Assuming you have had a look at the Introduction for Beginners, or possibly other things, you will know that Plain Bob is a method where the treble Plain Hunts all the time and the other bells (known as the working bells) Plain Hunt most of the time. The only time the working bells do not Plain Hunt is when the treble leads; in the plain course, one bell strikes two blows in 2nds place (instead of hunting up) and leads again, and all the other bells dodge. This applies however many bells are being rung to Plain Bob, except if it is being rung on an odd number of bells (Doubles, Triples, etc.) In that case, the bell in the highest position has nobody to dodge with (think about it!) so it strikes four blows in the last place. This is a bit of a fudge because Plain Bob is designed to be rung on an even number of bells.
The diagram below shows the Plain Course of Plain Bob Minor, with a red line drawn through the treble and a blue line through the path of one of the working bells, in this case bell number 2.
On the left hand side of this diagram the “work” done by bell number 2 each time the treble leads is labelled, and it is the order of this work that must be learned before you can ring the method:
dodge 3-4 down;
dodge 5-6 down;
dodge 5-6 up;
dodge 3-4 up;
(make two blows in) 2nds (then lead again).
Many people learn this as a “circle of work” as shown below.
Looking back at the Plain Course above, on the right hand side of this long diagram you will see numbers in blue circles written each time the treble leads. These numbers identify the position of bell number 2 each time the treble leads at backstroke, ie after bell number 2 has dodged. And the order of these numbers at successive leads is:
2, 4, 6, 5, 3, 2, etc. This is known as the place bell order – see below. These place bells are also marked on the “circle of work” diagram above.
The blue line in the diagram above is drawn through the path of bell number 2, and the annotations show the order of work for bell number 2. So what do the other bells do? Well, all the bells follow exactly the same order of work but they each start in a different place. For example, at the beginning of the second lead (ie when the treble is leading again after hunting to the back), bell number 2 has become 4ths place bell at the treble’s backstroke lead (indicated by a “4” in a circle to the right of the top diagram). From rounds, the order of work for bell number 4 is the same as the order of work for bell number 2 once it has become 4ths place bell. This is:
dodge 5-6 down;
dodge 5-6 up;
dodge 3-4 up;
(make two blows in) 2nds (and lead again);
dodge 3-4 down.
A good exercise now is to print out the plain course and draw a “blue line” through one of the other bells and note the order of work. You can do that for as many bells as you like!
When learning a method, some people find it helpful to put the “blue line” on its side like this:
Not everyone does this but the logic is quite good; as you trace the path of a bell along its “blue line”, the path goes up on the page as the bell is hunting up and it goes down on the page as it’s hunting down. And this “sort of” explains why I have chosen to draw the “circle of work” with 2nds at the bottom and the 5-6 dodges at the top. Also, rather than follow the circular order of work diagram in an anti-clockwise direction, I like to think of going round the circle clockwise and interupting my path with a dodge (or 2nds) just before the point at which I started that lead. So, if I am 4ths place bell, I have just dodged 3-4 down; I continue round the circle clockwise until the position before 3-4 down, and dodge 5-6 down. My reasoning is that it takes longer for a working bell to go round the circle than the treble does (because the treble is not delayed by any dodges) so I cannot quite get back to where I was last time the treble led. Furthermore, the down dodges are marked on the circle of work as I am coming down on the paper, and the up dodges are marked on the circle of work as I am coming up on the paper. There is not a right way or a wrong way to orientate the blue line (vertical or horizontal) but, almost always, methods and their blue lines are printed vertically in books and on websites for ease of presentation.
If the method is written out in a single column as above, it is difficult to fit on a printed page so it is often written out with the “leads” side by side, and for most Minor methods there are five leads as below.
The terminology is a bit confusing here; the first bell in any row is said to be leading, so what does it means to have five leads? “A lead” has a different meaning here, namely that it is all the rows from when the treble is leading and starts to hunt up to the back, to when it returns to the lead. The first row in the lead is known as the lead head and the last row is known as the lead end. In the compact view above, and in the single column view earlier, a line has been drawn between the lead end row and the next lead head. Now, in the plain course (ie no bobs or singles) we know what happens to the other bells while the treble is leading: the bell that was in seconds place at the treble’s handstroke lead (the lead end) stays in the same place for the treble’s backstroke lead (the next lead head), and all the other bells dodge. And that is a description of what happens at the lead end change. A shorthand way of describing what happens at the lead end change is to say it has a place notation 12, meaning that the bells in first and second place stay still (make a place) and the other bells cross with each other (which results in a dodge). (Many ringers, even quite experienced ones, are not rigorous in their use of this terminology which can lead to confusion between lead head row, lead end row and lead end change.)
A touch is a piece of ringing that is not a plain course. A touch will have bobs or singles or both, and its length can be longer or shorter or the same as a plain course. The explanations below apply to Plain Bob and many other methods (but NOT Grandsire or Stedman).
When a bob is called it affects only the lead end change; instead of one bell making 2nds place, a different bell makes 4ths place, and the bells above 4ths place dodge.
When a single is called it affects only the lead end change; in addition to one bell making 2nds place, another bell makes 3rds place and another makes 4ths place, all at the same time. And again, the bells above 4ths place dodge.
The diagrams below show the last lead of a plain course, and what happens if a bob or a single is called just before it would come round.
-H signifies a bob at “Home” ie when the tenor becomes 6ths place bell, its home position in rounds.
You will see that bells 5 and 6 are unaffected but bells 2, 3 and 4 have changed places with each other as follows:
Bell 2 – instead of making 2nds place, it “runs out” ie it plain hunts to become 3rds place bell (again);
Bell 3 – instead of dodging 3-4 up, it “makes the bob” ie it strikes two blows in 4ths place to become 4ths place bell;
Bell 4 – instead of dodging 3-4 down, it “runs in” ie it plain hunts to become 2nds place bell (again).
So, three bells are affected by a bob and instead of striking in the order 234 they strike in the order 423.
sH signifies a single at “Home” ie when the tenor becomes 6ths place bell, its home position in rounds.
You will see that bells 2, 5 and 6 are unaffected, and that bells 3 and 4 have changed places with each other as follows:
Bell 2 – is unaffected, it makes 2nds place;
Bell 3 – instead of dodging 3-4 up, it strikes two blows in 4ths place to become 4ths place bell, just as for a bob;
Bell 4 - instead of dodging 3-4 down, it strikes two blows in 3rds place to become 3rds place bell (and then hunts back up).
So, just two bells are affected by a single and instead of striking in the order 234 they strike in the order 243.
In summary, the three possible place notations for the lead end change are:
|Plain Lean End||12|
|Bob Lead End||14|
|Single Lead End||1234|
Bobs and singles are exactly the same (same place notation) for all stages of Plain Bob (Major, Royal, Maximus) AND, NORMALLY, for all other methods that have a place notation of 12 at a plain lead end.
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, May 2020 (small improvements January 2023)