Dream Recorder

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  ‘Dream Recorder’ 

 

A piece of music to be performed in a lucid dream or whilst daydreaming

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Can a piece of music be performed in a dream? How would you capture its sound? Does the musical experience change depending on how it is captured? Is there a way to minimise errors in recall? Can we consciously influence music we experience in a dream? Does the performer have any conscious or unconscious agency in forming their interpretation of the work? And how exactly does our brain ‘listen’ to it?

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WRITTEN IN JULY, 2020

This article outlines a set of instructions for a piece of music that is to be performed in a lucid dream or while daydreaming. The music has been written for a solo recorder. The recommended instrument is the sub-contrabass recorder (seen in the image on the right). But it can also be adapted for recorders of any octave.

Even if you have never seen the instrument before or you do not own a recorder, you are still invited to perform the work by studying it and visualising the instrument using your imagination. You will need to study the images and sounds of the recorder before falling asleep. Close your eyes and picture playing it in your mind’s eye. When you see the recorder in your dreams, try to realise you are dreaming and begin to play it.

Below is a graphic score. Read through the score instructions underneath to learn more about it, and then try to perform it in your either in your dreams or in your imagination.

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  • The graphic score consists of a series of dials that resemble clocks. Just like a clock they are numbered from 1 to 12, with 2 hands (big and small) that point towards numbers.
  • The position of the big hand indicates how many sounds to make on the recorder. 12 = 12 sounds, 11 = 11 sounds, 10 = 10 sounds, 9 = 9 sounds, and so on. A single sound is whatever sound is made on the recorder that has a demarcation before and after it. The sounds can be different from each other, or the same. The spacing between each sound should be irregular wherever possible.
  • The position of the little hand indicates the time in which to make the sounds. 12 = 12 seconds, 11 = 11 seconds, 10 = 10 seconds, 9 = 9 seconds, and so on.

    An example in the score is: 5, 2″ – which means play 5 sounds in 2 seconds.

  • The blue lines represent sounds that are breathier and uses flutter tonguing. The red lines have sharper attacks and are grittier.

– – – – – – – – – –  Follow the dotted line. Start where it says the word “start” and play the nearest clock. Once you finish, follow the dotted line to the next clock and play that. Keep doing this, following the dotted line until it finishes, which is the end of the piece.

This is the pitch range of the sub-contrabass recorder in F1, which is the one used in the graphic score above.

Pitch is indicated by how high or low the clocks are positioned in space. The higher the symbol, the higher the pitch.

Performing on different types of recorders
The score can also be transposed to other octave ranges, so you can perform it on different recorder types, such as basset in F, great bass in C, contrabass in F, sub-great bass in C, the sub-contrabass in F, and others. Just adjust the pitch range according to the instrument you choose.  And you don’t necessarily need to own a recorder as it can just be imagined in your dream.

Dynamics and duration
The size of the symbol indicates how loud to play it (a suggested dynamic has been written underneath as well). The player needs to estimate the pitch and the dynamics based on the relative size and position of the symbols. Try to keep the dynamic range between pppp–mp. The score has a total length of around 15 seconds (as perceived in the dream). Mental rehearsals could go for longer, to help embed the information in the unconscious.

Colour blindness
In regards to the two most common forms of color blindness, protanopia (blindness to red) and deuteranopia (blindness to green), the red in the diagram may appear as a brownish grey colour, and the blue should be distinguishable for that. There are 2 blue clocks (left and bottom) and 2 red (top and right).

There are a few key dreams stages you might reach along the way:

Stage 1: Seeing the recorder
Stage 2: Touching the recorder
Stage 3: Hearing the recorder
Stage 4: Playing something on the recorder

Stage 5: Playing a small part of the music written.
Stage 6: Playing the music exactly as written (or very close!)

It might take a couple of times to master the work, so you might have to rehearse it from dream to dream.

You can try practicing reality checking to help you realise you are dreaming (e.g.: pushing two fingers into the palm of one’s hand to see if they pass through.)

Be sure to write down your experience as soon as you wake up, so you are able to capture what happened.

Scientists are close to being able to read and interpret brain activity during sleep and reconstruct them using image processing to convert them into movies – https://vimeo.com/169779284. The technology isn’t sophisticated enough. But one day it might be possible to listen to a recording of someone’s performance.

Send me a message using the form below and tell me how it went.

I am looking to collect a few dream reports about this piece and one day have them published (with the author’s permission). 

If you are first then you will be listed as the person who premiered the work. Tell me as much detail as you can about the experience and what you dreamt. Explain what happened, how you did it, the process behind what you did, what location or environment the dream set in, what it sounded like, what type of recorder you used, and what stage of the piece you reached (stage 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6).

I will then register the work with the Australian Performing Rights Association, and include your name as the first performer of the work.

To perform this work, a person would need to practice lucid dreaming. There have been recent scientific discoveries into methods for making lucid dreaming more effective (Aspy 2020). It has been found that you can remember 64.1% more dream content when you take 240 mg of vitamin B6 directly before bed (Aspy et al., 2018). There is also strong evidence that galantamine can work too. In one study, LaBerge et al. (2018), lucid dreaming occurred 42% of nights when participants took 8 mg of galantamine. These substances need to be supported by a conscious effort, such as using the MILD technique – Mnemonic Induction of Lucid Dreams. This involves waking up after 5 hours of sleep and reminding yourself to be conscious that you are dreaming when you fall asleep. External signifiers can be used during REM sleep to help people indicate they are dreaming, such as flashing red lights and short pulsating violin sounds (Konkoly et al. 2021). It is also possible to communicate with someone who is asleep. In study, lucid dreamers answered math questions with their eye movements (Konkoly et al. 2021). REM is usually when lucid dreaming would most likely occur, particularly during the end of sleep when the duration of REM increases.

References

Denholm J. Aspy, Findings From the International Lucid Dream Induction Study, 2020.

Konkoly, Real-time dialogue between experimenters and dreamers during REM sleep, Current Biology, 2021 https://www.cell.com/current-biology/fulltext/S0960-9822(21)00059-2

LaBerge S, LaMarca K, Baird B (2018) Pre-sleep treatment with galantamine stimulates lucid dreaming: A double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study. PLoS ONE 13(8): e0201246. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0201246

 

 

The work can also be performed in the imagination of the person while in a wakeful state. This can be intentional by imagining the work in your mind or unintentional, when you are daydreaming or your mind is wandering. The piece works the same way as the dream score instructions and preparations. 

Try to illicit the work in your mind and then write down what happened or draw an image. 

There are also other states of consciousness to attempt.
For example, performing the work between wakefulness and sleep known as the hypnagogic or hypnagogic states.

Works will be categorised based on the states they were performing in.

Below is an example of a contrabass recorder performance.

The music is entitled Tic (2009) and was performed by Sarah Jeffery at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam in 2013. The music was written  by Anthony Leigh Dunstan.
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Dream recorder is part of a series of imaginary sound artworks. For more scores for dreams see here. You also read an article about music and dreams, which includes this work and more.

You can contact Daniel at danielrportelli (at) gmail (dot) com or you can use the form below.