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Thread: How do you remember all those tunes?

  1. #51
    Registered User Simon DS's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do you remember all those tunes?

    You can use the Paul Hardy cheat-sheet but I think the .abc file (audio) version is better Improves hearing and recognition.
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/6bfka9ih30...Sheet.pdf?dl=0

    That one’s nice to have on your phone.

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  3. #52
    Registered User zoukboy's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do you remember all those tunes?

    A few things:

    1. DON'T source tunes from notation or tab. Learn them only by ear, at least for the first few months or a year (depending on how much time you have to practice). If you are trying to participate in an aural tradition, reading actually gets in the way.
    2. LISTEN to a tune for some time BEFORE attempting to play it on your instrument. A good rule of thumb is when you can sing it along with your audio/video recorded source, you are ready to learn it on your instrument.
    3. You don't really know a tune unless you can play it 3 times through with no mistakes. Prioritize ACCURACY rather than speed - it will improve your ear as well as your playing.
    4. Be patient and take the time that it takes! As I tell my students, no one can tell how long it took you to learn a tune once you've learned it and can play it perfectly.
    5. It is much better to write a tune down (either notation or tablature or both) AFTER you have learned it by ear, than to try and memorize it by reading the dots or tabs. Putting the writing/reading at the END of the tune learning process helps close the circle by checking your learning accuracy visually. This will also give you an archive of your tunes.
    6. Be patient! There is no substitute for learning your first 50-70 tunes (the number seems to be different for each person, but it's roughly 5-6 dozen). Almost every aural learner experiences a plateau around this stage, realizing that they have reached a new level of aural learning skills.
    7. Learn some of each type of tune: jigs, reels, hornpipes, slip jigs, slides, hop jigs, waltzes, mazurkas, O'Carolan tunes, set dances.
    8. All of this can be greatly facilitated by working with a teacher.

    Good luck!

    Quote Originally Posted by Ed McGarrigle View Post
    Ive been at it for 2 years. I’ve “learned” about 9 jigs, 3 polkas, 7 reels and 3 hornpipes. I’m starting to catch on a little quicker, for example this week’s lesson the A part of Monaghan Twig is coming along in just a few day,whereas I used to take a week for just 4 bars. I can play some tunes without a mistake by memory about 50% of the time ( i.e. The Hag’s Purse, THE Geese in the Bog, The Fairies, Bonaparte Crossing the Rhine) but those tend to be the more recent learns. Dipping into the back catalog can be a struggle. For example, yesterday trying to refresh Mrs. Crotty’s was just about like I never playedI it before . I had it down pretty well when we moved onto the next tune.Thank goodness for the Amazing Slow Downer!
    My teacher suggested I work on this week’s lesson daily as I do, and then alternate daily: Mondays, 2 jigs; Tuesday 2 reels; Wednesday 2 hornpipes; Thursday polkas. This seems like a good idea but given my pathetic attempt at Mrs Crotty’s I felt I had to devote more time to it today before this week’s lesson and 2 polkas.

    So, my question : How the heck do you keep all these tunes fresh?

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  5. #53
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    Default Re: How do you remember all those tunes?

    Quote Originally Posted by zoukboy View Post
    1. DON'T source tunes from notation or tab. Learn them only by ear, at least for the first few months or a year (depending on how much time you have to practice). If you are trying to participate in an aural tradition, reading actually gets in the way.
    For me, all of it helps - the sound gets you the style, dots on the page gets some kind of visual memory of the tune going (even if it's subconscious), and playing gets muscle memory of it. There are good reasons why learning by ear helps, but I never heard a convincing one to avoid looking at the tune in a book, if you have reading ability. Some folk traditions were categorised as 'aural' simply because before universal education, many of the people involved couldn't write words or music so didn't.

  6. #54
    Registered User Jill McAuley's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do you remember all those tunes?

    Quote Originally Posted by maxr View Post
    For me, all of it helps - the sound gets you the style, dots on the page gets some kind of visual memory of the tune going (even if it's subconscious), and playing gets muscle memory of it. There are good reasons why learning by ear helps, but I never heard a convincing one to avoid looking at the tune in a book, if you have reading ability. Some folk traditions were categorised as 'aural' simply because before universal education, many of the people involved couldn't write words or music so didn't.
    One good reason to avoid looking at a tune in a tune book is that the notes/ABC/Tab on the page become a "contextual cue", something you rely on, even when you've already internalised the tune and are capable of playing it from memory - the power of the contextual cue can act as a barrier to playing from memory. I'm not saying to avoid using those tools to learn a tune, but it's important for players to wean themselves off needing to see the notes/ABC/Tab as soon as possible or else they'll imbed that "cue" and the reliance on it.
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  8. #55
    Registered User zoukboy's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do you remember all those tunes?

    Quote Originally Posted by maxr View Post
    For me, all of it helps - the sound gets you the style, dots on the page gets some kind of visual memory of the tune going (even if it's subconscious), and playing gets muscle memory of it. There are good reasons why learning by ear helps, but I never heard a convincing one to avoid looking at the tune in a book, if you have reading ability. Some folk traditions were categorised as 'aural' simply because before universal education, many of the people involved couldn't write words or music so didn't.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jill McAuley View Post
    One good reason to avoid looking at a tune in a tune book is that the notes/ABC/Tab on the page become a "contextual cue", something you rely on, even when you've already internalised the tune and are capable of playing it from memory - the power of the contextual cue can act as a barrier to playing from memory. I'm not saying to avoid using those tools to learn a tune, but it's important for players to wean themselves off needing to see the notes/ABC/Tab as soon as possible or else they'll imbed that "cue" and the reliance on it.
    This is exactly right, and after forty years of teaching this music at all levels I will tell you to avoid those visual contextual cues when learning tunes if you 1. want to get good at learning by ear and 2. want to completely immerse yourself in the style.

