New Muse Performs Student Dreams
by Ariel Whitworth
English Romanticist Samuel Coleridge once wrote: “What if you slept? And what if, in your sleep, you dreamed? And what if, in your dream, you went to heaven and there plucked a strange and beautiful flower? And what if, when you awoke, that flower was in your hand? Ah, what then?”
Junior Erin Hollins’ group, New Muse, and junior Matt Van Winkle have found a way to cross the boundary between the conscious and unconscious mind, awakening the senses through a recitation of dreams put to a blend of music that gives new meaning to the concept of lucid dreaming.
New Muse was founded over Winter Term this year. Hollins used musical background as a focus, but tried to add group members with other artistic interests. Iceland and other Dreams was the group’s first concert; however, it hopes to create more in the future. The concert was entirely composed by the seven group members.
Van Winkle and Hollins wanted to collaborate on the project for a long time. This semester, Van Winkle began to interview people and record their dreams. Hollins said, “I thought dreams are very strong self-contained stories and music — what could music do for them? While you are dreaming there is a constant breath, constant state on which images and sounds come in and out. New Muse’s music is that constant…to a degree.”
Last Friday’s show was performed in Asia House’s dimly-lit Shipherd Lounge, filled with “husbands” and a sea of bodies in the audience. The music began on a wistful note, almost as though one was floating on air. Instruments varied in their degrees of intensity, sometimes mimicking each other, and often leaving room for solos or duets. As the music softened to represent a kind of deeper sleep, Van Winkle’s low intonation was heard resonating among the notes. “There was a monster disguised as a beautiful woman…and men were coming to it to ask it questions, to like, um…marry it or something.”
Some of the dreams were comical, others quite serious. And of course, there was Iceland. “I remember being like, ‘This is what I want to do. I want to be in Iceland,’” a performer said.
The show’s music became more static until it progressed into only a slurry of unidentifiable words. Suddenly, there was silence. One felt like the surrounding room was a heartbeat. There seemed to be an emphasis on self-focus. As the music began again the group members began to whisper, mimicking thoughts, each having a different idea. Then, the audience heard numbers and letters. As the music became more lively, it was increasingly hard to hear Van Winkle, although his soft, repetitive focus put a lot of emphasis on how dreams are recalled, and the messages that they carry with them.
“The words of the dreams painted the pictures, which the audience is left to interpret. We wanted to suggest a dreamlike state, and tried to emulate the qualities of dreams, such as the juxtaposition of foreign elements. Dreams are jumbled,” New Muse member and first-year Aaron Helgenson said.
New Muse’s music is pleasant, though the songs were not as striking as the ideas they inspire. The members of the group seem very dedicated, absorbed in their music and focused on a common goal.
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