This year, the format of the competition is different. With teams competing back-to-back throughout the day, the judges face a double challenge of maintaining both concentration and consistency. As a result we have decided to use fewer judges and a new approach to our marking. Following experimentation and a number of discussions, we have agreed to use a combination of impression marking and HawkEar to help us put the teams in the right order.
Impression marking means we are judging the quality and feel of the ringing at regular, frequent and consistent intervals rather than row by row, using an agreed and pre-determined set of criteria. HawkEar is a computer technology designed by Ian McCallion which uses the sound of the bells to score the striking. It is a great tool for us because it doesn’t tire and isn’t subjective. Technology similar to this has been used in other situations like the National 12-bell striking contest. However, we are trying to be sensitive to the idea that we are not looking to score error-free ringing. Instead, with the assistance of Dave Richards and colleagues, we have agreed a fault counting approach which feels more appropriate than measuring standard deviations.
Once the judges have individually scored their impression of the ringing, we are collating this and then calibrating it against what HawkEar thinks, and using this information as a catalyst for discussion if required. The end scores will be given as grades following the current GCSE 9-1 grading system (with 9 being the best score). As with GCSEs, we expect most of the teams to fall into the 4, 5 or 6 range.
Chief Judge, 2019