we will stick to ordinary methods). Although each lead of a particular method starts with a different row, they all have the same structure, i.e., the blue line drawn through the bell that starts in any given position is the same in each lead even though it is a different bell in each lead. This is what is meant by the term place bell. The bell which starts a lead in second's place is second's place bell etc. It therefore follows that if the conductor knows that a given bell is second's place bell (or any other) then he can work out what the work of that bell is. Look at the first lead of St Clement's College Bob Minor:
The work of the second can be seen from this diagram. If we were ringing this method and the first row had been 135264 instead then, had we known that the third was meant to be in second's place, we would have been able to watch what the third did. As an aside, notice where the horizontal line is drawn at the end of the lead. A common misconception that many ringers hold is that this line should be drawn after the Treble's backstroke lead. This misses the point that a method with one hunt bell is symmetrical about a line drawn between the two rows of that bell's whole lead. Technically, the Treble's handstroke lead is the lead end and the Treble's backstroke lead is the lead head. These terms will be used from now on.
Referring back to the diagram of St Clement's, the first lead can be abbreviated to:
The Treble is always the first bell in each row at the lead end and so can be omitted. This shorthand saves writing out the whole lead and lets us look at the lead head and lead end by themselves. The whole course can be written out in this shorthand:
In the above diagram, the first lead head is 23456 and the first lead end is 46253. We simply copied these rows from the complete diagram of the first lead. However, it is possible to work out what the lead end will be starting from any other row without having to write out the whole lead. The process of doing this is called transposition. The word 'transposition' simply means swapping things about. To get from 23456 to 46253 we took, from 23456, the third number, the fifth number, the first number, the fourth number and then the second number. Writing this in a more compact way we can say that we took numbers in positions3, 5, 1, 4 and 2, or 35142 for short. The row 35142 is called a transposition row.
We can apply this transposition row to any other lead head in the plain course of St Clement's and we will get the following lead end. Another example is the third lead head (64523).If we apply the transposition and take the third, fifth, first, fourth and second numbers in the row 64523 and write them down we get 53624, which is the row following 64523 in the diagram. Try this with each lead head of St Clement's and make sure that you can get the following lead end by transposing the lead head by 35142.
There is a different transposition row between a lead end and the next lead head. As an example, look at the lead end 53624 and the next lead head, 56342. To get 56342 from 53624 we took, from 53624, the first, third, second, fifth and fourth numbers, or13254 for short. Try applying the transposition 13254 to other lead ends in the above diagram to check that this transposition works in all cases.
As an exercise, it is useful to find what the transposition rows are for other methods. Another example will help. Using just the lead ends and lead heads, Plain Bob can be written out as:
The first lead end is 32546 and this can be obtained from 23456 (the first lead head) by taking, from 23456,the second, first, fourth, third and fifth numbers. As before, this is usually abbreviated to 21435. The transposition needed to get from a lead end to the next lead head is 13254. Check this out for yourself and then see if you can work out similar transposition rows for other methods on different numbers of bells.
Up to this point, we have represented transposition rows as rows of numbers. To prevent confusion, letters are often used instead. By way of an example, the transposition row needed to produce the row 53246 from the row 23456 is, using numbers, 42135. Instead, it is convenient to write this transposition row as dbace. This means that given any row abcde then after transposition, it becomes dbace. To illustrate, we will transpose the following row:
carrot potato lettuce artichoke cabbage
by dbace to get:
artichoke potato carrot lettuce cabbage
Using letters to represent each object being transposed is less confusing. It is important for any conductor to be able to understand fully what is meant by a transposition row.
Notice that the abbreviated courses of St Clement's and Plain Bob written out above both contain the same rows but in a different order. Most methods use these same lead ends and lead heads (the same idea applies to methods on other numbers of bells as well- eg, Major methods mostly use Plain Bob Major lead ends and lead heads). Any method that uses these rows is said to have Plain Bob lead ends. Methods that use other rows are said to have Non Plain Bob lead ends. There is no reason why any set of lead ends cannot be used. Plain Bob lead ends have become traditional and almost universal because they produce the most convenient transpositions. When a conductor is required to sort out the horrors that ringers inflict upon themselves and the ringing, he does not need the added difficulty of having to work with difficult and unfamiliar lead ends and lead heads.
Both of the example methods used above have a bell that makes second's at the lead end. Such methods are known as second's place methods. Methods on 6 bells that have a bell lying behind instead are known as sixth's place methods. On eight bells, such methods are known as eighth's place methods. Examples of sixth's place methods are Kent and Oxford Treble Bob Minor. Cambridge and London are second's place methods.
It is conventional for second's place methods to use a fourth's place Bob. This means that fourth's place is made instead of second's and that a bell runs out and a bell runs in. Other methods usually use a bob in which the place 2 from last is made instead of last place and the two bells on the back dodge. Exceptions to this rule are methods in which the 4th becomes second's place bell at the first lead end. In these methods, a fourth's place bob makes all the bells above 4th'splace repeat the previous lead and this is regarded as desirable. As a result, Kent, Oxford and Bristol are all like this.
Methods are classified by (amongst other ways) the order in which the lead ends come, whether or not they are second's place methods and whether the number of working bells is even or odd. We noticed earlier that most methods use Plain Bob lead ends but in different orders. The order of the lead ends in a method is characterised by which bell becomes second's place bell at the first lead end. Each order of lead ends is given a letter.
