Reading Touches - Minor

In the first part, I only had space to include touches of Doubles. Now I shall look at touches on higher numbers, which will tend to be written out in courses, rather than by leads.

I shall again take examples from Don Morrison's website at as well as Complib. In the former, the Minor pages are here and in the latter, the touches of Plain Bob Minor are here.

Let's start with a 540 of Plain Bob Minor from Complib.

Each line represents a whole course of the method. A plain course is the amount of the method you need to ring before getting back to rounds. So a plain course here would contain 5 leads (i.e. 60 rows). In this touch, the tenor is unaffected throughout, so, although there are calls, every course is still 5 leads in length. So as there are 9 lines in the composition, the total number of rows is 9 x 60 = 540.

You can see that this composition has three identical parts, but has been written out in full, unlike some of the Doubles touches we saw last time.

The calling positions in this touch are written from the point of view of the tenor. "W" stands for Wrong, which is call at 5-6 up. "H" stands for Home, which is a call at 5-6 down. As a name, "Home" makes sense as the tenor is back where it started from, in 6ths place at the lead end. Note that all the course ends (the rows in the first column) end with "6", as the tenor is always back home at the end of each course. "Wrong" can be understood in relation to this; the tenor is unaffected at the call, but in the "wrong" place for it to come round.

In Plain Bob Minor, the circle of work for the tenor is 5-6 up, 3-4 up, 2nds, 3-4 down, 5-6 down. As we have seen, this touch only has calls when the tenor is either at 5-6 up or 5-6 down, so they are only at the first or last leads of each course. Again, the hyphen "-" is used for a Bob, and "s" for a Single. So the first course could be written B P P P B, as it has a Bob at the first and fifth lead ends. "P" means a Plain lead, i.e. one without a call made. The second course also has two calls, but now one is a Single, so it is called B P P P S. And the third course just has a Single at Home, so it could be represented as P P P P S.

As before, we're not going to look too much at how and when to make the calls; we are just concerning ourselves with understanding what the touch means.

Now for a whole quarter peal:

Again, this touch just has Wrongs and Homes, so the tenor is unaffected. This is why the course ends, shown in the first column, don't include the tenor, as it is always in 6ths place.

There are two differences from the first touch, though. Firstly, just one part is shown, which is why the final course end isn't rounds. And secondly, multiple calls are used, like the "ss" in the Stedman last time.

Under the Home column, the numbers indicate how many calls are made in that position. The "2" shows that Bobs are called in two successive courses. The "3*" in the Wrong column, though, is specified at the bottom of the touch; it means a Single and two Bobs, called in successive courses. Written out in full it would be shown like this:

The red box represents the "3*" and each of the green boxes is a "2". So you can see that the first line in the original way of writing it actually includes 4 courses. The next line only has one call at each position, so stays as it is. And the final line of the original composition is two courses. So each part contains 7 courses in all, making 7 x 60 = 420 rows. Then it's a three-part, so we have to ring all of that three times before getting back to rounds, giving the claimed total of 3 x 420 = 1260 rows. (Actually, to be strictly accurate, rounds does come up before 1260 rows; as this touch is longer than the extent on 6 bells (720), some rows are rung more than once - rounds first comes up after 780 rows.)

Now, let's have some touches where the tenor is affected. Here's a 720 of Plain Bob Minor with no Bobs at all, just Singles:

Again, the tenor is omitted from the course ends. We have calls at Wrong and Home, but we have some new calling positions too.

"B" stands for Before, meaning at the front; a Single Before is when the tenor is making 2nds (unaffected).

"3rds" is fairly self-explanatory; the tenor makes thirds (from the back) at a Single.

And "F" stands for Fourths; the tenor makes 4ths at the call.

Now that the tenor is unaffected, the spacing of the calls is not quite as clear as it was above, and the courses will have different lengths. The fourth line in the composition is fine, though, with just calls at W and H; it is still 5 leads in length, with the tenor unaffected.

Let's look at the 3rd and 5th courses next. They each have Singles at Wrong, Fourths and Home. We have already seen above that ringing the tenor to Plain Bob Minor, the Wrong is at the first lead of the course. When do we make 4ths? It would be instead of dodging 3-4 up, which is the next lead after 5-6 up. And what do we do after making 4ths? We dodge 5-6 down, but that has to be a Single too. So in fact, each of those courses only has three leads, with a Single every time!

The first two lines of the composition are different again - and you can see the course end is in brackets.

It starts off fine, with a Single at Wrong, the first lead end. Then the tenor has to wait until it does 2nds for the next call, meaning that there is no call at 3-4 up this time. But having called a Single at 2nds, the 3rds is a call at the next lead. The next call, on the next line of the composition, is 2nds, but that's at the very next lead; having made 3rds, we do 2nds. This is why the course end is in brackets; it is never actually reached. The row shown is what it would have been, if there had been enough plain leads to get there. We've still got two more calls after the 2nds - another call at 3rds, then a little rest before the Home.

So writing out every lead, the touch would be:


A shorter touch next; 144 Plain Bob Minor, from Complib:

Hopefully, everything here should make sense, apart from the "I".

The first course is fine - and in fact the tenor is unaffected, with a Bob and 5-6 up, a Single and 2nds and a Bob at 5-6 down.

The "I" stands for In; it's a Bob that makes the tenor run in, i.e. instead of doing 3-4 down. And the "2" means two consecutive Ins, which means at successive leads; having called one Bob and run in, you have to call another Bob and run in again the very next lead.

This touch, written by leads, would be B P S P B for the first course, then S P P B B P B for the second course.

Another Don Morrison composition now:

You should recognise another feature here from last week; the use of blocks. the first four lines of the composition are bracketed together and labelled "A". Then the next two lines both have an "A", so those four lines are repeated twice. Although watch out for the extra Home included at the end of the first repeat of block A.

The other thing to draw your attention to is the use of "1" to mean a Bob at Before or In.

A Bob at Before means that instead of making 2nds you run out and do 2nds next time. And we've already seen calls at In; you run in and do 3-4 next time. So in each case an extra lead has been added to the course. This is why these calls use "1" unstead of "-" for a Bob. It ties in nicely with the use of "2" in the Richard Angrave touch above, with had two extra leads in its second course.

A slight variation in presentation occurs in this touch:

Here "O" is used instead of "B"; it stands for Out, as it means a call where the tenor runs out.

Using what we saw in the previous calling, we know that the 2nd and 3rd lines in the composition each contain 9 leads. They would normally contain 5 leads, but they have each got two extra leads as the tenor ran out twice, and two more as it ran in twice.

The lengths of the first and last lines of the composition aren't quite so easy to work out; you would have to count the leads; Plain (5-6 up), Bob (4ths), Plain (5-6 down), Plain (5-6 up), Bob (4ths), Bob (5-6 down) - so a total of 6 leads.

So each part is 6 + 9 + 9 + 6 = 30 leads. 30 x 12 = 360. Then being a two-part means the total length is 2 x 360 = 720.

Finally for Plain Bob Minor, here's a 576:

This probably contains most of what we've looked at so far, so should make complete sense!

The first course is just three leads, making 4ths at the first call, then a Single at 5-6 down.

The next line actually contains four courses, plus an extra lead (for running in), making 21 leads. There are Singles at Before in two successive courses, then the tenor runs in, before calling three Bobs at 5-6 down.

Again, I think I've pretty much exhausted your patience for now, despite only looking at one method!

However, the good news is that most of the above applies equally well to any Minor methods. And callings on higher numbers tend to be easier, with fewer calls needed, as the courses are longer anyway.

There is more, on higher numbers, here.