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Musical Instruments

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Inanimate objects that sing like living creatures? It's no wonder that instruments often seem to carry deep symbolic power in dreams. After all, even in waking life they're valued and mysterious. In a world where little is sacred, most people still feel in their guts that someone who deliberately smashes a good instrument has committed sacrilege--indeed, a sort of murder.

Does this sound familiar? It's the kind of respect and sense of life lurking inside that we feel toward some art... but there, it's the products we see as quasi-living, not the tools. No one treats a paintbrush with the reverence we feel for a violin.

The analogy that keeps popping up in my head is with computers, especially our hopes/fears about artificial intelligence. Do our feelings about instruments predict how we'll feel about smart machines? Maybe. The parallels are legitimate. The physical structure of a good instrument not only creates a sound that thrills us, but structures the music in certain ways, makes some things natural and some hard. The instrument shapes its emotional character, and more. The structure of a piano keyboard, and visibility of all the keys, made classical music possible. Joni Mitchell restrung her guitar to a different tuning, different chords and progressions became natural; again a new music came out. Human intelligence was not enough; instrumental intelligence was also needed to bring it out.

So think of musical instruments as powerful analog computers. Artificial intelligence--except that instruments aren't intellectually smart, but emotionally smart. Not AI, but AE--artificial emotionalities. Or AW: artificial wisdoms.

Or, of course, you could keep things simple. Just go on thinking of them as alive.

RELATED TOPICS: musical dreams in general - The Learnable Instrument Project, showcasing a spiral piano and half a dozen other radical designs - laboratories, inventors and mad inventions - robots and artificial intelligence - See also the full INDEX OF SUBJECTS.

