A songwriter’s dream come true: an original, fresh, new melody jaunting into your mind while you sleep. Guest blogger, Caro, explores this dream phenomenon. Be it a ‘jingle dream’ or ‘symphony nightmare’; how can we coerce a dreamt-up, freshly invented melody from our sleep and bring it to the forefront of our minds? To kick start, you need to reach REM-sleep (Rapid Eye Movement), dream a melody, and then recall it. It’s fun, efficient and free! What’s not to love?

Sound Asleep: Tune into Tuning Out

Why spend time during the day thinking up the ultimate hook when you can dream up the music instead?

Hit two birds with one stone. Then we can use the conscious hours to zhuzh up the tune, or go about any other business in the land of the living.

I noticed this phenomenon’s potential approximately the third time

These types of dreams are so rare and valuable that it would be crazy not to grab the opportunity, when it occurs, if it occurs. These dreams are so rare that I have often wondered how to make them more prolific. Although, on the flip side, I’m also a bit wary of going too far. Imagine constant, hectic musical dreams – it would be chaos! And too much sleep deprivation. Here’s a snapshot of my recent, rare dream experience:

In the dream my neighbour asked what turned out to be a very important question:

“Have you seen this clip of Celia and Anna singing on Facebook?” “No, I haven’t” – what a good answer by me, I thought. Since now my brain has to make up (dream up) their music video! The two girls were singing a short melody … “la la laaa blah blah …” I don’t recall the exact words. But that’s not the point! There was a tune! And it seemed catchy, at the time at least. Strangely, in the dream, the melody seemed familiar. And, as always within a dream, everything seemed completely normal, real, and made perfect sense. In reality however, I had never heard a tune like it before. I also wondered if Celia had ever considered a singing career instead of her postdoc role in genome engineering in methylotrophic yeasts. I haven’t asked her yet.

Like a shot, I sprinted, in the middle of the night to play the keyboard next door

It was actually morning by then, and more a crawl than a sprint. My partner also got up. “What the … what are you doing? It’s 4am on Saturday morning.” It looked crazy; slightly creepy, but worth it.  On the downside, I didn’t write notes or record it. Such an idiot! And so the next day, the entire musical masterpiece was gone – out of sight, out of mind. However, the point is: dreamt-up melodies are possible. It just seems to come down to 50% luck, 50% organisation.

Sound Asleep: Tune into Tuning Out

Two Key Challenges

1. Dream up the flipping melody in the first place

So, how do we encourage this type of dream? A few options here:

  • Lucid dreams – this technique sounds fascinating but maybe induces too much control. Could it detract from a truly subconscious riff? Despite this, you could choose to create new, obscure instruments or pen entire musicals in under two minutes of slumber, so surely it holds some promise.
  • Cheese, please – bizarrely, ingesting a certain cheese type may impact dream type.1 Perhaps a piece of Stilton before hitting the hay will do the trick?

Despite the lack of research on dreamt-up melodies, studies show that musicians dream of music twice as much as non-musicians. And dream frequency relates to the age at which musical instruction commences, not to the daily dose of musical activity. Also, analysis of recalled music from dreams suggests that original pieces can genuinely be created in dreams.2 Although musical dreams are rarely reported, have you looked up anecdotes from artists such as Paul McCartney? If dreaming up tunes is good enough for him, then bring on the cheese!

Sound Asleep: Tune into Tuning Out

2. It’s a matter of urgency

Secondly, get prepped for the big moment. When this type of dream occurs, there’s no time to waste.

Recall, recall, recall 

If the melody strikes in your sleep and you wake up, keep a pen and paper handy, hum it into your phone, zombie-walk to the instrument of choice, whatever it takes. Play. It. Now. If you think you’ll recall it when you wake up the next day, dream on. We’re lucky to even remember a snippet. What if that was potentially the next smash hit? It could have been a whopper that no one ever imagined in their wildest dreams – maybe it was from your wildest dreams? Who are we to judge? It’s vital to memorise the tune now and take action before it’s lost to the dreamworld forever …

Practice Makes Perfect Dreams

We have only scratched the surface of songwriting through dreams, and this musical mystery continues. I think that’s part of it though. Musicians with various backgrounds conjure up melodies in a multitude of different ways. Even if it means using sleep as a medium to create an original tune and bring it into fruition, it’s just a question of how do we hone the skill, put it to good use and share the end result with the rest of the world.

Thank you, and sweet dreams.


1. Nielsen T, Powell RA. Dreams of the Rarebit Fiend: food and diet as instigators of bizarre and disturbing dreams. Front Psychol. 2015;6:47.
2. Uga V, Lemut MC, Zampi C, Zilli I, Salzarulo P. Music in dreams. Conscious Cogn. 2006;15(2):351-357.

See Also…

» Keyboards & Piano’s
» Guitars
» Manuscript Paper
» Music Notation Software
» DAW Software

» How to Write the Perfect, Personal Wedding Song
» Songwriting Tips for Beginners
» The Blues Scale: Nail it in Every Key
» The Pentatonic Scale: Easy to Learn
» Major & Minor: Hearing and Understanding the Difference
» Learning To Play Guitar Chords For Beginners
» How to Play Basic Piano Chords

Guest Blogger Caro

Part pharmacist, part medical writer, part fan of playing the keyboard like it’s a synthesizer. One day we may be lucky – or unlucky – enough to hear one of her compositions out in the world. But before then, she needs to figure out how to use a DAW while trying to lift a keyboard without getting a hernia.

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