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Down Up Dick
10-23-2014, 03:58 PM
Do any of you old folks have a lot of trouble memorizing stuff? In fact, I haven't been playing my Ukes lately because I've been trying to memorize song lyrics. I read 'em like poems and sometimes sing them. Playing the Uke just adds to the confusion. You got any tricks to ease my labor? Any sure fire way to trap them in your head? Over and over and over stales quickly.

"She'll be comin' around the . . . ahh . . . the . . . Oh, heck! :old:

itsme
10-23-2014, 04:08 PM
I can't memorize for squat. I think I was born without that gene. :p

bunnyf
10-23-2014, 04:10 PM
Interesting topic. I look forward to some good answers. I have none. I can sometimes remember obscure songs from long ago that I didn't even like but can't always remember lyrics to some of my favs. A local Uke group did a jam where we were gonna do songs by ear (simple 3 chord progressions) and no on was to bring sheet music. We were gonna free ourselves from the paper (as Jim D'ville encourages) and use our ears. Well...it all kinda fell apart since none of us old farts could remember the lyrics. I have some songs committed to memory but I do rely on my iPad for remembering most.

KnowsPickin
10-23-2014, 04:16 PM
As I've grown older I've acquired a raging case of "CRS" aka "Can't Remember S***". I'm sure there is a cure, but I forgot it.

In truth, I have always been lyrically challenged, even in my youth. Luckily, I'm better at remembering melodies and chord progressions. Strangely, the wife has a photographic memory for lyrics, but not melodies. If she could sing we'd be set.

Rllink
10-23-2014, 04:16 PM
I break songs into pieces and memorize the pieces. Then I put them together. I might memorize just one verse, then when I have that down, I'll memorize the next. Or even one line. Maybe the chorus. Sometimes I have to go back, but that is OK. It takes me a long time to memorize a song. I do find that it is easier to make the lyrics my primary focus and then the chords just sort of fall into place if I know the lyrics. A lot of times I will print out the song, fold it up and put it in my pocket so that if I get stuck I can pull it out and look at it. I work on lyrics while I'm mowing the lawn. Something about stopping to pull the sheet out of my pocket to see where I'm at helps me remember better. I also go through the lyrics while I'm trying to go to sleep at night. Memorizing lyrics will put me to sleep pretty quickly

IamNoMan
10-23-2014, 05:12 PM
Memory is the second thing that goes... I Forget the first.
For starters; analyze the structure of the lyrics.

1. Example Mack the Knife is composed of half lines. "Oh the shark......has pretty teeth." "And he keeps them.....pearly white". Ignore all the dears, babes and other extraneous verbiage that characterize various artist's covers. You can add them back later if you must.

2. Check for internal rhymes and assonance(s)? Is the external rhyme scheme for couplets or alternate lines.

3. Is there a repeated refrain? Example: Verse 1 of "I've been Working on the Railroad":
"I was down.... in Mobile Town",
"Working on the Levee",
"Levee's done..... but I'm still here",
"Working on the Levee". ch: "Now I've been working on the ........"

4.Listen to several videos of the song to determine the meter. In Mack the Knife you'll note the number of syllables in each half line vary.
Iambic Pentameter is a normal speaking cadence in English: "The Rain in Spain.... falls mainly on the Plain". This example also uses internal rhyme in both half lines.

Secret Number 1. If you maintain the meter and keep the rhyme scheme; It doesn't really matter if you forget the some of the words. The song will still hold together.
Secret Number 2. The most common lyric in English Song is "La, La, La." (Remember to use enough "La"s to maintain the meter.

vanflynn
10-23-2014, 05:25 PM
Two main reasons to own an ipad:

1) Email yourself stuff to remember to do

2). Store song lyrics and chords.

Life's too short (and getting shorter) to beat yourself up. Enjoy while you can.

WCBarnes
10-23-2014, 05:43 PM
My problem tends to come when I combine the singing and the playing. I can remember they lyrics... And I can remember the chords & strum pattern, but when I combine the efforts my strum goes to pot and becomes just down strums on the beat...

