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Ever since my Psychology 101 course as a Freshman I’ve been fascinated by brain studies and neuroscience. And over my career I’ve been able to partially solve some very tough engineering problems in my dreams; I’ve also been able to (on very rare occasions) direct and control where my dreams go as opposed to simply being a passive, helpless observer.

But I’ve never been able to use my dreams in the pursuit of music creativity.

A new book has been written on this subject by a brain surgeon. I haven’t read it but there is an interesting audio clip sample that frames this subject.

This Is Why You Dream

There is also a mind-expanding interview on this subject with the author. Note that they've included a green highlight of the text that follows the audio.

Audio Interview

Whether or not we remember them, we all dream, probably every night.

My question is, who, if any, have exploited their dreams to learn to play a musical instrument, learn music software or be more musically creative in general?


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For me there’s no better place in the band than to have one leg in the harmony world and the other in the percussive. Thank you Paul Tutmarc and Leo Fender.
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Guilty as charged.
More than once I just woke up after a couple hours sleep and wrote memorable stuff (to me anyway, YMMV etc) ...
Definitely from a dream (or nightmare, whichever)
smile


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Originally Posted by Bass Thumper
... over my career I’ve been able to partially solve some very tough engineering problems in my dreams
Same here. I used to think that there was something odd about me being able to do that, but it appears that quite a lot of engineers are the same. I don't know how it works. frown


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Originally Posted by rharv
Guilty as charged.
More than once I just woke up after a couple hours sleep and wrote memorable stuff (to me anyway, YMMV etc) ...
Definitely from a dream (or nightmare, whichever)
smile
Any idea how that came about, or did it just drop in your lap?


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For me there’s no better place in the band than to have one leg in the harmony world and the other in the percussive. Thank you Paul Tutmarc and Leo Fender.
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Done that too, but for me just driving home often gets me the software side; clears my head for a few ..
Music creativity has been much more influenced by dreams .. but that's just me.


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Originally Posted by Bass Thumper
Originally Posted by rharv
Guilty as charged.
More than once I just woke up after a couple hours sleep and wrote memorable stuff (to me anyway, YMMV etc) ...
Definitely from a dream (or nightmare, whichever)
smile
Any idea how that came about, or did it just drop in your lap?

Well pretty much seems to just drop in my lap, but usually has *something to do with real life experiences

After The Storm, for example, was written a few years after living thru Alicia on an island that the eye of the hurricane passed over .. that kinda stuff makes an impression on ya


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Originally Posted by Gordon Scott
Originally Posted by Bass Thumper
... over my career I’ve been able to partially solve some very tough engineering problems in my dreams
Same here. I used to think that there was something odd about me being able to do that, but it appears that quite a lot of engineers are the same. I don't know how it works. frown
Hey Gordon, I too thought I was unique, but apparently this phenomenon is not that rare.

What I can say in my case is that many of the problems I worked on took my team days if not weeks to finally solve so this gave me lots of opportunities to try to exploit the power of dreams. What I learned was I had 2 opportunities each night; prior to sleep entry I would re-state (in my head) what the problem actually was and then at sleep exit and prior to the alarm clock going off I'd try to extend that zone and think about possible problem solutions. In both of these zones I'd try to review and process the latest problem-solving activities we performed. I'm thinking somehow this must be transferrable to music creativity.


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For me there’s no better place in the band than to have one leg in the harmony world and the other in the percussive. Thank you Paul Tutmarc and Leo Fender.
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Long ago, I used to keep a dream diary.

In my dreams, my critical reasoning skills were pretty much non-existent. Some suggest that's true in my waking hours as well. wink

I'd wake up from a dream, and excitedly scribble down a bit of verse or idea that I thought was amazing.

But in the cold light or morning, I'd find that it was some bit of nonsense or doggerel.


-- David Cuny
My virtual singer development blog

Vocal control, you say. Never heard of it. Is that some kind of ProTools thing?
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I don't often remember my dreams and if I do it's only briefly when I wake up. I have heard several really killer songs in my dreams but forget them by the morning.

All except for one. I remembered enough to write the idea and melody down before it faded. The problem is that I don't remember which song that was now.


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Add nothing that adds nothing to the music.
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Originally Posted by Bass Thumper
What I can say in my case is that many of the problems I worked on took my team days if not weeks to finally solve...
I think that long, deep, focus on a problem is probably key. Dreams are the brain's opportunity to do some housework and clutter removal and if almost everything is about a group of tricky issues then the brain perhaps clears out the dross, leaving some clarity.
Just a though ... it may be totally wrong, it's definitely not my field.

Sadly I have little idea how one might capture that for songwriting frown


Jazz relative beginner, starting at a much older age than was helpful.
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Originally Posted by dcuny
Long ago, I used to keep a dream diary.
If I weren’t so lazy and kept a dream diary or journal, maybe I could exploit my dreams to better capture musical creativity. I wonder how many true creatives like Mozart, McCartney and Dylan understood this. He mentions journaling around 33:51.

I’m thinking the gold mine might be found in hypnagogia and hypnopompia.


