Archive for the 'Bell Ringing' Category

Dec 27 2007

Asymmetry Of Ringing

Published by under Bell Ringing

I have recently just finished helping teach a beginners course for Church Bell Ringing.  It was a ten week adult education evening class that gave the learners a very broad over view of what bell ringing is about, getting them ringing hand bells and also giving them a chance to ring the church bells.  The course has been rung for several years now and the learners on this years course have really shone through and a few have even got to the stage of ringing rounds and call changes.

NB. For the rest of this article I’m going to talking in terms of open handstroke lead ringing, i.e. leaving a one-bell gap between last bell backstroke and first bell handstroke.

Once you progress past the basic handling of a bell and start ringing methods, it is assumed that you need no further tutoring on how to control the bell and get it striking at the right time. However, I’m sure more than a few ringers out there are tired of being told:

Pull your back stroke in!

What I have noticed is that invariably when someone is told to pull their backstroke in (ringing closer to the bell before them on backstroke) they then start clashing with the bell before them at handstroke.  This, I believe, is because most learners are never actually told that ringing a bell is an asymmetrical movement.  That is to say that the length of time that you hold up at backstroke is not the same as the length of time that you hold up at handstroke.

The reason for this is that there are an un-even number of stroke pull whole pull – each bell pulling handstroke and backstroke.  This is because of the one-bell gap that is left between the last bell backstroke and the first bell handstroke:


The numbers above represent 6 bells ringing two whole pulls, handstroke and backstroke. The first bell has to hold up slightly at handstroke in order to leave the gap which means that all the other bells have to hold up slightly.  At backstroke there is no gap and therefore the first bell does not need to hold up, meaning the other bells don’t need to hold-up.

I believe it is this concept of handstroke and backstroke being different in timing, and learners not being taught this that causes most of the problems.  Learners are taught about the theory of open handstroke leading and that you need to leave the gap but they are not told what it means for the actual ringing motion.


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Nov 20 2007

Test Driven Porting

Published by under .NET,Bell Ringing,Programming

Recently I’ve had reason to take an code library written in C++ and port it to C#.  Whilst I dabbled in C++ on a compilers course at university, I hated it then and I still hate it now.  I personally think it’s an abomination and should be consigned to the great garbage collector in the sky.   Whilst I can just about read the C++ syntax there is a lot that I don’t understand about it.

The library I was porting had semi reasonable documentation outlining what classes exist and their methods and a brief description of the overall usage.  This gave me a good starting point, however the documentation didn’t include example usages and expected results, for this I was forced to delve into the code.

One development paradigm I have been interested in but have been unable to find a decent project to test it on is Test-Driven-Development and this seemed like the perfect project to try it on.  So I set to work on the first iteration getting the test set up.   Without knowing exactly what results I should be expecting I was finding it hard going, so once again I dived back into the old code.

Thankfully, the developers of the C++ library had create a fairly comprehensive set of unit tests and with my limited C++ knowledge and a text editor with RegEx Find & Replace I was quickly able to convert their unit tests into NUnit based unit tests.

For example, what started out life as:

 1: void test_row_multiply_change(void)
 2: {
 3:  row r;
 4:  RINGING_TEST( ( r *= change( 6, "X" ) ) == "214365" );
 5:  RINGING_TEST( ( r *= change( 6, "1" ) ) == "241635" );
 6:  RINGING_TEST( ( r *= change( 8, "X" ) ) == "42615387" );
 7:  RINGING_TEST( ( r *= change( 5, "3" ) ) == "24651387" );
 9:  RINGING_TEST( row( "214365" ) * change( 7, "5" ) == row( "1234675" ) );
 10: }

Quickly became:

 1: [Test]
 2: public void TestMultiplicationByChange()
 3: {
 4:  Row r = new Row();
 5:  Assert.AreEqual((Row)"214365", r *= new Change(6, "X") );
 6:  Assert.AreEqual((Row)"241635", r *= new Change(6, "1"));
 7:  Assert.AreEqual((Row)"42615387", r *= new Change(8, "X" ));
 8:  Assert.AreEqual((Row)"24651387", r *= new Change(5, "3"));
 10:  Assert.AreEqual((Row)"1234675", new Row("214365") * new Change(7, "5"));
 11: }

Now, with a full set of unit tests at my disposal I was quickly able to bash away at the library and very quickly got working code without the need to trawl through ghastly C++ code.

