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Song Retention

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(@vic-lewis-vl)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 10340
 

I don't have any problems these days learning new songs - once I've learned the riffs, chords, fills, solos etc and practised 'em a few hundred times, they're there for good. The problem I have these days is remembering lyrics - even to songs I've known for over 40 years! Seems there's only a limited capacity in my brain for music-related information - the more chords I learn, the more riffs, whatever, seems the more I lose lyrics along the way

And yes, that applies to my own songs too!!! I think of the 100-plus songs I've written on SSG topics I could remember the exact lyrics to two, possibly three at most.

Save me a nice room in the nursing home, KR - oh, and one of those plaid blankets.....

:D :D :D

Vic

.

"Sometimes the beauty of music can help us all find strength to deal with all the curves life can throw us." (D. Hodge.)


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(@hyperborea)
Prominent Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 833
 

So, the question is..why? Old age? Limited attention span? Has my brain reached capacity? Please tell me that I am not alone.

One thing that helps memorization is to review the item again before it has gone from your memory. Each time you review it the longer it takes to slip from memory again. This was the basis behind a studying system that I learned as an undergrad (they had a workshop on this and I went because I was a bad studier in high school - I got by on brute force).

Anyways, the system would have you review your class notes at the end of every week, then again at the end of the month, and finally at the end of the semester. It really worked for me. I suppose for something longer term like music you want to remember then perhaps another review a year later if you haven't used it by then.

Another thing to think about is, are you working it from the sheet music when you practice it or are you trying to work it from memory only? If you are working from the sheets then you should try and wean yourself from them as you learn the song. Start off by putting them to your side so that if you forget you can look but it's inconvenient and then move them gradually further away until finally you've got them put away and will have to get them out. It really helps you try harder to recall the information as you practice rather than just glancing at the sheets.

Pop music is about stealing pocket money from children. - Ian Anderson


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(@blueline)
Noble Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 1705
Topic starter  

You know Hyper...the funny thing is, I'm talking about songs that I learned by ear. No sheet music. I actaully took the time to get them down by ear. You would think that by using that method, I would retain them longer since it took, somewhat, more time to learn. There are a mixture of songs were I've written them down after having figured them out. But still same result.

Not all songs. I do remember some. But I'd say a majority of the stuff I "know" I don't know. (huh)? If my friend has to show me the chords to All the Young Dudes one more time, I think he's gonna shoot me.

I think one of the things that is contributing to this is the fact that I don't bother learning the note's names past the 5th fret and I have a very limited knowledge of theory. I mean, If I knew the actual name of the B chord I was just playing on the 7th frett (for instance) I might remember the chord progressions better.

I think. Maybe. I'm old. I have an excuse. Where's the plaid blankets?

Teamwork- A few harmless flakes working together can unleash an avalanche of destruction.


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(@chris-c)
Famed Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 3460
 

Where's the plaid blankets?

Get yer hands off, I'm still using it...


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(@stormymonday)
Reputable Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 436
 

For whatever reason, I've got quite a knack for remembering these things. There are songs I've only played once or twice years ago and I could tell you today the key of the song if not the actual chords without having played it in forever. Now playing it well is another story.


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 Cat
(@cat)
Noble Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 1225
 

Developing my ear and feeling for the logic and possibilities of music has become the goal for me now, rather than trying to rote learn stuff. Who cares if we take the high road or the low road, we still enjoy the view..... Chris

Great to hear that you've arrived, Chris!!!

Ya know, even those just starting out spend most of their time "learning". Sure, teaching is necessary...you absorb a chord/practice a related scale...then take to looking over sheet music and ka-chunking along following the chords over the lyrics.

Lots of that...but then you get to the point YOU'VE just reached and get to the "possibilities of music". THAT's where it's AT!

FEEL what you play...LISTEN to what each chord offers...suit your mood...then chase after it.

Wonderful, liberating instrument...

Cat

"Feel what you play...play what you feel!"


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(@rparker)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 5492
 

I think it's age related. I'm like most others. I've got a whole stack of semi-organized and sorted chord sheets. I know I don't have but a handful memorized. What's worse, if I sit down and start to play, I have a hard time remembering the titles that I remember all the way through.

Roy
"I wonder if a composer ever intentionally composed a piece that was physically impossible to play and stuck it away to be found years later after his death, knowing it would forever drive perfectionist musicians crazy." - George Carlin


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(@rahul)
Famed Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 2764
 

I forget stuff I make up, because I usually don't write it down, and I can't go Google it up!


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(@hyperborea)
Prominent Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 833
 

You know Hyper...the funny thing is, I'm talking about songs that I learned by ear. No sheet music. I actaully took the time to get them down by ear. You would think that by using that method, I would retain them longer since it took, somewhat, more time to learn. There are a mixture of songs were I've written them down after having figured them out. But still same result.

Once you've worked it out by ear do you write it down? Writing stuff down helps to burn it into the brain.

Do you take the stuff you've worked out and written down and try to compact it? You know identify the repeat sections, the looping back (you see this as d.s. al coda or other types of repeats), the overall form? This reduces the volume of what you need to remember.

How about abstracting what you worked out? Do you figure out that it's a certain type of progression (e.g. I-IV-I-V with two bars for each chord) for each of the sections? If it's leads do you remember it as what kind of movement along a scale or other ways to "compress" what you need to remember? Personally, I'm just starting to do this abstracting and it's hard but it will get easier the more I do it and not only help me remember stuff but help my theory knowledge too.

A good source that I've used for this is the book The Practice Revolution. It's a book geared towards music teachers but it has a lot of great ideas for practicing, memorization, etc. that an adult self-learner can use.

Pop music is about stealing pocket money from children. - Ian Anderson


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(@ignar-hillstrom)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 5384
 

I have no memory to speak of. I can't remember a song for any longer then three days at most if I dont play them. Of the 200+ songs I wrote in the past two years I can play less then five right now. I cannot play any cover.


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(@ricochet)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 7850
 

If song retention were like fluid retention, we'd get better at it with age.

"A cheerful heart is good medicine."


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(@chris-c)
Famed Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 3460
 

If song retention were like fluid retention, we'd get better at it with age.
:)

Up to a point...

After that, leakage of fluids happens even more uncontrollably than memory leaks.


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 KR2
(@kr2)
Famed Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 2725
 

You mean I'm going to lose body fluids faster than my mind?
This does not make good imagery.
(Picturing me lost, dehydrated, and staggering around in a puddle.)
I'm going to another thread now.
KR2

It's the rock that gives the stream its music . . . and the stream that gives the rock its roll.


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(@phillyblues)
Estimable Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 127
 

I'm glad this topic got posted, I've only been playing for a year but lately have been getting a little disheartened by how hard a time I'm having retaining songs, particulalry longer songs. Seems like my brain only has enough room for 12 bars at a time.


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 Cat
(@cat)
Noble Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 1225
 

Hey, Philly...

If ya "feel" whatever it is you are playing...it's "yours"...you own it. Don't sweat the grey matter's retention capacity.

Cat

"Feel what you play...play what you feel!"


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