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Thread: How long do you guys remember songs?

  1. #26
    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
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    Default Re: How long do you guys remember songs?

    Quote Originally Posted by stevo58 View Post
    I still catch myself singing MAD Magazine musical parodies from the mid-60s. “Hello, Deli” and “Ground Round” particularly often pop up in my head.

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  3. #27
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    Default Re: How long do you guys remember songs?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandobart View Post
    I don't forget the songs I learned by ear or had someone show me.

    I tend to be the same: if I learn it by ear it stays with me; if I learn it from the page I tend to forget it, or I can't play it without the page. When it comes to song lyrics, I almost always remember them if I ever liked the song. Musical memory is a strange thing.
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  4. #28
    Registered User Hendrik Ahrend's Avatar
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    Default Re: How long do you guys remember songs?

    Over the past 46 years I learned many songs both from just listening and listening/transcribing. Of those c. 500 songs I could still sing by heart about 20 years I may remember about 300 today. Learning doesn't seem to be as easy anymore at 59.

  5. #29
    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: How long do you guys remember songs?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hendrik Ahrend View Post
    Over the past 46 years I learned many songs both from just listening and listening/transcribing. Of those c. 500 songs I could still sing by heart about 20 years I may remember about 300 today. Learning doesn't seem to be as easy anymore at 59.
    Hey Hendrik, it's been awhile ... I haven't frequented the SAW group in a long while, I think it's time to check your site or YT and see what you've been up to

    Of course, I was being facetious with my post to this thread. All I can truly say is that at 68 I have trouble thinking of any song to play when put on the spot. As a guitar player, I've learned roughly a thousand or more songs since 1966 and several dozen as a child before that, but remembering one is sometimes difficult. I have to purposely practice a half a dozen or so before each gig so that I'll have something other than awkward silence when my partner gives me the nod.

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  6. #30
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: How long do you guys remember songs?

    Quote Originally Posted by Donn1958 View Post
    How many songs do you guys remember by memory only?
    Its the way my brain is wired. I can remember the note sequence of a tune for just about ever. It feels like I can remember every tune I ever learned.

    Like remembering phone numbers (before cell phones contact lists). My head is filled with a gazzilion phone numbers, my own in the past, work phones from the past, friends from the past, girlfriends from the past, just stacked to the rafters.

    But... I cannot remember whose number they are. I remember both the old friend and the phone number, but the mental correlation of one to the other is gone. And the same is true of many tunes. I know the tune, I may need a bump to get it started but I still have it, but I don't have the name of the tune. So someone will say to me: "Hey Jeff do you remember this? Yomdedittlededittlededittle. Yomdedittlede di di de di." And bang I will pick the mandolin and play it. No clue what tune I am recalling.

    And I have a ton of tune names of course, whose playing I cannot start without a bump.

    Some further explanation is required. I know the tune, I can play the note sequence without error, but for a tune from days gone by the smoothness is gone, The dynamics and the phrasing may be off, the double stop and chord stuff may be off and hard to restore without running through the tune a few times. The sequence of notes is there however. I will remember which tune comes next if I used to play it in a set. May not (probably won't) remember the names, but I can play all the tunes in the set. And after running a few times through I can play them just about as well as I ever could.

    I cannot give any useful advice, it is just they way the shelving is in my brain, and has always been. I am not good at memorizing or remembering lyrics, or poetry, or addresses or torque specifications or wire gauges or standard voltages or anything. It is a connection with muscles, because when I recall an old old phone number my finger will air dial it, and an old tune, my left hand will twitch as well.
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  7. #31
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: How long do you guys remember songs?

    One time, years ago, to win a bet, I had to play all the tunes I could remember. The rule was play each tune three times, go to the next tune without significant hesitation, no stopping, no repeats. I went four hours. One tune would remind me of another, and I could do an Irish polka series, and then every waltz, and then run through set lists in my mind ... For four freaking hours. I played until I had to run to the bathroom.

    It doesn't count because it was a stunt and in my mind was not musical or performing. The prize was a bottle of something if I remember.
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  8. #32
    Registered User Hendrik Ahrend's Avatar
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    Default Re: How long do you guys remember songs?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Gunter View Post

    My apologies Hendrik, I had you confused with Hendrik Luurtsema ... I'm showing my age today
    No problem at all, Mark. Hope we get to see each some time down the road.

  9. #33
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    Default Re: How long do you guys remember songs?

