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How good are you at remembering songs?

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I was just reading about an early 20th-century conductor called Arturo Toscanini. Just before the start of a big concert one of the bassoon players hurried up to Toscanini, he was in a highly agitated state, and explained that he’d broken one of the keys on his instrument.

Toscanini thought for a few seconds, then said ‘it’s alright, that note does not occur in tonight’s concert’.

Apparently he knew every note for every instrument in that concert. That’s about 70 musicians and 2 hours of music. He also knew every note for every instrument in 250 odd other works from their repertoire, plus the words and music for 100 or so operas, and numerous other classical works.

We had a class on my BMus course called LPW, which stood for live performance workshop. I hated it. Each week we had to learn a notated part, in my case it was the bass line, then perform it as part of a randomly picked ensemble. Some were quite easy, others were ridiculously hard. I always struggled to remember them, my best mark was in the jazz module, where we improvised and were allowed charts on stage.

This is Toscanini destroying the bass section of an orchestra.

 

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I am great at remembering the current set list...and once we stop playing something the notes just empty out of my head.

i depped for a band about a year ago and spent weeks rehearsing with them to get their set into my brain - an hours worth of very technical stuff and riff upon riff upon riff that typically didn’t repeat.  Played the two shows without a problem and barely a fluffed note.  Now I can hardly remember how the songs go, let alone what notes to play

Edited by Monkey Steve
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Bass wise, no problem assuming I can remember the song at all, I can remember every part of it. Sometimes I have a mental block on the start (some times I have a mental block on everything). I have a list of the first notes of each song, so if I ever do, the first note will tell me the rest of the song.

Lyrics wise, I can remember most of them unless I am also playing and then I can go a bit blank.

 

Toscanini sounds a bit like an italian version of my first childhood piano teacher though

Edited by Woodinblack
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As per above - once I've learned a song, it's wedged in for good.  Provided I'm not hurried I could tell you what each note is, but I'm not the most fluent or adept music reader and definitely could do what the conductor didn

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8 minutes ago, Monkey Steve said:

I am great at remembering the current set list...and once we stop playing something the notes just empty out of my head.

i deposed for a band about a year ago and spent weeks rehearsing with them to get their set into my brain - an hours worth of very technical stuff and riff upon riff upon riff that typically didn’t repeat.  Played the two shows without a problem and barely a fluffed note.  Now I can hardly remember how the songs go, let alone what notes to play

That was like me at uni. I could remember what I needed to play for the time I needed it, then immediately forgot it.

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30 minutes ago, Woodinblack said:

Bass wise, no problem assuming I can remember the song at all, I can remember every part of it. Sometimes I have a mental block on the start (some times I have a mental block on everything). I have a list of the first notes of each song, so if I ever do, the first note will tell me the rest of the song.

Lyrics wise, I can remember most of them unless I am also playing and then I can go a bit blank.

 

Toscanini sounds a bit like an italian version of my first childhood piano teacher though

That’s something the book mentioned. We tend to learn in segments, even though we can play a particular bar or section perfectly, we sometimes struggle to play it in isolation, and need to play the bar or even a few bars approaching it beforehand. 

Edited by ambient

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Like Monkey Steve said, I can retain a lot of songs as long as they are in the current set, once a song is dropped my brain literally erases it.

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My memory for songs is the same as my normal memory. I retain what I need and discard what I don't need.  So the current set list is OK, last years is gone.  When I was at work I could quote specification numbers and paragraphs for each proect I worked on and was pretty much the go to guy if someone wanted to know what was written and where it was written, but when I moved to the next project I'd be hard pressed to remember who I used to sit next to.

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Depends - most of the music I've played over the years is my own composition - I find when something's been worked out, learned, rehearsed to death then gigged for a bit it's pretty much locked in. If I don't play it for a while a refresher run-through or two sorts it out, but it doesn't really go anywhere.

I have the ability to pick up the parts for covers I'm fairly familiar with quickly, but I don't retain those for long if they don't get played. If I needed to play the same song again say, six months later, I'd have to pretty much start from scratch.

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I’m pretty good at remembering songs. I’ve now left my band but will be standing in for them in a couple of weeks time, I won’t be rehearsing with them beforehand. 

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I'm hopeless if i dont rehearse regularly. Its the only way i can stay in the comfort zone

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As long as were gigging regularly and the songs are called my memory for songs is great 

If your going to call a song we haven't played in 2 years, that's a different story.

Blue

Edited by Bluewine
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It varies. Some tunes, (usually those stuck in memory from my youth), I'll never forget. New stuff I often can't remember from one day to the next. I do like to have the music in front of me now.

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Now I've scrolled to the bottom of the page... what was the question?

Not too bad actually, some things stick in my mind from the band I was in up to '89.

Anything iffy benefits from a play through the day before to get it 'refreshed'.

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I've been reading recently that John Lennon was frequently unable to remember his own lyrics.  I don't feel so bad forgetting everyone else's basslines now.

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On 12/01/2020 at 22:43, ambient said:

Apparently he knew every note for every instrument in that concert. That’s about 70 musicians and 2 hours of music. He also knew every note for every instrument in 250 odd other works from their repertoire, plus the words and music for 100 or so operas, and numerous other classical works.

Everything my band plays goes D C G so I'm OK breaking three strings. 

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I can’t remember what I had for breakfast 20 minutes ago... I have also completely forgotten every song from all bands past. I only seem to remember the current set list.

My memory is terrible. Mrs C often explains to me things we’ve done and places we’ve been and I’ve absolutely no recollection. 

... think I must have done too many drugs in my youth 😕

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Yep once a song is dropped its gone from my head.

I've been asked to dep for bands i'd previously been in and couldn't remember anything from their set list. 

If i spent a day or two refreshing them they would come back again.

A good example for me at moment is we discussed doing a song last year and i learned the song note for note and wrote it down note for note as i do with every song. Singer struggled a bit with it so we decided to drop it. Last week he said he had been working on it and thinks he could do it now. I couldn't even remember the root notes let alone the proper bass lines of what is a relatively simple song. I have my detailed notes so today i'll refresh myself.

I think its a way of making space in my tiny brain that once its dropped i just delete it and allow space for something else in my limited brain capacity

Dave

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On 12/01/2020 at 22:43, ambient said:

I was just reading about an early 20th-century conductor called Arturo Toscanini. Just before the start of a big concert one of the bassoon players hurried up to Toscanini, he was in a highly agitated state, and explained that he’d broken one of the keys on his instrument.

Toscanini thought for a few seconds, then said ‘it’s alright, that note does not occur in tonight’s concert’.

Apparently he knew every note for every instrument in that concert. That’s about 70 musicians and 2 hours of music. He also knew every note for every instrument in 250 odd other works from their repertoire, plus the words and music for 100 or so operas, and numerous other classical works.

We had a class on my BMus course called LPW, which stood for live performance workshop. I hated it. Each week we had to learn a notated part, in my case it was the bass line, then perform it as part of a randomly picked ensemble. Some were quite easy, others were ridiculously hard. I always struggled to remember them, my best mark was in the jazz module, where we improvised and were allowed charts on stage.

This is Toscanini destroying the bass section of an orchestra.

 

without wishing to disparage the talents of the maestro, he did have an eidetic memory, plus music was his full time job and he was conducting from age 19. 

Point being one would expect a high level of proficiency from someone so talented and experienced, but I know that Basschat is full of equally talented and experienced people in other fields, which maybe do not carry quite the same renown. 

 

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25 minutes ago, dmccombe7 said:

 

I think its a way of making space in my tiny brain that once its dropped i just delete it and allow space for something else in my limited brain capacity

Dave

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