Methods With An Odd Number Of Working Bells
The following table gives the letters that are used to classify 8-bell single hunt methods according to the bell in second's place at the first lead end:
Bell in 2nd's place 2nd's place methods 8th's place methods
3 a g
5 b h
7 c j
8 d k
6 e l
4 f m
Notice that there is no letter for methods with the second in second's place at the first lead end. That is because there are no methods that come round after only one lead! Also, the letter i is omitted because it looks too much like a 1. This classification of 8-bell methods extends to 10 in the following way:
Bell in 2nd's place 2nd's place methods 10th's place methods
9 c1 j1
0 d1 k1
and to 12 as follows:
Bell in 2nd's place 2nd's place methods 12th's place methods
E c2 j2
T d2 k2
The extension to higher numbers should be obvious.
Methods With An Even Number Of Working Bells
The following classification is used. The codes for doubles methods are:
Bell in 2nd's place 2nd's place methods 5th's place methods
3 p r
5 - -
4 q s
There is no code for when the 5th is in second's place because such methods would always give a two-lead course. The system extends to triples as:
Bell in 2nd's place 2nd's place methods 7th's place methods
3 p r
5 - -
7 - -
6 - -
4 q s
Again there are no methods where the 7th is in second's place because they would have a two lead course. methods with the 5th or6th in second's place would have a three lead course. For caters we have:
Bell in 2nd's place 2nd's place methods 9th's place methods
3 p r
5 - -
7 p1 r1
9 - -
8 q1 s1
6 - -
4 q s
For cinques we have:
Bell in 2nd's place 2nd's place methods 11th's place methods
3 p r
5 - -
7 p1 r1
9 p2 r2
E - -
0 q2 s2
8 q1 s1
6 - -
4 q s
As mentioned earlier, second's place methods generally use a fourth's place bob whilst the others use a '2 from last' place bob. For methods in which the normal 2 from last place bob is thought to be less desirable than a fourth's place bob for some reason, the method's group has the letter x added. Thus Bristol is a method of group mx.
Minor methods use a different classification:
Bell in 2nd's place 2nd's place methods 6th's place methods
3 g l
5 h m
6 j n
4 k o
It is important to understand the means that exist to write down a touch. Many a peal has come to grief because the conductor has misunderstood the touch. One common error is to think that a note such as 'repeat twice' means that the touch should only be called twice instead of three times. It is not possible to repeat anything until it has been done once already.
Most touches are written down by drawing a table which shows, at the top, all the calling positions that are needed in the order in which they occur in the method and then showing all the calls for each course of the touch on separate lines, one line for each course. Down one side of the table is given the lead head produced by the calls. This row is known as the course end and the Tenor may or may not be at Home. It is important to realise that you must start calling the next row of calls as soon as this course end has been rung. Also, if the Tenor is not at Home, then the calling positions now refer to the bell that is in last's place.
In a diagram of a touch, the usual convention is to show bobs as dashes and singles as ss (essiz!). Sometimes, a touch will contain other symbols and there will be an explanatory note to say what they mean. Some examples will help:
W H 23456
- - 45236
- - 23456
This touch is a simple two course touch. It may be a touch of Major even though bells 7 and 8 are not mentioned. When any bell is left out like this it implies that they are either at Home or in the position that they were in when last mentioned.
W H 23456
- 3 52436
This touch has a 3 under the H column. This means that 3 bobs at consecutive Homes (not consecutive leads unless they happen to be Homes) are required.
W M H 23456
a - 54326
s s 23456
a = V/4th's
This touch uses singles and has a note explaining the meaning of a.
W V/4th's M H 23456
X - 54326
s s 23456
This is the same touch as the previous one, but uses another standard way of indicating the pair of calls at V and 4th's. An X in a column that indicates several calling places means that a bob is called at each. Sometimes, however, an X is used to mean a single call at a calling position that affects the Tenor. Ringing is full of words and symbols that mean more than one thing. It requires experience and cunning to decipher some touches.
There are many ways used to write down touches. It should be obvious what each means by inspecting it carefully.
If you are ever asked to call a touch in a method that you have never called before, you can use a standard calling. For second's place methods you can always call the Tenor W and H twice to give a two course touch. Another touch is M and H twice. These two touches work for all methods on 8 or more bells (W and H twice works for all 6-bell methods as well). For last place methods, equivalent touches are I and O twice or V and O twice. In these touches it is essential to note the order in which I and O or V and O come in the plain course. If I or V comes before O then these must be called before the O. If not then the calls must be reversed to give O and I twice or twice. If the calls are not reversed the touch will be three courses in length, and false.
Armed with these callings, it is possible to call a touch at short notice in almost any method. Obviously you can learn some other touches as well.
Any conductor must be able to call bobs and singles adequately. This means that he must call them with the conviction that he knows what he is doing so that he will be heard, and he must call them at exactly the right time so that people do not try to carry out the call in the wrong place.
The correct way to call a bob is to use the word 'bob' and the correct way to call a single is to use the word 'single'. Too many conductors use words such as 'eargh', 'hu' and 'brruuuggghhhh' etc. Also, when you call 'Go' and 'that's all', shout the commands clearly, in English.
