I have two distinct passions in life: fiction and music. At times, people have suggested to me that I must pick one over the other. To this, I nod appreciatively at their ill-informed advice. See, they just don't get it. Imagine someone saying, "You've got two arms, you're going to have to choose one." It's absurd, right? Right. It may mean more energy balancing the two endeavors, but I'm not even aware of that as an expenditure of energy. Finding that balance is as necessary and unwitting as breathing, just like the pursuits themselves.
So, not long ago, a very cool thing happened as I began to think about possible relationships between music and fiction. At first, it was an exercise to use music to understand voice better—stay tuned if you don't know what "voice' in fiction means. The simple idea is that when music is done right (and perhaps all music, come to that) it has a voice; and that by listening closely, you can begin to understand how to apply that principle to your fiction. The best fiction always has great voice.
Then, because I never let well enough alone, I began to think that voice is but one part of a fiction writers toolbox, just as musicians use their own vernacular to talk about their craft. What would happen if I looked more closely at how these two sets of terms lined up, and how fiction writers might use the language of music to deepen their understanding of their craft? And as long as I was putting shoes on the wrong feet, I thought musicians might find some value in thinking about how they make music in story-terms. I mean, c'mon, aren't the best songs usually telling some kind of story. Maybe not Hamlet-music or Great Gatsby-music, but then, some listeners prefer pop to classical, and I'm glad to throw down anytime on the notion of musicians as story tellers.
The result of all this hullaballoo was a series of articles that explores this relationship. I'm going to hit a slew of terms: melody, rhythm, tempo, harmony, pitch, key, timber, etc. I've mapped out all the relationships of these terms to their musical corollary and put the article bones down. Now, over the next several months, I'll hang flesh on them and push them out into the world. With luck, you'll find a nugget that pushes your understanding of your storytelling craft (whether fiction or music). If not, well, I can't be held responsible. I hope you dig it! Here's the initial list, which I expect to grow:
If you choose to pass and simply put on your favorite record, I'm good with that, too.
I haven't written much nonfiction since college, and perhaps all those scholarly papers were only a form of fiction after all. Still, one night I began to reflect whimsically on moments of my own life relating to my choice to wear my hair long. I began to laugh out loud without realizing it. After three or four reminiscences, I got myself to my computer and began to write them down.
I've collected them all into the semblance of a book. And while I've striven to show the comic element of my interactions, the ugly head of prejudice and bias lurks not far beneath the printed word. I wouldn't equate my experience with most ethnic groups, mind you, but as a former State Solicitor General told me: "Being a white male with long hair is a bad choice."
About the title, it isn't meant to stir up contention, or even serve as a wink over the top of the book with those disinclined to religion. It is simply this: I've lost count of the number of times people, in an effort to reconcile liking me but disliking my hair, have uttered the words, "Well, Jesus had long hair too." There seems no more appropriate title. And really, regardless of one's own personal beliefs, isn't it generally thought that who someone is ought to come before what they look like.
So, the message is there for those who choose to see it. Honestly, though, I wrote it because it strikes me hilarious. And while I think anyone will see the humor in the anecdotes, any man who's worn his hair long will identify with these travails perfectly.
Shortly after Inner Resonance's CD Solar Voices was reviewed by Progression Magazine, I emailed the reviewer to thank him for his time. As it happened, he was the publisher of a different print and online magazine called Sea of Tranquility We struck up a dialogue resulting in my vocal column: Vox.
A year later, Sea of Tranquility folded to an online edition only, and the founder turned over operations to someone else. I promptly contacted the editor at Progression Magazine to pitch him my column, which he gladly accepted.
Vox is a marriage of my two abiding passions: music and language. With years of formal vocal training, I feel qualified to comment in a unique way on the merits of a vocalist's musical contributions. Of course, as with all art, the argument can be made that it is all subjective. But there are nevertheless elements of craft that distinguish some few from the herd. Clearly, just as bad books get published and even enjoyed, so too does less than stellar music find an audience. But years of attention to the craft of music making and voice, in particular, have shortened my patience for bad ... craft.