IamNoMan
10-23-2014, 06:43 PM
My problem tends to come when I combine the singing and the playingYou and me both. The solution is to simplify. I normally don't get into trouble when I'm singing but putting it together is tough. Don't try to play the melody when your singing. Use a simple strum and simple chords for accompaniment. You have spent a lot of time learning to play. After every other verse take an instrumental break and strut your stuff.
Be aware of what notes don't belong in the key your singing in. Key of C chords C,F,G7,Am), notes: A,B,C,D,E,F,F# G. Don't play the notes that don't belong in the key: C#,D#,G#,A#. It won't necessarily be right but it won't sound wrong. Print out :
http://261167 (http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?p=261167#post261167)
and block out the notes that don't belong in your key. Tape it to the top of your uke if you have to.

In crash and burn situations stop playing and sing the rest of the song acapella.

This last advice applies when you forget the words. play the tune til you get to the chorus and take it home with the chorus. If your clever you can get the audience to join in on the final chorus.

Steveperrywriter
10-23-2014, 06:54 PM
Funny, I find it easier to remember if I play and sing at the same time. One helps the other.

IamNoMan
10-23-2014, 07:46 PM
Do you have any notion why that is? I would like to pick up that trait. I find memorization to be brutal process.

KaraUkey
10-23-2014, 08:47 PM
As I've grown older I've acquired a raging case of "CRS" aka "Can't Remember S***". I'm sure there is a cure, but I forgot it.

In truth, I have always been lyrically challenged, even in my youth. Luckily, I'm better at remembering melodies and chord progressions. Strangely, the wife has a photographic memory for lyrics, but not melodies. If she could sing we'd be set.
I can identify with that. Even as a singer/guitarist I would sometimes forget the lyrics. My wife, like yours, has that same skill with lyrics (and still does), so sometimes I would just play a few extra bars of backing while she mouthed the lyrics at me from the audience. Usually, as soon as I got the first few words to the verse I was OK. In later years I would write just the first couple of words to each verse on a card that I could quickly glance at if I needed to. Just maintaining an off book song list of around 120-150 songs meant constant practice though. Nowadays I use my KaraUkey. Words and chords right there on the screen in front of me. No need now for a drum machine even. So suddenly I have literally hundreds of songs I can play and no need to fill in while I'm trying desperately to remember the lyrics.

The nicest bit is that instead of spending so much time practicing songs in order to *try* to remember them I can spend my time adding new songs. Much more fun.

VegasGeorge
10-24-2014, 03:12 AM
I used to remember it all, words, melody, chords. Now, I'm lucky to even remember the name of the tune. Seriously, it's true. I've been back to playing my Ukuleles now for .... however long its been since my join date here. I play and sing every day. So far, the only tune I can remember completely is Foster's "Old Folks At Home" and that's only true for the first verse and chorus. My inability to memorize, or re-memorize a few songs has been bugging me for a number of weeks now. If anyone finds a cure, let me know right away.

Wicked
10-24-2014, 03:22 AM
For me, I never forget the musical stuff (chords, melody, whatnot) - but I ALWAYS forget the lyrics. I can still play tunes that I learned decades ago, but if I don't have the lyrics written down, I am sunk. Must be a wiring issue.

Down Up Dick
10-24-2014, 04:00 AM
For me, I never forget the musical stuff (chords, melody, whatnot) - but I ALWAYS forget the lyrics. I can still play tunes that I learned decades ago, but if I don't have the lyrics written down, I am sunk. Must be a wiring issue.

Have you ever noticed, though, that some melodies, chords AND words just jump into your head easy as pie? I've had a few like that.

And, yeah, I can sing songs that I sang in my high school Choir and Boys Glee group, yet now i'm breaking my brain trying to memorize easy folk songs. It ain't fair!

Aww, just forget it! :old:

igorthebarbarian
10-24-2014, 04:29 AM
This is what really amazes me about cover bands: having to know ALL the lyrics to all of those songs. I can probably remember the chorus and maybe a verse or two, but every. Single. Word. Impressivo!