The correct time to call 'go' is as the Treble is just starting to pull his sally at the handstroke immediately before the first change. If called much later, some people round the front will be almost pulling their next backstroke and may think that they should set off a whole pull after the conductor intended. Call-changes should be called at this point as well. In methods with normal bobs and singles (not Grandsire or Stedman) these calls should be made as the Treble is just starting to pull his backstroke (in second's place) immediately before the call is actually rung. Don't wait until you yourself are pulling your backstroke because if you happen to be at the back, the bells on the front will be almost at handstroke and the call will be a bit late for them. 'That's All' is called as the Treble is just starting to pull his rope for the final rounds.
In other words, all calls are made exactly two pulls, or one whole pull, before they are to take effect (except for that's all, which is called when rounds comes up - or should come up!). Adapting this rule to changes of method when calling spliced, a change of method (called using the correct English name) is called when the Treble is just starting to pull the handstroke of his full lead. This gives the required two rows warning of new work because it is the following handstroke which is the first row that will be different as a result of the change of method.
Each lead end is given a name depending on the position of the Tenor after a call at the lead end. For second's place methods these are:
Position of Tenor Name Abbreviation
Last Home H
Next to last Wrong W
Run out at a bob or made 2nd'sat a single Before B
Run in at a bob In I
Make 3rd's at a single Third's 3rd's
Make fourth's Fourth's F or 4th's
Third from last if not one of the above Middle M
Make fifth's if not one of the above Fifth's V or 5th's
Any other position n if not one of the above nth's n
Notice that Wrong, Middle and Home depend on the number of bells being rung. On 8 bells, Wrong is when the Tenor ends up in 7th's place but on ten bells it is 9th's place. There are also other ways of naming lead ends. Sometimes they are numbered, as is conventional in Double Norwich and Stedman. It is not difficult to see which of the above names corresponds to the names of some other system.
The names of the lead ends for methods where a bell lies behind are generally as for second's place methods except that the call that makes the Tenor end up in 3rd's place is usually known as out. This is because the Tenor would have ended up in 3rd's place anyway. A single that made a bell make 6th's or 7th's in a Major method would be known as a single at 6th's or a single at 7th's rather than a single at Middle or a single at Wrong. Lead end names refer to the position that the Tenor ends up in as a result of a call. It is important to remember this because in many cases it will be a different position to that in which it would have ended up without a call.
Obviously, a person who can only call bobs but not correct people when they go wrong is a very useful person in any tower. But for that extra quality, especially when calling quarters and peals, it is essential that the bob-caller can also check that the bells are in the correct place. There are two main ways to do this: a. check that a particular row is rung at a particular point during the touch, b. keep track of the order in which the bells are performing their work. Method a would be known as conducting by signposts, or landmarks, or something like that. Method b is called conducting by coursing order. Many conductors use a combination of the two, so both will be discussed.
This technique is the simpler of the two and can be achieved with the minimum of mental effort during the ringing. The disadvantage is that the bells can only be checked at limited and specific places during the ringing. Bells may have been wrong for some time before the error is detected.
To conduct by this means, you just learn by heart some or the rows, usually lead heads, that occur during the touch. Therefore, in the touch:
W H 23456
- - 45236
- - 23456
The diagram tells us that the row 145236 occurs at the end of the first course. In order to conduct this touch, you would learn this row and watch for it coming up as you were dodging at the course end. If it looks like this row is not coming up you can see (with practice) who is wrong and tell them where they should be ringing (by telling them which place bell they are - for example, the 5th is 3rd's place bell etc).
It is possible to learn more of the lead heads that occur during the touch, but the more that are learned, the more that will be forgotten just as you need them. You can even go as far as to work out each lead head as you ring the touch. We saw earlier that it is possible to write down each lead head of Plain Bob Minor without having to write out the whole method just by transposing from the previous lead head. The technique of conducting by signposts by transposing each lead head requires that once you have checked a lead head you must then perform the transposition to obtain the next one. There will obviously be a different transposition if you are going to be a call at the next lead end.
As an example, we will follow the train of thought of a conductor using this technique to call the above touch of Plain Bob Minor. Before ever calling the touch, you need to know what the transposition from one lead head to the next is. From the diagram of the lead ends and lead heads of Plain Bob Minor we can see that the transposition from rounds to the next lead head is 35264. Not only that, but the second lead head is actually 35264 (the first is rounds of course). We also need to know the transposition for a bob. To find this out, write out the first lead but with a bob at the end. For Plain Bob this produces the lead head row:
therefore the transposition for a bob is 23564. When the time to call the touch comes, you need to do the following:
1. Remind yourself of the transpositions you need (35264 and 23564),Once you have shouted 'go' you perform the following sequence of mental gymnastics until the touch ends (one way or another):
2. Make sure you can ring the method without having to think too much about the blue line,
3. Start to think about what the first lead head is (23456),
4. Make sure you can remember the calls (W H W H).
1. At the backstroke of the Treble's lead (the lead head) check that the bells ring in the order given by the current lead head (rounds at the start of the touch),
2. If any bells were wrong, put them right, as forcefully as necessary,
3. Towards the end of the lead (but not too near the lead end, to leave enough time) work out the next lead head using the correct transposition depending on whether there will be a call or not,
4. Call any bobs, singles, changes of method etc and go back to 1.
In order to explain conducting by coursing order, the first thing to do is explain exactly what is meant by coursing order and how it relates to methods.
