Methods and Method Extension

The Methods Committee is proposing some amendments to the Decisions on Methods and Calls, and Method Extension at the Central Council meeting in Colchester this year. The current Decisions are in The Rules and Decisions of the Council available from CC Publications and on our website at An introductory article Introduction to Method Extension can also be found there.

The Decision on Method Extension (Decision (G)) was last amended significantly at Peterborough in 1992 and again at Salisbury in 1995 to cover the extension of principles. At Lincoln in 1999 we reported that we were considering further amendments (see RW 2000 p.359) although other work pressures meant little time was available until the past year. Following the Norwich meeting we also acknowledged that some tidying up of the Decisions was desirable (RW 2003 p.316), especially the Decision on Methods and Calls (Decision (E)), and the current proposals therefore address both these issues.

This article describes the proposed amendments in general terms. In due course the detailed amendments will appear on the Agenda for the 2004 Central Council meeting. They will effectively replace the existing Decisions (E) and (G) and in view of their size we are not asking The Ringing World to publish them in their present draft form. However the current draft is on our website and we would welcome feedback. If anybody who would like to comment does not have Internet access they can obtain a paper copy by writing to the Chairman at the address below.

The proposed amendments to the Decision on Methods and Calls do not make significant changes to the Decision. However we have tried to make them easier to understand and remove ambiguities. We have improved the paragraph numbering and introduced more definitions, with terms being defined shown in italics.

Part A Definitions and requirements

The Council's 1950 decision that ringing a method starting from a different change does not produce a different method is now stated explicitly. Different types of symmetry (needed for an amendment to the Decision on Extension) are now described. The fact that a call may affect two or more successive changes, rather than just a single change, is clarified. The definitions of bobs and singles are removed as being unhelpful (they did not cover all possibilities and could be misinterpreted to mean that these were the only types of calls allowed). The definition of Doubles variations is reworded to clarify that they are only defined for methods with standard calls and that they need not be given their own name.

Part B Classification of methods with one hunt bell

This is restructured to remove the ambiguity over whether Plain and Treble Dodging are classifications. It is also generalized to refer to the hunt bell rather than the treble. The classification of Treble Dodging methods with only one dodging position (e.g. Precious Little Treble Bob) is clarified. The use of the "Double" and "Single" prefixes for Plain methods is a matter of nomenclature and is moved to Part D.

Part C Classification of methods with more than one hunt bell

The existing Decision was difficult to understand and only worked for simple cases. It is now restructured to explain how to identify the principal hunt bells and how to classify methods with reference to the principal hunts.

Part D Nomenclature

The requirements on the number of stages covered by an extension and the relationship between the extensions of a Principle and its reverse is now moved to the Decision on Method Extension.

Decision on Method Extension

The amendments mostly increase the range of possible extensions, with the important exception that they are now required to cover an indefinite number of stages. This was already the case for Principles and in most cases an extension that works for two stages of extension works for an indefinite number of stages. We consider that existing extensions which only work for a single stage are coincidences rather than extensions! This new restriction gives us the confidence to introduce several new constructions without the risk that they will increase the number of unsatisfactory extensions.

The most significant new construction is extension by modes. A mode is a notional division within a block of changes. Put simply, in a mode-m extension, the places above and below position m may be treated independently (the actual Decision is a little more involved). For non-Little methods extension by modes is a generalization of expanding and static extension, for example, if the parent stage is Major, expanding extension is mode-1 and static extension is mode-8. Extension by modes can also be used for Little methods (regularizing the extension of Cawston Little Bob Major to Maximus, which extends mode-3), Principles and Differentials, the latter covered by the Decision for the first time.

The Decision is reorganised into a more logical structure which brings together requirements applying to both Little and non-Little methods, Principles and Differentials. The following amendments are also included:

A combination of these changes regularizes the extension of Superlative Surprise Major to Maximus, Sixteen, etc., which extends ABCD mode-3 above the treble/ FGHI mode-3 below the treble.

If you have an opinion on any of these proposals, do please let us know.

Anthony P Smith
Chairman, Methods Committee
72 Buriton Road, Winchester, SO22 6JE

The Ringing World, February 27, 2004, page 195