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ARSON MUSIC: by Wayan; 2000/10/4, a parallel-world dream on ethics
Driving through California farm hills with subtly different natural laws, I find social consequences. Can physics create evil?
BELL CURVE IN THE DARK: by Wayan; 1982/8/17, a dream on... the gifted?
A human pinball game played in the dark, with bells for stoppers, sorting people into a Gaussian bell-curve...
BLUE SKIES: by Georganna Malloff; 1980?, painting of a slightly predictive dream.
I dreamed of a bear playing a cello concert. The next day at a local concert I was surprised to see that the cellist...
CAMPION'S WARNING: by Wayan; 1994/6/12, a warning dream.
On the beach, seated at The Piano, director Jane Campion warns "Avoid Hollywood, they'll snip away at your vision..."
THE COIL: by Wayan; 1999-2000. Model for a mad instrument that might just work.
A spiral dream-instrument I'm building, that's easier to play than a piano or guitar, and a lot snakier...
THE DREAM: by Henri Rousseau; 1910, a (collaborative?) dream painting
Rousseau's famous painting of a woman who falls asleep on a sofa and finds herself in a glorious jungle may just be a real dream...
CAUTION: NUDITY, SLACKING
ENGINE GENIUS: by Wayan; 2005/2/4, a health-warning dream.
At my mechanic's garage, a child prodigy rebuilds a car engine. Gawking, I nearly plow into the crowd...
FRACTURE SPEEDS MARRIAGE: by Wayan; 2001/1/1, a dream of advice on health and romance.
A baseball star breaks her leg (with a little help from the other team). It delays her career but but speeds her marriage. Did she NEED a....break?
GREENBIRD SAVIOR: by Wayan; 1983/6/2, a divine comedy.
Time-travel the Navaho way! But our bread-pipe gets hijacked, so we call the Bird. Who shows up, all right...
CAUTION: NON-STANDARD SAVIOR, EVIL DREAM PUNS
HER LOVELY AWKWARD SYNTH, by Wayan, 2009/3/9; a dream-poem, Dreamverse #43
A musical prodigy has a gorgeous, unplayable keyboard. But serious creativity takes a dull, regular, ergonomic instrument...
THE HOLY HARP: by Wayan; 1994/3/22, a dream of musical guilt.
The Goddess's harp, that calls in the seasons, just passed on. But the new harper has a shocking admission...
I TOSSED MUSIC: by Wayan; 1997/9/19, an advisory dream.
I asked my dreams "should I return to school?" They replied with this bizarre tale of sabotage...
CAUTION: VIOLENCE TO DUMB INSTRUMENTS
THE COIL: by Wayan; 1999-2000. Model for a mad instrument that might just work.
A spiral dream-instrument I'm building, that's easier to play than a piano or guitar, and a lot snakier...
A MARKET STREET CONCERT: by Wayan, 1998/4/2, a sexy dreamfable.
On a downtown street, a classmate is singing for change. I can't resist seeing if I can distract her...
CAUTION: THEY'RE BOTH EXHIBITIONISTS
THE MER BUILDING: by Wayan; 2001/2/23, a dream of a double life.
Iím a puma with a night job as a cellist. But my day job with The Architectives is the bizarre one...
MS. TRUST: by Wayan; 1993/11/4, a dream of a guarded angel.
I meet my own mistrust: an angel who can't trust ME! So she turns me into a football-playing ant...
THE MUSICAL AMOEBA, by Hermester Barrington, spring 1979, a predictive dream inspired by the Incredible String Band
I'm hiking through the Catskills when a gigantic amoeba comes slipping over the hills...
OCARINA, or, MILLION-YEAR SENTENCE: by Wayan; 1972/5/27, a lucid / predictive dream.
I go lucid and drive my bed to the Nevada desert where I see my next million years. And so far, it's been true...
PIANOBED: by Wayan; 2012/1/22, a health-advisory dream.
I forgot how to play my pianobed, so I just thrash around in it. And thus thrash music is born (sorry)...
PIANOS IN THE SKY: by an Illinois woman; before 1948, a happy recurrent dream come true
My heart's desire was a new piano, as hopeless as owning a yacht. The dream: a huge space in the air, full of wonderful...
SAX: by Wayan; 300K total, 8 pp, 1991/5/31, a digital comic--a true story.
Alone in my blue room, I heard sax music. Two sunbathers were jamming outside my window...
CAUTION: SEX AND SAX
SCALES: by Wayan; 640 x 400, 1992. Digital sketch of a dream scene.
I was on a terrace overlooking a waterfall, where a giant rabbit and a musical dragon told me...
SHAMISEN: by Wayan; 450 x 500, 1985? Watercolor on wrinkled paper.
Me playing the blues on a Japanese shamisen...
SHRIEK ADOPTION: by Wayan; dreamed 2015/8/23, an illustrated dream-poem exposing self-sabotage
A man adopts two orphaned griffins with musical talent. But their previous guardians were so traditionalist & stifling the cubs want to BURN all their musical instruments...
SHY FOX: by Wayan; 2 images, 1997. Digitally tinted pencil, spinoffs from a 1997/8/20 dream.
I love to play, but I'm a shy fox. And pushing myself to be socially brave has unforeseen drawbacks...
SPIRIT CHORUS: by Wayan; dreamed 2016/2/8, a curative dream
I drum on an ocarina-gong in the dark. My weird music summons a choir of fierce angels, who send a wave of tingling energy surging through me...
THEREMIN'S NOT UP AND RUNNING: by Wayan; 1998/8/28, a dreamtale.
I'm in Theremin's lab, around 1930, trying to play one of his experimental instruments. Why won't it work?
TWO GUITARS: by Marc Ian Barasch, c. 2000; a multileveled psychic dream
I dream my daughter's selling two unused guitars. They seemed symbolic until I told her the dream and learned...
A VASE OF FUR: by Wayan; 1998/11/18, a dream of a surreal future.
A woman goes on a quest with an alien friend, and returns with only a furry musical vase. Her FRIEND?
VERY FUNNY, MR. MOSLEY: by Wayan; 2009/10/8, a dream poem with sketches; Dreamverse #58
Trapped in a blend of Joan of Arcadia and The Tempest Tales, I'm tired of being the pratfall sidekick...
A VIOLIN DEATH: by Wayan; 2015/11/24, a nightmare (vaguely) anticipating a real-life massacre.
A fiddler has recurring dreams warning he'll be run over with his violin. He reluctantly sells to a friend, and jams with him only in the woods, away from cars. But...


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