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Thread: Memorizing songs - melody

  1. #1
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    Default Memorizing songs - melody

    I had a discussion with a band member this morning who is also my voice coach.
    She had been considering getting an iPad with which to carry songs around on OnSong, like Tammy and I do.
    She was concerned that the notes would be missing though, and that would make the melodies difficult to sing correctly.
    I suggested that we can learn to sing the songs from the Beloff books, and we'd be okay with just the lyrics and chords in front of us.
    I suggested that the musical mind remembers song melodies quicker and better than it remembers chords or lyrics (we hum melodies a lot, and that's the form of the Earworms we carry around)
    She said I was right, chords and lyrics are the harder parts to learn. Chords come to me last of all, even after lyrics, and I don't know why. Songs are difficult for me to sing without the chords, though.
    What are your thoughts on this?
    "Those who bring sunshine and laughter to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves".

    Music washes from the soul, the dust of everyday living.

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    I've never been good at remembering anything, so if you do find a formula, let me know.
    Keith M --> likes a long neck - & being different.....

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    I'm with you on this Nickie. Almost all the songs that I sing are songs that I already know the tune to, but if I don't know the tune, I go to YouTube and listen to it. I mean, I can play melody if I have the notes there, but I seldom do that to learn how a song goes. What songs are you playing? Are they so obscure that people have never heard them before?
    I don't want to live in a world that is linear.
    There's more than one road into Richmond. Lil' Rev
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2LEY9E_W5sw

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rllink View Post
    I'm with you on this Nickie. Almost all the songs that I sing are songs that I already know the tune to, but if I don't know the tune, I go to YouTube and listen to it. I mean, I can play melody if I have the notes there, but I seldom do that to learn how a song goes. What songs are you playing? Are they so obscure that people have never heard them before?
    No, we do a lot of popular songs, but my coach is Classical trained, so she didn't listen to popular music as a kid, so she doesn't know it. When I was a kid, I couldn't have cared less about lyrics of songs. I was too busy protecting myself from bullies.
    I don't memorize things well, but have always made it through things because I'm an excellent taker of tests, can pass almost any test whether I know the material of not.
    Music theory does throw me for a loop, though. I will be learning it for the rest of my life. Singing too....
    "Those who bring sunshine and laughter to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves".

    Music washes from the soul, the dust of everyday living.

  5. #5
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    In ABC format, if you include the chord name in double quotes before the note, that name will appear above the staff. It's not a perfect system: you have to code in a somewhat different way to put chord changes at points where there's no melody note. The MIDI generator understands the chord names and will generate a basic accompaniment.

    I sometimes use ABC snippets as reminders of how the melody for song parts go. Usually I only need these for the seldom-recorded verse parts of old standards. Otherwise, I tend to memorize melodies readily enough, so I may only need a reminder of the relative starting note and the first few words.

    My big weakness is remembering chord sequences. I find relative notation easier to remember than fixed chord names, and more flexible, particularly when trying different keys or tunings and when ranging the neck. My notation is a modification of the Nashville Number System. All the playing patterns that I need are movable, unifying how I approach the fretboard, and the relative stuff ties in much better with how I actually hear music intuitively. Also, what I learn in one key ports easily to other keys with a minimum of rote memorization.

    With either fixed names or relative numbers, it may help to focus initially on just how the roots move, on the skeletal path or framework, ignoring all the other details. Trying to absorb too much at one time when memorizing is a recipe for disappointment. A single path is easy to visualize and remember, a sequence of full chords right off the bat, not so much.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nickie View Post
    No, we do a lot of popular songs, but my coach is Classical trained, so she didn't listen to popular music as a kid, so she doesn't know it. When I was a kid, I couldn't have cared less about lyrics of songs. I was too busy protecting myself from bullies.
    I don't memorize things well, but have always made it through things because I'm an excellent taker of tests, can pass almost any test whether I know the material of not.
    Music theory does throw me for a loop, though. I will be learning it for the rest of my life. Singing too....
    I need to be aware that not everybody watched American Bandstand, listened to the top 40 on the radio, and bought an 8 track when they first came out. I don't always know the lyrics of a song just off the top of my head, but i usually have heard the tune before.

    As far as memorizing songs, it isn't easy for me either, but I commit songs to memory all the time, and the more of them I memorize, the more I hear commonalities among the songs and recognize those commonalities. That is music theory. I think that is the case with a lot of us is that we are learning music theory all the time, but we don't realize it, because it isn't labeled. I see it with musicians all of the time. They say that they don't know music theory, but when you hear them they are sure putting a lot of music theory into their playing. Just because they don't verbalize what they are doing as eloquently as some, doesn't mean that they don't know what we are doing when they are doing it. There is an academic aspect of music theory, and a practical aspect. One aspect does not preclude the other. Learning how to play music is learning how to apply music theory, whether we know that is what we are doing or not.
    Last edited by Rllink; 08-07-2017 at 12:27 PM.
    I don't want to live in a world that is linear.
    There's more than one road into Richmond. Lil' Rev
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2LEY9E_W5sw

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rllink View Post
    One aspect does not preclude the other.
    Right, one aspect doesn't preclude the other. After all theory just describes in a precise, more easily understood and articulated form what we mostly already understand on an intuitive level. The difference is this: knowing theory more formally unifies patterns in a way you can use more surely and predictively. That can greatly accelerate one's progress in the ear training and "just playing" realms, with a minimum of rote learning. It also simplifies communicating with other musicians so trained—a few words suffice instead of having to physically demonstrate, reel off chord names or decipher someone's home-grown musical lingo.

    Sadly, theory is badly taught to uke players (and people too often take an overly haphazard approach, jumping into the subject in the very middle). It doesn't surprise me that they throw up their hands and return to the long, hard slog.

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