Hooray for Test-Driven-Development and three cheers for Test-Driven-Porting.

ps. The library I’m porting is an open source library for Bell Ringing – yes I know I’m a geek but anyone that has followed everything else in this post must also be a geek ;-).  Once I’m finished I will be releasing my code under an open source license as well, I just need to pick the right one.

pps. I may have exaggerated my hate of C++ a little.  I believe all languages have their place, even the esoteric languages like LOLCode.

kick it on

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Jun 05 2007

Testivus As Applied To Bell Ringing

Published by under Bell Ringing

Recently, whilst reading through my never ending RSS feeds, I came across a link to The Way of Testivus a good advice guide on developer and unit testing. Whilst the guide is quite humorous it also contains solid, sensible advice for anyone wanting to get started with unit testing, whilst not going into specifics.

As I am currently taking a journey through enlightenment and personal development I decided to see if I could take the Testivus advice and apply it to other activities and and aspects of my life. So, here I present to you Testivus – As Applied To Bell Ringing.

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Dec 04 2006

Grandsire Doubles: Check

Published by under Bell Ringing

Yesterday I finally got around to ringing my first Grandsire Doubles quarter peal inside.  I should have done it before but I’ve been having problems with balance recently and don’t think I could have stop up for that long whilst turning my head left and right the whole time.

If I remember correctly there was only a couple of minor hickups, one of which included me forgetting I was in the hunt and another where I forgot whether I was double dodging up or down when a bob was called.  At the beginning I was also unsure as to where I should be ringing when I was at the back a a bob or single was called but I soon got then ironed out.

I think the best piece of advice I could give to someone getting ready for their first Grandsire quarter is “watch the trebble”.  If its the last bell you ring over before leading, or the first bell you ring over when you get to the back you are in the hunt.

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Sep 26 2006

TowerEmu – Ringing Software

Published by under Bell Ringing

TowerEmu Plain Bob Major I just embarked on a project to create a piece of software to help me with my ringing. I want some software that can be used for both planning call changes and for method ringing. I also want to be able to listen to the results and play around with composing touches and quarter peals.

Further to composing methods and call-changes, I have also writen the software in such a way that it will be possible to create a catalogue of towers around the world and the sounds of the bells, so it will be possible to play back a method and it should sound as if it is being rung in a specific tower…. this, however is a long way off, and right now the software only has details of the St Peter Port church bells in Guernsey (my home tower).

The above screenshot is the initial debug output of the results of running through Plain Bob Major.

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Aug 21 2006

Ringing Round-up

Published by under Bell Ringing

I realised today that I haven’t posted much about bell ringing recently, which is one thing that II promised myself I would do when I started. So, seeing as I passed another milestone in my progress yesterday I thought I’d but post an update.

My last post was about my first quarter peal of Bob Doubles which was back in January. It seems that I have progessed quite a bit since then. I’m not sure about the dates (I need to check up in the tower records and make a note of it) but I’ve rung a quarter peal of Bob Doubles on the trebble (just plain hunting), I’ve also rung a quarter peal of Plain Bob Major on the trebble (also plain hunting) which was also only the third occasion that I’d tried ringing Plain Bob Major on the treble, which was kind of a shock for me but I managed to make it through somehow.

So yesterday was the first time that I rang a quarter peal of Plain Bob Doubles on the 2 (inside). I have previously been very nervous, and therefore made mistakes, when doing Bobs however yesterday it all seemed to come together. I did have a couple of slight hiccups along the way, and towards the end I was finding it difficult to consentrate on what work I had just done and what I should be doing next. Whilst we were ringing I felt that I could have rung it a little quicker but as it turns out we finished in 42 minutes which, apparently, is quite quick for a 21cwt tenor.

I’ve also had a go at Plain Bob Triples last Friday at St Peters. It wasn’t anywhere near as hard as I thought it was going to be and, appart from missing all the dodges, I managed to keep my place through two courses which most people seemed to be quite impressed with.

I’m also going to taken the opportunity to post a link to Fortran Friends. They have very kindly posted some ringing diagrams on their site which I have found to be very useful. Each ony only takes a side of A4 paper when printed, but contains all the information you need to ring the method such as the order of work, where you pass the treble, blue line diagrams for each start and what you do when a bob/single is called. Unfortunately they’ve only produced them for six methods, luckily they’re the methods I’ll be learning next:

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Jan 24 2006

A Quarter-Peal of Plain Bob Doubles

Published by under Bell Ringing

Sunday saw me ringing my first quarter peal of Plain Bob Doubles. I was ringing in sixth place and so I didn’t really that that complicated a job but I still had to stay awake and keep ringing for about 50 minutes.

One piece of advise I was given before starting was to NOT clock watch, which is pretty hard as the six is directly opposite the clock in the ringing chamber. So I spent the first ten minutes clock watching. I soon realised the errors of my ways and so decided to find other ways to focus my attention.

