Dream of: 27 August 1996 "Patriot"

Carolina and I had moved into the House in Patriot. It appeared that my uncle Liston and his family were also living in the House; so the House was obviously going to be crowded. I just hoped we could all live in peace without getting on each other's nerves.

It was morning and I was in the kitchen/living room area. I noticed one of Liston's sons – my first cousin Alan – also in the room, working on a large black piano standing in the room. I walked over to the piano to see what he was doing. It was soon clear that he was trying to tune the piano. On the top of the piano was a series of screws, one screw for each key. By adjusting the screws, he was able to adjust the sound of each key, and he appeared to have already successfully adjusted every key except one, the third key from the left. He hit this key several times to show me just how discordant it was, and indeed the key did sound rather squeaky. He pointed to the screw, which apparently lacked a washer and therefore couldn't be made to stay in place. But even though it appeared that he wasn't going to be able to tune the one key, the rest of the piano was in good shape, and it would still be able to be played.

It occurred to me that since I was now going to be living here, I might start practicing the piano myself. It had been a long time since I had played piano, but I thought I could pick it up rather quickly. It seemed to me that playing the piano was something everyone should know a little about.

I began visualizing a sheet of music in my head, wondering if I could still read the music; I was sure I could. Only the notes down under the five bars sometimes gave me problems. There must be some way I could better learn to recognize those notes; I simply needed to look at them more in spatial terms, get a feel of the amount of space between the note and the bottom line. If I would do that, I would be able to rapidly tell exactly what the note was. At the very least, I could learn to play a few pieces by playing the pieces over and over until I almost had them memorized.

I would even like to involve myself in a more detailed understanding of music. For example, I was interested in the beat, and how a person was able to maintain a steady beat. This idea of the beat fascinated me; this particular ability, to maintain a steady beat, with the same amount of time elapsing from one beat to the next, seemed extraordinary to me, and seemed to be one of the keys to understanding music. Where did this ability come from? Why did some people seem to have it and some not?

There must be some way of measuring this ability. If I had the proper machine, I could actually set it up to determine the ability of different musicians to maintain a steady beat. I could measure the time between each beat, even down to the tenth decimal point if necessary, to see if fluctuations were detectable in the amount of time elapsing between each beat. It seemed clear that there would be some fluctuations, although they might be extremely small. But those small fluctuations would tell the story of what kind of musician the person was. Everything which that person had done in his or her life which might have dulled the ability to set the beat, would be evidenced in those small numbers which measured the most minute variations in the beat.

If I had a machine, I could also measure another aspect of the beat which interested me; and this aspect might even be more interesting because it would require a mathematical formulation. I had been thinking that I would like to learn more mathematics and apply it to something, and here I saw where I could do just that. The concept about which I was thinking was an accelerating beat or tempo.

I knew that sometimes in a musical piece, the tempo would begin at a slow pace, and then gradually accelerate, until at the end, the tempo was very fast. I even pretended I had a baton in my hand, and that I was a conductor accelerating the tempo. I started off very slow and gradually increased until I was going very fast. Indeed, it seemed to me that the ability to accelerate the tempo like this was one of the special abilities of a conductor. But it also seemed to me that this acceleration of the beat must be done in a smooth manner. Again, if I had a machine, I could measure, the amount of time which elapsed between each beat. That time would become shorter and shorter with each successive beat. And I was sure that the progressive shortening of the beats could be expressed in a mathematical formula.

What however interested me most about the concept of beat and tempo was the actual ability to be able to set a beat. It was as if the mind was hearing time. This idea of listening to time was fascinating, especially since it seemed that only certain people could do it. But what exactly were people hearing when they heard the beat? Was it something outside of themselves?

My attention was distracted as I noticed Carolina moving around the room, getting ready to go to work. She hadn't said anything to me, and I had the feeling she was upset about something. We had just moved to Patriot, and I didn't think Carolina really wanted to live here.

I looked at the clock and saw that it was 20 minutes after 8 o'clock. I thought Carolina was working in Portsmouth, and I knew Portsmouth was an hour away. Since this was her first day of work, I thought she might not realize how long it took to get to Portsmouth. I spoke to her and motioned her to come to me. She gave me an ugly look, as if she didn't want to talk to me. But I insisted and pulled her over to the bathroom. I asked her if she was aware how late it was. She quickly informed me she was very aware, and that she didn't have to be at work until 10 o'clock. Then she walked away from me, obviously not wanting to discuss the matter any more.

I was still not sure why she was upset; it might have something to do with her going to work everyday and my staying home. I hadn't been going to work lately since I was working on writing something at home. I also knew it was important that I produce something which could be published. As of yet, although I was closer, I hadn't completed anything which could be published. And I thought this was part of the problem which I was sensing from Carolina. She was growing impatient that I publish something. I knew that she was correct in her thinking, and that I needed to work harder on my writing.

I also knew I needed to write down everything which had been going on here in the House that morning. Some people already read some of what I wrote; I specifically thought of Donna. I also thought of making a minor change in the way I wrote. I knew that at the top of each piece which I wrote I included the date and a title. But I thought it might also be a good idea to include the place where I actually was when I wrote something. Thus I thought that since I was now living in Patriot, along with the date and title, I could also write "Patriot" at the top of the page. I knew I had mentioned Patriot often before in my writing, and I thought how Donna would be surprised to learn that now I was actually living in Patriot; I was even a little surprised myself.

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