The Nine Tailors’ Nine-Hour Bell Performance Part II

In the last installment, we made sense of a relatively simple change ringing method, the Plain Bob Major, as a basis to understanding the Kent Treble Bob Major, which is performed for nine hours in The Nine Tailors.

So here’s the grid for the Kent Treble Bob Major.

Kent Treble Bob Major. Courtesy of www.ringbell.co.uk/software/index.htm
Kent Treble Bob Major. Courtesy of http://www.ringbell.co.uk/software/index.htm

It’s more complicated than the Plain Bob Major, definitely. That means there are more rules for the ringers to follow. But, more rules means more permutations and hence longer performances.

Now that we understand better why the bells will swap places rather than continuing back and forth across the grid (hint: to make more possible permutations and avoid repeating previous permutations), it may be easier to understand the Kent Treble Bob Major by looking at the rules for the bell ringer.

For all bells besides the lead bell (1 bell), they will still progress back and forth across the grid and ring twice in two rows when they reach the first and last positions.

The new rules are:

  • If you meet the lead bell at first position, then you must swap with the lead bell once, then play in the second position twice in two rows, then in the lead position twice in two rows, then in the second position twice in two rows, then in the lead position twice in two rows, etc. until each of the other six bells ring twice in the first position. You can see the 2 bell (red line) doing this in the rows below.
Kent Treble Bob Major selected rows
Kent Treble Bob Major selected rows
  • While moving across the grid to the left or right, you swap with the adjacent bell in third and fourth positions, fifth and sixth positions, and seventh and eighth positions.
  • If, however, the lead bell rings before you in the row (in a lower position) AND you are in third or fourth position, then you ring in that position twice in two rows.
  • The lead bell goes back and forth across the grid as in the Plain Bob Major, except it too will swap places with the adjacent bell whenever it reaches third and fourth positions, fifth and sixth positions, and seventh and eighth positions.

Whew! That’s a lot to remember! I have to hand it to change ringers, they have to memorize a lot of patterns and know them incredibly well in order to execute these methods at the speed they do.

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