The Litany of the Saints: Musical Quotations and Influences in the Music of Tommie Potts.

Eclecticism in the Music of Tommie Potts


Potts’ conversation was dotted with references to performers, composers, and to musical genres and pieces from the two music traditions other than his own with which he had come in contact throughout his life - namely, western art music and popular music (including pre-war jazz). Examples of performers referred to included John McCormick, Gigli, Caruso, Tito Skipa, Paganini, César Franck, Bach, Beethoven, and Vivaldi. Genres mentioned included Neapolitan love songs, Hungarian gypsy music, Moore’s Melodies, and Gregorian chant, while pieces specified included Toselli’s Serenade, Chopin’s Funeral March, Liszt’s Rhapsody No. 2, White Christmas, Black Eyes, Little Girl, and the ‘ora pro nobis’ response to the ‘Litany of the Saints’ in the ‘Forty Hours Adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament’ of the Roman Catholic Liturgy. Potts’ musically uncomplicated viewpoint is of a world of music within which he is a musical creator operating of necessity, if not by choice, within the general cultural confines of his inherited tradition. In this way he says of Chopin: 

I try to play his wondrous variation ‘running it’ into ‘The Pigeon on the Gate’ reel in G; and for me, it is in order!
[Potts Correspondence, item 12: see Ó Súilleabháin 1987, 447]

I have selected eight examples of such influences on Potts’ music. The original discussion on these examples may be seen in Chapter 8 of Ó Súilleabháin 1987.