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Thread: How to remember tunes?

  1. #51

    Default Re: How to remember tunes?

    I'm not saying it's easy, but if you can play what you hum, you don't really have to remember much, depending upon one's repertiore. I mostly play old Country and some Bluegrass. I don't know what the next tune will be, let alone the key. I sorta quickly relearn it, whatever the tune. I listen to/for melodic commonality, rather than differences. This is your own private Magic trick. Do not reveal or discuss this. I found it irritates other players, to reveal certain beloved tunes sound like another. Like you've announced the Emperror is naked. Oh, BTW, to practice this, i used to try to play along with the radio: Find the key, try to play along. Repeat. Repeat. Etc.

  2. #52
    Worlds ok-ist mando playr Zach Wilson's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to remember tunes?

    You know what my Dad always told me; Repetition is the Mother of all learning.

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    Default Re: How to remember tunes?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    I donít think you need ďextreme agilityĒ to hum a melody. It just helps connect what you hear in your head with what you want to play. Also, nothing wrong with listening and analysis. It is all helpful in the process. Are you able to learn a melody by ear? Or play a call and response with someone else on the fly without notation? I would think so. The proof is in your experience but you also have to try it.

    A tune I want to learn I listen to it, sing in the shower or while driving. Then try to play it. If I canít remember I go back to recording or sheet music, maybe analyze parts I have trouble with and continue to have that tune playing in my brainís playlist. It is all part of the process.

    Consider the following six examples

    Fig. F is Monroeís Lonesome Moonlight Waltz. Itís very songlike, and I could sing it (an octave lower, of course) when I learned it about 40 years ago. But I havenít practised singing for many years, for lack of interest. I needed to hear it once through to get it. Working up a presentable and personal version was a different matter, of course. And it keeps changing.

    Fig. E is Zambesi. A while back,as an experiment, I tried to work out as much of it as I could, from memory. It has four sections, and I easily recalled two of them. Listening to a recording I found that the missing two were really easy; the ones I knew were simply the giveaway sections, so when I play that song today I improvise variations on the ďmissingĒ sections . I canít sing that melody at all.

    Fig. D is High Level Hornpipe. In the beginning it rises an octave and a sixth within one and a half bars. How does one hum that one?


    Fig. C is Rutlandís Reel. The main difficulty to a singer (or me) is rising a minor sixth after the beginning smaller intervals.

    Fig. B is from Benny Martinís Fiddlerís Waltz, a showpiece in many sections. It was fairly easy to transcribe except for the next-to-last section, a long stream of eighth notes with almost no recurring figures. This phrase covers two octaves and a third within three bars. I will be thankful for tips on how to sing it.

    Fig. A is my all time favorite fiddle tune Brillancy as I learned it from Howdy Forresterís recording in 1965.
    It has a large range, two octaves and a fourth. Although Iíve played it for 55 years, and taught it to a banjo player friend and recorded with him and two other players in 1969, I cannot sing it, hence I donít know it. A bit paradoxical, donít you think?


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  4. #54
    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to remember tunes?

    It is sufficient for me to hum key parts of a tune, abridging difficult jumps is allowed. Nothing for Carnegie Hall, but it's memorization magic.
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    Default Re: How to remember tunes?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    I donít think you need ďextreme agilityĒ to hum a melody.
    Itís a bit unfortunate that there are (at least) two threads dealing with the same topic. i was distracted by a later thread and neglected this one. So, letís return here.

    According to my dictionary humming is a mode of singing ó wordlessly with closed lips. Singing a melody means producing the actual notes with your vocal apparatus, on pitch and in time. Pitch is controlled by varying the tension in your vocal cords. That, of course, like any other musical instrument, requires training; also, (musically) very simple melodies may be very demanding, not to say acrobatic. to some people.

    Range is an obvious issue.
    I gave a few very TYPICAL examples earlier and NO ONE even commented on these. E.g., one two bar segment covers a major tenth in one single breath, which Iíve never been capable of.

    ďTypicalĒ means typical of the type of material that attracted me to the mandolin, since much of it is not very easy to execute even on my first instrument, the guitar (with many awkward string changes).

    Your counterargument is: ďI donít think you need ďextreme agilityĒ to hum a melodyĒ.

    You then go on to refer to skills that have nothing to do with singing. Niles Hokkanen gave a very instructive example in the other thread, an article by Sir James Galway recounting how, as a child he and his classmates were drilled in singing long scales and arpeggios. thereby illusrating the importance of early training. I can, at least in a limited range, produce a shaky major arpeggio of one octave and I can feel and hear that Iím using the root and the fifth as orientation points. I donít have the training to go beyond a longer sequence of changes in vocal cord tension and I have rarely needed it.

