SESSION 1 - PLAIN HUNT
In this session we will look at Plain Hunt on various numbers of bells and establish patterns in how the bells are passed and how they lead and lie. Below are the plain courses of plain Hunt on various numbers of bells:
12345 123456 1234567 12345678
21435 214365 2143657 21436587
24153 241635 2416375 24163857
42513 426153 4261735 42618375
45231 462513 4627153 46281735
54321 645231 6472513 64827153
53412 654321 6745231 68472513
35142 563412 7654321 86745231
31524 536142 7563412 87654321
13254 351624 5736142 78563412
12345 315264 5371624 75836142
132546 3517264 57381624
123456 3152746 53718264
Fig. 1 - Courses of Plain Hunt.
Points Arising From The Diagrams
It is certainly worth being able to write out the figures for Plain Hunt on various numbers of bells by crossing pairs of bells. A full appreciation of the fact that bells always cross in pairs can be useful when watching any ringing because it helps in learning to see the sorts of patterns that appear in the ropes as ringing progresses.
Much of conducting is based on looking at the figures for a method and seeing which bell is doing which work at certain points.
Points to notice are that after the start all the even numbered bells come down to lead followed by all the odd numbered bells.
The even numbered bells lead in ascending numerical order, followed by the odd numbered bells in descending numerical order.
The bells reach the back in the same order as they reach the front.
Given that for any bell the order in which it follows the other bells is a repeating pattern, the diagrams should be studied to see that for each bell the order in which it follows the other bells is the same as for every other bell, except that any bell never follows itself and each bell starts at its own place in the cycle.
Quite often the conductor will ring the Tenor (or the biggest working bell if there's a cover bell). The main reason for this is that the conductor is probably the best ringer and is probably (but not necessarily) the best Tenor ringer. Also it is often easier to see from the Tenor what's going on.
We noticed above that the bells lead and lie in a particular order. For:
Doubles 2 4 5 3 1
Minor 2 4 6 5 3 1
Triples 2 4 6 7 5 3 1
Major 2 4 6 8 7 5 3 1
Fig. 2 - Orders In Which Bells Lead And Lie.
Not only that but if several courses of Plain Hunt are rung without break the orders above repeat and so can be thought of as being cyclic even though they are written in a line. So the order for Plain Hunt Minor could also be shown as:
2 à 4
3 ß 5
Fig. 3 - Leading Order For Plain Hunt Minor.
Some of the arrows aren't properly aligned because life is too short to waste it in getting Windows to do it properly. Similar diagrams can be drawn for Plain Hunt on other numbers.
The Magic Row
By convention this diagram is always thought of as starting with the Tenor. This is so that during any piece of ringing everybody is using exactly the format and communications are thus helped. Applying this convention to Fig. 2 we get:
Doubles 5 3 1 2 4
Minor 6 5 3 1 2 4
Triples 7 5 3 1 2 4 6
Major 8 7 5 3 1 2 4 6
Fig. 4 - Orders In Which Bells Lead And Lie After The Tenor.
It is important at this stage to understand these rows of numbers but the way to do it is to derive them from your knowledge that they all go down the odd numbers and up the even numbers. In the future we will look at ways of simplifying the rows but for now it is important to understand how the complete row is made up.
At this point we will invent a term for the rows in Fig. 4. We'll call them "Magic Rows" because they have magical powers. By use of the appropriate Magic Row it is possible to be certain of who is leading or lying at any time and who will be next.
The Magic Row also tells you the order in which you will follow the bells after you've lead or lain, whichever bell you are ringing.
Although Fig. 4 assumes that the rows start with the Tenor because you, the conductor will be ringing that bell, it might be that you want or need to ring another bell. If this is so then the rows can be altered so that they start with your bell. Since the rows are completely cyclic this is just a case of writing down (or, preferably, doing this in your head) your own bell and continuing from that point, going back to the start when you reach the end, until you get back to your own bell.
For example when ringing Plain Hunt Doubles the Magic Row from Fig. 4 is 5 3 1 2 4 but if you are ringing the 3rd you could start the row from there, in which case it would be 3 1 2 4 5. This modified Magic Row (your "personal" Magic Row) is now used in exactly the way described above. Having said that it is recommended that you do all your early conducting practice from the Tenor and get thoroughly familiar with the standard Magic Rows.
Whatever you do don't use the term "Magic Row" to anyone not associated with this course. They will stare at you in disbelief. It is an unofficial made up term devised as a means of referring to the rows we are talking about, which are merely a teaching aid. We will be modifying the rows in subsequent sessions and giving them their proper name at that point.