Many ringers believe that the coursing order is nothing more than the order in which the bells are followed. In the simplest methods this is true, but even in a common method such as Cambridge, the order in which the bells are followed (once away from the lead end) seems to bear little resemblance to the order in which the bells are followed during a course of Plain Bob, yet Cambridge is quoted as having the same coursing order. In reality, the coursing order is not the order in which the bells are followed, but it is always related to it.
The key to the true nature of the coursing order is to be found in the lead ends and lead heads of a method. As we have already discovered, most commonly rung methods have the same ones as Plain Bob. Now, in Plain Bob Minor, if we write out each lead head we get:
From this it can be seen that the 6th has rung the leads in the order:
6th's, 5th's,3rd's, 2nd's, 4th's and back to 6th's.
The 5th has rung them in the order:
5th's, 3rd's,2nd's, 4th's, 6th's,
The 4th has rung them in the order:
4th's, 6th's,5th's, 3rd's, 2nd's.
The 3rd has rung them in the order:
3rd's, 2nd's,4th's, 6th's, 5th's.
And the 2nd has rung them in the order:
2nd's, 4th's,6th's, 5th's, 3rd's.
In other words, all the bells ring the leads of Plain Bob Minor in the same order but they start the order in a different place. The order is, therefore, cyclic, and starting from the 6th (for instance), it can be written as:
This represents the order in which all the bells ring the leads of Plain Bob Minor. Notice that it is also the order in which the bells are followed when ringing Plain Bob Minor. Another observation is that this row tells us which place bell every other bell is if we know which place bell any one of the bells is. This is how it is done (but don't learn it yet; a fuller explanation will follow): If we know, for instance, that the 3rd is 6th's place bell then we can say that the bell following the 3rd bell in this row (the 2nd bell) must be ringing the place bell following 6th's place bell in the row (5th'splace bell). This follows from the fact that the above row represents the order in which a bell rings the leads. A look at the plain course of Plain Bob Minor will confirm that when the 3rd bell is 6th's place bell (just dodged 5-6 down) then the 2nd bell is 5th's place bell (just dodged 5-6up). Similar reasoning can be applied to all cases of any bell being a given place bell; the place bells of all the other bells can be found.
If the same reasoning is applied to Cambridge Surprise Minor the resulting order of ringing the leads is:
We can derive a rule for working out which place bell any bell is given any other place bell. For example, if the 6th bell is4th's place bell then the bell following the 6th bell in the above order is ringing the place bell which follows 4th's place bell in the order; in this case, this means that the 3rd bell is 5th's place bell.
Ringers are lazy. This is necessary because when the ringing is in trouble, it is desirable to have as little to do as possible. The method of keeping track of the bells just described is ok except that each method will have its own row to work out and remember. In addition, what happens to the row if a bob is called? It would be good if the system could be simplified so that a single row applied to all methods with Plain Bob lead ends and lead heads.
The simplifying assumption that ringers make is that every method uses the Plain Bob row, 65324, derived earlier. It should be reasonably clear that the events that occur at a particular lead end in any method are independent of the order in which the leads are rung; if any bell x is place bell p then the bell that follows x in the row is the place bell which follows p in the row. At a Plain Bob lead end, the bells are followed in the order given by the row for Plain Bob. It seems that this row is an obvious choice for a standard row to allow conducting of any method that uses Plain Bob lead ends and lead heads. It is this row that is called the coursing order, but its definition is more related to the order in which bells ring the leads of the method than to the order in which a bell follows the other bells.
The previous section showed how the coursing order is derived. This section will deal with further simplifications and standardisations. Following that it will show how the coursing order changes when calls are made.
The coursing order given above, 65324,is that for Plain Bob Minor specifically, and for any Minor method that uses Plain Bob lead ends in general. It is related to the order in which the 6th rings the leads. However, we can write out other versions which reflect the order in which other bells ring the leads. Being lazy ringers, we do not do this but remember it as just 65324 which ever bell we are ringing. Not only that, but we can see that there are 5 figures to remember. This is simply too much, so we drop the 6 altogether because the 6th is usually the observation bell and is regarded as fixed. Indeed, it is possible to regard any bell as fixed and rotate the coursing order so that this bell moves to one end and can be dropped. The standard plain course coursing order for Minor methods is therefore 5324.
The same sort of arguments can be used for Major methods. Bearing in mind that the full version of the coursing order for a Major method is 8753246 when started from the Tenor as is usual, we can again drop the fixed bells 7 and 8 and simply remember 53246. This shortened version for Major works for all touches in which calls are only made at places that do not alter the relative positions of the 7th and8th (W, B, M, H). If we wish to affect the 7th or 8th then a more full753246 coursing order is required.
On 10 and 12 bells, all of the bells from the 7th onwards are usually unaffected and so the coursing order is again usually shortened to 53246.
The use of this standardised notation for coursing order is important in ensuring that every ringer in a peal is using the same language. If some ringer shouts out 'the coursing order is ...' then it helps if everyone knows what he means.
Notice that it is now possible to conduct ringing on 12 bells with just a five figure number in your head. Most people find that they can easily remember up to five figures, but more than five figures are difficult to remember. It is all to do with the number of ideas that people can hold in their mind at once. Above a certain number (which varies from person to person) then you have to keep saying things to yourself to remind you of what the row is. A conductor must also remember the method and the composition, so even if you can remember a six figure number easily on its own, you may not when you need to remember a composition as well.
With the standard coursing order in mind, we can look a bit more closely at conducting a plain course in any method with Plain Bob lead ends. To illustrate, we will use Cambridge Surprise Major.
