Keeping it Right - Plain Bob Minor

Wherever I have used "him" to refer to a bell or a ringer in the following description, this should not be taken as gender-specific.

The key thing in conducting is the coursing order of the bells. In Plain Bob this corresponds with the order in which you follow the bells, although it is in fact a much deeper property of the way methods are constructed, and so these techniques can be applied to other methods too. The basic coursing order for most minor methods is 65324, i.e. 5th courses 6th, 3rd courses 5th, 2nd courses 3rd and 4th courses 2nd. It is a cyclic relationship, because the 6th also courses the 4th, so it could equally well be written 32465 or 46532. I would just start the cycle from the bell I was on, omitting this bell altogether, as I should know what the 2nd is doing! For instance, ringing the 2nd, I would think of the coursing order as 4653.

So let's see how this relates to the bells that you follow. Ringing the 2nd to Plain Bob Minor, you follow the bells in the following orders:

up 46531
down46513dodging 3-4 down with the 5 on the way
up 46513
down46153dodging 5-6 down with the 4
up 46153dodging 5-6 up with the 3
down41653
up 41653dodging 3-4 up with the 6
down14653then leading and making seconds

 Most of this you will already be familiar with;

So, as long as a bob isn't called, the coursing order remains the same throughout the method, all you have to hold in your head is the 4 numbers in order; 4653. The only bell changing in the order you pass the bells is the treble. Already you are equipped to help people; even if you don't know exactly where they should be, you can tell the 5th, for instance, to follow the 6th down to the front, then expect the 3rd to take him off the lead. There is a certain amount of elimination in conducting; for instance when the 2nd is in 3-4 up, we saw that he passed the bells 4, 1, 6. So we know that the 4th must be doing seconds below us and the 5th and 3rd are dodging in 5-6 above. In fact we also know that the 5th is doing 5-6 down, as we are expecting to meet him coming down before the 3rd. This facility comes with practice, but for now we'll just stick to watching the bells as we pass them - Plain Bob is good for that as there's so much plain hunt in it; it's never long before you pass any given bell and can check on their position.

As I said, this is all fine between bobs. In fact, I have "conducted" several quarter peals before I knew what happened to the coursing order at a bob. I would just pick up the new coursing order after a call and remember that, using it to keep it right the rest of the time.  However, the mistakes tend to happen at bobs, so it's worth being able to predict the new coursing order beforehand.

Most conducting, especially on more than 6 bells, involves keeping yourself unaffected - this is not cheating. I have rung many quarters (and even peals) completely unaffected! So I will first look at what happens when you call bobs in 5-6.

5-6 down (known as H, for Home)

For instance, if I'm ringing the 4th, the coursing order is 6532. So I know that the first bell I meet coming off the back (or lead) is the 6th, so the 5-6 down dodge must be with him. We're both unaffected, so the 6th must stay in the same place in the coursing order relative to me; only the order of the three bells 532 needs to be transposed. Now the pattern to remember is ABC => BCA. In this case 532 => 325. So the coursing order is 6325, so I know I follow the bells sown to the front in the order 63125, and will do 5-6 up next time, which will now be with the 5th. And the coursing order will stay 6325 until I make another call.

5-6 up (known as W, for Wrong)

Let's say I'm ringing the 5th this time. So;

So, let's use these two transpositions to call a 120 of Bob Minor; you're going to call a bob every time you're in 5-6. Ringing the 3rd, the initial coursing order is 2465.

Calling position:

You dodge with:

The affected bells are:

Transposition:

New coursing order:

5-6 down2nd465465 => 6542654
5-6 up 4th265265 => 6526524
5-6 down6th524524 => 2456245
5-6 up 5th624624 => 2462465

You know that it will come round after that, as the coursing order is back to what it started as, 2465. It might seem daunting at first sight, but that ABC => BCA transposition becomes second nature after a bit, as it the same for either 5-6 up or down. You can practice the transpositions in your head any time (I used to find cycling to practice an ideal opportunity), seeing if you end up back in the starting coursing order.

It's not necessary to know, but you might like to see what work the affected bells do. In ABC => BCA, then bell that "jumps" (A) is the one that is making 4ths at the bob. B is running out, C is running in, but they usually behave themselves. It's usually the bell making 4ths that you need to keep an eye on!

With just bobs, you can call a 360 of Plain Bob Minor. As above, call yourself unaffected every time you are dodging in 5-6. Except when that dodge is with one particular bell. It doesn't matter who you pick on, unless you're worried about getting 65's at backstroke. The classic example is to ring the 6th, then call a bob every time except with the 5th. The starting coursing order is 5324:

Calling position:

You dodge with:

The affected bells are:

Transposition:

New coursing order:

5-6 up 4th532532 => 3253254
5-6 down3rd254254 => 5423542
5-6 up 2nd354354 => 5435432
5-6 down5thdodging with the 5th, so miss out this call
5-6 up 2nd543543 => 4354352
5-6 down4th352352 => 5234523
5-6 up 3rd452452 => 5245243
5-6 down5thdodging with the 5th, so miss out this call
5-6 up 3rd524524 => 2452453
5-6 down2nd453453 => 5342534
5-6 up 4th253253 => 5325324
5-6 down5thdodging with the 5th, so miss out this call

To call a 720, you need singles. The transposition for a single is ABC => CBA; again, A is the bell making 4ths; B is unaffected, so doesn't move in the coursing order, while C is the bell making 3rds. The simplest way to call a 720 is to call the 360 above, calling a single at one of the places that you miss out a bob in 5-6. Then repeat, calling the single in the same place the second time round.

To get a quarter, another 540 is needed, and I will use this an an example for singles. The calling is again based on the 120, but replace each bob you miss out with two singles in that position. For example, ringing the 5th, picking the 6th as my "special" bell. So starting (and finishing) coursing order is 3246:

Calling position:

You dodge with:

The affected bells are:

Transposition:

New coursing order:

5-6 down3rd246246 => 4623462
5-6 up 2nd346346 => 4634632
5-6 down4th632632 => 3264326
5-6 up6th - so call a single432432 => 2342346
5-6 up6th - call another single234234 => 4324326
5-6 down4th326326 => 2634263
5-6 up 3rd426426 => 2642643
5-6 down2nd643643 => 4362436
5-6 up6th - so call a single243243 => 3423426
5-6 up6th - call another single342342 => 2432436
5-6 down2nd436436 => 3642364
5-6 up 4th236236 => 3623624
5-6 down3rd624624 => 2463246
5-6 up6th - so call a single324324 => 4234236
5-6 up6th - call another single423423 => 3243246