The Muse

Winter Dreams was daunting for me to write.

The theme, which appears first in the English horn, was something that came to me in a dream back in the early 1990’s. When I have dreamed music, it comes to me in its full form, at tempo. I’m just listening, as if to a radio station or a live concert. It’s a strange dream-state: it feels different. I’ve had a few lucid dreams, which is a dream in which you are aware you are dreaming — and as most people recount, it feels quite different from a normal dream. This is similar, but it has an entirely different feel than a lucid dream, or a normal dream.

The tragic part about the Music Dreams is that I cannot remember the melodies when I wake up. Wherever that space is, I can’t bring it back with me. I remember at best only fragments.

In this dream, I was in a blue space: deep blue evening sky overhead, the color of that short moment just before the first stars appear. There was some kind of open pergola or gazebo around me, with an open, circular roof through which I could see that blue sky, in a gentle, restful space. In this space, a voice sang: a clear, pure soprano voice, singing a beautiful, somewhat sad melody. As I listened, a single French horn answered in harmony, balanced perfectly against that voice. Strings joined, and held the duet like a woven fabric. I could tell that the fabric was shaping itself to my own mind — I was actually composing the harmonies as I listened, but only the harmonies. The melody stood on its own.

When I woke up, I wept, because the music was gone. All but the memory that there had been music.

And one phrase.

One musical phrase that I clung to like a sailor clutching a spar after shipwreck. I wrote down that fragment, and it appears here, in the English horn, as part of the melodic line.

Writing this into a full piece of actual music was daunting because I wanted to get it right. To capture something of the sublime beauty of that solo voice singing in the deep cerulean darkness.

I think I came pretty close. And that feels good.

That’s where the real gratification comes from, for me. It isn’t seeking fame, or praise, or remuneration, though if something I wrote were to make me rich, I’m not going to turn it down. But I don’t expect it will — I’m in entirely the wrong style for that — and that doesn’t bother me at all. The gratification comes from getting it right.

Or close enough.

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