Have you ever heard about songwriting in dreams? In 2007, I dreamt about a rock concert of a fictional alternative rock / post grunge band called The Verge. Their song Let me go and stuck in my mind. In the next morning, I did my best to reproduce chords, lyrics and riffs of the song I dreamt of. This ain’t a simple task, if you never played guitar before.
Songwriting in dreams
It sounds weird, but yes, I have written a song a dream. The worst part of dreaming is to remember the details, because you are not able to record or write while dreaming. A week after, I created a MIDI sequence which consisted of the riff, the drums, an organ and the vocal line. Being the first alternative rock song I’ve ever written, I haven’t had the faintest idea if this song can be played on real instruments. But since I neither play guitar nor bass, I wrote into the forums of Myownmusic.
I met Horace D. who wrote and recorded punk rock and alternative rock songs. He recorded that song for me, but he had to change some details. His tenor voice fit perfectly into this song. During our collaboration I learned a lot about writing, recording and mixing handmade music. I would have never made these experience, if I stuck in electronic music forever.
Is it possible to write rock songs without playing guitar?
It is, but it can happen, that the drafts are not playable or sound different from what you expected. Coming from electronic music, one might notice that these songs are created for synthesizers. Their range is about 7 octaves and it is possible to hit 10 keys at the same time. This is technically not possible on the guitar since it has only six strings. In addition, not every note can be found on each string. If you give a guitarist some chords, he or she may use different inversions, depending on what he or she is used to. Importantly, some inversions do not match well with piano. It may happen that you change the melody for the keys afterwards.
There are plenty of pitfalls which lead you to understand the instrument and their handling first. Firstly, the range of a 4-string electronic bass is limited. You may rewrite the bassline, if it hits notes below E. Secondly, writing drum lines can go terribly wrong, if you forget that a drummer has only two hands and two feet. Furthermore, the closed hi-hat and the open hi-hat are the same cymbal, which can be switched by a pedal. There is some background you need to learn first.
What does a song written in a dream sound like?
Check it out by clicking on the image. This link will lead you to our SoundCloud profile.
“Let me go” is a part of our first album “Something you did not know” is now available as a free download. Can you tell by the sound, that this song was written in a dream? I don’t think so. This is quite close to the dream, but the riffs in the verse were improvised by Horace.
Becoming an internet band
Our collaboration went so well that it led to the foundation of our onlineband. In remembrance of the dream, the band is called The Verge. I think, Let me go was sort of songwriting in lucid dreams or an intuition to try other styles of music. After solo guitarist ibzstrat joined our band, we did not think about hiring a drummer any more. Therefore, The Verge consists of three members. On some of our songs, other people helped out with songwriting or singing. The drums are still synthetically programmed.
The internet band The Verge exists for over ten years. We have finished our first album. I’d like to thank the band and all participants who made this dream come true. Without you, I have never learned so much about rock music and songwriting.