top of page

The Red Devil Dreams of Numbers

Evan Williams
7 min 45 sec

For those who play the lottery or “the numbers,” choosing which numbers to play can often become a very personal endeavor. Birthdays and ages of loved ones, anniversaries, and other meaningful dates and numbers are common to play. Yet some take it a step further.

A variety of “dream books” are released each year promising to help those playing the lottery through “numerology.” A would-be lotto player is encouraged to recall their dreams, and consult the book to receive a set of numbers to play. The dreamer finds general terms like, “dog,” airplane,” and “love” that appeared in their dream. These terms yield sets of numbers that they can then play, and hopefully get lucky. One’s own name, the name of a loved one, or the day’s date can also be translated into digits that can be played.

One such numerology guide is The Lucky Red Devil Combination Dream Book and Numerology Guide, released yearly. Employing this book, I recorded my nightly dreams for about a month, and translated the given digits into pitch material to create this work, The Red Devil Dreams of Numbers. While dreams were used construct it, the piece is not meant to be a programmatic retelling of the dreams. Since the dreams only served to generate pitch material, very often music generated from pleasant dreams yielded intense pitch collections, and troubling dreams often generated rather pleasant pitch collections. The effect can be somewhat fragmented and jumbled, just like the nature of dreams themselves.

Inspiration for this work came from an episode of the podcast, Criminal, called “The Numbers,” profiling the underground numbers games in Detroit’s African American community run by Fannie Davis for 30 years, beginning in 1950.

The Red Devil Dreams of Numbers was written for Michael Mizrahi and commissioned jointly by the Wisconsin Music Teachers Association and the Music Teachers National Association. It was premiered virtually at the WMTA 2020 Conference on October 23, 2020.

A Seat At The Piano welcomes you to pull up a bench and join our generous family of supporters! If ASAP has helped you, please consider donating to help us keep growing. Click here to donate.

bottom of page