Frequently Asked Questions

Moving Change Ringing

Ringing on Bodies

Moving Change Ringing


Ringing on Bodies
Another change ringing operation simplified.
Described by Bob Butler

Before I describe ringing on bodies, I need to relate some change ringing terms to music terms to which you are more likely to be familar.  I am going to use as an example a diatonic scale of 8 bells.  Once you see the scheme of things you can see that this can be extended to work with any number of bells.

A change is like a measure composed of eight evenly spaced beats. Each bell is rung on one of the beats of the measure until all eight bells have been rung once by the end of the measure.

A place is equilvent to one of the beats in the measure. In this example we have eight places in the change because
we have eight bells. The places are numbered from number "1" to number "8".

The bells are also numbered.  They are numbered from the highest pitch to the lowest pitch.  The number "1" bell is referred to as the treble.  The lowest pitched bell, number "8" in this example, is referred to as the tenor.

Having both bell numbers and place numbers can be a little confusing until you understand whether a bell or a place is being referred to when a number is given.

There is a special change known as "rounds" which is very important to change ringing because it is the beginning of the change ringing piece and is the ending of the piece if it is successful.  "Rounds" is the ringing of the bells from the treble down to the tenor with each note being the next pitch down the scale.  As the bells are numbered from the treble down to the tenor, and the places are numbered in beat order, each bell number will ring in its place number.  Rounds are used because it is the easiest change to hear and see and ring.

In ringing on bodies we are going to avoid the difficulty of ringing the bells in a different order by always ringing from one end of a line to the other end in the same way the we normally ring rounds. We will change the order in which the bells ring by moving our bodies around in an orderly fashion from change to change to cause the bells to be rung in the new order because the order of our bodies have been changed.

1) Line up everyone with bells with their bells ordered in  descending order with the highest bell on the right.
    The spacing should be just a few inches between each shoulder.

2) Count off and have the even number people step forward  about 30 inches and turn and face the spot they came from.
3) The bells are now ordered from the front, the original right  end of the line, to the back, the original left end of the line.  Note that the ordering alternates between the two lines.  When ringing the bells in order the bell at the
front will ring first and the next bell will be rung from the other line and the ringing continues to alternate between the lines.  Try ringing the bells this way.  The tempo should be approximately 60 beats a minutes.  It should be steady.  When the bell at the end of the line is rung the bell at the front of the line should ring next without any pause.

4) Now we introduce the orderly movement :-)   After ringing, everyone takes a side step to the left.  To keep the tempo going the people will need to move shortly after they ring.  The people at the front will be moving while the people at the back are ringing, and vice versa.

(A word of caution here.  There is a tendancy for people to take too large of a step.  You should not be trying to step to the spot that the person on your left has just occupied, but only half way.  It might well stablize the operation if there were some kind of marker on the floor between the lines at each station.)
5) After the first movement the #2 bell moved to the  first place at head of the line and the #7 bell
    moved to the last place at back of the line.

    After the last bell is rung from 3) above the first person in this new order should start the ringing
    down the line again.

    After ringing the bells this time almost everyone will take another side step to the left.  The people in the first and last place will step across to theother line, turn and face the line they just left.

       (Note the person still in the first place will again ring first)

    Again the person at the front will start the ringing down the line of bells immediately after the last bell
    in the line is rung.

       (I leave it to the people engaged in this to determine when the last bell is rung. :-)
        You are permitted to watch.)

6) The lines will continue to ring and shift.  After 16 shifts the bells should return to the original order.

This operation should not be difficult.  However, confusion can really take its bite until people get it organized in
their minds.

Do enjoy.

Bob Butler

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Moving Change Ringing

Presented by Norman Johnson

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