James M. Potter

music, games, and culture

Month: January, 2014

Honorary Canon: Disney’s revamp of the Star Wars fiction, and why it matters (sort of)

Ever since Disney announced that it would be putting out new Star Wars films and products, there has been a mixed response from one of the world’s most devoted fandoms. To the sci-fi or fantasy fan, more time spent in their chosen universe is almost always an unequivocally good thing. But the fans are realising there will have to be sacrifices. Disney have recently announced that they are streamlining the canon of the Star Wars universe. They’ve appointed a ‘Story Group’ to sift through the vast corpus of media set long ago in that galaxy far, far away, and decide which of it should be considered to have actually happened. It’s put me to thinking – why is canonicity important in fantasy fiction? If all of it is made up anyway, why should it be important that some it is agreed to have ‘happened’ and some of it isn’t? Read the rest of this entry »


Procrastination for Musicians #59: Bach Cantata Bingo

I noticed this a couple of years ago, and it had me in stitches. That probably says more about me than anything else. Anyway, go to the IMSLP’s Bach page and get Google to translate it into English. Here are some of my favourite cantata bingo numbers:

Increased flesh and blood, BWV 173

Strangled lamb that the custody seal, BWV 455

Happy people, hilarious Saxony, BWV Anh.12

Hilarious Ruh, popular soul desire, BWV 170

There are also quite a few references to a ‘Mr Christian’.

The translation matrix has obviously been improved since I last did this, since I can no longer find some of the more bizarre ones. But if you need more fuel for the bingo fire, some kind soul uploaded Christoph Graupner’s entire cantata output onto IMSLP here, so there’s plenty more. Who can forget the classics, “Oh Jesus, we are sore, GWV 1154/46”, or “Argentina world you wrong snake, GWV 1143/2”?


Playing: FTL

FTL (Faster Than Light) (Subset Games, 2012)

It’s quite something to fashion an object which caters to a sci-fi nerd’s tastes so completely. Strip away the layers of such a person, lower their shields and download their memory core, and the primal desire you will discover is surely ‘starship captain’. Many have tried to capture this essence in a game, to give the player just what they’ve always wanted, the powers and responsibilities of space command. A large number have been sucked into a black hole. None that I’ve played come close to FTL. None have had me so consistently crouching in my chair, intently strategizing, thinking ahead like a chess master, cueing up commands and then tapping the space bar, barely suppressing a whispered ‘make it so’.  Read the rest of this entry »

Listening: ‘Nova Metamorfosi’, Le Poeme Harmonique dir. Vincent Dumestre

Nova Metamorfosi, Le Poème Harmonique, dir. Vincent Dumestre (Alpha, 2003)

What would you play to someone if you wanted to show them how music made you feel? Is there one disc that captures what it is about a particular style that enthralls you, that gives you the sort of visceral pleasure that makes you laugh unprompted, or that makes you want to squeal with pleasure? It’s not easy. But for me I think it might be this one. Read the rest of this entry »

David Danced Before The Lord – On singing and dancing Francis Grier’s Missa Aedes Christi

Liturgical dance. What does that phrase mean to you? For a lot of people it’s a loaded term, coming pre-packed with images of multi-denominational faith services and perhaps some uncomfortable cultural exoticism. Until last year I’d had no direct experience of dance in the liturgy – a straight-down-the-line Anglican upbringing will do that for you. So when it was announced that a ‘danced eucharist’ would form part of Christ Church Cathedral Choir’s concert season last year, there were some bemused faces in the back rows of the stalls (my own among them). It turned to be a rare and enriching experience. Read the rest of this entry »