Showing posts from July, 2023

A Real Sopranist

  Back in February, I wrote a piece for LGBT+ History Month about the castrati singers of the 18th century , and my character Carlo in the forthcoming Cage of Nightingales. In that piece, I said, “It’s impossible for us now to know what the leading castrati really sounded like.” That may still be true. (The intense levels of training they went through from boyhood would probably be illegal now, never mind the actual castration). But just this week, I made a discovery I can’t believe I have not made before. There are real-life male sopranos. True sopranos, as opposed to counter-tenors, who sing in their falsetto range, thereby only using part of the vocal cord. (Imagine plucking a guitar string while holding the string a long way down the bridge, to make the note extra-high). True sopranos sing with all their vocal cord vibrating (unless they go into falsetto, which is extra-extra-high!) Which means you’re going to get a much more resonant sound. Entirely by accident, I saw a news repor

Bradford Lit Fest: Never Forget Where You’re Coming From

  This time last week, I was at the joy that is Bradford Literature Festival. My whole town taken over by all things book-related! I went to three completely different talks, two of which I had bought and read the books for in advance. (The other one I will probably buy when it comes out in paperback). They were: The Secret Diaries of Charles Ignatius Sancho by Paterson Joseph Painted People: Humanity in 21 Tattoos by Matt Lodder Among the Eunuchs: A Muslim Transgender Journey by Leyla Jagiella Three completely different subjects. But what they had in common was that they were all about people on the fringes of society’s so-called norms: Black Britons in the Georgian era; people who have decorated their own skin; traditional third genders in India and Pakistan, along with transgender Muslims. I’m by nature a curious person, who is drawn to anything different to me. So I’m keen to learn about and include these histories. But it seems that society in general is much less interested, and