Down Up Dick
10-24-2014, 05:13 AM
I've considered giving up trying to memorize all this stuff. I can read music well, and I know most of the chords that I need, and, of course, I can read the lyrics. But doing it all at once is also difficult for me -- too much to keep track of for my withered brain. Those lyric sheets with chords on 'em work better I think, if I already know the tune.

Ahh, well, when I play my other instruments, I just play the melody -- no chords, no strumming and no lyrics. Maybe I shoulda just stayed with that. But we never seem to be satisfied.

Change! Change and grow (Ha!)!! :old:

janeray1940
10-24-2014, 05:29 AM
I can't memorize for squat. I think I was born without that gene. :p

I've said that exact thing about myself - born without the memorization gene! True story: as a kid I never memorized multiplication tables in the rote way they were taught in elementary school (reciting them in order aloud), yet somehow I'm able to do basic math that requires multiplication.

Music is similar for me - half the time I couldn't tell you what notes or chords I'm playing unless I actually look, but somehow my hand knows where to go.

I don't strum and sing, I only play fingerstyle instrumentals, and in the 5 years I've been playing seriously I'd estimate that I have fewer than 10 pieces "memorized."

PhilUSAFRet
10-24-2014, 05:30 AM
For starters; analyze the structure of the lyrics.

1. Example Mack the Knife is composed of half lines. "Oh the shark......has pretty teeth." "And he keeps them.....pearly white". Ignore all the dears, babes and other extraneous verbiage that characterize various artist's covers. You can add them back later if you must.

2. Check for internal rhymes and assonance(s)? Is the external rhyme scheme for couplets or alternate lines.

3. Is there a repeated refrain? Example: Verse 1 of "I've been Working on the Railroad":
"I was down.... in Mobile Town",
"Working on the Levee",
"Levee's done..... but I'm still here",
"Working on the Levee". ch: "Now I've been working on the ........"

4.Listen to several videos of the song to determine the meter. In Mack the Knife you'll note the number of syllables in each half line vary.
Iambic Pentameter is a normal speaking cadence in English: "The Rain in Spain.... falls mainly on the Plain". This example also uses internal rhyme in both half lines.

Secret Number 1. If you maintain the meter and keep the rhyme scheme; It doesn't really matter if you forget the some of the words. The song will still hold together.
Secret Number 2. The most common lyric in English Song is "La, La, La." (Remember to use enough "La"s to maintain the meter.

This is great, thanks for sharing.

Down Up Dick
10-24-2014, 05:44 AM
I marvel at people who memorize poetry and stuff. Some did it in English classes, but I never did. I was talking to my barber about Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, while having a haircut, and he started reciting the General Prologue--amazing!

I like to read poetry and sometimes even lyrics, but then I put the book away, and they're usually gone. :old:

actadh
10-24-2014, 05:50 AM
Many good points here.

I find that the first batch of songs I learned (where I relied all the time on the printed sheet music) are the ones I can't seem to memorize even though those are the ones I have played the most.

When I have learned new songs since then, I try to look for patterns. In my Dr. Uke version of Are You Lonesome Tonight, every time there is a D7 there is an AM7 either before or after it.

I also learn it partway and then try to play without the sheet music. I can usually pick out the chords after some trial and error.

Another good way is the Uncle Rod Bootcamp way of creating a song practice sheet.

I also do a variation of his way with just the chords, strumming through the chord sequence in the 4 strum, 3 strum, 2 strum, 1 strum way to learn the chords in order. then hum the melody while looking at the lyrics - this helps me with pauses for emphasis, chord sustain, speeding up the strum etc. and I find that I really pick up the nuances of the song here.

Garydavkra
10-24-2014, 05:59 AM
I find that I can remember tunes with not problem but, the lyrics not as well. I can't even remember the lyrics to the songs that I write. So, I print them out and read while I play.

acmespaceship
10-24-2014, 06:49 AM
...My inability to memorize, or re-memorize a few songs has been bugging me for a number of weeks now. If anyone finds a cure, let me know right away.

A friend of mine (an actor) recently went into a panic over his inability to memorize lines. After a round of medical tests, he went to a sleep clinic and found out that apnea was waking him up so often he had zero REM sleep -- no wonder he couldn't memorize anything. Getting a CPAP device (and getting it adjusted properly) for a full night's sleep has worked wonders.

