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A Piano

Somnium, and Album to Stimulate Lucid Dreams


Making conscious facts of dreams is part of human nature and one of the challenges presented by this album.

In the early 1980s, Robert Rich, a great exponent of ambient music, structured a mythical presentation that has been ritually replicated up to our own time: a series of “sleep concerts.” Set at night, Rich induces dreams in his public through auditory stimuli.

These fascinating events led to the creation of his work, Somnium, one of the longest-running recordings ever made. Orchestrated in a composition of some seven hours, it’s divided into three major segments, all supported through a binaural technique. The album is intended to accompany the listener through the stages of sleep, eventually arriving at REM, the most relaxed, and dream-inducing stage.

The harmonious opening of the disc introduces listeners to a space of total ataraxy, a serene calm, guided by a series of droning sounds alluding to nature, (similar to the sounds of rain, of singing birds, insects, and an atmospheric instinct). This is perhaps related to hypnagogia, the stage of shallow and diffuse sleep in which one may be uncertain as to whether one is in a state of wakefulness or sleep.

During a second stage (of approximately two hours), the sound turns provocative, at once thicker and deeper, as in a stage of deep sleep. The last part includes an unfathomable echo announcing a climax of relaxation. This is “paradoxical sleep” in which one learns to become aware of dreams.

Rich has advised that the album be played in total darkness, and ideally in an intimate space.

Classical science warns us that dreams are not cloistered only in corners of the mind and that they’re sometimes inaccessible to the mind or to memory, there are also researchers exploring methods to practice lucid dreaming. They note that the album has been quite effective for those looking to develop the skills necessary for taking advantage of the vigil.

Somnium is that recording that elegantly brings metaphysical exploration together with artistic experience, in this case, relative to the world of dreams, and via musical stimulation. Though, perhaps obviously this tool, the recording, can’t guarantee we’ll reach lucidity during sleep, it is still a beautiful invitation to the exercise of consciousness more fully, i.e.; to realize that we realize.


*Image: Basher Tome – Flickr / Creative Commons

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