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  10. #56
    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do you remember all those tunes?

    Quote Originally Posted by zoukboy View Post
    This is exactly right, and after forty years of teaching this music at all levels I will tell you to avoid those visual contextual cues when learning tunes if you 1. want to get good at learning by ear and 2. want to completely immerse yourself in the style.
    Amen to that, and especially #2 about immersing in the style. If you're playing Irish traditional music you're not going to sound very "Irish" if you don't use ornaments (not a great word, it just means articulating the notes), and those are never notated in sheet music. You're supposed to figure that out on your own, a kind of micro-improvisation to add lift and an "Irish" sound to the tune.

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  12. #57
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    Default Re: How do you remember all those tunes?

    I agree with most comments on reading above in certain contexts, but very much depends on what your objective is. I don't see why reading the tune should be any impediment to picking up a style, UNLESS where you're coming from is e.g. classical music and you're trying to pick up a folk style from scratch. Classically taught musicians are the one group of musicians who often can and do play exactly what's written on the page. That could slow down learning the rhythmic style in a folk context, and there are many rhythmic feels which doesn't sit comfortably 'on the dots', or are really difficult to notate exactly (so nobody does). However, if you've got the style down to some extent and you're looking to learn tunes (for e.g. a new band or session), then I find reading can really cut the time that takes.

    Then again, how many 'traditional' styles are set in stone, so all the fine traditional players play the same way? I'd venture relatively few, in fact is individuality not one of the defining characteristics of folk music? Does it help to see e.g. Irish ornamentation written out in dots? I'd say yes, providing you also listen to it being played.

    If like me you choose not to '...immerse yourself in the style..' (I prefer to lift stuff from several styles and do my own thing with it), and /or you need to put together a ceilidh band tune book in a reasonable length of time from a source of thousands of itunes, then being able to read fluently really helps. That's some of the reasons why I find reading very useful.

  13. #58
    Registered User Bren's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do you remember all those tunes?

    Quote Originally Posted by maxr View Post
    you need to put together a ceilidh band tune book in a reasonable length of time from a source of thousands of itunes, then being able to read fluently really helps. That's some of the reasons why I find reading very useful.
    It's been useful to me in that context. First time I was approached to - intermittently - help out the current ceilidh band, 15 years ago now (!) bandleader who I'd known since he was a teenager said " You'll ken the tunes".
    Well, I kent about half of them, we never had any rehearsals and I had to slot right in. Every now and then he'd send me "the dots" of some of the set tunes and I just had to work out the others or busk them.

    It's a funny thing, but many musicians have said the same, often I find it easier to remember a tune I used to know but haven't played for 30+ years than one I've been practising every day for the last six months.

    I've never recorded a session for the purpose of learning tunes. That would be a good and sensible thing to do I guess.
    Bren

  14. #59
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do you remember all those tunes?

    I don't think it matters how you learn the tune the first time, whether from someone else, a recording, or a tunebook.

    But.... it is important to take it away from the page at some point, and play the tune with others and for others and for yourself without the music - to sweep out the contextual cues. (like that phrase)

    And I agree you can't learn the style from a book. Only by playing with folks in that style.

    I sure would hate it however, to be limited to those tunes being played now or recorded now. There is gold in them tune books.
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  15. #60
    Registered User Simon DS's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do you remember all those tunes?

    I agree that it’s very important to try to learn by ear which is, of course, much easier for intermediate players.

    Years ago I lived in Brazil and was able to see what it was like for kids learning in schools where only the teacher had enough money to buy a book.
    Very much aural learning.

    In most of our schools today the learning is through literature. I live in France and it’s even more so.
    Anyway, given this form of education it’s obvious that music students would find it much easier to learn music in a similar way.

    -I actually learn a lot of tunes now by reading/playing through the tab a couple of times and then just playing. Sometimes a slightly different half measure slips in but correct it a couple of days later when re-reading the tab. Listening to others playing is a more enjoyable method for me, but the tab method is more efficient and long lasting.

  16. #61
    Registered User Carl Robin's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do you remember all those tunes?

    How to remember? It's always a work in progress. What has worked for me: Always have a group of new tunes to work on. I usually run through them first, and then go on to play the more familiar ones that are by definition, more fun to play. (Practicing every, or almost every day, should go without saying. Making a habit of it dispenses with the self-discipline bs. Do it only because you want to.) After the first big bunch, and when learning new ones got somewhat easier, I began splicing the familiar ones together, and practicing sets. Eventually, I started adding mostly unfamiliar tunes at the beginning of a set, finishing off with a favorite familiar one as a reward for struggling with the fairly new ones. Playing with others is another reward. It's normal to hear a tune, recognize it, be able to play along with it, and still wonder what it's called. No need to be discouraged by that, just keep at it. Full disclosure, I'm not a session leader, but since 2012 have learned at least a few hundred of tunes.

  17. #62
    Registered User Bren's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do you remember all those tunes?

    Quote Originally Posted by Carl Robin View Post
    Eventually, I started adding mostly unfamiliar tunes at the beginning of a set, finishing off with a favorite familiar one as a reward for struggling with the fairly new ones.
    That's the best way to build sets in a session, so that everyone has joined in by the end.
    It sounds a bit strange when you start well then everybody drops out towards the end.
    Bren

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