So I'd say sleep deprivation is the first culprit to consider. Also depression (here in Chicago the days are getting shorter and SAD is starting to kick in).

Down Up Dick
10-24-2014, 07:04 AM
A friend of mine (an actor) recently went into a panic over his inability to memorize lines. After a round of medical tests, he went to a sleep clinic and found out that apnea was waking him up so often he had zero REM sleep -- no wonder he couldn't memorize anything. Getting a CPAP device (and getting it adjusted properly) for a full night's sleep has worked wonders.

So I'd say sleep deprivation is the first culprit to consider. Also depression (here in Chicago the days are getting shorter and SAD is starting to kick in).

Well, I have SAD during the winter months, but I can't see that I'm in any way sleep deprived. I sleep in my music room chair (a semi comfortable office chair), I sleep on the couch watching TV, and then I go to bed and sleep all night. If I had sleep apnea, my wife would surely nag me to get it fixed. I'm only depressed about being old--and forgetting everything.

Keep on strumming or you'll fall asleep. :old:

IamNoMan
10-24-2014, 08:14 AM
"Whan in the springe time a younge man's fancy turns to thoughcts of Love... " Is that right?

I suffer from SAD, endogenous depression and Bi-Polar. I don't think depression affects my memory too much. I suffer from a wide array of sleep disorders as well and sleep in a chair. I can enter REM sleep in 45 seconds. Lack of REM sleep may well effect memorization. @Down up DIck: you are right about the wife and the sleep apnea thing!

actadh's post is very much on the mark. I recommend Uncle Rods Bootcamp highly. I especially find vocalizing chord names as I learn them to be helpful. The practice sheet method doesn't work so well for me. I generally know the tune and chords to start with but need the words in front of me to learn the song. Particularly when syncopation or other twists are in the lyrics.

I agree with Garydavkra that tunes are easily known/remembered - mostly by my ears and hands. This is not particularly helpful when working on a new song though. The tunes are melodic. I want the song to carry the melody and the instrument to enhance the song. I need to simplify the tune.

When I perform, I am an entertainer and my eyes are on the audience. Lyrics and fake books in whatever format would split my concentration four ways. It doesn't work for me in performance. I try to work on one or two new songs a month. I also work on relearning about six songs a month. At the end of the year I probably learn 12 new songs; although not necessarily up to performance standard.

I also work on songs seasonally, (AGFEEbEDCB). Right now I am working on "With her Head tucked underneath her arm", "Flamme D'enfer", "Jambalaya", "Long Black Veil", "Waltzing Matilda", "Cockles and Muscles" and a Cajun version of the Story "Wiley and the Hairy Man". Does anyone detect a pattern here? "Head Tucked" is new "Flamme" is old but probably won't fly. (rats! It is in Cajun French), The rest is repertoire. After Halloween I'll start relearning the Christmas Stuff and hopefully add "Sleigh Ride" to my uke repertoire. I think the relearning is a valuable adjunct for an aging memory.

Pueo
10-24-2014, 01:09 PM
Seeso posted a while ago some tricks - like if the song has a story, just remember one element of the story of each verse, and then try to just remember those elements in the correct order. Let's use Opihi Man. The first verse starts "Sounds Like Thunder" so I remember Thunder. Second verse starts "Like a crab on the rock" so I remember Crab. Third verse is "Gotta fill up your bag" so I remember Bag. Then the song becomes "Thunder - Crab - Bag" You would be surprised how a small mnemonic device unlocks all the words that really are up there in your brain already.

I really love Hawaiian music. I try to play Hawaiian music, and I have a lot of vocabulary, but I do not speak Hawaiian. It is really a challenge for me to memorize Hawaiian lyrics, but I do follow the same system.