    E.g., in some earlier thread Hokkanen suggested finding the chords to a fiddle tune by singing it and fishing for the chords on the mandolin. If I had depended on that
    remarkable skill to find the chords to, Brilliancy (four chords) I would never have succeeded. Instead I listened, which I believe is the standard method.

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    Default Re: How to remember tunes?

    Singing is easy, it's just like Talking...

    Except louder and longer

    And you move your voice up And down.
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    Registered User Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to remember tunes?

    I wasn't born with the memory gene, so I practice improvising.

    No tune I play sounds the same way twice. Which is fine, because my goal isn't to copy anything. It's to make songs sound good. So if I can just remember a few scales and fit them in, mission accomplished.

    You might not be a strong memorizer, either. No crime! Identify and hone the talents you do have. I'll never pull off "Ashokan Farewell" (yes, I've tried), but Jay Unger isn't playing any of my tunes, either.

    Anyhow, your post nailed the one most important thing: You're having a blast! That means you'll stick with it, and that means you'll get somewhere.

    The best single piece of advice I know: Play with other people. Regardless of level, that will improve a picker's playing faster than any other kind of practice. And you'll be surprised at how much comes back to you if you click with other players.
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  8. #58

    Default Re: How to remember tunes?

    Vis a vis the debate about 'snging' - recall that processes vary in the body/mind pertaining to local and nonlocal functions. Considering disparate methods/experiences in "hearing" vs "playing," etc, the act of singing NOS would seem to affect us significantly different from playing/not singing in any number of ways. I'm no neuro-linguist but this seems to have some meaning/distinction. I'm not seeing this on a "need to sing" vs "no you don't" level. Some wild mushroom eating anthropologists/theorists have a lot to say on processes of language and audition.

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    Default Re: How to remember tunes?

    [QUOTE=ralph johansson;1844342]It’s a bit unfortunate that there are (at least) two threads dealing with the same topic. i was distracted by a later thread and neglected this one. So, let’s return here.

    According to my dictionary humming is a mode of singing — wordlessly with closed lips. Singing a melody means producing the actual notes with your vocal apparatus, on pitch and in time. Pitch is controlled by varying the tension in your vocal cords. That, of course, like any other musical instrument, requires training; also, (musically) very simple melodies may be very demanding, not to say acrobatic. to some people.

    Range is an obvious issue.
    I gave a few very TYPICAL examples earlier and NO ONE even commented on these. E.g., one two bar segment covers a major tenth in one single breath, which I’ve never been capable of.

    Correction: Majortenth ->Two octaves and a third.

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    Default Re: How to remember tunes?

    I hope you also find that learning tunes by listening to them is a cumulative process that increases in efficacy the more you do it. Someday you'll pick out a tune and realise you've heard it before, but you won't remember having playing it - because you haven't!

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    Registered User Simon DS's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to remember tunes?

    You guys have probably already tried humming a tune, and then humming it again but much quieter.
    Finally you can hum the tune without making any noise, and in fact without using any vocal muscles.
    Now you are humming a tune, without humming it!
    But you can follow the tune in your mind, and you are still using the same part of the brain that you would usually use to hum.

    And the question about ‘Extreme agility’, it's important to remember that this site is on the worldwide web, lots of different languages, as well as a lot of different meanings and interpretations within the English language

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    Default Re: How to remember tunes?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pittsburgh Bill View Post
    I, too, have a hard time remembering tunes. I have used all the methods I have previously read about in this forum and they have helped, but I still find it more difficult than I think it should be. I do recommend searching through the Cafe for tips for remembering tunes.
    Once I have memorized or almost memorized a tune I put it on a list with the following; TITLE KEY 1ST TWO MEASURES WITH WORDS /NOTES. When preparing a set list I can pull the tunes I want and print out a list with the info. Not full proof but I don't go blank as often.
    I do envy those with the talent and memory to be like an encyclopedia of tunes.
    Make set lists. Group your songs together by theme - These are Irish fiddle tunes, these are Irish drinking tunes, these are sea shanties, these are bluegrass tunes about a guy who owns a still. If one song fits on several lists, then put it on several lists. Slowly fill out your set lists until each list has around ten songs on it. Add some country & blues songs and you can easily have 6-8 set lists before every long.

