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Thread: Memory of learned songs

  1. #26
    Registered User groveland's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by (groveland @ Aug. 10 2008, 17:46)
    Quote Originally Posted by (mandocrucian @ Aug. 10 2008, 12:55)
    b - X - #
    n/a - Do - Di
    Ra - Re - Ri # (prouncounced: rah-Ray-ree)
    Me - Mi -
    (Fe) - Fa - Fi
    Se - So - Si
    Le - La - Li #(pronouced: Lay-Lah-Lee)
    Te - Ti
    I don't know sol-feg either. #"Take the A Train"?

    So - Mi So Do Mi Si -
    La - La Li Ti Mi So Se Fa Ra Do Mi

    Are there syllables for notes occurring outside of the one octave? #(Do we use the same syllables we listed above?)When the tonal center is held in abeyance, do you use syllables relative to the original tonal center, or to the new tonal center?

    Very interesting stuff.
    Hello again.

    Maybe I'm just impatient to get an answer and should give it a little time... or my question was so lame that I simply won't get an answer! Or maybe the answer is, "Hey Groveland, look it up and figure it out for yourself!"

    Can someone explain?

  2. #27
    Registered User Doug Hoople's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by (groveland @ Aug. 10 2008, 17:46)
    "Take the A Train"?

    So - Mi So Do Mi Si -
    La - La Li Ti Mi So Se Fa Ra Do Mi

    Yes. Although the "Ra" is often simple a "Re."

    Quote Originally Posted by (groveland @ Aug. 10 2008, 17:46)
    Are there syllables for notes occurring outside of the one octave? #(Do we use the same syllables we listed above?)
    We use the same syllables

    Quote Originally Posted by (groveland @ Aug. 10 2008, 17:46)
    When the tonal center is held in abeyance, do you use syllables relative to the original tonal center, or to the new tonal center?
    It's a judgment call, but generally you should hold onto a tonal center for as long as it's sensible (and occasionally slightly longer). If there's a clear and definite change of key center, then you should alter your syllables to match the new tonal center.

    As a corollary to these observations, it should be noted that there ARE, in fact, systems in place today that have similar functions, and in which the function of extensions (9,11,13) are taken into account.

    For example, there's a multi-step procedure used in jazz circles for memorizing melodies that starts with singing numbers (1-7 instead of do-re-mi) and qualities (flat, natural, sharp) relative to the key center, then proceeds to singing numbers and qualities relative to the chord, and finally to numbers (1-7) AND extensions (9,11,13) and qualities relative to the chord. This system has as its basis the same intent as solfege.

    By working with numbers for both scale tones and chord tones, it adds a level of context that simple solfege skips.

    It fails on conciseness when compared to solfege, and it can get a little awkward singing a fast passage with things like "sharp-eleven, flat-seven, six, sharp-five, flat-seven, nine...", but it definitely engages the same parts of the brain as solfege.



    Doug Hoople
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  3. #28
    Registered User groveland's Avatar
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    Thanks, Doug. I understand.

    Using "A Train" as an example, I am having difficulty seeing the memorization advantage to the two-step process of (1) memorizing syllables, and then (2) translating them to tones. It would appear to me better to memorize the tones directly. And if I do need an additional structure to aid in memorization, I think I would do better to use the patterns on my instrument instead of vocalized syllables - Except perhaps that the syllables are more portable and more readily available than a piano keyboard or mandolin neck, or whatever, and folks know how to work vocals pretty early in life. But assuming one knows the keyboard or the fretboard as well as (or better than) vocals, what is the advantage?

    The above is a rhetorical question, really. I'm just working through something new here. I was studying theory under a guitarist who published a book on sight singing. It would appear that there are advantages for the instrumentalist. I am not certain how an aid to memorization would be one of them.

    Good topic.

  4. #29
    Registered User Doug Hoople's Avatar
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    You're onto one of the big impediments to some of these approaches.

    In order for solfege to be really useful, you have to be a fluent solfege singer, and that's no mean feat.

    People who've mastered solfege find it immensely useful, but it is a discrete skill with a fairly high learning curve (beyond its simple application for simple tunes).

    I do believe that hearing is linked to singing and that hearing is linked to playing via separate pathways, and the player who can integrate these pathways has a definite leg up on one who hasn't.

