06: Plain Hunt Doubles

lesson Paragraph: 

On tower bells it’s best if you do your first change-ringing on 6 bells. It makes it much easier if the 6th bell (the tenor) doesn’t get involved in the changes, so we’ll ring changes on 5 bells, with the sixth bell following along at the end of each row. Because the sixth bell isn’t involved with the other five, we don’t bother writing it when we write out the rows.

The idea behind change-ringing is to ring the bells in as many different orders as possible (or as many as you feel like), starting and ending in rounds, and not repeating anything. The order of the bells changes at every pull, both handstroke and backstroke. Ringing which repeats any row is said to be ‘false‘. Ringing which doesn’t repeat any row is ‘true‘.

There are two basic rules:

Rule 1

  • A bell can only swap places with the bell immediately in front of it, or immediately behind it.

For instance, from rounds, you can do this:

12345 to 13245

or this:

12345 to 12354

but not this:

12345 to 14325

This last one is an example of a ‘jump change’, so-called because bells number 2 and 4 jump over another bell, in this case, the 3rd. Jump changes are difficult to do accurately. That’s why we don’t do them.

To sum up: change ringing works by swapping pairs of bells which are next to each other in the row.

Rule 2

  • As we go from one row to the next, we swap as many pairs as possible.

Like most rules this rule is broken sometimes, but only when there is a good reason.

Now we can start change ringing! If you've already been through lessons 3-5, you'll understand how Plain Hunt on 6 works. If not, it doesn't matter; we're about to generate Plain Hunt on 5 from scratch. It will be the basis of our first two methods: Grandsire Doubles and Plain Bob Doubles.

Begin in rounds:

12345      handstroke
12345      backstroke
12345      handstroke
12345      backstroke, and so on

When he or she is happy with the rounds, one of the ringers (the conductor) will say ‘Go’. At the next handstroke, we swap as many pairs as possible (two pairs):

12345
21435      handstroke

The 5th has nobody to swap with, so doesn’t move. This is called ‘lying still’.

At the following backstroke, we again swap two pairs. If we swap the same pairs as before, we’ll be straight back into rounds. That’s no use. Instead, we have the 2nd lie still at the front of the change, and we swap the two pairs behind it:

12345
21435      handstroke
24153      backstroke

At the next handstroke, we do the same as at the previous handstroke: the first two pairs swap, and the bell at the back of the change (in 5ths place), lies still:

12345
21435
24153
42513

I’ve stopped writing ‘handstroke’ or ‘backstroke’ after each row. You should be able to work out which is which. Also, remember that the 6th bell (the tenor) comes at the end of each row, but we don’t bother writing it in.

At the next backstroke, we do the same as at the previous backstroke: the bell leading stays put, and the other pairs swap:

12345
21435
24153
42513
45231

We keep on doing this, always swapping two pairs: at every handstroke, the bell at the back of the change lies still, and, at every backstroke, the bell at the front of the change lies still:

12345
21435
24153
42513
45231
54321
53412
35142
31524
13254
12345

We end up with a true block of ten rows, starting and ending in rounds (the 11th row is the same as the first, so we don’t count it).

This then block is the block from which all change ringing is developed. It’s called Plain Hunt. On five bells, it's called Plain Hunt Doubles. Doubles is the word used to describe all change ringing on five bells, because on five bells you can swap exactly two pairs of bells at every change.. 

Get hold of some squared paper and make sure you can write out Plain Hunt Doubles accurately, by swapping the correct pairs over. If you do it properly, you’ll end up back in rounds after ten changes.

We’ll talk about how to ring it next time.