Friday, June 19, 2009

On light, motion, sound and dreams

I suppose it was all those tweets I have been reading on dreams lately that sent me into one of my own today. It was not so much the dream which was interrupted by angry city car horns but the beautiful collage of brilliant colors that I saw as I came up if out of the depths peaceful waters. I suppose it was the body recovering from a stint of sleep deprivation but it was a most pleasant experience. How wonderful these simple things of life. Who needs drugs when our own minds can conjure up the most beautiful dreams but also, the most disturbing nightmares.

At times, I have heard music in my dreams as well. Some say the music of our dreams is only music we have heard in the past but never heard this music. It was as if my mind simply created it. But how to unlock that creativity so that it can take flight outside the dream word and take the forms of notes and timbre and form. To weave as our wayward dreams do but to be expressed in concrete form so it can be something captured and frozen in time free to find its way to other ears and minds and dreams.

That is what the greats did. They told us their dreams with notes. And in their nightmares ours were awakened as well. Hope balanced against despair but the creative mind always reaches out to God and to one another to free us of more earthy limitations.

So as I watched those colors brilliantly play across my field of vision and across the recesses of my waking mind, I began to think, not as a dreamer thinks, but as a composer. The Thermin is one of my favorites along with the Ondes Martenot. Ancient instruments in many ways at least in the fast past world of electronic music, but in many ways, more expressive than the cliched pitch bend and mod wheel that seem to have enslaved us.

Now if the hand can break an invisible field and give way to pitch from visible circuits flowing with invisible electrons, then how much also can the same play with light. Photocells are abundant and easy to plug into synthesizer modules and yes, my favorite, moogerfoogers. I have used them and yes, they sing! Buchla knew this when he encapsulated the light of a diode and the photocell married in plastic covering, the multipurpose opto-isolator turned musical instrument. Light can be turned into plucked strings.

And so I thought, here is this Theremin. Now enter some really bright flashlights and, don't be scared now, even ones that can be controlled by MIDI. Combine with photocells and then the hand making gestures and playing a theremin. Add some accelerometers or gyros (aka alternate wii - you don't need Wii for this) or magnets or flex resistors and you have a whole word of light and motion and magetic fields all which can produce voltage and make foogers and synths sing perhaps, even the stuff of dreams.

Right now this is only the stuff of dreams. Some dreamy musings while the sleep wears off and the memory of the curtain of lights fades to nothing. But perhaps, like Robert Moog himself who dared to dreams of circuits made into instruments, there is more to the world than perhaps, we have ever dreamed. To sleep, perchance to dream and perhaps, to ask the question, will I dream and will my dreams begin to sing.

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