Cambridge Surprise Major has the coursing order 53246 in the plain course. In an earlier section we found out how to calculate the place bell of any bell given the place bell of any other bell. That example was only applied to Plain Bob Minor using the row 65324. The later example of Cambridge Minor used the row 63452. However, the row 53246 will give the correct result.
Suppose that you are ringing the 8thand are 5th's place bell and there is trouble. The ringer of the 3rd is looking embarrassed. The first thing to do is to visualise the coursing order in your mind - 53246. Always remember that the 7th is actually meant to come before the 5th. You can work out which place bell the 3rd is as follows:
You, the 8th, are 5th's place bell therefore the bell following the 8th in the Coursing order (7th) is 3rd's place bell because 3 comes after 5 in the plain course Coursing orderBy following this through, we can see that the third is 4th'splace bell. Although there were several steps to this calculation, with practice it becomes quite quick. In addition, it is possible to use extra information that might be available, such as the fact that the 3rd was also lost during the previous lead when he was 3rd's place bell.
If the 7th is 3rd's place bell then the bell following him (5th) must be the place bell following 3 in the plain course coursing order, i.e. 2.
Lastly, the bell following the 5th in the coursing order(3rd) must be ringing the place bell following 2 in the plain course coursing order, i.e. 4.
There are other features of methods that simplify the conducting of plain courses. In particular, it is common to follow the bells in the coursing order order for the few rows before and after the lead end. You need to study individual methods in order to find out at which points you follow the bells in the coursing order order. Another useful guide is the observation that in most methods, the bells reach the back in the coursing order order. Thus, if the coursing order is 53246 and you are on the 3rd, you will turn the 5th from the back (doing any up dodges with it first) and then be turned from the back by the 2nd(doing any down dodges with it first). In many methods, a similar rule also applies to the bells on the front.
At this point, it is a good idea to study a few common methods and try to see some of these relationships whilst ringing. In particular, try to see if you can work out what place bell other bells are whilst not going wrong yourself. Make sure you can see which bell you will turn from the back and which will turn you.
The bell that you turn from the back is the bell that comes before yours in the coursing order and is known as your course bell. The bell that turns you from the back is the one that comes after yours in the coursing order and is known as your after bell.
This section deals with 2nd's place methods. A later section will talk about last place methods, although the general principles are similar.
The real value of the coursing order is its ability to help you to correct the ringing no matter what the coursing order is. In addition, it can also be used to predict which bells will be affected at a call and can even be used to remind you where you are up to in a composition. You can keep the coursing order in your mind even if someone else is conducting and many conductors appreciate this. You can use the coursing order to correct yourself as long as you know where someone else is.
In order to do all these things you need to be able to keep track of changes to the coursing order as calls are made. This is the role of transposition. A call at each calling position alters the coursing order in a certain way, therefore, with practice, iti s easy to change the coursing order in your mind as calls are made, even if you are not calling the touch yourself.
A look at any 2nd's place Major method will show that when a bob at Home (Tenor in 7-8 down) in the plain course is made, the bells affected are 2, 3 and 4. In particular, the 3rd makes the bob, the 2nd runs out and the 4th runs in. If we look at the coursing order we see that these bells are the middle three: 53246 : 3, 2 and 4are the middle three bells Now, if the 3rd makes such a bob then it becomes4th's place bell at the start of the next course. It must therefore occupy the position in the new coursing order that the 4th occupies in the plain course coursing order. Similarly, the 2nd runs out and is therefore 3rd'splace bell at the start of the next course so it occupies the position in the new coursing order that the 3rd occupied in the plain course coursing order. Finally, the 4th runs in and so replaces the 2nd in the new coursing order. As a result of the bob at Home, the plain course coursing order is transformed into:
This is the new order that must be remembered and used, if necessary, to conduct the touch up to the next call.
By similar reasoning, a bob at the next Home would affect the bells so that the 2nd would make the bob, the 4th would run out and the 3rd would run in. The new coursing order after the second Home is:
A third Home would make the 4th make 4th's, the 3rd run out and the 2nd run in producing:
and rounds. All this can be verified by writing out the touch and checking that the coursing orders given above actually work. For instance, in the second course with coursing order 52436, the 2nd gets lost when the 8th is 4th's place bell. As shown earlier, we can see that if the 8th is 4th's place bell then 7th must be 6th's place bell, the 5thmust be 8th's place bell and the 2nd must be 7th's place bell. We can therefore attempt to correct the ringer of the 2nd. Notice that we find out which bell we are referring to from the coursing order being rung, but we find out which place bell they are ringing from the plain course coursing order. This is because the plain course coursing order is related to the order in which the lead ends come in the same way for each course of a method.
The Home affected the middle 3 bells of the coursing order. If these three bells are referred to by the more general representation abc then we can see that for each of the Homes the middle three bells abc were transposed by bca, i.e. 5abc6 became 5bca6. Therefore the coursing order 53246 became 52436. By the same transposition, 52436 became 54326, and 54326 became 53246. The transposition bca is very important and is the basis of all transpositions for bobs for 2nd's place methods on all numbers of bells.
A further observation is that in each bob above, the bell a was the one that made the bob, the bell b ran out and the bell c ran in. Once again, this is fundamental to bobs in 2nd's place methods. It can be used to see that the correct bells are affected by the bob and to correct bells that get it wrong.
