Sunday, 1 May 2016

Foreword to my new book

This morning I imagined I needed a foreword to my new book. It is scheduled to be available in early November. Contents are here. You can pre-order here.

This is the foreword. Imagine yourself reading it 6 months from now. (It's only 150 pages).

You have in your hands a readable music book. Reading a book with music between the paragraphs is a little different from reading a scholarly tome or a novel. It is not an exercise in speed. The eye allows us to see quickly, but the ear demands presence and time to hear the musical phrases in their sequence. The sweetness of the music makes this book a little like a layered cookie.

Chapters 1 and 7 and the Appendices are somewhat technical. You need to read them and come back to them but you don’t need to read them first. They are the crunchy part of the cookie. They describe the struggle to interpret the signs. Chapters 2 through 6 scan the canonical history in five stages: Creation, Escape, Home, Exile, Restoration. They are the sweet inner part of the cookie, that many I know would rather eat first. They summarize the story of the God of Israel and the people of Israel with many musical examples. Their music is an integral part of the narrative of the book. All the examples are in line and meant to be read and the performance imagined by non-musician or musician in the normal sequential act of reading a book.

Chapter 1, Languages, introduces the problem, a puzzle with over 300,000 pieces set for us by our ancestors. The puzzle is still in the box. We have only in the past 40 years begun to see how to unpack it. Many people have tried in the last 1000 years, but their attempts have been piecemeal and have not been widely known. So chapter 1 gives us a language for describing the pieces. We can see how each piece is shaped and we learn how to fit them together given their shapes. The primary language is musical. There is also some technical language and some polemical language as we encounter both the perceived difficulty of the puzzle and some resistance to a musical solution.

Chapter 2 is Creation. Creation is approached through the opening act of Genesis 1 combined with the character of Leviathan in the epic poem of the book of Job. It is the music that invites the comparison.

Chapter 3 is Escape. Escape from the house of servitude is approached from the call of Moses to the building of the sanctuary. Atonement and Oneness are introduced and the desire of Yahweh to find a home and the escaped to make such a home. The chapter ends with the commandment.

Chapter 4 is Home. Home begins with the integrity of Samuel and continues to the character and memory of the monarchy and the building of the temple. The chapter ends with riddle and parable.

Chapter 5 is Exile. Exile begins with the protest language of the prophets and the honesty of the lament. It ends with the character of the acts of a servant.

Chapter 6 is Restoration. Restoration begins with trust and return and continues with consolation and redemption. The five middle chapters conclude with praise.

Chapter 7 is an introduction to the deciphering key that allows this elegant musical solution to the puzzle. It contains some suggestions on performance practice.

Within the middle chapters are many single verses of music and a few larger sections that can be performed. Appendix 1 contains four full sections of the lectionary that have been performed in the context of a service. Appendix 2 compares other suggested solutions to the puzzle. Appendix 3 shows how statistics confirm the capacity and clarity of the suggested solution. And here's the list of musical examples I use.

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