    Practice each set until you can play the whole set list all the way through from memory. Then commit the next set list to memory. Then the next.

    Then when you sit down to practice, just pick two set lists that you know by heart and play them straight through from memory. The next day pick the next two set lists. In four days you'll have worked your way through all the songs you have, and that will keep them all fresh.

    Most songs are ~3 minutes long. Ten songs is 30 minutes of music. So playing two set lists is an hour of music, an hour of practice.

    Once you have several sets down, then playing a two or three hour block at a festival or parking lot jam will be easy.
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    Default Re: How to remember tunes?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mitch Stein View Post
    Singing is easy, it's just like Talking...

    Except louder and longer

    And you move your voice up And down.

    Your post makes me feel like a huge exception. Seems I'm alone in not having nearly the training or natural talent to sing (one octave lower, of course) the two examples below, both from Benny Martin's Fiddler's Waltz. I haven't the slightest idea how or what to practise to get there (perhaps someone can advise me?). The first example was very easy to transcribe, because of its clear and symmetric structure. But it transcends what used to be my entire vocal range, in one single breath. The second one was trickier, because there are no obvious symmetries and repeats. Also there are no rests. You might like to try it. If you don't read standard ntation you can follow Howdy Forrester's recording on YouTube.

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    Default Re: How to remember tunes?

    Quote Originally Posted by ralph johansson View Post
    Your post makes me feel like a huge exception. Seems I'm alone in not having nearly the training or natural talent to sing (one octave lower, of course) the two examples below, both from Benny Martin's Fiddler's Waltz. I haven't the slightest idea how or what to practise to get there (perhaps someone can advise me?). The first example was very easy to transcribe, because of its clear and symmetric structure. But it transcends what used to be my entire vocal range, in one single breath. The second one was trickier, because there are no obvious symmetries and repeats. Also there are no rests. You might like to try it. If you don't read standard ntation you can follow Howdy Forrester's recording on YouTube.
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    Registered User Simon DS's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to remember tunes?

    I tend to play just the A part until I’ve got it, then I move onto the B part and look for similarities to the A part.
    I’ll often spend more time on the B part even though there will be some A part bits in it.

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    Default Re: How to remember tunes?

    Quote Originally Posted by Simon DS View Post
    You guys have probably already tried humming a tune, and then humming it again but much quieter.
    Finally you can hum the tune without making any noise, and in fact without using any vocal muscles.
    Now you are humming a tune, without humming it!
    But you can follow the tune in your mind, and you are still using the same part of the brain that you would usually use to hum.

    And the question about ‘Extreme agility’, it's important to remember that this site is on the worldwide web, lots of different languages, as well as a lot of different meanings and interpretations within the English language
    But the huge step is FROM just imagining stuff in your head (I've written a couple of tunes, and devised several arrangements that way) TO humming, i.e., using your vocal muscles And, according to Pete Martin, that's the decisive step :"if you can't sing it, you can't play it". I asked him to explain and got no answer.

    Not sure I understand your concluding sentence. Is it your opinion that the examples I've posted in this thread pose no particular technical demands on the singer?

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    Registered User Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to remember tunes?

    Quote Originally Posted by Skip Kelley View Post
    Doug, Dan gave you good advice. Listen to recorded versions of the songs you are wanting to remember. I once heard Steve Kaufman say the best way to commit tunes to memory is to play that particular tune all the way through once you learn it at least 25 times before you stop.
    Maybe use a practice session to play just one song. When I was playing a lot, I would play a new tune at a comfortable speed using a metronome, gradually speeding up until I started making mistakes and then slow it down until I started making mistakes. That worked well for me.
    The number varies, but I've heard advice like that. It's probably good advice for those who can pull it off, but it boggles me. Twenty-five? I've been playing guitar regularly since '68, and there isn't a single song I can get right twenty-five times in a row. Things just don't stick to my Teflon brain. Three or four in a row is about the best I can do. So I just practice them and play through my mistakes and omissions and have learned not to worry about it.
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    Registered User Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to remember tunes?

    Quote Originally Posted by Zach Wilson View Post
    You know what my Dad always told me; Repetition is the Mother of all learning.
    And not just in music! Cesar Chavez said the three rules to organizing are: repetition, repetition, repetition.
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    Registered User Simon DS's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to remember tunes?

    I keep a repertoire book of all the tunes I’ve recorded.
    I play other tunes too, and often play by ear, but the repertoire book is the one that gets rehearsed from time to time.
    Basically if I record a tune I want it to be in my head too.

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