Dreaming with Music

Dreaming with your very own sound track playing. Waking as the music continues, then fades. The frustration of forgetting that melody. Was it a tune of your own or a stolen snippet from something else you once heard?

I had wondered if it was just me that wakens with music in my ears (no radio or other audio output present in the room) until 2010 when I watched the movie Inception and saw how the characters planned waking from their deepest dreams with the same recurring melody. This led me to Robin Hilton’s site which explains the motif waking sounds and theme tune of Inception’s score by Hanz Zimmer. This is adapted from a slowed down version of Edith Piaf’s song “Non, je ne Regrette Rien,” for the waking cue in the film.  (*i.)

I had this very same song saved on my ipod nano a few years before watching the film Inception. One day shortly after having seen the movie, I fell asleep on a bus with my ipod ‘shuffle’ playing and was startled when I woke up to that exact tune. I questioned if this was merely a coincidence and I was going to wake up anyway or if my mind was now associating that tune to ‘wake up now!’ direction! Either way, I did not miss my bus stop, thankfully.

I really do need to start recording my ‘dream tunes’ as soon as I waken to check if these are composed works I have heard before or if my creative juices really do get going better when my mind is less distracted by the world of reality! My best way to describe this background music to my dreams is like a thoroughly composed overture or movie soundtrack that has significant thematic correlation appropriate to the type of dream storyline or adventure. It is well matched to the mood. If only I could remember it fully when I awake!

I was curious to investigate dream music more…

I read an article online from an excerpt from ‘Music and the Human Brain,’ by Eliaser A Simon. M.D. (*ii.) who suggested keeping a system of recording dream music next to the bed so as to recall melodies as best as possible as soon as awakening, suggesting a keyboard or handheld recording device. Perhaps a smartphone has too many distractions with notifications etc? I think I will try this suggestion to discover if some original compositions are born. I may have bought some lavender pillow spray to help me sleep tonight. (If I dream of my granny and not of my best symphony ever I will not be overly surprised).

I then wondered also, if other composers ‘got their ideas for compositions in dreams?’ Apparently so, according to Dream Bible, (*iii.) both Ludwig Van Beethoven and Paul McCartney composed music which came to them in dream states!

Fact: Paul McCartney dreamed of the music to the song “Yesterday” in his sleep. Beethoven also had music come to him in his sleep. Giuseppi Tartini dreamed that the Devil came to him in his sleep playing the musical piece “The Devil’s Trill Sonata.” 

Dream Bible http://www.dreambible.com/search.php?q=Music

The International Institute for Dream Research cites Theodore Reiks ‘Listening with the Third Ear,’ (*iv.) in summarising Beethoven’s music dream state;

Beethoven remarks about the dream that “no music was performed, yet it was a musical dream.” Is Beethoven saying that he could not hear the music, yet could still create musical dreams? Did Beethoven’s musical composition dreams help to artistically compensate for his hearing loss?

Perhaps Beethoven’s dreams did compensate for his hearing loss?

According to a dream study by The American Psychological Association, (*v.)

6% of candidates ‘remembered dreams contained music, and the frequency was significantly higher when the participants spent time with music activities in waking like singing, playing an instrument, or listening actively to music—supporting the continuity hypothesis. In addition, music dreams were associated with more positive emotions. Future research should study the effects of music in waking on music in dreams over a longer period of time (dream diaries), as well as the dreams of professional musicians.’

I found it interesting that musicians and those who spent more time listening to music and being involved in music during their waking lives were affected by sleeping music. This makes sense to me.

So, I ask you too, reader, do you hear music when you dream? If so, do you remember it when you wake up, and is it a tune that is new to you or a familiar one you have heard before? Please do share. 🙂

References and Further reading links:

  1. Inception soundtrack theme https://www.npr.org/sections/allsongs/2010/08/02/128932586/the-music-of-inception-exposed?t=1566843957949 
  2. Music in Dreams http://salidonapublishing.com/salidonapublishing.com/Music_In_Dreams.html
  3. Dream Bible http://www.dreambible.com/search.php?q=Music
  4. International Institute for Dream Research https://www.dreamresearch.ca/interpretations.php?interID=368
  5. Psych Net Study of Music in dreams https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2018-30214-001

4 replies to “Dreaming with Music

  1. I often wake in the morning with a tune in my head and it’s nearly always one I have recently heard in the previous day or two. But our memory is amazing. Once, years after hearing Mozart’s “little” g minor symphony (not no. 40), and not having heard it since, I dreamed the entire second movement. Most of us scarcely remember slow movements when awake compared to the flashier firsts and finales.

    Liked by 1 person

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