It will be noticed from the above discussion that a bob at Home affects the middle 3 bells of the coursing order in a particular way. This applies to all methods with Plain Bob lead ends, both 2nd's place methods and also some others. You can therefore now work out the coursing order change at a Home for any method with Plain Bob lead ends. This discussion also applies to methods on different numbers of bells. For Minor methods with coursing order 5324, the bells affected at a Home are still 3, 2 and 4 and so the bca transposition is used on these three bells in the same way as for Major and above.
If the plain course of any 2nd's place method is studied it will be noticed that a single called when the Tenor is at Home affects bells 3 and 4. In particular, the 3rd makes 4th's and the 4th makes 3rd's. This results in a simple exchange of these two bells in the ringing and therefore in the coursing order. The coursing order is transformed from 53246 to 54236. Using the symbolic notation that we used to describe the bob earlier, the general coursing order 5abc6 is transformed into 5cba6.
What is also clear is that these two bells are two of the three bells affected by a bob at Home. The bells abc are rearranged into cba; the bell a makes 4th's as it did at a bob, the bell b is unaffected because it makes 2nd's and therefore end up in the same place in the final coursing order, and the bell c makes 3rd's. It is often the case bell c that gets the single wrong; in many methods, the ringer of this bell forgets to go back out. By knowing beforehand which bell is going to be making 3rd's at the single you can anticipate the error and correct the ringer as soon as the blank expression forms on his face.
The previous section on bobs at Home and this discussion of singles at Home complete the discussion of calls at Home in 2nd's place methods. To summarise, the bells affected are the three bells abc in the generalised coursing order xabcy. At a bob, these bells are transposed by bca to give xbcay and at a single they are transposed by cba to give xcbay. At both a bob and single, bell a is the one who will make 4th's. At a bob, bell b runs out and bell c runs in. At a single bell b makes 2nd's and is therefore unaffected whilst at a single, bell c makes 3rd's.
A look at any 2nd's place Major method will show that at a Wrong, when the Tenor is in 7-8 up, the three bells affected are 5, 3 and 2. Notice that the 5th makes the bob and takes over the work that the 2nd would have done, the 3rd runs out and takes over the work that the 5th would have done, and the 2nd runs in to do what the3rd would have done. Once again, if the three bells 5, 3 and 2 are replaced in the plain course coursing order by a, b and c to give abc46 then the new coursing order after a bob at Wrong is bca46.
From this it follows that a bob at wrong will give a new coursing order of 32546. If this is followed by a second bob at the next Wrong then 32546 becomes 25346. A third bob will produce 53246 from 25346 and will therefore return the ringing to the plain course.
Notice again that the bell a was the one that made the bob, the bell b ran out and the bell c ran in.
Now, looking again at a 2nd's place method, we can see that a single at Wrong affects bells 5 and 2, bell 3making 2nd's. The 5th makes 4th's as at a bob whilst the 2nd makes 3rd's and end up exchanged in the ringing and therefore in the coursing order. Once again, this call affects the same bells as a bob at Wrong would. The coursing order 53246 becomes 23546, or, more generally, abcxy becomes cbaxy. The single at Wrong has performed the same transformation on the first three bells in the coursing order as it did to the middle three bells for a single at Home.
At this stage it is useful to follow an example to give the idea of what is going on and to show how to follow the work of the bells at all the calls of an extended touch without having to learn it all beforehand. This example will also show that you do not even need to be the person making the calls in order to know what is going on. It will use the only the calling places for which we have developed coursing order transpositions, Wrong and Home.
The composition to be used is the so-called standard 720 for all 2nd's place Minor methods:
W H 23456
- - 45236
Repeat 5 times,
single for bob
half way and end.
To call this, the first thing we do, as before, is to set up your brain. Make sure that the composition is clear in your mind and that you know the method well enough. Next, install the plain course coursing order in your mind. For Minor methods this is 5324.
When you say 'go' you will immediately see that you are following the bells in this order. At this stage in any touch it is discouraging if any of the ringers are lost already. The first call is a Wrong. We now know that this will affect the first three bells in the coursing order, 532. We also know that the 5th will make the bob, the 3rd will run out and the 2nd will run in. The coursing order will become3254 after the call has been rung. Whilst the call is being made, it is easy (with practice) to watch the bob being made correctly.
After this, the next call is at Home. We know that in the generalised coursing order, xabc, the three bells abc will be affected at the bob. Now, because the coursing order is currently 3254, bells abc are bells 254. From this we can say with absolute conviction that the 2nd will make the bob, the 5th will run out and the 4th will run in. 3254 will become 3542.
The next call is a Wrong. Applying the rule for transposing a Wrong tells us that the bells 354 will be affected with 3rd making the bob, 5th running out and 4th running in. The new coursing order will become 5432.
At this point, we have called all the bobs for a complete part of the touch. The coursing order is 5432 and that will produce the lead head 34256 as shown at the end of the touch above. It is not necessary to work out or remember the lead head as you will already be in a position to check that the bells are correct by using the coursing order, so forget it. It is worth noting that you should know what the coursing order ought to be at the end of a section of a touch. This helps to remind you where you are in the touch, or, if you can remember where you are in the touch but not what the coursing order is, then you can pick up what the coursing order should be.
