Method Ringing

  • Perfecting method ringing is the goal of most ringers.
  • A "method" is a list of changes
  • A "change" is a different combination of bells
  • This is the origin of the phrase "ringing the changes"
  • The simplest method is called "Plain Hunting"
Plain Hunting on 4 bells

Plain hunting on 4 bells

1 2 3 4 - Start with rounds
2 1 4 3 - Swap first pair of bells and second pair
2 4 1 3 - Swap middle pair of bells
4 2 3 1 - Swap first pair of bells and second pair
4 3 2 1 - Swap middle pair of bells
3 4 1 2 - Swap first pair of bells and second pair
3 1 4 2 - Swap middle pair of bells
1 3 2 4 - Swap first pair of bells and second pair
1 2 3 4 - Swap middle pair of bells (back to rounds) 

To ring the method, each ringer has to memorise what position his/her bell is in at every change;
to help with this a line is drawn to show the path of a particular bell in the method.
The ringer has to "learn the line" in order to ring the method. In this example, the line is straight therefore easy to ring.
Plain hunt is how we introduce beginners to method ringing.

Cambridge Minor

More advanced methods have kinks in the line - in technical terms, dodges, places, points and fishtails.
However the process of memorising the method is the same - learn the line. To the left is a picture of Cambridge Surprise Minor with the path of the 6th bell drawn in.

Note that this is just the first "lead" of the method (a lead starts with the treble leading twice) - there are 4 more of these leads to learn (120 changes in total). We can also extend the method using a special call "bob" or "single" which act like a points on a railway track allowing us to ring for longer. We often use this to ring a "quarter peal" (about 45 minutes of ringing) to celebrate a special occasion. On really big occasions, we ring a peal (3 hours of ringing and used sparingly out of consideration for our neighbours).