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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 concert I was surprised to see that the cellist...
CAMPION'S WARNING: by Wayan; 1994/6/12, a warning dream--but not warning of what I think.
On the beach, seated at The Piano, director Jane Campion warns
"Avoid Hollywood, they'll snip away at your vision..."
CELLO CASE: by Jim Shaw; between 1987 & Jan. 1995, an odd dream image
I was going to music camp, but I didn't know how to play my cello.
A teenager and her mother slept like vampires in her giant cello case...
THE COIL: by Wayan; 1999-2000. Mad instrument design 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...
CYMBALS: by SAO (Shawn Allen O'Neal); August 1997, a lucid dream on, um, cymbalism
Hundreds of dusty drawers, clearly not not touched in years. I open one
to find cymbals. Some part of me knows it's a dream and sees the pun...
THE DREAM: by Henri Rousseau; 1910, a (collaborative?) dream painting
Rousseau's painting of that woman on a red sofa in a glorious jungle may be dream-based...
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 got her leg broken. It stalls her career but helps her marriage. Did she need a "break"?
A GENERAL HISTORY OF TRANSPORTATION (AN EXCERPT): by Georges Perec; April 1972, his Dream #115
Parking structures with spiral ramps are, secretly, screws harvesting motion from parking cars, slowly drilling
into near-impenetrable rock. Thus are skyscraper-foundations made...
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...
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...
THE LEARNABLE INSTRUMENT PROJECT: by Wayan; 1999-2000. Mad instrument design 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...
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 musical dream
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; 1991/5/31, an 8-page digital comic--a true nondream story.
Alone in my blue room, I heard sax music. Two sunbathers were jamming outside my window...
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, a dream-poem exposing self-sabotage
A man adopts two orphaned, talented musical griffins. But their previous guardians were
so traditionalist & stifling that the cubs want to BURN all their 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...
SIX DREAMS: by Jim Shaw; c.1994, a very busy night!
1: A flooded bathroom becomes 2: a glass water-piano; 3: my friend strips in a restaurant, so
4: they serve me gutted dog. 5: Dolls teach prostitution, as 6: a rhino rubs up to an elephant-bear...
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 dream parable.
I'm in Theremin's lab, around 1930, trying to play one of his experimental instruments. Why won't it work?
TUBA BEANS: by Wayan; 1996/3/24, a Star Trek dream.
Changelings invade our orbital station, selling drugs, kidnapping teachers--but Constable
Odo can handle that. What's weird are the beans pouring out of that kid's tuba...
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...
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! And from how the vase purrs, I'm not so sure if she wants to be changed back.
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. Reluctantly,
He sells it to a friend, and jams with him only in the woods, away from cars. But...

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