A Plain Man's Guide to The Methods Committee's Proposals

The following background information was distributed at the Central Council meeting to inform discussion of the Methods Committee's proposed amendments to the decisions to accommodate short-course methods rung in recent 12-bell peals. The amendments were passed and the information is reproduced here to explain the changes to a wider audience.

First, a few definitions to be absolutely sure what we're saying:

A Hunt Bell is one that comes back to its starting position at the end of the lead and consequently repeats its work in each lead; this is usually the treble, though it doesn't have to be. There can be more than one hunt bell, as in Grandsire, and the different hunt bells can perform different work, as in "slow-course" methods.

A Working Bell is one which does not come back into its starting position at the end of the lead, but takes up the work of the bell whose position it finds itself in. Any group of working bells that permute (occupy each other's places) at the end of a lead will perform each other's work successively in a course of the method.

Principles are methods that have no hunt bells. All the bells are working bells, and all permute at the lead-end; consequently all the bells do all the work of the method. Stedman, Erin and Original are familiar examples of Principles.

Hunters are methods that have one or more hunt bells (as above) but all the working bells permute at the lead-end and thus do all the work of the method (the work of the hunt bells isn't considered "work of the method"). The term "Hunters" has been introduced purely to talk about these methods; they comprise the majority of those rung, including the Plain, Alliance and Treble Dodging (Treble Bob, Delight and Surprise) methods.

Differentials are methods that have no hunt bells, but the working bells permute in separate (smaller) groups at the lead-end. All the bells in a particular group will do the same work as each other, but the work within different groups need not be the same; consequently all the bells may not perform all the work of the method.

This can be neatly summarised in the following table:

  Methods without hunt bells Methods with hunt bells
All the working bells do all the work of the method Principles Hunters
All the working bells do not do all the work of the method Differentials  

There is a naming convention to indicate which box a method belongs in. A Principle simply has a Name, e.g. "Scientific"; a Hunter has a Name and a Class, e.g. "Bristol Surprise"; and a Differential has a Name and the word "Differential", e.g. "Double Helix Differential".

There are no methods in the last box, because the decisions currently define only the three types discussed above. However, the methods which Council has been asked to recognise by the Birmingham band logically belong in this box because (a) they have hunt bells, putting them in the same column as Hunters; and (b) their working bells permute in separate groups, putting them in the same row as Differentials.

Unsurprisingly we have coined the term "Differential Hunters" for the missing method type and our proposals amend the decisions to formally define this type. The naming convention combines those of Differentials and Hunters (Name, "Differential" and Class) allowing names to be chosen freely whilst reflecting affinities with existing methods, e.g. "Bristol12 Differential Little Surprise". An incidental benefit of the proposals is that the scope of Differentials is extended - of special benefit to 6-bell ringers.

For the Methods Committee

The Ringing World, July 26, 2002, page 777