    But it's not as simple as just singing along! If it was, I'd be miles ahead of where I am.
    Doug Hoople
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  5. #30
    Registered User groveland's Avatar
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    I was trying to remember a Bach thing, and I had 'forgotten how to play' several sections of it. My fingers initially hadn't a clue where to go in those sections on their own - I had to recall the melody, which I had memorized the first time I learned it and retained completely, and then I set about relearning/refinding the fingerings. The muscle memory fell into place pretty quickly after that; "Oh yeah, that's how I decided to do that..." But the melody was already there, the driver, in my head from the start. Not the fingerings for the lost passages.

    I believe that for me, anyway, I lead with the memory of the melody in my head. Eventually, the muscle memory catches up enough to make it hard to say who's in control, my recall of the melody or the muscle memory to execute it. But I'm thinking the muscle memory disappears long before the tune is ever forgotten.

  6. #31

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    Since i have been playing for only four years I have not had any memory loss on the tunes I learned, darm it

  7. #32
    Registered User man dough nollij's Avatar
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    You must be doing something right, Rick! I have learned a ton from this thread. A lot of the time in my (budding) playing career, I have been learning tunes from books, and they are melodies I've never heard before.

    If the song was already stuck in my head, it would be easier to tell when I was in the groove.

    Taking the advice in this thread to heart, I've concentrated more on learning and singing the melody. I've noticed a great improvement in learning new songs. I play it off the notation or tab until the melody sticks in my head.

    Then I put the printed music away and challenge myself to play it all the way through. I play until I get stuck, then use the sheet music to get me back on track. I'm learning more, and quicker. Woo Hoo!

  8. #33
    Registered User Doug Hoople's Avatar
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    I've been mulling this over for a couple of days now, and I think I've stumbled upon a way of tying my singing to my playing.

    I'm working on Pixinguinha's 'Rosa,' a beautiful and simple-sounding Brazilian waltz. Simple-sounding, but not really simple. The melody is pretty arpeggiated and fairly angular, and there are pileups of upper and lower neighbors just hairy enough that it doesn't fall under the fingers readily.

    I'm going to try to memorize the melody without playing it. I mean, really memorize it, so that I can sing it back at a satisfactory performance level.

    Only after I've nailed it singing will I try to play it. But here's the traction point. I'm going to try to teach myself to play it from memory, and not from the written page.

    This strikes me as a good way to tie the intervals and patterns that I'm hearing to what I'm playing, and it does so in a way that's more telling than simply singing along to a tune that I already know how to play.

    It also ensures that I'm not fooling myself into thinking that I can sing it when I can't.

    Any thoughts?



    Doug Hoople
    Adult-onset Instrumentalist (or was that addled-onset?)

  9. #34
    String-Bending Heretic mandocrucian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by
    Any thoughts?
    There are various angles which this whole thing can be approached, but the ultimate goal is to put the ear at the beginning of the flow chart, rater than at the end of it. #Singing/playing tunes you already know reinforces the ear>hand connections, it helps to burn in the associations. So although doing that doesn't seem as hard, it does have its benefits over time.

    You can also play "The Transposing Game" - take any fiddle tune you already know, and transpose it to another key, but play the exact same version of the tune. And, you've got to stay in first position. (You can't just move it up the neck in a closed position.) #The hand must follow your aural memory rather than relying on muscle memory. #Because you are in a different key, (say C, or E rather than D) you'll start with a different finger and have a different fingering throughout the tune. #Instead of having the melody indelibly linked to one particular fingering, in one key, you are programming your brain/hand for versatiltiy to play a passage starting with any finger. #Also, this teaches your brain/ear to hear note passages/motifs in more than just the context of a single key. #It's like the tune is shackled to a particular key, and if you aren't playing in that key, your brain can't access the pitch sequences.

    The problem of a lot of "paper-trained" players - those that easily sightread, is that they develop "lazy ear" and/or "lazy memory" syndrome. They get used to running the inputs through the visual, rather than the aural - they can play what's on the paper, but the hear only hears it when it comes out of the instrument (at the end of the flow chart). Or sheet music becomes their "external memory" - why bother to put in the effort actually learn it, when you put in that floppy disc for your eyes?

    Actually, the more angles from which you approach the ear/hand training, the better off you'll be. Every angle will have it's "blind spots", but another angle will fill in the missing piece. You want to put your obstacles in the middle of the crossfire, instructionally speaking.

