Since my youth I can recall how vivid dreams are. So dramatic, real, and of great mystery.
When a musical instrument comes to me in a dream, oh my are they fascinating! Like low hanging fruit just waiting to be literally plucked or listened to. I have learned to keep a dream journal handy at my bedside wherever I may be. To write down my dreams–and not just the musical ones.
So came to be the instrument I call the Dream Machine.
After sketching it in the journal (as seen below) it sat untouched. A number of years later I’m at my church’s rummage sale looking at all the items on so many tables and see a letter holder.
“Ah hah! That’s that thing from the dream!”
“But it looks kinda different….”
“Yeah, but that’s still it. Dude, it’s like a dollar-buy it!!”
I took it home and looked at it. Now what??
Here began a litany of issues to solve: how many strings? How long is the string length? What gauge strings? How do I tune this thing? What kind of bridge exactly do I make? How are the strings mounted to the body? Just precisely where do the bridges get placed? On and on…
This whole process gave me a much deeper appreciation for any instrument maker.
I found the matter of string length is the math of things extremely touchy. Little to no tolerance allowed.
Now the next and very important question; “How do I play this thing???“
It sat for a year or better. People coming to my place would certainly notice this curiosity sitting against a wall. Conversations would ensue.
I felt slightly ashamed I hadn’t completed any compositions for it. I still have techniques and ideas that aren’t yet realized, as I need to further some design issues. But through the notice of others I sat down and said “Well at least write something simple-just get it going man!”
And so “War Cry” was born.
It is a piece of music sitting somewhere between African American spiritual, Oriental tone and Native American spirit. This joining of cultural influences makes me very happy. Taking the dream machine to concerts is a great conversation piece!
The “skateboard with strings” is ready to roll.