Call Changes

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The Basics

Ringing call changes is typically the next step after a ringer can ring comfortably in Rounds. Ringing begins in the same way, ringing in the order (assuming six bells):


A conductor then makes calls to instruct particular pairs of bells to switch the order in which they ring. For example, the call "2 to 3" means that the ringer of the 2nd should hold their bell up and follow the 3rd, making the new order of bells:


In order to make this change, the ringer of the 3rd also needs to ring a bit quicker and follow the treble. Although the ringer of the 4th does not move, it does have to remember to follow the 2nd rather than the third.

This could then be followed by "4 to 5"; causing the 4th to hold up over the 5th, which rings slightly quicker to follow the 2nd, and the 6th stays at the back:


And then perhaps "2 to 5"; causing the 2nd to hold up over the 5th, which again rings slightly quick to follow the 3rd, and the 4th stays where it is and rings after the 2nd:


The conductor can carry on mixing the bells up into different combinations as he/she wishes and will then call the bells back into rounds. They can do this simply by making the calls in reverse order, so the calls required to get from rounds to the above sequence and back are:


"2 to 3" 132456
"4 to 5" 132546
"2 to 5" 135246

"5 to 2" 132546
"5 to 4" 132456
"3 to 2" 123456

The Rules

Whatever the call, there are only three rules to remember:

  • If you are called to follow another bell, hold up and follow that bell.
  • If a bell is called to follow the bell you were following, stay at the same position but follow the new bell.
  • If a bell is called to follow you, you need to ring a bit quicker and follow the bell that the bell in front of you was previously following.

Of these steps, the final one is usually the one that most people find difficult. However it might help you to remember that a bell can only move one position at a time, so the only bell that could be called to follow you is the bell in front of you and so you need to follow the bell in front of them. This leads to the "golden rule" of call changes: always know who the bell in front of you is following.

When to Change

The conductor should make a call as you ring the Handstroke, however if you are affected by the call, you should not move until the next handstroke. You therefore have a whole pull to take in the call and decide what to do! When you first start to ring call changes you may find that this doesn't leave you much time, but as you become used to them you will be able to plan your move in plenty of time.

The important thing to remember is not to move until the next handstroke: often learners start moving at backstroke as they are too concerned about making the move they forget to wait; consequently there are some messy blows around each change as they clip the bell in front or behind them. The trick is to make one clean movement on the handstroke; either quicker to ring in front of a bell; or slower to ring after a bell. Then by the backstroke you should try and get back to the original speed before the call.

Musical Combinations

In the previous section, the three calls given as an example had the effect of altering the order the bells ring in to:


You may notice that in this sequence all the odd bells ring in descending order, followed by all the even ones; this is known as Queens. Typically the conductor will start a piece of call changes with the intent of getting to a particular sequence like this and then back again.

Calling the Changes "Down"

This is where one bell is called "Down" to follow another bell. Down means closer to the lead.


"3 to 1" 132456
"5 to 2" 132546
"5 to 3" 135246

"2 to 3" 132546
"4 to 2" 132456
"2 to 1" 123456

It should be noted that the Calling Down method of Call Changes is wrong for at least two reasons:

  • Out of the two bells called out, only one bell if affected. The unaffected bell neither changes the bell it is following nor changes speed. Whereas in the Calling Up method, both bells called out are affected.
  • It is ambiguous. You are ringing rounds. "3 to 1" is called. This means that the 3 follows the 1. But there are two possible ways that the 3 can follow the 1. Either 123456 => 132456 or 123456 => 213456. In both this examples, note that the 3 is following the 1.

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