    Niles H

    (incidentally, there's a long instructional piece called "The Transposing Game" in Mandocrucian's Digest issue #20. (see catalog link).

  10. #35
    Registered User Doug Hoople's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by (mandocrucian @ Aug. 14 2008, 11:50)
    Actually, the more angles from which you approach the ear/hand training, the better off you'll be. Every angle will have it's "blind spots", but another angle will fill in the missing piece. You want to put your obstacles in the middle of the crossfire, instructionally speaking.
    All good points, Niles.

    Leading with your ear is where I still have a lot of difficulty. When I hear an interval, I don't necessarily (in fact, I often don't) reach for the right place on the fretboard yet.

    So transposing simple tunes and learning to play from sung memory both strike me as very productive ways of lining up muscle memory with heard intervals.

    I'm sure you're right that singing along with tunes you already know how to play has its benefits, too, but it doesn't seem to get the real target as directly in the crosshairs. At least not yet.

    But, as you say, the more angles, the better. Now if I could just squeeze a few more hours out of every day!

    Maybe a little less Cafe time, and a little more practice time.



    Doug Hoople
    Adult-onset Instrumentalist (or was that addled-onset?)

  11. #36
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by (mandocrucian @ Aug. 14 2008, 14:50)
    Actually, the more angles from which you approach the ear/hand training, the better off you'll be. Every angle will have it's "blind spots", but another angle will fill in the missing piece. You want to put your obstacles in the middle of the crossfire, instructionally speaking.
    Perfect. Well said.
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  12. #37
    Notary Sojac Paul Kotapish's Avatar
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    I couldn't agree more about the value of memorizing tunes by learning to sing them first. When I used to teach tune classes, I'd make the class sit--without holding their instruments--and sing along until they could carry the tune with their voices. Then we'd work our way through by singing the successive phrases--not necessarily bar by bar--and learning each section on the fingerboard. I found that folks learned the tunes much faster and much more "permanently" than by digging in on the instruments first. My sight reading is so slow as to be nearly worthless, but if I can sing a tune, I can usually play it pretty darn quick.

    As for holding on to old tunes--they are going out faster than they are coming in these days, but if I can refresh the old memory by singing through the tune I want to play, it usually pops back into ready access pretty quick. It's remembering the second parts that's always trickiest for me.



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    I have been playing for four years, and there are literally only two tunes I can play from memory and not very well.



    All that Jazz

  14. #39
    Registered User Doug Hoople's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by (Paul Kotapish @ Aug. 15 2008, 13:28)
    It's remembering the second parts that's always trickiest for me.
    At first when I read this, I thought you meant the harmony twin lead, which would be totally understandable. I mean, how hard would it be to sing most harmony lines without the whole tune laid out for you?

    But I just realized that you might mean the B sections. That's also tricky, but in a very different way!

    I have a hard time remembering much of anything. My 'Rosa' exercise would be going well, for example, if I could just remember it, but I keep on scrambling the bits in it.

    So many things to remember! But it's all so sweet when it comes out right, so definitely worth the effort, no?
    Doug Hoople
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    String-Bending Heretic mandocrucian's Avatar
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    Read this article by James Galway, you may find it relevant:
    Intonation, and a few things pertaining to playing in tune - by Sir James Galway

    NH

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    i'm convinced there are two sections of the brain (mine) at work here ... and one does not necessarily keep in contact with the other.

    in looking over the latest haul from youtube of "mandolin" tags i see that someone has recorded "sandy river belle" - a tune i thought i'd ingrained into my memory. before clicking on the video, i tried and tried to remember how it went but no dice. two notes after clicking and into the video i could remember it all.

    ... i mean, these are not complex concert pieces! just "simple" tunes!

  17. #42
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Memory of learned songs

    Quote Originally Posted by mandocrucian View Post
    Read this article by James Galway, you may find it relevant:
    Intonation, and a few things pertaining to playing in tune - by Sir James Galway

    NH
    Just found this. What a great article.
    Indulge responsibly!

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  18. #43

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    Ok, so i really can't play anything that isn't in my brain. Call it singing with your fingers, whatever. If i record a tune and post it, someone that learned the same tune from a sheet will claim i'm playing it wrong. I maybe shouldn't care, but i do. What do you do?

