Short touches of (Spliced) Surprise Major

Ever been to an eight-bell practice where touches of spliced go on for ages?

Arguably, to be interesting to ring touches of spliced must include several changes of method, which in turn means the touch must have at least the same number of leads as there are methods rung. The touch length has to be a only few leads to be short enough for a practice night or service touch, and if using the simpler right-place methods may have an unbalanced ratio of Rutland to the other methods to keep the length down.

Here are a few short touches of spliced that are interesting in their own right, despite the small number of methods they include. Although the shorter touches clearly don’t have all eight methods in them, the methods used are taken from the standard eight (the old standard eight that is!). Some of the touches are ideal to fit in that tight slot just before a service, when there is not quite enough time to ring all eight methods. All possible touches using methods from the standard eight surprise major methods are represented below up to a length of 157 changes. Sample touches of length 160, 162 and 189 changes are also listed.

Touches of two leads in length

The shortest true touch of standard 8 surprise major, though not actually spliced, is two leads of Bristol using singles in 1234. That’s it. There are no others this short or shorter.

There is however a single 66 change touch, coming round at the treble snap after the second lead end. Call London with a 1234 single at the end of the first lead, Bristol with a 4ths place bob, then begin a lead of London.

Three lead touches

There are countless touches of 3 plain leads, using two leads of Rutland or London plus a lead from the Cambridge, Lincolnshire, Yorkshire, Superlative and Pudsey group. From a music point of view though, only those with Yorkshire as the middle lead contain back-change, and those with Superlative as the middle lead contain back-change and Queens. Add to this large group the single three lead touch of Bristol with a bob at each lead, and you have the entire set of three lead touches.

A small number of touches exist that come round at the treble snap after the third lead end, giving 98 changes. These are listed below, where the abbreviation CNYPS means a single lead of Cambridge, Lincolnshire, Yorkshire, Pudsey or Superlative. CNYR similarly means one lead of Cambridge, Lincolnshire, Yorkshire or Rutland, while RB means Rutland or Bristol. For each of the touches below though, you will only ring the first two changes of the method selected last in the list:

  • London (Bob), Bristol (Bob), Bristol (Single), London
  • CNYPS (Bob), Bristol (Single), London (Bob), CNYR
  • CNYPS, RL (Bob), Bristol (Single), CNYR
  • RB, CNYPS (Bob), Bristol (Single), CNYR

Obviously the first of these is interesting because it comes round in London rather than the usual CNYR at the treble snap. Also to get Queens and back change, the last of the touches above should contain Superlative as the second lead.

Four leads

The shortest touch that contains an odd number of changes is slightly shorter than four leads, coming round at the first snap lead of the treble before the fourth lead end. At 125 changes long this makes a good 5 to 6 minute service touch. Unfortunately it has practically no music whatsoever, its only entertaining feature being the way it comes round in Pudsey at hand before the lead end. The calling is:

London (Single), CNYPS (Bob), CNYPS(Single), Pudsey

There are only two real four lead touches, comprising 128 changes. One is the standard four leads of Bristol with alternate bobs and singles at the lead ends (and its single rotation, obviously). The other is the standard three-lead touch, with two leads of Rutland or London and one from the group CNYPS, extended to four leads with a single either side of a lead of Bristol. With umpteen method combinations that are true, and four rotations, this at least gives plenty of variety. For best music though use Rutland, Superlative, Rutland as the first three leads to get Queens, backchange and ten roll-ups.

There are a great number of touches of 130 changes in length. The entire set is consolidated into the touches listed below (Note that ‘Three’ means the standard three lead touch, two leads of Rutland or London plus one of CNYPS in any order):

  • London (Bob), Bristol (Single), Bristol (Bob), Bristol (Bob), London
  • London (Single), Three (Bob), London
  • Bristol (Single), Bristol (Bob), RLB, CNYPS, CNYR
  • Bristol (Single), Bristol (Bob), CNYPS, Rutland, CNYR
  • RL (Bob), Bristol (Bob), CNYPS (Single), RL (Bob), Superlative
  • CNYPS (Single), Bristol (Bob), Bristol (Bob), London (Bob), CNYR
  • CNYPS (Bob) Bristol (Single), Bristol, Bristol (Bob), CNYR
  • CNYPS (Single), Bristol (Single), RL (Bob), Bristol (Single), CNYR
  • CNYPS, London (Single), Bristol (Bob), Bristol (Bob), CNYR
  • RB, CNPYS (Single), Bristol (Bob), Bristol (Bob), CNYR
  • Rutland (Single), Bristol (Single), CNPYS (Bob), Bristol (Single), CNYR
  • Bristol (Bob), London (Single), Bristol (Bob), CNYPS, CNYR

Not many of the above touches are rich in music. The touches beginning with Bristol (Single), Bristol (Bob), Bristol obviously start well. Touches starting with Rutland or Bristol and having Superlative in the second lead get the familiar Queens and back-change.

