Fever Dreams

page one of Fever Dreams

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Full details

I have deliberately kept from revising this old (2003) piece until the time was right. Fever Dreams was conceived and written while suffering from a severe bout of influenza and subsequent bronchitis, and I wanted to describe in music the subjective feeling of such illness. After hearing a report that a new outbreak of influenza was already endemic on the West Coast of the USA, I made a note: It’s time.

Influenza is the Italian word for "influence." In the 15th century, before the germ theory of disease was conceived, influenza was thought to be caused by the influence of a sinister position of the stars – just as mal aria was ascribed to bad air, and lunacy was caused by the moon. Curiously, the Italians no longer refer to influenza by that name but now call it riossidazione. In most other countries, the infection is known as la grippe.

People catch an average of three viral respiratory infections a year. I have been lucky and have not had one this winter, but if you find yourself overcome by those pesky viral invaders trying to hijack your genetic material, you need to listen to my music. Why? Because nothing else will help you. Over-the-counter nostrums, especially the ones advertised on television, are completely ineffective and may even do harm. Studies have shown that people who take aspirin and other fever-reducing palliatives during a respiratory infection suffer worse colds and longer-lasting colds. Drugs interfere with the one thing that does cure the infection – fever. Fever is your immune system’s own way of killing the invaders, and it turns your body from an incubator to an incinerator. Fever works for you. It is your friend. Do not interfere with fever!

Since this music is intended to mimic and compliment your fever, it can only help your immune system do its job. And so, dear friends, at the first sign of these symptoms– > Alternately burning up with fever then experiencing teeth-chattering chills; > Inflammation and spasms in your sinuses so that your throbbing head feels like it’s in a vise; > Interstitial pneumonia and congestion which makes your lungs feel like they’re filled with molten lava; (This is often caused by a secondary, bacterial, infection and was known by the term catarrh.) Painful coughing; > Tinnitus > Galloping borborygmi –listen to this music. Repeat as necessary.

Of course, along with a high fever, you are subject to intense, hallucinatory dreams –Fever Dreams– that are more terrifying than any horror movie. A battle for your genetic material is raging inside you, and in such a situation your brain reacts with the primal emotion of fear. Such dreams often come in waves; you awake from one, lie there suffering in the dark, then fall back into another; over and over again, until finally, you awake drenched with perspiration. The fever has broken – you’re better. Or, alternately, thousands die of the flu each year. Either way, this is the music for it.

Score ID
Year of composition
Difficult (Grades 7+)
9 minutes
Modern classical music
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Cover art for Fever Dreams

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