Rules for Ringing Methods
Ringers follow methods which describe the path of each bell in a composition. The basic rules are:
- Each composition begins and ends in rounds.
- Each bell sounds exactly once in each tone row or change.
- A bell can move only one position at a time.
- No change is repeated within a method.
The simplest method is called Plain Bob. The above picture is Plain Bob Minimus, which means Plain Bob on four bells.
In order to learn a method, a ringer learns the blue line, that is, the outline of the path of the bell. Ringers rely on the symmetry of the pattern to memorize it; they have no music in front of them when they ring. With the exception of the treble, each bell follows the same path, albeit beginning in a different place. The treble “hunts”, that is, traverses a path from front to back and front again four times.
Twenty-four changes has Plain Bob Minimus, and twenty-four changes are all the permutations possible on four bells. It takes less than a minute to ring. If you add a bell, you have Plain Bob Doubles: 120 different permutations are possible on five bells.
Each new bell brought into the pattern multiplies the number of changes which can be rung without repetition. Six bells offer 720 changes; seven: 5040, and a peal. A peal entails five thousand or more changes without break, without irretrievable errors, and (when seven or more bells are being rung), without repetition. It takes six or more people working together coordinating hand and eye, minding permutations and bells for three hours or more.