The touch is called twice more to produce5243 at the second part end and 5324 at the third part end. If the single was not called at the end of the third part, the bells would come round because 5324 always produces rounds at the end of a course. The single stops rounds from coming up just in time (except that many learners ignore singles rounds comes up by accident. When this happens, there is no need to stop. Just make sure that you say that rounds came up because of an error in the ringing and not in the composition.). The touch is called three more times, with a second single at the end. The coursing orders at each part end are: 5234, 5342, 5423 (except that the second single will produce 5324) and the touch is complete. You will have been able to say throughout the ringing who was doing what and who was affected at the bobs and in what way. People will look up to you in admiration and you will be asked to conduct many peals and quarter peals in the future.
Inspection of the plain course of a second's place method will tell you that call at Middle affect bells 2,4 and 6, or in other words, the last three bells of the coursing order. Once again the transposition for a bob is bca and for a single is cba. From 53246, a bob at Middle produces 53462, with the 2nd making the bob, the 4th running out and the 6th running in. A single similarly affects2 and 6, the 2nd making the bob and the 6th making 3rd's.
Now, looking again at a 2nd's place method, we can see that a single at Middle affects bells 2 and 6, bell 4 making 2nd's. The 2nd makes 4th's as at a bob whilst the 6th makes 3rd's and end up exchanged in the ringing and therefore in the coursing order. Once again, this call affects the same bells as a bob at Middle would. The coursing order 53246 becomes 53642, or, more generally, xyabc becomes xycba. The single at Middle has performed the same transformation on the last three bells in the coursing order as it did to the middle three bells for a single at Home.
Many peals and quarter peals have calls Before (when the 8th would make 2nd's). It can be seen from the plain course of a second's place method that at a Before, the 8th runs out, the 7thruns in and the 6th makes the bob. To see the effect of this on the coursing order, we need to look at the whole coursing order, including the 7th and8th. You will recall that the full coursing order for a Major method is8753246. This is equivalent to any rotation of this coursing order, and so is equivalent to 5324687. With this in mind, we can see that a bob Before affects the three bells 6, 8 and 7 in exactly the same way as a Wrong affects 5, 3 and 2 and a Home affects 3, 2, and 4 etc. From 5324687, a bob Before produces 5324876.
Obviously, we want to avoid the need to add the 7th and 8th to the coursing order and so we produce a different transposition for a bob Before. If we take the coursing order 5324876 produced by a Before and rotate it so that 8 and 7 are again at the end we get 6532487, and omitting the 8 and 7 in the usual way we get 65324. From this we can see that the effect of a Before (on 8 bells) is to put the last bell first, that is, abcde becomes eabcd. The bell that is put first is the bell that makes the bob, the 8th runs out (by the definition of a Before) and the7th runs in.
A Before in Minor is very similar, but the coursing order abcd becomes adbc. A Before in the plain course would therefore produce 5432 from 5324. As with Major, the bell d makes the bob, but the 6th runs out and the fifth runs in.
In general, at any call, the bell to the left of the bell that runs out will end up to the right of the bell that runs in. At a Before, the Tenor runs out and the 'Tenor-minus-1' runs in. With these points in mind, it is 'easy' to work out the transposition of a Before in Royal; 53246 becomes 8753246 (9 and 0 (the normal symbol for the 10th) are the bells that run in and out). A Before in Maximus produces 097532468 from 53246. Notice that, because some of the big bells have been affected by the Before, they must now be included in the coursing order that you remember. This makes it harder to call peals on higher numbers when the Tenors are affected in this way. However, if you can do it, the rewards in terms of music are worth the mental effort.
Singles Before are not common because they produce backstroke rows with the 8th and 7th striking in the order87 at the back. Many people find such rows painful. However, some compositions do have singles Before. For these, the transposition is as for singles anywhere else. Going back to the full coursing order for Major (5324687)a single Before (when the 8th is making 2nd's) will cause the 6th to make4th's and the 7th to make 3rd's. The new coursing order will be 5324786.In other words, and including the rotation to keep the 8th at the end,53246 has become 653247.
If you do call any touches that produced enlarged coursing orders then you must be careful about which bells are affected by subsequent calls. For example, the coursing order produced by a single Before is 653247. Before the call it was 753246 (except that the 7th was omitted). A bob at Home therefore would still affect 3, 2 and4 and not 5, 3 and 2 as might be imagined.
It is obviously possible to make calls at positions other than those described here. The positions described above arethe most common for 8-bell methods because bells 7 and 8 remain coursing after each other. Fancy compositions may also use calls at the following positions:
Position New Coursing OrderThese work as follows.
If the full coursing order is written it is 8753246. If the 8th is in 5-6up then the three bells affected must be 7, 5 and 3. The normal transposition bca, results in 753 becoming 537.Now, the tenors are "split" which means that there are bells coursing between7 and 8. This gives a 6 figure coursing order, which is too hard to remember for some people.
From the full coursing order 8753246we see that if the 8th is making 4th's then the three bells affected must be 875. This gives us 758, but we want the new coursing order to start with 8. What we do is rotate the new coursing order, 7583246 so that 8is back at the beginning to give 8324675. The overall effect is to put the first two bells of the full coursing order ignoring the eighth to the end. This works on all numbers of bells. Once again the tenors are split.
From the full coursing order 8753246,if the 8th is to run in then the bell two before it the 4th, must make the bob and the 6th must run out. The three bells affected are therefore 468 to give 684. Thus, 8753246 has been transformed into 4753268. This needs rotating to get the 8th to the beginning and then becomes 8475326.The overall effect is therefore to put the next to the last bell 1st. Once again the tenors are split.
