Above And Below

As you learn more methods, you find that you can build on what you already know. You recognise parts from other methods that you have seen before. And these parts are often given names, for quick reference, like Stedman Whole Turn (or sometimes just "Stedman"), Treble Bob or Yorkshire Places.

We also talked about Lead End Variants, where just one change in a lead can be changed, resulting in a new method, which contains almost all the work of the original method, but in a different order. So you can get a new method "for free", with hardly any new bits to learn.

Here we will look at taking two methods and creating two new methods, without any new sections to learn at all. We'll start with some Minor methods.

Here are the grids for Stepney Bob Minor and Wastwater Bob Minor. As we've seen before, the grid of one lead of a method is an excellent way to get a feel fro what happens in a method. It contains all the work for every place bell, so it's all there. And you can see the structure of the method of the method and how the bells interact with other. Is there a lot of hunting? Do bells work in groups with other for longer periods? Where are the places made?

Double Bob   Bala Bob

What catches your eye? There's much more hunting in the first method, with dodging when the treble is at the back and the front. In the second method, there is a lot more place-making, while on the front the points may be familiar from Stedman. And there are similar points at the back too. Both are 2nds place methods, as 2nds is made at the lead end, but the wrong hunting in the Bala Bob means there isn't any dodging at the lead end. But, interestingly, despite the different structure, both methods have the same lead head, 156342.

For each method, we are going to look at the work below the treble and the work above the treble. The work below the treble is what happens in the places in each row under the treble; i.e. the work of the bells that strike before the treble in each row. That work for each method is highlighted here:

Double Bob - Below   Bala Bob - Below

It's harder to see the work above the treble, as this way of showing the grid splits the work into two halves. Admittedly, as these methods, like most methods, have palindromic symmetry, both halves are the same, but one is rung backwards. But it's still easier to see if we extend the grid to show one and a half leads of the method:

Double Bob - Above   Bala Bob - Above

Note that the start of the work above the treble is of course as you pass the treble on your way up, which hopefully you look out for anyway, as a way of knowing which work to do next. You might not be quite so used to watching for the treble on your way in, partly because lots of the methods we ring early on just have plain hunting below the treble. But it works the same way; you pass the treble on the way down, then do the work below the treble

Before moving on, it's worth comparing the work above and below the treble that we found in Double Bob:

Double Bob - Below   Double Bob - Above

The work below the treble is a mirror-image of the work above treble, as we mentioned when talking about Double Methods in Method Names. The work above the treble is exactly the same as in Plain Bob; making seconds, dodging 3-4 and dodging 5-6 at the lead end. When reverse, we get 5ths made under the treble, with dodging at the half-lead in 1-2 and 3-4.

Now, assuming we already know both these methods, we can construct two more methods, neither of which contains any new work.

Let's combine the work from Double Bob below the treble with the work of Bala Bob above the treble and see what we get:

Double Bob - Below   Bala Bob - Above   Combined
+ =

We get the method Elterwater:

Notice how, although both methods we started with had the lead head 156342, now we've got a different lead head, 142563 (which means Elterwater isn't a "regular" method). Now we've got the grid, how do we use this when we come to ring the method? Here's the blue line:

Let's imagine we're ringing the 2. We start above the treble, but immediately have to go into the lead, so we know we're going to be below the treble for a while. We have to ring Double Bob under the treble, so we'll hunt for a bit, until the dodge in 3-4 up at the half-lead. Then we pass treble, as we go from 4ths to 5ths place, so have to switch our brains to ring Bala above the treble. So we do the point 6ths, then 3rds and in, passing the treble in 2-3 (i.e. as we go from 3rds place to 2nds place). Below the treble again, we have to ring Double Bob, so we lead and dodge, before passing the treble in 3-4. Back to Bala, we make 4ths, do "Stedman" at the back, then pass the treble in 5-6. But we only get to ring one change of Double Bob, because we make 5ths at the half-lead, then go up again, passing the treble to ring Bala.

So, yes, a certain amount of mental gymnastics is required, as, like with the Lead End Variants, although there's no new work, it all comes in a different order. And knowing where you pass the treble, both on the way out and on the way in, is vital.

Just for completeness, let's find the other method promised above. This time we want Bala below the treble and Double Bob above the treble.

Bala Bob - Below   Double Bob - Above   Combined
+ =

We get the method Stepney:

And here's the blue line for Stepney:

You can see the dodging in 3-4 and 5-6 at the lead-end (from Double Bob), with Stedman work on the front (from Bala).

As you can imagine, combining work above and below the treble from two different methods can give many new methods. You can draw up a table, to look up what you get when combining different pairs of methods. Usually they will have methods with the same work above the treble in the same column and methods with the same work below the treble in the same row. Double Bob, Bala, Elterwater and Stepney can all be found in this table. Sometimes you get a method that doesn't have five leads, which is why there are some blank cells in the table.

You can do a similar thing with Treble Dodging Minor methods and Adrian Sweeting used this method when talking about ringing the Standard 41 Surprise Minor methods in his webinar. Here is a table for Surprise Minor.

There is a method commonly know as "Boat Race", which is a combination of Cambridge Surprise Minor and Oxford Treble Bob Minor. But which method is below the treble and which method above, in order to get a 5-lead method? If Oxford were rung below the treble, 2nds place bell would do all the slow work, before emerging above the treble to ring Cambridge. But that would just entail making seconds, becoming 2nds place bell again. So it must be Cambridge below the treble and Oxford above the treble. Its proper name is Morning Exercise Delight.

Note that when in Oxford, the method is usually described as "Oxford above, Cambridge below", but when in Cambridge, it is phrased as "Cambridge in front, Oxford behind"...

We've concentrated here on Minor methods, but the principles apply equally well to ringing on any number of bells. For Doubles, here is an extract from a table of all 576 possible palindromic methods. You can see the work below the treble is the same in each row (shown at the start of the row) - e.g. Shipway and Wainfleet both have plain hunt below the treble. And the work above the treble is the same in each column (shown here at the bottom of the column) - e.g. Eynesbury has Plain Bob above the treble. The colour coding (explained on the page) shows the type of method that results; the yellow ones are those with four leads.