Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Dream Theater

. Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Dream Theater is one of my favorite bands. They're genre has been described as "progressive metal". The following is a cut and paste from Wikipedia describing all of the symbology behind their latest album - Octavarium.

Due to its unusual name, many Dream Theater fans speculated on what they believe to be the meaning of the album's title.

First it is remarkable that the album should not even be called Octavarium first but Octave. Though when prog rock band Spock's Beard released their (also eighth) album Octane earlier in 2005, Dream Theater decided to differentiate its name a bit more from that.

Some thought that the title referred to Octavarium Romanum, which was a book of Catholic liturgy referring to a period known as the Octave. There is also a similarity to the musical Octave: Root, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, Octave - and the title of the first track is "The Root of All Evil". Others theorized that the title came from Latin words meaning "Various Eight", since it has eight tracks and the band has said that the eight songs on the record are all of different styles. However, this is incorrect Latin; the Latin word for eight is "octo," not "octa," and "varium" is singular when it would need to be plural. This theory may have come from the fact that Octavarium is the band's eighth album, since "octavus" is Latin for "eighth".

Yet another interpretation was that the "-arium" suffix is used to denote a place where something is held, in this case musical octaves. This turns out to be the closest to the truth, when the lyrics from the title track ("Trapped inside this Octavarium") are considered, creating a portmanteau from the words octave and aquarium.

It is also interesting to note that Octavarium follows a pattern started in Dream Theater's 6th studio album, Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence, which had 6 songs and the word six in the title. The next CD, Train of Thought, contained 7 tracks, and Octavarium follows both of these apparent "trends" with 8 songs and a title related to the number eight.

Every song of the album is in a different minor key, starting with F, then G, A, B, C, D, E, and returning to F. This is evident by the treble clef staves in the liner notes.

Many fans have made observations about the recurrances of 5s and 8s in the album art, possibly a reference to the Golden ratio, very common in art throughout history and in Nature itself. The name Octavarium itself has 5 syllables, while connotating 8. The use of 5s and 8s stems from the number of natural notes (white keys on a piano) and black keys (sharp/flat notes) in an octave. It may also refer to the number of members in the band from its inception in 1985 to 2005, Octavarium being the band's 8th studio album, and the subsequent "Score" being their fifth live album.

Several of the blatant 5 and 8 references in the album are:

On the cover, there is a Newton's Cradle with eight pendulums, which have five birds in between them, and the birds are arranged in the same pattern as piano keys (with the black birds representing flats and sharps and the balls of the pendulum representing the natural notes).

On the spine of the album there are piano keys in an octave.

The dominoes add up to five and eight.

The octopus has eight legs and there are five fish around it.

The stop sign has eight sides.

The star (which has five "legs") is inside of an octagon (which has eight sides) also the scale of the star and octagon is – 5:8.

The spider has eight legs and is inside an octagon which has eight sides and five "layers." Also, the maze itself has 8 doorways amongst the layers.

There is a billiards eight-ball on the space behind where the CD is.

Another thing is that there are eight references to five and eight, and the star in the octagon has musical keys written around it that go in a circle of fifths. This is ignoring the fact that the band didn't actually create the cover art. Hugh Syme, who is known for creating art for music of the genre, conceived of and made the artwork for this album, rather than Dream Theater.

The Newton's Cradle on the cover and the musical hooks connecting all the songs together lyrically and melodically have also given rise to the theory that the entire album is intended to be a concept album portraying continuity.

An in-depth analysis of the entire album can be found here.

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