    Quote Originally Posted by Donn1958 View Post
    My normal routine is to learn a new song, normally takes A week or two. I add it to my practice session. I end up with about 6 or 7 songs Iím currently playing by memory. As I go forward the oldest song that Iíve learned falls off the practice list. If I go back to my notes / tab of an older song I can play it again but need to work out the parts Iíve forgotten. How many songs do you guys remember by memory only? I sometimes feel like I should be able to remember more than I do. Just curious how others go about practice and do you work your older stuff in? I donít seem to have the time to practice a lot of songs while spending most of my time on the new stuff. Thx for your input .
    Reading all the posts I am impressed how many of you know so many songs by memory. I have maybe 6 songs that I can play from at will. But if I donít play one for a month or so I have to go back and refresh my memory. I try to set aside some time every week to play them

  10. #34
    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: How long do you guys remember songs?

    Something to keep in mind with all these posts is that in many cases we're talking about different things that we're memorizing.

    If you play chords to accompany songs, then you're not actually playing the melody line, you're memorizng the chord sequence. You'll have the melody line from the vocals in your head as a guide, but it doesn't go direct to your fingers. There is a certain amount of slack, where if you can't remember exactly how the melody goes but you can remember the chord sequence or just rely on genre standards like a I-IV-V 12-bar Blues then you're fine.

    If you improvise a lead break in a song then you're closer to the melody line, or at least you should be, but the underlying structure you're playing from memory is the chord movement.

    If you play mostly instrumentals ("fiddle tunes"), then you do have to memorize every single note of the melody line. But there is some slack here too, because many tunes are in "families" with similar phrasing. One classic comment from outsiders about Irish trad is that all the tunes sound alike.

    That isn't literally true, but there sure are some similarities between tunes. So much so, that I have to be careful not to put too many similar tunes in a set where it's easy to confuse the A and B parts. I think our brains rely on that familiarity to help us anticipate what comes next in a tune we're struggling to remember.

    Whether you're memorizing a chord sequence or a melody line, the brain manages to cope somehow, and I don't think one way is easier than the other.
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  11. #35
    Registered User Randi Gormley's Avatar
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    Default Re: How long do you guys remember songs?

    Oddly enough, I remember more when I'm playing faster. I know a fair amount of ITM tunes -- when you play the same sets of tunes for 10 years or so, it doesn't matter how many there are, you know them all -- but for stuff I learned once upon a time, I find that I'll pick it up much faster if I just let my fingers fly and don't think too hard about what I'm playing. With slower music, I have too much time to forget where I'm headed. Of course, when I say tunes, I mean melody, and I think melody, at least for me, is easier to remember than background sound. There's more to hang your hat on.
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  12. #36
    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: How long do you guys remember songs?

    That's interesting about remembering tunes more easily when playing faster. I think that gets into the dreaded topic of "muscle memory." I know that's a misnomer, but the brain does tend to embed patterns repeated enough over time, and tempo may be an essential part of it.

    I know I have trouble slowing down a tune to teach it to someone else by ear, breaking it down into slow phrases. I'll often forget how the next bit goes at a slow tempo because that's not how I'm used to playing it.

    So there's something going on there. Maybe a tune it doesn't fully embed in memory until it's played at the "right" tempo? Dance tunes in ITM don't really come alive and sound their best until they're played up to speed.
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  13. #37
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    Default Re: How long do you guys remember songs?

    That darn Ashland Breakdown, the 2nd and 3rd parts are so similar I get them confused, same with other tunes where the melody is very tight (short intervals between notes, like Sally Anne or Sally Goodin')
    I can "memorize" tunes from standard notation ( I can't really site read), but as stated it does seem easier to remember if you learn them by ear or from someone showing you.
    as for Lyrics I could recite the entirety of Dark Side of the Moon and Jesus Christ Superstar in my head on my paper route.
    Now days I can't remember the lyrics to "Christmas Time's a commin"
    Though I do pretty good with Gillian Welch lyrics.
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  14. #38
    Oval holes are cool David Lewis's Avatar
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    Default Re: How long do you guys remember songs?

    Iíve found if I do an arrangement of a song (melodic lines, chord inversions, chord melodies etc) I tend to remember it a bit more than just open chord strum strum stuff. Ymmv.
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    Default Re: How long do you guys remember songs?

    Like Bart, those that I learned by ear or someone showed me (whether live or on a YT video, live performance, etc,) come back without any issue. Those that I learned from tab or sheet music I tend to want the page in front of me. After playing something a gagillion times I really don't need to page, but like having it "in case." Probably because I tend to be a visual learner and that's how we did it back in the junior high band days when my mind was a sponge...
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