23rd February 2016

Conduct 5040 FAQ – Getting Started


Are calling positions related to tenor?

Your assumption is correct that calling positions are set by where the tenors are. It is possible, in Minor for example, to call a 720 extent by having a lighter bell as observation. Thus one could in Plain Bob call the 2nd bell 5-6 down, 5-6 up, 5-6 down , repeated 5 times (six times in all) with a single making 2nds after the third and sixth repetitions. Effectively you are calling the 2nd Home/Wrong/Home in tenors parlance but the part end orders would NOT have the tenor in home position, there would be 23564, 23645, 24356 (at single), 24563, 24635 and 23456 (at second single). Mixing the back bells on higher numbers is not necessarily musical and is traditionally avoided.

Your questions about whether the coursing position stay fixed is not a stupid one. The answer is that technically you could call a composition with any bell as the observation, but it might not be the right length and it would be disastrous. lts unmusical and difficult because the tenors would be split out of their natural coursing order. It is a fundamental principle therefore that compositions are written and called with the tenor as the observation.

If you don’t ring the tenor of course that makes it harder for you. You have to watch the tenor from whatever bell you choose, and make calls when you see they are in the Wrong, Middle or Home positions. If this seems too daunting, then what you do is ring one of the fixed bells, e.g. the 9th, and learn what that bell does when the tenor is at the appropriate calling position. Better still, watch the tenor, but have your own position as back up.

How do I call a touch when I am not the observation bell?

Your first target is to pick yourself a touch of bob minor, and then call it by the tenor’s position when you are not ringing the tenor. If it is bob minor then call the tenor Wrong Home Wrong Home. Suggested touch of Bob Major is Wrong 3 Befores, Middle Home (because that is basically just a long course).

The point about knowing how to call from an inside bell is important. It is much easier to put calls in when you are the observation bell, but better to be able to do it when you are not. What you don’t want to get in the habit of doing is translating the tenor’s calling positions into what your own bell is doing. If you are going to conduct you need to be able to see what other bells are doing without getting lost yourself and this is a good start.

So ring a bell other than the tenor, and call a touch using the tenor’s calling positions. After that we can look at coursing orders to help you see how the touches are working and how that translates into how to help people get right.

Stick to Plain Bob for now.

I rely on knowing the composition and with the aid of ringing master I am able to adjust the calling written for the tenor to that of the 5th. Course and after bells and the treble are my main guides and this is fine until someone falls off the line.

Firstly, you will not find any successful conductors doing what you are doing in terms of translating the tenor’s calling positions onto a different bell. Please believe me that that is not a good way. To conduct you want to be able to call the composition in terms of what the tenor is doing while not ringing the tenor yourself. I can’t stress that enough!

It is good that you say you rely on knowing the composition. That is pretty fundamental. Are you saying that if you are calling a quarter of Cambridge and call WBBH, WB3H that is what you know?

The entry point for learning to do this is going to be watching the tenor in a course of Surprise Major when you are not ringing it and convincing yourself that you can see what place bell it is each lead end. You want to be able to see when the tenor is approaching the Wrong, Middle or Home positions. If you can do that, you already know what 3 of the bells are doing – 8 (because you are watching it) 7 because it is coursing 8, and yourself.

So let’s start by trying to get to that point so that you are able to call by the tenor’s calling position. This is going to drive showing you how the coursing orders work.


I have a question concerning Plain Bob Triples. In Plain Bob Major, using calls at W, H and Middle – coursing order 87 5 3 2 4 6 – calls at W affects 532, H affects 324 and Middle affects 246. Where W is 7/8 up, H is 7/8 down and middle is 5/6 down. In Plain Bob triples – coursing order 7 5 3 2 4 6 – according to the R/W diary H is 4 behind, W is 5/6 down and middle is 5/6 up. If I check the effect of the coursing order with these calling positions middle affects 532 and wrong affects 246 – the opposite of Plain Bob major. Is there an explanation for this ?

Plain Bob Triples confuses people in terms of the notation and although I don’t have a RW diary to hand, I have heard before that it is confusing.

The Wrong by definition affects 532, and so is called when the 3 would run out, 2 in and 5 make it, i.e. the first lead end of the course when the 7th is in 56 up. The home by definition affects 324 and so is the last lead of the course when the 7th makes four blows behind.

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