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Plain Hunt Singles

Blue line diagram for plain hunt on three

Three bells are needed to demonstrate how plain hunt works. The bells start in rounds. Then at each stroke, the order changes according to the rules: firstly, the bells in the first and second positions (‘the bells in 1-2’) change places, leaving the bell in third position to stay there. Then the next time the bells sound, the bells in 2-3 change places, leaving the bell in first position where it is. Then the cycle of two rows is repeated until the bells ‘come round ‘ (return to rounds). 

The rows that this generates are shown above, with the theory shown alongside. The position of the treble is shown in red.

You may see that the theory is not the easiest way to understand what it feels like to ring plain hunt. Instead, look first at the treble’s ‘blue line’ (shown here in red, but always known as a blue line). The bell moves smoothly through the changes, never moving more than one place at a time (that is, in one row the treble rings first (leads): in the next row, it rings in seconds place – a move of only one place). The treble starts by leading, ‘hunts’ up to the back (becomes the last bell to ring) and then hunts down to the front. You might find it easier to see this pattern if you look at plain hunt on more bells - try looking at plain hunt on 4 or plain hunt on 5.

Now go on to look at how many notes sound between each time that the treble rings. When ringing rounds on three, the treble strikes every third blow. But in plain hunt, when the treble moves from 1st place to 2nd place, it rings on the fourth blow – and the same when moving from 2nd place to 3rd place. So that means that you must ring slower. Once the treble is at the back, it stays there for two blows, and each time it will be the third bell to sound – just as it was the third bell to sound when ringing rounds. So that must mean the bell rings at the same speed as it did when ringing rounds.

From the back, the treble hunts to lead. Again, count how many bells sound between each time the treble appears. There are only two, so the treble must ring faster than it did at the front.

It’s worth looking at plain hunt on more bells to see this pattern. If you look at plain hunt on 6, you will see again that the treble rings steadily when it is leading at the front and when it is lying at the back. And you will see that for all the blows it takes to get from the front to the back, the treble has to ring a bit more slowly as instead of 5 bells sounding in between each time when the treble rings there are 6. And for all the blows from the back to the front, only four bells sound in between each time the treble sounds.

But the good news is that to control your bell and make it sound in the right place you only have to be able to ring at three speeds. Because bells never move more than one place, then on a given number of bells you can only be ringing steadily in a place (leading or lying if you are ringing plain hunt), ringing slowly to go out one place, or ringing quickly to come in one place.

If you are starting to ring plain hunt, you might think that it is easiest to ring it on three bells. But you might want to think twice about this. The theory is simplest on three bells – but think about how much you have to move the bell. If only three bells are ringing then you have to change speed from ringing with two bells sounding between you (leading and lying) to only one bell sounding (hunting in) or three bells (hunting out) – that’s a big change in speed. It might be easier to have three or even more ‘cover bells’ - bells which carry on ringing at a steady speed even when everyone else is ringing changes. With three cover bells, then when you are leading, you will have five bells sounding between each of your blows. When hunting in, there will be four bells, and six bells sounding when you hunt out. You won’t have to change your speed anything like as much as if you were only ringing on three.

While this page has talked about what the treble does in plain hunt, have a look at what the 2 and the 3 do. You’ll see that they do just the same as the treble – only starting in a different place. So once you understand what the treble does, you can start to apply what you’ve learnt from ringing that bell to ringing other bells.