Shrödinger's Dream

  • Submitted on time! Feb 22, 2024
Dream Weaver

This is a song about the dead visiting you in a dream. Are they alive while they’re in your head? Or, like Shrödinger’s cat, simultaneously alive and dead? Either way, if you think about it too much, you’re likely to wake up. Although this song is about a particular vivid dream I had, hopefully it’s broad enough to connect with others.

Music theory nerd shit: This song is in the Lydian mode! Fun! Look it up!

When I started composing this, I had the thought to make an ethereal song without guitars or drums. But then… yeah. That changed. It’s really hard to keep one’s (or maybe just my) attention for 2+ minutes without drums. So oops, I upped the tempo by 20 BPM and made the loudest, rockiest song I’ve ever recorded. ADHD is real, guys.

At first, I wasn’t too enthused with the idea of doing any improv on this song. But I started to improvise some vocals, which then lead me to improvise a guitar back-and-forth solo kinda thing with the vocals—and I ended up having a blast. So thanks, NCBC!

Looking for feedback on

Does it hold your attention in the slow bits? Is the mix garbage? Is the song title too pretentious? Do I listen to too much Spencer Krug?


Rmal March 4, 2024 7:53pm

Had me at the first note. Love the air in the first verse. As I was listening, I was thinking ethereal – I listened first then read the note so you achieved it. That interesting scale, which is the reason for that unexpected but very cool note in the lead. Love the outro, and how it resolves to a full band from a very skeletal framework.

alechutson March 2, 2024 1:44pm

Love the spaciousness of the intro and the slow evolution and build of the composition! The heavy parts really hit for me. Would love to see the lyrics. I think the vocals could be mixed a little lower, but overall great job with it

Ryan March 2, 2024 12:17pm

That change at 2:45! And 3:05! I think this shift is totally justified, doesn’t sound like your attention span did you dirty at all to me! This is an inappropriate comparison in many ways, but it reminds me of Stairway to Heaven in the way that it breaks off to a completely different song at some point. I honestly think it works.

Re: your questions — Title works. Slow part holds my attention, but I do think some rhythmic tightening would help. Because it’s patient and spacious, I don’t want anything disturbing the gentle force of that whole section. Mix I’d look to @@juliapiker or @@agasthya— their mixes are consistently quite good.

Ben March 2, 2024 2:09pm

Thanks, Ryan! You’re saying it sounds exactly like the Greatest Song in the World—aight, I’ll take it! 😅 For real though, songs like Paranoid Android and Happiness is a Warm Gun that have multiple parts—I’m a sucker for that shit.

Re: Rhythmic tightening—thanks for bringing that up. With MIDI, there’s the easy habit of clicking the quantize button and locking it in. I wanted to break away from that and have it feel like it was played by a human in a room. Are you suggesting I dial that in and lock it in more? Finding that middle ground is tough!

juliapiker March 2, 2024 2:29pm

@@Ben Do you throw reverb on the master? Or do you have it on a separate aux bus as an insert into each stem?

I also wonder if you actually dropped the piano down an octave. Your voice feels bright enough where I’d be curious to hear it lower down. I think when the additional instrumentation comes in at 1:51- it starts to feel a little bit muddy. I think when it comes to mixing- every piece of the puzzle has to take up its own space in the puzzle. I would pull all the reverb off, and find where each instrument should exist prior to that.

I like your vocal style!! It’s really cool. Hi!!!!!

Ben March 2, 2024 6:28pm

@@juliapiker When I mix I do a single bus for my vocals with compression/EQ/reverb, but in this case I wanted a different reverb setting for the chorus part. But I don’t do a reverb on the master. So for this song there are a bunch of different reverbs happening all together. Is a single master reverb cleaner?

I’ll definitely experiment with a different octave on the piano, that’s a great suggestion. It sounds like you’re saying to mix without reverb on in order to find where everything should live? Will you please teach a mixing class for the book club??

And regarding my vocals, thanks! I’m very self-conscious about the sound of my voice but this group has been giving me nice props.

nick March 2, 2024 9:15am

Yeah i’m into this vibe. One of my favorite parts is the polyrhythmic clicky-clacky percussion part at 1:14. (castanets, maybe?)

