Coursing through the veins

Image by Jeon Sang-O from Pixabay

As you know, I’ve been #bellringing for 40 years now, almost exactly to the day.  I class myself as a middle of the road ringer.  There are methods that I know well, there are those I have to learn every time I ring them and methods I stress over learning because I think I can’t.  I have called a few quarter peals of Plain Bob Doubles and only a handful of touches of Plain Bob Minor or Grandsire Doubles with someone stood behind me, digging me in the leg to prompt me to shout “Bob”!  However, I certainly would not call myself a conductor at any stretch of the imagination.

So, the idea of calling and conducting is something that every now and then I think I ought to do more of, understand more about and push to be allowed to do it. 

One of our local ringers asked me the other week if there were any books on Coursing Order.  Not to my knowledge specifically about that subject although I’m sure that it’s covered in many other books on calling and conducting.  What I did manage to find were two articles from the Ringing World in about 1999 in the Learning Curve series on Conducting and Coursing Order.

The first article discusses the basic concept of understanding what coursing is, one bell following the path of another from front to back and back again.  Keeping an eye on the coursing order is what helps conductors check on whether the ringing is still correct, particularly after a call is made, or there’s a bit of a fire up. 

The way coursing orders are written is confusing it its own right.  It’s written with the Tenor last but omitted and on higher numbers the coursing order of the back bells often (but not always) doesn’t change, so that’s omitted too. Whilst ringing the idea is to work out the part of the coursing order that changes and rely on knowing the order of the fixed bells.  Coursing order applies to the whole course and therefore you can use it at any point to check the ringing is still right.

By putting a call in, it changes the coursing order, that the clever amongst us could work out in their heads as they go along. Using coursing orders can help check whether the ringing is correct, help others who go wrong and help the conductor work out where to put the calls.

If you are a very clever person you may want to call quarters or peals.  My efforts thus far have been to put the Bobs in.  I can’t put people right if they go wrong and if I called a Bob in the wrong place, I wouldn’t know how to correct it.  Still, those who do manage it look at coursing orders as part of the composition of what they are conducting.  They write it out using a grid with the calling positions across the top then as each course progresses and a call is made, they write the new coursing order under the calling position.  I’ve seen C do this a million times.  It’s like gobbledegook for the likes of me. 

If I sat down long enough with a piece of paper and the right frame of mind, I could probably work it out for a simple method like Plain Bob. For now I’ll let the clever sticks deal with it.


One thought on “Coursing through the veins

  1. Yep, me too. Let those that can, do. Sometimes I know what’s going on in Grandsire Doubles but only because that’s one thing I call a lot. I say I’m a caller not a conductor. I can put the calls in but no idea about putting folks right or knowing where everyone is at all times 🤷‍♀️🔔


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