The Composer Arranger 01

JM_ComposerArrangerAs a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step so does learning music start with sitting your butt down before an instrument. I’ve done a lot of butt sitting and banging on a piano, even doing a year where I would practice upwards of 4 hours each day including holidays such as Christmas. I earned the BS degree with a major in classical piano and have performed in a classic rock band for ten years. I started doing this the summer before kindergarten and am now 56 years old. As time has gone on from then to this very day I have tried very hard to understand how this music thing works, particularly more in recent years. I’ve even dabbled in composing here and there and I try to teach my own students an understanding of what is really going on from day one which is something my early teachers never bothered with. I recently discovered John Morton’s blog and have read his articles very closely — this guy knows more than me, particularly where writing and arranging are concerned. And he has written a book. I bought the book and I invite you to join me as I take that first step and turn open the cover.

I purchased this book, “the composer/arranger” by John Morton at After clicking the final button for purchase and seeing that the money was deducted from my bank account I proceeded to try and open it on my iPad. Nothing. Not even in my Kindle app. I looked for a place to open it on my iPhone. Again nothing. Not even in the Magazine Rack app. And nowhere anywhere could I find it on my computer. It’s as of I had been robbed.

How does one purchase and read a book here in 2013? One pays for an electronic version and then reads or even listens to it on the device of the reader’s choosing. This way if one is caught in line at the bank or store it is a simple matter to pull out a portable electronic device and read, let alone in bed or on the couch. This is what I’m being deprived of here.

I must digress, as if this is not one long drawn-out digression. The neighbor across the street got a paper cut on her finger which became infected. She is diabetic. She became ill and her elderly parents took her to the local hospital and they gave her antibiotics. She was unknowingly allergic to this medication and became ill, which earned her a longer stay at said hospital. While there she was exposed to other sick people that further complicated her condition. While today she is recovering and is likely to be fine, it was a scary situation. In this context, a truck pulled in front of our house and a uniformed man came from it with a flat brown box.

Such gravity is not lost on me. Uniformed people knocking on my front door is never something I take lightly. The man politely handed me the box, had me sign my name, and off he went in a hurry as if he wanted absolutely nothing to do with what was in that plain brown box. He escaped unscathed.

I have gotten a rather nasty gash in my hand on a previous occasion when opening a sealed box so most assuredly I was careful while tearing open the cardboard zipper and packing tape. Therein lay my purchased book published and printed in the rather archaic dead-tree format. It is heavier and bulkier than my full-sized iPad. The title is inexplicably in all lower case letters as is the author’s name as if intentionally understating the obvious literal gravity of 315 large printed pages. As I riffle it with my thumb it threatens like a rattle snake even as I smell the venom of the fresh ink. Menacing.

It threatens to infect me, but with what? Poison? Depression from the depths of misunderstanding? I peek under the front cover only to see a dedication to the groundbreaking guitarist Jimi Hendrix. We all know how that turned out.

– – –

I have promised Mr. John Morton comments on this book which in many ways condenses his lifetime of experience as a composer and arranger. As I carefully pour over it I will attempt to explain what is going on in laymen’s terms as most who come here dabble in writing rather than in the mystic musical arts. If I cannot explain it to non-musicians then I don’t understand it myself, paraphrasing Einstein. It will be slow and occasional as I have the time and patience.

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