Conducting Plain Hunt
Be sure that you make the calls "go" and "that's all" in the correct places. The correct place to call "go" is as the Treble ringer is just starting to pull the handstroke prior to the first change, i.e. two changes before starting. This two-change warning applies to all calls (and call changes) except for "that's all". The correct place to call "that's all" is as the Treble ringer is just starting to pull the rope as Rounds comes up. Note the wording here because in general Rounds can turn up at either handstroke or backstroke (it won't in Plain Hunt but it can in other methods) and accuracy is important in ensuring a clean finish. Don't call "that's all" two changes before it actually is because there will always be someone who fails to do the very last dodge.
Holding the Magic Row in your head is one thing but for there to be any point in this you must use it for something. There are three things that can be done with the Magic Row:
Watching the order in which the bells lead.
Watching the order in which the bells lie.
Watching the order in which you (or someone else) pass the bells, either when hunting up or when hunting down.
The first and third of these are most important and maybe the first is the very most important. To do the first you must learn to ring without depending on seeing the bells which you follow, so that means ringing more by rhythm. Once you can do this you can ring your bell correctly but turn your attention to watching the leading. If the wrong bell leads then you have to start telling that ringer not to lead just yet and maybe tell another ringer to lead.
Watching the bells lie is similar to watching them lead and although may be less important for Plain Hunt than watching the leading it becomes more important in other methods and so is worth practicing now.
Watching the bells you follow involves making sure that you pass the bells in Magic Row order after you've lead and after you've lain behind. You've all been taught not to ring by numbers (one hopes!) and now, apparently, you are being asked to do exactly that. This isn't the case because now you're being asked to use the Magic Row not to know who to follow but to check that the other bells are in the right place.
We will introduce another term at this point - coursing. For any bell (call it "a") that is hunting there will be another bell ("b") that is hunting in such as way that it leads and lies after bell "a" does and which is always two positions behind bell "a". In other words, whatever bell "a" does bell "b" does the same thing two changes later. Bell "b" is said to be "coursing" bell "a" or to be "after" bell "a". Bell "a" is said to be bell"b"'s "course bell" and bell "b" is bell "a"'s "after bell". Confused? Don't blame me, I didn't make thus stuff up.
The notion of after bells is useful because if you see that some ringer is in the wrong place (too quick or too slow) you can say "hunt up/down after bell x". How do you know this? The bell that's lost will be coursing after the bell before it in the Magic Row. For example in Plain Hunt Doubles with the 4th floundering you could inspect (in your mind) the Magic Row and see that 4 comes after 2. You then tell the ringer of the 4th to hunt down/up/lead after 2. You can watch the 2nd yourself and once you've seen it lead you can say "4 lead now".
What To Say When Things Go Wrong
When watching the bells coming down to lead it's quite easy to know what to say. Just tell each bell in turn when to lead, bearing in mind that different people understand the word "now" to mean different things. If you can get the bells to lead in the correct order, and then stay right, the ringing will be restored.
If you are watching the bells as you pass them then you need to tell each bell in turn when they should follow you, which position they will be in when doing so and which direction to continue in afterwards. There are two versions of this: when you are hunting up and when you are hunting down.
When you are hunting down, each bell that you pass is hunting up and will be following you the blow after you followed them. Consequently you can tell each bell that you strike over (or should strike over) to follow you next time, on their way up, and in what position they will be. You can also tell the ringer to speed up or slow down as appropriate.
When you are hunting up, each bell that you pass is hunting down and will be following you the blow before you follow them. As you move up to follow them they will move down into the position you were last in and will follow your after bell (because this bell will always be two positions behind yours). Therefore as you approach each bell you can tell the ringer of that bell to follow you now, in your place + 1, and then ring in your place on their way down.
There are lots of extra details about what can be said and with experience you will learn to see much more than has been described here. In particular you will be able to tell a ringer a whole series of bells to follow after they have followed you, or anyone else, because it is just the Magic Row. Don't try to do too much at once.
After this session you need to be sure that whilst ringing Plain Hunt Doubles and Minor (preferably from the biggest working bell) you can:
Work out the Magic Row for the number of bells you are ringing.
See from the Magic Row the bells coming to lead.
See from the Magic Row the bells lying behind.
Watch the order in which you pass the bells.
If at this stage you practice and become able to keep the ringing right when it goes wrong then that's a bonus but for the moment the important thing is to get used to holding the Magic Row in your head whilst ringing and trying to see how it relates to the order in which the bells lead and lie and in which you pass them.
The exercises (on the separate sheet) should be tried and once they are more or less mastered they will have given you the skills to continue.
Although this session is "only" about Plain Hunt it lays the basic techniques for everything that follows. This probably means that it is quite hard to grasp at first. This means three things: Get lots of practice; mercilessly pester your tutor for clarification; get lots more practice.