I can’t do this. The gulf between the way the author puts things and the way I already understand them is too wide to be worth the effort for me to continue. Repeatedly I read a passage and puzzle and struggle for an undue amount of time only to discover that what I am reading is something I already understand so well that it is a part of me. Ultimately I believe that it is not the fault of the author and it is not my fault, but rather that in a very real sense we speak two different languages.
I will provide a couple examples of english language usage that non-musical types can more easily relate to, namely the Harry Potter books and the King James version of the Bible.
The Harry Potter books were originally written in British english. They were translated to American english for our viewing here in the States. Both are simply in the english language, are they not? Well, not exactly. The reading of common terms in British english are misleading to Americans. Observe.
What we call a flashlight here in America they call a torch in England. So Rowlings describes the kids going through a dark area holding a torch before them in order to see. Here with my sensibility I imagine a scene of these students holding a wooden rod with a burning flame to light the way when Rowlings instead intended the reader to instead imagine a simple flashlight. Since there are many such culture-specific terms used, translation was prudent in order to communicate effectively with the intended audience.
The King James version of the Bible is not something that a person unfamiliar with Elizabethan English should read as “gospel.” Not only was it edited to suit a specific agenda, but it contains many terms that modern readers will not be able to understand without undue effort.
In the King James, when describing a woman helping her husband in a fight with another man, she must not “taketh him by the secrets”, meaning that she must not grab or perhaps otherwise harm his genitals. The penalty for that like for so many things in the Bible is death. Because of this unintended mystery behind an older form of the language, I recommend that an American reader use a translation of the Bible based on the original texts that is translated into modern American english. Otherwise one is almost necessarily blind to what is actually in the Bible and reliant on someone else to tell them what it really means.
And so I have great difficulty in reading John Morton’s book “The Composer/Arranger”. It is not the author’s fault and hopefully it is not mine. The jazz orientation is something I can learn from, but the British terms and overall way of sentence construction which is likely a joy for some to read is sadly confounding to me. I regret this deeply because John Morton is a brilliant man from whom I could learn much.
I don’t like giving up, it is not really in my nature. But I see this more as a battle than a war. With great respect and hopefully with continued friendship, I need to seek elsewhere for growth in the music theory arena.