James M. Potter

music, games, and culture

Opera: all about the voice?

There’s a sort of war being waged in the media right now. It concerns comments made in reviews of a new production of Der Rosenkavalier. These comments focus on the physical stature of one of the performers in a way that has been widely seen as inappropriate. Rather than weigh in on social media (much as I enjoy wading through shrill, nuance-less chunks of opinion), I thought I’d set down a few brief thoughts. Read the rest of this entry »


Listening: Buddy Whittington

Buddy Whittington and Band, The Haven Club, 28/04/14

It’s not often these days that I get to what I think of as a ‘proper gig’. Back room of a pub, a few rows of leather jacket-wearing, slightly grizzled bluesmen and women, and a three-piece band rocking it. I was fortunate therefore to get a dose of all this last Monday. Read the rest of this entry »

Diary: Stars

For a concert with my choral group, Fratres, I’ve been preparing a piece by Latvian composer Ēriks Ešenvalds. It’s a setting of a poem, Stars, by Sara Teasdale, and the composer sets it for a choir which accompanies itself on tuned wine-glasses. Read the rest of this entry »

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”?