“This Child” isn’t who you think

By | May 10, 2013

Back in 2004 we were awaiting the birth of our first daughter. I was also beginning to teach myself how to write music around then. And I did a lot of sleeping.

Turns out this is a good opportunity to show off my favorite "day 1" photo... :)

Turns out this is a good opportunity to show off my favorite “day 1″ photo… :)

Those things may not seem related at first glance, though they will shortly. But only two of them actually are.

I vividly remember a dream I was having one night. I was walking in various places with a young child. They weren’t always nice places, and the child wasn’t always clean, but the tone was … well it was hard to describe. Kind of pleasantly tense, I guess. It was obvious there was some distress, but people seemed to be handling it well. It wasn’t bad per se, just a bit off-putting. But as the settings changed through the dream, there was one constant: the child was whistling a tune.

It wasn’t a bouncy, happy whistle that might spring to mind when you think of someone whistling a tune. This wasn’t a Disney dream. It was nice, but had a little bit of sad in it. Not haunting at all, but a little tinged with melancholy.  And it got to me. It pervaded me. It made me look around for the kid when I heard it.

There was very little dialogue in the dream.  I may have spoken, but it wasn’t much. Not for any particular reason, but I just knew when the child was whistling the tune she was looking for someone important to her and I would help. When I would hear the tune being whistled out of her presence I was looking for her.

So naturally, when I woke up I remembered the tune. I started writing it down in PrintMusic and developed it a bit, and ended up with a piece I named “This Child.”

When people saw the title, they understandably thought – as perhaps you just did – that it referred to the child whose birth was imminent. I wish I could say it did. It’d be cool to say I wrote a song about my unborn daughter. But it doesn’t. I didn’t.

Oh well.

This recording suffers from a lack of human playback. It should be much more legato – the notes should flow together more than they do. The downside of MIDI, I suppose. It also suffers from me being terrible at audio mastering – the balance of the instruments really isn’t right in a few places. But it’s close enough for now – I’m still pretty happy with how it turned out.

If you’re wondering, the whistle from the dream turned into the French Horn part that starts the song. It’s interesting for me to go back and listen to it. I think if I were writing it now it would be a completely different end product. But I like it the way it turned out.

Update: fixed a serious balance issue with the audio file. Sorry about that. If you heard it before, listen again. It’s better this way.

2 thoughts on ““This Child” isn’t who you think

  1. Helen

    I only rarely remember my dreams, and it’s rarer still that I get music in my dreams. There have been one or two occasions only when I have had a piece of music occur in any extended way inside my head, and as soon as I start trying to remember it and get it down on paper it becomes transient and elusive, and vanishes in a wisp of frustrated forgetfulness. You said you only got the melody/tune/whistle, which means that the rest of the setting/instrumentation had to come out of your conscious, to work out what would fit with that tune. I like it. (There were a couple of hiccups in the recording for me, but maybe the audio-stream was interrupted.)

  2. Jeff Post author

    I’ve only had a few occasions of music in my dreams. The first time it was fully orchestrated, and I lost it … though there’s actually a bit longer of a story about that. Usually I lose what comes to me. This time it was just the melody, so it was easier to capture, and you’re right, the rest I came up with as I developed it. Some of it was almost accidental in how it came out, in that I was experimenting with different things and happened upon a phrase or two that worked well. I’m glad you like it.

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