Learning Short Touches

Learning Short Touches #

In this section, we’ll put together everything we’ve covered over the course of Calling It Round so far by learning 2 different short touches that use the most common calling positions. In addition, I’ve compiled some collections of other short touches that use these calling positions as well; these collections will be included at the bottom as resources.

Wrong Home, Wrong Home #

The first touch we’ll go over is a great one for practice night; simple, with relatively few calls, and short enough for a second attempt if the first goes awry. When ringers talk about this touch, they will often call it “Wrong Home, Wrong Home” or, more rarely, “Wrong Home, repeat”. You can see on left-hand side that using calling positions here instead of calling it “bpppbbpppb” saves us a lot of space and a lot of remembering; we can just write out “WH WH” (or “WHx2”) instead and be done with it!

A few words about how this composition is laid out: On the right-hand side, you can see a bunch of rows with the treble at the start and the other bells in different orders each time. The long horizontal lines split the rows into two courses, each of which ends with the tenor returning to its home position of 6ths place.

These rows themselves are the lead heads. To be explicit: These are the rows that are the backstroke lead of the treble. The left-hand side of the image shows whether there is a call or not, and at which calling position it is called. So you can see there is a bob at Wrong, a bob at Home, and then another bob at Wrong and another bob at Home. The hyphen “-” indicates that it is a bob, and the W or H indicates Wrong or Home. After the last home is called, the backstroke row will be 123456 — rounds!

It is easiest to call this touch from the tenor, though it can be called from other bells. If you’re calling it from the tenor, then you can simply make a call every time you would be unaffected by that call; you make a call every time you dodge in 5-6, whether up or down. If you would like to know more about calling this touch from a lighter bell, there will be sections elsewhere on the Calling It Round site that discuss that; there are also a variety of resources in The Ringing World which I will link below. In brief: One option is to call the touch from a different bell but watch the tenor to figure out where to put the calls; another is to call whenever you dodge in 5-6 (up or down), regardless of the bell you’re ringing. It’s particularly musical from the 3 or 4, but perfectly acceptable to ring from any working bell.1 I recommend trying to call this touch from a variety of bells and seeing what you like to do best. Is it easier to see how the bells go if you call from one place or another? Do you prefer when there’s a call the first lead and the last lead, or if the calls are all towards the middle (as happens when you call from the 2 or 3)?

Two things to be careful of when you’re trying this touch for the first time, assuming you’re ringing the composition as laid out above:

  1. The first call (a bob at Wrong) is right after the first lead, so be on your toes!
  2. The second Wrong comes the lead straight after the first call at Home. So even though those two calls are in different courses, they feel awfully close together! I always recommend that when you’re first starting out, you look at the composition lead-by-lead to get a sense of where calls come in clusters. You might not necessarily have enough time to puzzle out that the Wrong is next in the heat of the moment; you might have to rely on your memory that the two calls come side-by-side.2

Three Homes #

The next (and final!) touch for this section is often called “Three Homes”. And it is what it says on the tin! See the left-hand side image for the composition. You can see there are three courses, with a call at Home in every course.

In Plain Bob Doubles, “Three Homes” gets you to 120 rows. That’s an extent! So you can link together 11 extents just like this one for a slightly repetitive but perfectly legitimate quarter peal of Plain Bob Doubles.3 It would be very good practice for “Three Homes,” that’s for sure.

Just like “Wrong Home, Wrong Home”, Three Homes works for any bell. You can grab the 3 and call “bob” every time the 3 makes long fifths and you will ring a perfectly good extent! In fact, this feature – that you can call Three Homes from any bell – is one that is often used to make counting extents slightly less taxing. Once you’ve gotten a good amount of practice calling yourself as observation, you can begin to call extents while ringing your own bell and watching other bells to figure out where to put the calls in. If you call Three Homes for the 2, then the 3, then the 4, then the 5, you’ve called four extents. Repeat to get 8 extents, and then get the remaining 3 extents however you please; no counting to 11 required.

You can use “Three Homes” not only from different observation bells, but also for different methods entirely. Though the composition above uses Plain Bob Doubles, “Three Homes” is actually a composition that works in a great variety of methods. Bear in mind that “Home” can mean something slightly different for other methods — in Plain Bob Doubles, it means make long 5ths, but in Plain Bob Minor it means dodge 5-6 down! You can also use “Three Homes” with a huge variety of methods, like Kent Treble Bob Minor or Bristol Surprise Major, though you should also be aware that the Home may come in different places in the plain course in different methods. For these other methods, too, you can call from any bell; just be aware that there could be musical or other consequences! Whether you mind that or not is up to you. Word to the wise: while this is an extremely versatile composition, it doesn’t work everywhere (notably, it doesn’t work for Grandsire), so be sure you know what you’re in for before you start.

Both of the above touches and more are included at this link:

This collection was compiled for those working their way through Calling It Round. Once you’re there, you’ll find a list of compositions. You can click on any of the compositions to learn more. The collection is hosted on CompLib, which is a site built and maintained by Graham John. It’s an excellent resource, and if you are interested in learning more about calling and conducting, I strongly recommend availing yourself of it. It is well worth the time spent playing with all of the settings and figuring out what is most useful. For a starting caller, it is often very useful to click the composition and then the “Blue Line” section of the composition, so you can get a good sense of what all the bells do through the composition (and maybe remind yourself of where the calling positions come!)

Exercises #

Click this #

I really recommend creating an account and exploring around complib.org. Another resource I use very frequently is ringing.org, an excellent curated collection compiled and maintained by Don Morrison. I find that ringing.org is easier to navigate and has a more curated collection, whereas complib.org has more (and more complex) features but less curation. I use both frequently, though often for different things. For handbell ringers, I particularly recommend Don Morrison’s site as it frequently annotates which compositions are particularly suitable for handbells. You can simply navigate to a page of compositions and ctrl+F for “handbells” to see what I mean.

Read This #

Want to know more about calling from a lighter bell? Try “The Lightweight Conductor” series, published in The Ringing World in 2017/2018 in the Education Column, or try my own article “Everything you don’t need to know” (issue 5716, 13 Nov 2020) which discusses one of the touches taught above.

Call This #

Try calling one of the above touches!

Find This #

Can you find another touch that uses only Wrong and Home for calling positions? It can be any method or any stage. Does the Wrong come at the start of the course, like in Plain Bob, or somewhere else? In addition to online resources, try The Ringing World Diary!

Notes #

  1. Be warned that this strategy will not work out as nicely for all compositions, and for some it will fail entirely. ↩︎

  2. These combination calls are some of the most treacherous territory for any conductor. A lot is changing, all at once, and it can be all-too-easy to lose your concentration (and the coursing order, or the part end, or…) amidst the chaos. So give yourself as many sign-posts as you can! ↩︎

  3. Technically, you only need 10.5 extents of Plain Bob Doubles to make a quarter peal. However, you’d have to use a different composition for the half extent! ↩︎