photo courtesy of global.rakuten.com
Dreams can certainly contain shocking visual imagery—like tsunamis. They can also be frightening because of scary activities. Being chased by a monster is a common theme. And sometimes, dreams can be upsetting because of loud noises they produce. That was the case with this week’s dreamer. He is a musician—a violinist—and he had a dream in which a sudden, exceptionally loud noise awoke him from sleep.
A dream with a loud noise
This dream was really short, but it scared the bihjeebies out of me. In my dream I was looking at the tuning pegs of an instrument. I remember, clearly, that it had four strings, like a violin. But this was some kind of an East Asian instrument with a square box for the tuning pegs. It reminded me of an Indian Tanbura. Anyway, I was tuning one of the strings—not excessively, it just needed a little bit of correction. But in the process of tuning it, the string broke. This is never a pleasant experience because the two broken string pieces tend to fly straight up toward the person tuning. I have never been hit by a section of broken string, and I know of no other musician who has. But it’s still disconcerting. In this case, though, it was extra scary because of the noise. There is always a kind of snapping sound when a string breaks, and in my dream, it was particularly loud and startling. Not only that, but there was another, simultaneous noise as well, and it sounded like a huge explosion—almost deafening, like a bomb going off. My body actually jerked violently in my bed, and I woke up shaking.
Sudden, shocking events in dreams
Sometimes dreams incorporate experiences that go beyond dreaming. A sudden bodily jerk that briefly precedes awakening from sleep is often a symptom of the dreamer re-entering his/her body after an out-of-body experience. Loud explosive noises can also be symptomatic of returning into the body after an O.B.E. excursion. Quite legitimately, we could diagnose this dream experience as the tail end of an astral projection and leave it at that.
But in this dream there are specific images—all those views of the peg-box of some sort of East Indian musical instrument. There is the unpleasant experience of being near a breaking string, and there is the act of tuning. These are classic dream images, and so we will explore them.
There is more as well. There is the dreamer’s commentary about string tuning and how no other musician he is acquainted with has ever been hit by a string. Even though these observations are not directly related to the dream plot, they nevertheless are part of the dreamer’s perspective on the dream events, and so, in their own way, they are part of the dream. During this week, with the dreamer’s help, we will interpret them all.
And perhaps we’ll have occasion to delve more deeply into the question: Is there any such thing as a non-dream experience? Even if the dreamer remembered no imagery and only heard the jerky noise, would the event still count as a dream?
We’ll explore those questions this week.