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Benedict XVI on Bach

In a report on his message to the 2021 Bach Festival, Benedict XVI was somewhat misrepresented by the Catholic News Agency. According to CNA, “Benedict’s message said: ‘The faith that produced this music and which Bach, as a musician, loyally served, is now extinguished and continues to have an effect only as a cultural force.’”…

Hyphens, en dashes, em dashes

Oh, my! I would estimate that 10% of all editorial corrections I make at the level of copyediting are connected to the use of hyphens, en dashes, and em dashes. “Though the differences can sometimes be subtle—especially in the case of an en dash versus a hyphen—correct use of the different types is a sign…

Affect/Effect

A classic problem of English usage. Unfortunately, the commonest advice usually simplifies the matter as follows: Affect is a verb meaning “to change or to make a difference”; effect is a noun meaning “the result of a change.” In fact, both affect and effect can be either a verb or a noun, and there is a much wider range…

A small fish to fry

I’ve been doing a lot of extra editorial work during COVID-19. I recently came across this startling opinion of a New Grammarian, who would have us write, “Who’s learning from who.” They (sg.) contend that the interrogative pronoun is always who, uninflected for case, and that it is only the relative pronoun who(m) that is…

A toast to James Gilchrist

The Bach Collegium Japan live-streamed a performance of Bach’s St. John Passion today on philharmonie.tv, Kölner Philharmonie’s “digital concert hall.” I was delighted that James Gilchrist was singing the role of the Evangelist. Gilchrist is one of my favorite Evangelists—not for the sound of his voice as such, but because he is one of the few, it…

centennial, centenary, century

A note on American English: Both centennial and centenary can be either an adjective (“every century”) or a noun (“centennial celebration”). In writing, it is commendable to reserve centennial for the adj. and centenary for the n., but it is a distinction that only connoisseurs will care about. (CMOS 17 is silent; Webster’s cross-references each…

Tuning Recipe

There’s tuning and there’s tuning. Sometimes, I will be asked to tune a specific temperament. Though there are official recipes for such things, usually I just tune according to the following method.  By simply adjusting the size of the fourths or fifths, I can achieve a gradient of tunings ranging from 1/4-comma meantone to (nearly-)equal…