    As far as memory, i think my problem is descision making. When put on the spot, picking a tune out of twenty or ninety kills me. Most of the time i cop out and ask for requests.

  19. #44
    Horton River NWT Rob Gerety's Avatar
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    Default Re: Memory of learned songs

    I've been trying to do this - trying to learn all tunes by ear, trying not to look at paper, trying to use solfege a bit. Next week I will start another 12-16 week series of "learn to play contra dance band" lessons or sessions with a teacher - Jeremiah McLane. He plays accordion and piano. He is a fabulous musician - imho. He just sent us all (fiddles, guitars, pianos, accordions, flutes, mandolins, etc) an e mail announcing that in this series he will insist that we all learn tunes and play together by ear. He will teach us a tune phrase by phrase - we will sing the phrase, then play it back. After we get the tune somewhat under our fingers then we will work out chords, rhythms, and arrangements. I'm scared to death! But, he is determined to do it this way and I am 100% convinced that until I develop this skill I will be handicapped musically. I'm scared, but I'm also determined.

    I spent just three weeks in total sunlight last summer in the Arctic. Very weird. Sun never set. I slept fine. But I was exhausted at the end of the canoe trip. Quite an experience.
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    Default Re: Memory of learned songs

    Back when I was actively performing much more than I am now (about 20 years ago), I had an active repertoire of some 900 songs/tunes. Many of them have slipped into the dim dark recesses of my mind, though they still pop up again at the oddest times.

    In the interim, I've learned dozens if not hundreds of Irish session tunes to play along with, though my ability to start sets (and, in particular, to transition from one tune to the next without faltering) is much more limited than I would like it to be.
    EdSherry

  21. #46
    Mandolicious fishtownmike's Avatar
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    Default Re: Memory of learned songs

    I forget a lot of songs. But if i try to learn it again i find it all starts coming back to me. You know the saying "use it or lose it".

  22. #47

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    If you are interested in the efficient memorization and retention of songs, check out the thread Adventures in Super-Efficient Mandolin Practice, where we discuss the use of Anki and SuperMemo, computer programs that schedule information (song) reviews for maximum efficiency and permanent retention.

    The thread has links to download both programs (Anki is free!) and a link to an article that appeared in The Best American Science Writing of 2009, about the creator of SuperMemo and the theory behind the program. It's an interesting read.

    Anki is easy to use, especially if you are just working with a list of songs for which you want to have an optimal review schedule. You can also use it as a tool for learning new material.

    Check it out!

  23. #48

    Default Re: Memory of learned songs

    Quote Originally Posted by JonZ View Post
    If you are interested in the efficient memorization and retention of songs, check out the thread Adventures in Super-Efficient Mandolin Practice, where we discuss the use of Anki and SuperMemo, computer programs that schedule information (song) reviews for maximum efficiency and permanent retention.

    The thread has links to download both programs (Anki is free!) and a link to an article that appeared in The Best American Science Writing of 2009, about the creator of SuperMemo and the theory behind the program. It's an interesting read.

    Anki is easy to use, especially if you are just working with a list of songs for which you want to have an optimal review schedule. You can also use it as a tool for learning new material.

    Check it out!
    thanks for that! - i need all the help i can get ...

    something i found helpful is to print the lyrics of those pieces i want to remember - with chords - and shuffle through the list every now and then to refresh the memory. nils' suggestion of singing the tune as well as playing the notes, tends to enforce its memory. "anki" flash cards might work for reels and other instrumental pieces ... here's hoping.

    nb. - since checking into the "beatle social group" i've found i can remember most of the songs very easily (listening to tunes, thousands and thousands of times over a span of 40-plus years makes for easy recall) but the chords!?! ... a-ha! if i can remember george's guitar break i can usually figure it out - at least with the earlier pieces - but the later songs can be very complex (chord structure) even though i can whistle the tune. jazz mandolin players must be a different species.

  24. #49
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Got a bunch of Christmas tunes lodged 'in there' to burp up when I get closer to the appropriate weeks.

    It's like musical Tourettes Syndrome the rest of the year..
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  25. #50

    Default Re: Memory of learned songs

    Quote Originally Posted by mandroid View Post
    Got a bunch of Christmas tunes lodged 'in there' to burp up when I get closer to the appropriate weeks.

    It's like musical Tourettes Syndrome the rest of the year..
    ... tourettes syndrome - tic-a-tic-a-timin' - good!

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