Dreams and music

  • Kurt Forrer (Author)

Identifiers (Article)


When we wake up with a dream in which we heard a song, it is worthwhile to pay attention to the lyrics since they have a habit of indicating what is ahead for the coming day. I have found that there are a good number of people who have observed this on several occasions. It is actually a reliable way of predicting the immediate future. This is not so surprising because our dreams are the blueprint of waking. I have shown this in my essay “To test or not to test, that is the Question”, published in the ‘International Journal of Dream Research’, Vol. 7, No. 2, October 2014, pp.153-169. In view of the fact that all dreams are predictive, any other dream scene could be used for the purpose of prediction. But since the lyrics of a song are practically a written interpretation of the dream, it is an excellent way of tackling predictive dream interpretation, especially for beginners.

            Once we understand that dreams are the blueprint of waking, we also realise that all metaphors we use in waking life are the dream’s invention.  Thus the  metaphor of ‘making music’ suggests making love both in dreams and in waking. From this it is easy to see why musical instruments are substitutes for the genitals. So when a female musician dreams that her cello is on fire she will experience an irresistible burst of libido on the dream day.

            While every imaginable item is susceptible to a sexual interpretation, music holds a special place in that respect because it not only can arouse passions, but because it does not register in just a single area of the brain, but interpenetrates several areas of it. Recent studies show that severely handicapped patients who have suffered a stroke for instance, can be healed by means of playing music to them, which they have stored in their brain. What life without the ability to communicate would be like is well described by Concetta Tomaino in one section of her article, ‘How Music Can Reach The Silenced Brain’. There she records the case of ‘Sally’, who had been diagnosed with leucoencephalopathy. This meant that Sally “was mute; apart from crying, she made no vocal sounds. She spent her days pacing the long nursing home corridor and crying... One day, as (the author) played some tunes to other residents, (she) was surprised to hear a beautiful voice singing the complete lyrics to the song (she) was playing. (She) turned to the door to see Sally dancing and singing her way into the room…Her crying stopped, as did her restless wandering the halls. Soon she began speaking and became more integrated into the world of the nursing home”.

            Apart from the near miraculous healing abilities of music, this case also demonstrates that the awakening of memories moves from the subcortical area to the cortical area, which is the realm of waking awareness. It also points to something that is often forgotten by dream researchers: our memory is a mixture of dream memory and waking memory. In other words, all dreams find a place in the subcortical area whether we have recalled them or not. That being so, our dreams are able to initiate waking action cryptomnesically. This not only shows how dreams can initiate our waking actions, but also how instinct, new ideas, intuition, inspiration, premonition and prophecy are one and all cryptomnesic recalls of a dream which, put another way, are dreams that have passed unnoticed into our dream memory from whence they emerge just as inconspicuously, from where they do their work in the most clandestine way, allowing the ego to think that it had somehow conjured it all up of its own accord and by means of its own ability and resources.


Dreaming, Music
How to Cite
Forrer, K. (2017). Dreams and music. International Journal of Dream Research, 10(2), 180–186. https://doi.org/10.11588/ijodr.2017.2.33195