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For me there’s no better place in the band than to have one leg in the harmony world and the other in the percussive. Thank you Paul Tutmarc and Leo Fender.
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I've written music (and solved other problems) while sleeping, but it's not a "dream". It's not visual at all, it materializes as music stuck in my head. My belief is that all of my best music comes from an unconscious place. I understand theory passably well, and can mechanically produce music from the principles of western music. But my best stuff doesn't happen like that. It just...appears as melodies and harmonies. Sometimes when sleeping, but often not. When awake, it helps if I'm holding a guitar since then I can translate what I'm hearing to something tangible. Quite often I'll listen to something the next day and wonder where in the world THAT came from. It's a mystery. Music also appears somewhat magically while walking, driving, or in the shower. I'm not alone in this, but I don't think it's common, and wouldn't know how to teach it.

I do dream vividly, but It's not musical. Mostly variations of common dreams like it's final exam week and I forgot to go to class during the term. That one never gets old...


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Quote
I don't often remember my dreams and if I do it's only briefly when I wake up. I have heard several really killer songs in my dreams but forget them by the morning.
When you wake up with an idea in your head from a dream
Get up and capture it even if in its simplest form.
More detail is better, but that at least prevents you from forgetting it by mid-morning ... simplest solution is best for me.

I've done the same thing, wake up bopping a tune in my head and two distractions later I lost it. <shrug>

Last edited by rharv; 06/11/24 03:34 PM.

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Originally Posted by DC Ron
I do dream vividly, but It's not musical. Mostly variations of common dreams like it's final exam week and I forgot to go to class during the term. That one never gets old...
I finally started wising up to that one, as I remember that I've got a job, a degree, and my kids are in college.

My go-to dream is it's time to start playing, and the music has gone missing. Good times! smile


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Vocal control, you say. Never heard of it. Is that some kind of ProTools thing?
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Originally Posted by DC Ron
I've written music (and solved other problems) while sleeping, but it's not a "dream".

I do dream vividly, but It's not musical. Mostly variations of common dreams like it's final exam week and I forgot to go to class during the term. That one never gets old...
You've got a much better application of this than me. I can't extract any musical value from my sleep.

But strange enough I experience a parallel to your "forgetting to go to class". For me, I'm on campus and for the life of me I can't figure out how to register for my classes. So I end up wandering around from classroom to classroom like some confused wackadoodle trying to solve this problem . . . which I never can. Meanwhile, I have this sinking feeling that my life is wasting away, all because I can't figure out how to register and buy my books! Go figure, in real life I had a superbly rewarding career! crazy
This semi-nightmare has plagued me for years; what I would give for this to be replaced by killer chord progressions and rocked-out bass lines!!!


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For me there’s no better place in the band than to have one leg in the harmony world and the other in the percussive. Thank you Paul Tutmarc and Leo Fender.
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Originally Posted by rharv
When you wake up with an idea in your head from a dream
Get up and capture it even if in its simplest form.
More detail is better, but that at least prevents you from forgetting it by mid-morning ... simplest solution is best for me.
I agree.
Unless they are particularly impactful in some way, we're designed to quickly forget our dreams ; probably because our waking life is more important to focus on.

Whether it's avoiding being eaten by a saber-tooth cat, surviving in a battle zone, catching a plane for a job interview or simply getting breakfast started, we've got to get on with our day. If you don't capture a dream while it's fresh, it's probably lost.

PS> Keep that spear close by, those cats are dangerous smile


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For me there’s no better place in the band than to have one leg in the harmony world and the other in the percussive. Thank you Paul Tutmarc and Leo Fender.
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My dreams in general focus on our outdoor activities ... hiking, mountain biking and trail maintenance. When related to music it is often me shredding on an electric guitar. To put that in context I’m a simple acoustic guitar and upright bass rhythm player. Oh, if I could only continue that picking when I awake. To get to the topic 😀 sometimes when we are mountain biking and the adrenaline is flowing I drift to a dream like state and many times lyrics come to me then. Does that count?

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Originally Posted by Janice & Bud
. To get to the topic 😀 sometimes when we are mountain biking and the adrenaline is flowing I drift to a dream like state and many times lyrics come to me then. Does that count?
Absolutely that counts!
And what a skill. If I dreamt while mountain biking I'd have a broken collar bone in no time.
Then I'd be dreaming for the EMS to pack me out of the woods smile


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For me there’s no better place in the band than to have one leg in the harmony world and the other in the percussive. Thank you Paul Tutmarc and Leo Fender.
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Originally Posted by Bass Thumper
Originally Posted by Janice & Bud
. To get to the topic 😀 sometimes when we are mountain biking and the adrenaline is flowing I drift to a dream like state and many times lyrics come to me then. Does that count?
Absolutely that counts!
And what a skill. If I dreamt while mountain biking I'd have a broken collar bone in no time.
Then I'd be dreaming for the EMS to pack me out of the woods smile

To get a little more off topic smile Janice is very modest and does not favor me bragging on her ... but she won the state mountain bike race series three times. This was around 20 years ago. She was in her mid 40's and often raced ladies half her age. 98 pounds of woman power who could show a a lot of guys how it's done on a tough technical trail. So when I follow her on trails nowadays (I have some vision issues) I know she will take good lines and I can day dream lyrics! This favorite quote explains it for us: "Biking is about rhythm and flow. It's the wind in you face and the challenge of hammering up along hill. It's the reward at the top and the thrill of a high-speed descent. Biking lets you come alive in both body and spirit. After a while the bike disappears beneath you and you feel as if you're suspended in midair."

Bud

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More power to you guys, especially Janice.
Just remember . . . no broken collar bones! smile


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For me there’s no better place in the band than to have one leg in the harmony world and the other in the percussive. Thank you Paul Tutmarc and Leo Fender.
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