Five leads

There are a few touches of 157 changes in length, running round at handstroke before the end of the fifth lead. None of these has much music, and all of them run round at hand in Bristol at the treble’s first snap lead.

The format of these touches is:

  • London (Single), CNYPS (Bob), CNYPS (Single), CNYPS, Bristol

160 change touches are ubiquitous. Four leads of CNYPS and one of London or Rutland in any order is perhaps the best known five-lead touch for spliced. Also, taking the standard three-lead course, and padding it with two leads of Bristol and three bobs at home is an equally well-known touch.

There are however some other interesting variations, not all of which are listed here as they are too numerous from this number of leads upwards to be a complete list. Some interesting touches (all of which can be rotated through five positions) include:

  • RL(Single), Bristol (Bob), CNYPS (Bob), Bristol (Single), RL (Bob)
  • RL (Single), Bristol (Single), CNYPS (Single), Bristol (Single), RL
  • CNYPS (Single), Bristol (Single), RL (Single), Bristol (Single), RL
  • RL(Single), Bristol (Single), RL (Single), Bristol (Single), CNYPS
  • CNYPS (Bob), Bristol (Single), RL (Single), Bristol (Bob), RL

162 change touches are probably the most well known touches that come around at the treble’s snap. For example conductors contrive to choose combinations of RL leads and CNYPS leads so that they can call Wrong Single-Wrong, and have the touch come round two changes after the single.

Some examples of more interesting touches though are as follows:

  • London (Bob), Bristol, CNYPS (Bob), Bristol (Single), RL (Bob), London
  • London (Bob), Bristol (Bob), Three (Single), London
  • Bristol (Bob), Bristol (Single), London (Single), CNYPS (Single), RL (Bob), Superlative
  • Bristol (Bob), Bristol (Bob), Bristol (Single), Bristol, CNYPS, CNYR

The last of these is particularly musical being littered with roll-ups throughout the Bristol leads that begin the touch.

Six leads (nearly!)

Finally, there are a number of touches that are 189 changes in length. Depending on the choice of first lead method, these can finish with most of the 8 standard surprise methods at handstroke before the lead end. As there are too many to list, here are a few representative samples:

  • London (Bob), Bristol (Single), Bristol (Bob), CNYPS (Bob), CNYPS (Single), Pudsey
  • CNYPS (Single), CNYPS(Single), RL (Single), RL (Single), RLB, London
  • London, London (Single), RL (Single), RL (Single), CNYPS (Single), CNY
  • London (Single), CNYPS (Bob), CNYPS (Single), CNY (Single), Bristol (Single), Bristol

Where did these touches come from?

This set of touches were consolidated by hand from the output of a run of ERIL. ERIL is the composition search engine described and downloaded from here . The actual composition search script fed to ERIL was:

8; / Major
c = “Cambridge Surprise”; / Load methods from MicroSIRIL libraries
n = “Lincolnshire Surprise”;
y = “Yorkshire Surprise”;
r = “Rutland Surprise”;
p = “Pudsey Surprise”;
l = “London Surprise”;
s = “Superlative Surprise”;
b = “Bristol Surprise”;
Bob = 4 << 0;
/ All bobs are assumed to be in 4ths place
Single = 1234 << 0; / All singles assumed 1234
cb = c & Bob; / Adjusts last change from 12 to 14
nb = n & Bob;
yb = y & Bob;
rb = r & Bob;
pb = p & Bob;
lb = l & Bob;
sb = s & Bob;
bb = b & Bob;
cs = c & Single;
/ Adjusts last change from 12 to 1234
ns = n & Single;
ys = y & Single;
rs = r & Single;
ps = p & Single;
ls = l & Single;
ss = s & Single;
bs = b & Single;
/ Vertical bar means ‘or’
/ 1-6 chooses the number of leads to search

When ERIL was first developed back in 2000, PCs were just too slow for it to be practical to run this search for more than three or four leads. With current multi-core CPUs, touches up to eight or nine leads with many method options per lead can be exhaustively searched in a reasonable time.

S D Smith, Dec. 2022