Almost like some early U2 vibes in the outro (and i mean that in the best way possible, big early fan). And the heavy strumming electric guitar for the whole outro is the kind of track that’s most susceptible to rushing, but I think you did a great job either playing or editing it to align with drums—kudos!

Ben March 2, 2024 2:10pm

Thanks! I got some wooden spoons for the holidays, and I was determined to find a use for them.

I never thought I’d have a U2 sound—but I hear what you’re saying! I definitely went a little stadium rock. After last submission’s comments, I was really focused on locking in my rhythms more tightly, I’m glad it made a difference!

EliasSZ February 29, 2024 6:57pm

Wooo Lydian mode! Song title not too pretentious but the name is missing a c actually (Schrödinger).

In terms of the song, the second part really starts hitting in very effectively – really love the guitar tone around 3:00 (and when the piano doubles it). I wasn’t losing attention in the slow bits, but think there is space in for something to help build tension/anticipation/yearning or something – and I think it’d help the moment that second section hits feel very satisfying.

Ben March 2, 2024 2:12pm

A typo? Fuck.

I like your suggestion—I could see teasing some of the electric guitar in the earlier sections. Thanks!

Ben February 26, 2024 2:16pm

This is great. I’m particularly a fan of the second part. Especially from 4:00 to the end! I’d looove to listen to a full length version of that section. Love the driving drums, the background vocals, the vocal melody, and your vocal tone. It’s got some 80s-90s Chris Isaak, Roxy Music, Brian Eno, Bryan Ferry, David Byrne, David Bowie stuff going on.

A tiny bit of minor rhythmic tweaking and scooting to line up the rhythm section instruments in that outro, and you’ve got an absolutely perfect section. What are you thoughts on giving that outro its own song? I’d listen to that song.

Nice work on this!

Carseat February 26, 2024 11:09am

Love the space you gave the mix — the reverb you added in the beginning created such a nice little blanket for everything to sit on. I would have loved for the louder parts to have that same blanket, but I also appreciated that I could hear all that was going on. Again, nice job — love the ending too hahah!

Ben February 26, 2024 2:05pm

the blanket metaphor is a good one. The first half of the song sounds like it’s a different room than the second, which is cool.

stonewindow February 28, 2024 11:06am

Love all of your many ideas and the fact that they work together in my opinion. The end has a Roxy, Eno flavor. I love those bands. Held my attention the entire time including the slow beginning.

What key Lydian mode? I’m working on learning the mode thing. It’s taking some time to assimilate modes in my brain.

Ben February 28, 2024 1:01pm

Thanks y’all!

Here’s my understanding of the song vis-a-vis Lydian mode—I’m no expert, so someone pipe in if I’ve gotten anything wrong.

The chords to the verse are: G D Bm F# / G D Bm A

So, we’re in the key of G, which normally has one sharp – F#. However, with the F# and A chords, we’re also hearing lots of C#, which isn’t normally in the key of G. (Perhaps the first time you heard the F# and A chords, your brain twisted a little bit.) With an F# and C#, that really points more towards being in the key of D, but we’re obviously not in D. So if you play the notes in a D scale but start on a G, that’s G Lydian mode—or the G scale with a sharp 4th.

There are seven modes for each of the seven notes you could start a scale on. Playing a C scale but starting with A—that’s just A minor. Minor ain’t nothing but a mode of major! 🤯

(Ok, the F# chord also has an A# in it… but I think we should just write that off as a funky accidental.)

I then switch to “normal” G when it hits that chorus(?) thing at 1:50. The chords there are C G C Am. With that C and Am, we’re back to a normal G pattern. Or maybe it’s in C, I don’t know. The last time we hear it, it goes C G C A—switching to the A major brings us back to Lydian mode.

The ending riff is Em D A—with that A major, I think we’re still in G lydian.

Dreams by Fleetwood Mac is the simplest song of all time, but it’s technically in Lydian. It’s just F and G. Normally we hear Gm in the key of F, but since it’s a sharp 4th… Lydian! Also, Man on the Moon by REM, and the Legend of Zelda theme. This was a fun rabbit hole to dive into.