I learn not only the words of the song, but what they mean. Then I choose one word about each verse (thankfully most Hawaiian verse are short!) and remember that.
I find that if I know what that word means, it helps.
So, a song I like to sing "Mahina O Hoku" becomes
Beauty (Nani)
Lonely Cliffs (Mehameha na pali)
Hinano (Easy enough to remember because I like Hinano beer)
Name (Inoa)

For me, actually writing the words out long hand goes a long way towards memorizing them. I also spend a lot of time either in the car when I am alone singing it over and over or if I am on the bus (commuting) just reading and trying to recall them over and over.

It is difficult, but the more you do it, the easier it becomes to recall.

All that being said, I still only have a handful of songs I can play confidently with no songsheets. But I have a zillion I can play with just a few quick glances. The goal is to use those little mnemonic devices to replace the quick glances!

IamNoMan
10-24-2014, 08:50 PM
Pueo: you offer good advice. I like working with foreign language songs. I follow much the procedure as you do. I work primarily with Slavic and French songs in various languages. Normally I translate a song I wish to learn into English and then work to make it a good english song. I work on the PC rather than long hand. As I am engaged in this process I am singing or listening to different versions of the song. (This occasionally leads to domestic misunderstandings):p. This process really aids the learning process and increases one's idiomatic understanding.


Learning a foreign language song

1. Obtain several versions of a song and translate Google Translate has proved acceptable for this purpose. Obtain a baseline English translation. Might not make sense at first.
2. Convert the foreign language song to phonetic English:

"Vykhodila na bereg Katyusha" - Russian transposed to roman alphabet


"[Em]Beekhodila na [Am]vereg Kat[Em7]usha" - Russian phonetic translation
"Young Katyusha goes walking by the river," - grammatical English translation.


3. Convert the baseline translation to sensible, poetic English. This may take several iterations to get a satisfactory English song. Justify the ultimate translation to the Russian meter as sung. This is where I work out and add the accompaniment chords. At this step try to incorporate the imagery from the original and transition to English Grammar.

4. Print each version of the song with accompaniment. And continue to memorize/learn both songs.

If you want to Try this yourself I suggest "La Vie en Rose" by Edith Piaf. But don't expect it to be the Mack David Lyrics.;)

Pueo
10-24-2014, 09:01 PM
I like to sing French songs too! I happen to be fluent in French though, so it's not as much of a challenge. :D
MarciaBaila: http://youtu.be/WugvetMaoKQ

IamNoMan
10-24-2014, 09:54 PM
Pueo: I particularly enjoy the sentiments in French songs. I have considerable problems with the way that French speakers concatenate their words and sentences; whether spoken or sung. It is one of the reasons I use the phonetic translations in the root language. Even so my accent in any dialect is rather abominable. How do you characterize your French accent(s)? The idiom is one thing but passing on the sentiment is very tricky.

Pueo
10-25-2014, 12:16 AM
I have a Parisian accent. I spent several summers living with a French family in Paris as well as taking French in high school and college.

Down Up Dick
10-25-2014, 02:54 AM
Wow, and I thought I was having trouble with memorizing good ol' English lyrics. At least I can read them right off the music. And that's what I'm gonna try next.

I'm gonna give up trying to memorize stuff or to play by ear. It's just a waste of time. I haven't been playing the Ukes much for a coupla weeks, trying to memorize lyrics. I'm even beginning to think that taking up yet another instrument and buying all those Ukes was a mistake.

What I'm gonna try now is to teach myself to play and sing from the music. I've tried that before but maybe not hard enough. Anyway, I'll give it a go. I've got no where to go but up.

I want to thank everyone who commented on this thread. It really makes me feel better knowing that other folks are having the same problems as mine. So thanks everybody, I appreciate your help.

Onward and upward! :old:

IamNoMan
10-28-2014, 08:54 PM
I don't like to encumber myself with sheets of paper when I sing and make music. Paper is for folding. I enjoy the process of learning by ear, (spoken or played). But that is my way. Maybe I'm a snob. I prefer the term Traditionalist but many people I play with use adjuncts, all the time. That is their way.

Hey Dick, Don't give up. It isn't necessary to memorize anything! Use the tabs or cheat sheets, just play along, whatever! But don't give up.

I ran across this thread just now. It is full of lots of good suggestions on memorization and such-like:

http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?69247-How-do-you-go-about-Memorizing-Songs/page4