How can a song sound like a dream?
- “reality” seems:
- often predictable
- linear (esp. with resp. to time)
- for a song to sound like a dream, it can be “unrealistic.” e.g.:
- unstable - no fixed rooms for reverb
- changing spontaneously + dynamic in unusual ways
- irregular in some other way
- idealistic - you are the clear protagonist, everybody/everything is good, agreeing with you, supporting you, you and everybody/everything good are happy, your enemies are bad, punished, the clear antagonist
- non-linear time, perception of time manipulated - e.g. changing tempos, abnormal/unexpected repetition of musical ideas/sounds (to simulate memory, a primary mechanism of dreaming)
- dream (song) clichés:
- Something at the end signifying that it was just a dream (e.g. an alarm clock, mom telling you to wake up, etc.)
If your song is dream-like enough, you shouldn’t have to say it was just a dream.
- A floaty sound; a lot of reverb+delay with long tails, trying to detach the listener from fixed, linear time and make them feel like they’re floating
A similar technique is a film cliché—cross-fading among a wealth of images, of which often many are masked (i.e. cut-outs) (sort of like vividly recollecting visual memories).