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Advice (or at least reassurance) needed

Discussion in 'Ask Mike Watt [Archived]' started by secretdonkey, Nov 21, 2002.

  1. secretdonkey


    Oct 9, 2002
    Austin, TX
    Mr. Watt - it's an honor to be able to post in this forum. I can't say I'm terribly familiar with your career, but I can dig up my old copy of "fromohio" and have it bring back some most pleasant recollections!

    Anyway, what's bugging me is this: I'm not one of those players who can keep a catalog of hundreds and hundreds of songs in my mental file cabinet for years and years. Right now I'm playing with a particularly prodigious fellow who probably remembers every song he's ever played. Even worse, he teaches guitar at a music store, so he spends large parts of his day learning new songs at the behest of his students. And if that's not bad enough, my drummer can likely tell you how an old song is arranged just because he recalls listening to it on the radio years ago.

    It's not like I'm wildly outclassed by these guys as players - in fact they courted me for over a year to play with them. At practice though, I find myself making requests like "lets go over anything we haven't played in a couple of months." They go along, but with a bit of a shrug sometimes, apparently feeling it unneccesary.

    So, am I missing some element of mental/memory discipline that all musicians should have (and how can I cultivate it), or is it fairly common for players of otherwise similar abilities to have greater or lesser 'encyclopedic' abilities?
  2. watt

    watt the man in the van w/a bass in his hand Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2001
    san pedro, california

    yes, there's this joke: "you wanna know the good thing about alzheimer's? you're always learning new songs." I know, pretty bad but the point is that can happen. I find that the memory for songs is kind of contained more in the muscles than in the brain so a lot of times stuff will come back just by going through moves to try and play it again, not letting the thinking part of your brain interrupt so much but letting it come out by doing (or attempting to do it).

    one way to help of course would be to keep a notebook w/chord changes and tabs or musical notations of riffs, flow charts of how the parts go and stuff like that.

    please don't be intimidated - that's why they call it practice. by doing these songs regularly, they'll stick w/you. you should also know that I can't remember most of the songs I've written over the years and have to re-learn them when I'm asked to do them again. I wouldn't take this limitation as too much a sign of a lameness unless you're totally forgetting from practice to practice. that's a signal for me that you need more practcie! we all do...

    like coltrane said/did: practice!

    and as mayo thompson said:

    "discipline conquers hesitation"

    on bass, watt


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