Call changes

Call changes are a way for a band of ringers to ring a sequence of rows (= bell orderings) without everyone having to learn it ahead of time.  The conductor (the ringer in charge) calls out each change, and the ringers rearrange their sequence in response.  It is particularly useful for bands that include inexperienced ringers.  Some sequences (like 36 Changes below) are appealing in their own right and a band may choose to ring them for pleasure, even if they can ring Plain Hunt, Plain Bob, and other methods.

Changes are called in the form “m to n” where m and n are bell numbers (not places) and the call means that bell m will begin following n beginning at the next handstroke. There are two conventions for what such calls mean.

  • In calling down m moves down (in) toward the front to follow nm has to be ringing two places after n in order for the call to be valid.  As a result of the call m moves down one place toward the front, and the bell ringing between m and n moves up (out) one place toward the back, trading places with m.
  • In calling up m moves up (out) toward the back to follow nm has to be ringing one place before n in order for the call to be valid.  As a result of the call m moves up (out) one place and n moves down (in) one place.  The bells that move are those named in the call.

Every call is made at a handstroke, and takes effect at the next handstroke.  Ideally the call is made during the handstroke pause, when everyone can hear it.  Then the ringers involved have a little time to think it through if need be, adjust how hard they pull the backstroke, and place the next handstroke in their new place.

To ring call changes reliably, you need to keep track of

  1. Your place
  2. Which bell you are following
  3. Which bell they are following (i.e. which bell is two places in front of you)

(You also need to remember the number of the bell you are ringing!)

From time to time you’ll have to re-figure-out the third item, namely which bell is two places in front of you. If your band is kind to new ringers, each ringer will mostly be looking at the bell they are following, so watch the ringer you are following and figure out who they are looking at. Then check that that ringer is pulling right before the ringer you are following.

If your ear is good, you can also figure out the sequence by listening for the pitches of the bells.

Calling up

In Miami we usually call up.  Calling up is simpler for everyone and particularly for novices, we find.

Each call is of the form “m to n“, where m and n are bell numbers (possibly using “treble” instead of “1”).  When the conductor calls “m to n“, always at a handstroke, bells m and n have to do things starting at the backstroke:

  • m (the first bell named in the call) will pull its backstroke harder, making its bell swing up higher.
  • n (the second bell named in the call) will pull its backstroke more gently, making its bell not swing up as high.
  • Then on the handstroke m will catch lower on its sally so the bell can rise higher and strike one beat later.
  • n will catch higher on its sally on the handstroke to check the bell’s rise and strike one beat sooner.
  • Thereafter both m and n will pull like they were before, and catch like they were before.  m is now following n.
Which bell Backstroke Next handstroke
First bell named in the call
Pull backstroke harder Next handstroke catch lower,
let the bell rise
Second bell named in call
Pull backstroke gentler Next handstroke catch higher,
check the bell’s rise

An up-call is valid if bell n is following bell m when the call is made (m then n); otherwise, it’s a bad call and can’t be followed.  m and n will trade places at the next handstroke, so that m is following n (n then m).


This is a technique for keeping novices from getting lost.  Instead of calling “m to n” (an up call) where the sequence was lmn before the call and will be lnm after, the conductor makes both the up-call and the equivalent down-call (“m to n, n to l“) to make sure n knows whom to follow.  No doubt n would have figured out he/she was going to follow l eventually, but the double-call removes any uncertainty.

Queens and Back

This sounds good, takes few calls, and leaves both the treble and tenor in place making it easier for the bells in between to keep their places.  The strategy is to call even bells over odd bells to move them out to the back while keeping their sequence 246… and at the same time move odd bells in to the front while keeping their sequence 135….

The table below shows one way (there are several) to get to Queens and back on six bells, called up.  Queens and Back is particularly easy to call up, as the conductor simply finds any even bell ringing under an odd bell, calls the even bell up to the odd bell, and continues until there are none left at which point the band will be in Queens.  Then to get back, the conductor finds any even bell ringing over a higher-numbered odd bell, calls the odd bell up to the even bell, and continues until there are none left at which point the band will be in Rounds again.

Call Result Row name
1 4 to 5 123546
2 2 to 3 132546
3 2 to 5 135246 Queens
4 5 to 2 132546
5 3 to 2 123546
6 5 to 4 123456 Rounds

36 Changes

This set of changes that Rob started us ringing came from one of Steve Coleman’s books.  The table below gives the 36 Changes called-down.

Call Result Row name Call Result Row name
1. 5-3 12354 19. 4-lead 41235
2. 3-1 13254 20. 2-4 42135
3. 5-3 13524 Queens 21. 3-2 42315
4. 5-1 15324 22. 3-4 43215
5. 5-lead 51324 23. 3-lead 34215
6. 3-5 53124 Whittingtons 24. 1-4 34125
7. 4-1 53142 25. 1-3 31425
8. 4-3 53412 26. 2-1 31245
9. 4-5 54312 27. 1-lead 13245
10. 2-3 54321 Back rounds 28. 5-2 13254
11. 2-4 54231 29. 5-3 13524 Queens
12. 1-2 54213 30. 3-lead 31524
13. 1-4 54123 31. 2-1 31254
14. 4-lead 45123 32. 2-3 32154
15. 1-4 41523 33. 2-lead 23154
16. 1-lead 14523 34. 1-2 21354
17. 2-4 14253 Tittums 35. 1-lead 12354
18. 3-2 14235 36. 4-3 12345 Rounds

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