Method number one was to find ways to improve my striking. I concertrated on getting my standing position correct, finding the right place to hold the end of the rope and the best place to hold the sally, and I listened carefully to the other bells. Finally I decided that I had probably got as good as I was going to get. That took about fifteen minutes. Twenty five down, another twenty five to go!!!

Next up was looking for patterns. From leaning to ring Bob Doubles inside I know what the order of work is that each bell should be doing but could I spot patterns from the six that would make my life that little bit easier when ringing inside. Well, probably the easiest pattern to spot was that after the six does four blows behind a bell doing long fifths, it then does two blows over another bell and then two blows over trebble. This turned out to be quite handy as I kept missing the bell between long fifths and trebble. This brought me to within ten minutes of finishing.

The last ten minutes I spent working out what I would do differently the next time I rang a quarter-peal. Top of my list was wear a t-shirt with baggier sleeves. The t-shirt I chose to wear had fairly tight sleeves and, as I tend to sweat when ringing, I was starting to get chaffing under my arm-pits… not nice!!!

Next was my choice of foot-wear. Motor-cycle boots probably aren’t the best thing to wear if you’re going to be standing still for about an hour. Next time I find something with a little more padding on the soles.

Finally, I must remember not to do anything too strenuous before ringing. On Sunday I thought I would be a good idea to split a load of logs for kindling right before I went to ring my quarter-peal. Althought I was fine during the ringing, that evening and all the next day I could hardly move I was aching so much.

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Jan 16 2006

Ringing Responsibility

Published by under Bell Ringing

Thursday 12th January was the AGM for the St Peter Port parish church tower. I was planning on having a nice relaxing evening and just sit there muttering agreement (or disagreement) as everyone else did. Unfortunately, or fortunately as the case may be, things rarely turn out as expected, and so my relaxing evening was not to be.

Everything was going quite smoothly until the time of the election of officers. To be honest, I had thought that all the positions would remain the same. However, due to unknown circumstances (I could speculate but I’m not going to) our Tower Captain decided that it was time to step away from ringing for a while. As a result we had to elect a new Tower captain. The first choice, and in my view logical choice, was the Paul who had previously been both Steeple keeper and Treasurer. Whilst he graciously accepted the position, he also stepped down from position as steeple keeper. He then proposed that, as I had been working with him in the tower on the previous Tuesday, maybe I would like to take up the position of steeple keeper.

This took me rather by supprise. I’ve only been up in the ringing chamber once so far. I have no idea what exactly steeple keeping entails (although I have got a pretty good idea). But I have got the support of everyone in the tower and probably the other steeple keepers around the island. With this in mind I accepted the position and, follow a vote by the tower members, was elected steeple keeper.

Now to try and figure out what exactly I’m supposed to be doing for the next 12+ months!!!

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Sep 20 2005

Money For Me

Published by under Bell Ringing

Last Saturday I had the oppertunity to ring at two weddings. I wouldn’t normally have rung for weddings as I am still a bit unsure of my abilities, however there was a Channel Islands District meeting in Alderney on Saturday so they were very short of ringers… enter yours truely :)

First up was a wedding at the Town Church. For this one I was only worried about crashing with other bells and making it sound bad but if I had none of the congregation would have known it was me as the ringers are hidden away in the ringing chamber up in the bell tower, well out of view of the church goers. Luckily everything seemed to go off without a hitch. We were ringing rounds into queens and back, and some simple call changes.

After the ringing I went for lunch with Ingrid (not my mum) at Christies. I felt very under-dressed as I was wearing scruff-stuff as I had been working on my Bandit before ringing. Apart from that fun was had by all I think… I’ll find out Thursday.

Saturday afternoon saw me ringing at the Vale church. This time I had to make a bit of an effort to smarten myself up as the ringers are in full view of the congregation. This time it was all call-changes from rounds to queens (I think) and back. Again, I think that my ringing was quite acceptable.

The good thing about ringing for weddings is that you get paid for it. So that’s netted me a couple of quid for an hour of ringing. I also found out, last night, that there is a wedding at the Vale church this Saturday so naturally I’ve offered my services…. £££!

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Aug 04 2005

Learning the Ropes

Published by under Bell Ringing

My bell-ringing experience is continuing. I’m still ringing twice a week,, when sailing permits, and I feel that once again I am beginning to make progress. To date I am quite capable of ringing rounds, call changes and just recently I have also started ringing tennor behind or some doubles methods and I’ve also had a go at ringing Plain Hunt(ing?) on the trebble.

Several weeks ago I was getting rather annoyed because I didn’t seem to be making any progress, I was ringing call changes quite well but that was it. Now I seem to have come off that plateau and my skills are improving again… I wonder how long it will be until I hit that groove again and my improvement starts leveling off?

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