Non-second's place methods fall into2 groups: those that have bobs that are the same as for second's place methods (4th's place bobs) and those that use n-2th's place bobs where n is the number of bells. By convention, methods of group m (designated mx as described earlier) use 4th's place bobs because this makes the bells above 4th's place repeat the lead they have just rung which is considered musical when it is the back bells doing it. In these methods, the affect of the bob is identical to that in a second's place method. Thus a Home in Plain Bob affects 3, 2 and 4 and a Home in Bristol does the same. In this section we are concerned with methods where the 4th's place bob is not used.
Minor methods with 6th's place lead ends can use either 4th's place bobs or n-2th's place bobs. A second's thought will show that n-2 is 4 and so minor methods will always have 4th's place bobs.
Eighth's place major methods will use6th's place bobs, tenth's place royal methods will use 8th's place bobs and twelfth's place methods will use 10th's place bobs. In principle, much of the following is similar to the preceding and so the depth of explanation will be less. We must start by naming the calling positions. We do this for 8 bells.
Position of Tenor Name AbbreviationNext, we have the lead ends and lead heads of Glasgow Surprise Major, which is a method of group G:
Last Home H
Next to last Wrong W
Run out at a bob or made 2nd's at a single Out O
Run in at a bob In I
Make 7th's at a single 7th's 7th's
Make sixth's Sixth's 6th's
Third from last if not one of the above Middle M
Make fifth's if not one of the above Fifth's V or5th's
Any other position n if not one of the above nth's n
12345678We will take the lead ends in turn and describe what happens, making comparisons with 2nd's place methods. It is assumed by this stage that the reader can take a lead head and workout its coursing order.
Calls At 3 - Out
The bob is made between the rows 18765432and 17856342. Since the bobs are in 6th's it must be the 4th that makes6th's whilst 2 and 3 swap over. The row produced by the bob is 17856423,which has the coursing order 54326. The bells 324 have been transposed into 432. In more general terms, the bells abc have been transposed into cab. This is the basic transposition for all the calls.
The single is made in 6th's and 7th's.The resulting row is 17856432, which has the coursing order 54236. The transposition for the single is cba, which is the same as the fourth's place single.
Calls at Out resemble calls at Home in 2nd's place methods and perform the same function in compositions.
Calls At 4 - In
The bob is made between the rows 16847253and 18674523. It is the 2nd that makes 6th's whilst 5 and 3 swap over. The row produced by the bob is 18674235, which has the coursing order 25346.The bells 532 have been transposed into 253.
The row resulting from a single is18674253, which has the coursing order 23546.
Calls at In resemble calls at Wrong in 2nd's place methods.
Calls At 2 - Fifth's
The bob is made between the rows 17583624and 15738264. It is the 6th that makes 6th's whilst 2 and 4 swap over. The row produced by the bob is 15738642, which has the coursing order 53624.The bells 246 have been transposed into 624.
The row resulting from a single is15738624, which has the coursing order 53642.
Calls at 5th's resemble calls at Middle in 2nd's place methods.
Calls At 6 - Home
The bob is made between the rows 12436587and 14263857. It is the 5th that makes 6th's whilst 8 and 7 swap over. The row produced by the bob is 14263578, which, including a rotation, has the coursing order 32465. The bells 875 have been transposed into 587.
The row resulting from a single (which would be a call at 7th's) is 14263587, which (including the rotation) has the coursing order 324657.
Calls at Home resemble calls at Before in 2nd's place methods, only in reverse. Singles at this point are not common because they result in the 7th and 8th being reversed to produce so called 8-7s at backstroke.
Calls At 1 - 6th's
The bob is made between the rows 15372846and 13527486. It is the 8th that makes 6th's whilst 4 and 6 swap over. The row produced by the bob is 13527864, which, including rotations, has the coursing order 467532. The bells 468 have been transposed into 846.
The row resulting from a single is13527846, which (including the rotation) has the coursing order 647532.
Calls at 6th's resemble calls at 4th'sin 2nd's place methods, only in reverse. They are not common except in fancy compositions since the tenors become parted.
Calls At 5 - Fourth's
The bob is made between the rows 14628375and 16482735. It is the 3rd that makes 6th's whilst 7 and 5 swap over. The row produced by the bob is 16482357, which has the coursing order 375246.The bells 753 have been transposed into 375.
The row resulting from a single is16482375, which has the coursing order 357246.
Calls at 4th's resemble calls at 5th'sin a 2nd's place method.
Calls At 7 - Wrong
The bob is made between the rows 13254768and 12345678. It is the 7th that makes 6th's whilst 6 and 8 swap over. The row produced by the bob is 12345786, which, including rotations, has the coursing order 532476. The bells 687 have been transposed into 768.
The row resulting from a single is12345768, which has the coursing order 653247.
Calls at Wrong resemble calls at In in 2nd's place methods, only in reverse.
Wrongs, Middles and Homes were the same on higher numbers of bells in 2nd's place methods so are calls at In, Out and Fifth's in10th's and 12th's place methods. It is left as an exercise for the reader to verify this.
The only way to learn to conduct is to do it as often as possible. These notes provide the tools with which to do it and the beginning conductor must first be able reliably to keep the coursing order. What to do with it when you need it is the subject of the next set of notes, Using Coursing Orders, which also gives tips about using coursing orders to help with the calling of peals.