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Learnig and Memorizing tunes

Discussion in 'Music [DB]' started by cabooke, Nov 28, 2002.

  1. cabooke


    Jan 26, 2002
    Orange County, CA
    Happy Thanksgiving all. I was working on a few tunes tonight and was wondering how all of you memorize tunes. Do you learn the actuall changes ex.gmin7-C7-FM7
    or do you learn intervals. ex Starts on the minor two, to the dominant five, same thing up a step???
    Or another method..
    Thanks much.

  2. Bijoux


    Aug 13, 2001
    you can memorize Chord Progressions based on Harmonic Function, I think it's important to know the number of bars for each phrase, and harmonic function. for exemple, a tune that is AABA for have probably very similar A sections and they will be most likely 8 bars phrases, the only difference may be that the first A has a turnaround going back to the original key, the second turnaround on second A section will be going onto the next key and that's is B section, maybe a fourth up or anything, that goes back to last A and last A has a final turnaround resolving to the original key, or maybe a 4 bar extension, etc. Obviously the tunes are slight different or very different but when it comes down to it is all about tension and resolution, if you know enough harmony to deal with that, it's a lot of fun, especially when you play with piano players that like to sthrech harmony. The best way I find to lear tunes is to play with the albums without the real book, especially with singers, the keys may be different, and the tunes may have small arrangements. there is a Jamey Aerbersold play along volume called " how to learn tunes" is very helpful. have fun.
  3. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Technically I guess I could say I learn them by "Intervallic Structure", but that's just a fancy way of saying that I learn to hear both the melody and harmony and then throw all the rest of the labels out the window.
  4. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    I learned to digest tunes numerically, thus, in my little head a blues looks like this:

    I7    |IV7   |I7    |      |
    IV7   |      |III-7 |VI7   |
    II-7  |V7    |I7    |      |
    Now it's easy to plug this into any key. Another benefit is that you start to learn what different typical progressions sound like and can hear-shot tunes like a pro...
  5. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    I've noticed one other thing about memorizing tunes; wondering if others have had the same experience. If I learn a tune by listening to it, I can pretty much retain it forever. However, if I use the paper even once, I'm stuck with it for a long time, maybe even permanently. I've had much better success by internalizing the songs by ear only. The added benefit is that I can play tunes in all keys fairly easily.
  6. I couldn't agree more with MJ. After playing a piece for a while, the muscles in the fingers learn there place and eventually they have already memorized what to play. It doesn't actually mean that you know every note as you play because having it memorized in your fingers is different from actually remembering the piece in your head. But I have to say that although after a while you will be able to play a piece from memory because of correct practice (that will train and excersize the fingers), it is important to check back with the sheet music every now and them so that your mind will better correlate with what your fingers are actually doing (but don't do this too often). This explains why we don't remember pieces when we don't practice them after a while. Most of us just memorize the fingerings without remembering the notes and it's chord structure which sometimes is difficult to start from a random spot in the piece without remembering all the notes.
    Although I'm assuming you are talking about playing pop music (jazz or whatever) the same still applies. Only it's easier because all you need to remember is what the chord progression sounds like in your head. Then all you have to do is play notes contained within each chord of a measure. This playing will almost because second-nature.
  7. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Damn, dude! A speaking gig with the U.N. is NOT in your future.
  8. cabooke


    Jan 26, 2002
    Orange County, CA
    Thanks guys. That has givin me some great ideas how to start this venture. I'll let you know how it is going.:)
  9. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    What they said! And this, along the same lines: You're not aiming to memorize tunes -- you're aiming to internalize them. The difference is that if you've memorized, say, the Gettysburg Address, and you forget something, you've lost your place and you have to start over. If you've internalized a song, you might not be able to write out a chart without thinking about it but you can play it without thinking about it. You don't need to think about it. You understand it sonically -- you hear how the gears mesh or the chords work together.

    Memorization can be a step to internalization, but it's not the only path. As Ed & Marcus note repeated listening often yields superior results.
  10. Hey Ed, re-reading this I am pretty sure that pianomanrriii was advocating just that, to learn more about the song in your head, and not to think you know it just because you know it in your fingers. So I don't think he needs a retort.
  11. ok, whatever. Retort whenever you want, but don't expect me to change my opinion either. Anyway, to clarify, he's advocating learning chord progressions and the chords' relations to one another:

    Except he's not doing it to your satisfaction, grammar and spelling is a little off, and you don't know him. How's this so different from what Ray said? Ray said he remembers the chords (IV7, etc) rather than the specific key/notes. Remembering a chord progression in your head, sound-wise, is very similar, at least for me. Of course you probably have perfect pitch, but for me, to remember how a chord progression sounds has nothing to do with the key and everything to do with how the chords relate to one another. Of course this leaves out the melody altogether, but Ray's post did as well and I didn't see any flack about that one.
  12. Actually after I read what this pianoguy said, I don't think he is claiming that the following quote is a recommended approach..."Most of us just memorize the fingerings without remembering the notes and it's chord structure which sometimes is difficult to start from a random spot in the piece without remembering all the notes." I think he is trying to say that most untrained or unexperienced bassists make this mistake, although he didn't clearly state that. He does clarify that..."It doesn't actually mean that you know every note as you play because having it memorized in your fingers is different from actually remembering the piece in your head." He even makes the Finger-memorizing method out to be a wrong method when he says..."Most of us just memorize the fingerings without remembering the notes and it's chord structure which sometimes is difficult to start from a random spot." It's very obvious that he is not PROMOTING the use of this method. I'll agree it may have been a little confusing to read but that is evidence enough to prove that you have misjudged his claim. I say that with respect and in no way meant as an insult.
  13. I know this because I know him personally.
  14. That's what I mean - just by saying this is something *he* does, he does not at all advocate, but rather take it to the conclusion that a deeper understanding of a song or set of changes will lead to more expert knowledge and execution of it. I know it was poorly worded at points, but I think the gist of it was fairly clear.

    And again Ed, Ray also left out harmony, but I don't think he was trying to exclude anything from the universe in a sentence.

    So the point is loads of people play by 'memorizing with their fingers', not that this is a good thing to do. Its more convenient, especially for ex-stoner slacker types like myself who need to force themselves to do things the right way rather than the always-fun way. Therefore, it is better, like you yourself said, to gain more expert knowledge of songs. Obviously, it is not enough to just play the notes in a set of chords and you're fine - this is a HUGE over simplification. But the thrust of the post was just that deeper knowledge and shedding of easy habits leads to better results. My opinion.
  15. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    To clarify my position, what I was sketching is that you learn what different things sound like, and understand what is happening mathematically. Neither of the above can be excluded.

    Once things are internalized both ways, you have the freedom to recognize what you hear. Having a pallette of possibilities filed away in the old bean, and having them internalized, allows you that many more easily executed ideas over whatever you recognize. Things that you hear and don't recognize can be determined quickly by running them against what you know -- reducing the possibilities and thereby the chance of error. Since math does a pretty fair job of describing the mechanics behind music, you also have logic at your disposal. Experience is also an invaluable asset here. The more that you know, the less that you don't recognize, the better your ears are, and the more potential you have for successful creativity.

    I didn't mention melody, in inclusion or exclusion, above, because it is part and parcel of the same thing.
  16. ok. Sorry for the edits, I shoulda just deleted it and reposted or posted another reply.
  17. Dammit, I had one but he moved to Boston.

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