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Memorizing vs Playing

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by ::::BASSIST::::, Apr 24, 2010.

  1. ::::BASSIST::::

    ::::BASSIST:::: Progress Not Perfection.

    Sep 2, 2004
    Vancouver, BC Canada
    I stumbled upon this clip

    It seems too 'perfect' like he has everything memorized.

    This reminds me of a time I jammed with a young guitarist and he read tab for about 10 songs playing the solos perfectly etc. I was impressed so I had him out to play for a band I was starting at the time. Turns out he couldnt actually play a solo to save his life.
  2. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I grow organic carrots and they are not for sale
    Playing from memory is better than playing from sheet music. Unless you don't know the song. But you do play smoother and with more feeling playing from memory. That is why I try to avaoid reading sheet music. Sheet music is a good way to learn a song quickly but the faster I get away from it the better.
  3. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Looking for a gig around East Islip, NY!

    Jan 13, 2008
    I think that`s how many young players learn these days (especially in the self-taught category). It also seems like something that`d happen to kids more often who mostly just play by themselves instead of in a group.
  4. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    i'm the same way. however, as much as i like to memorize as quickly as possible, i often have to read sheet music onstage, and i find it a much quicker and more direct way of communicating how to play a song than memorizing the cd, and it's also a much better way of keeping a group of musicians on the same page. if you just memorize a cd, invariably someone will do something different or misinterpret how the recording went, and sheet music alleviates that problem.

    but both skills are highly prized by musicians in my circles.
  5. grifff


    Jan 5, 2009
    Towson, Maryland
    Why does it sound too perfect to be memorized? I played piano from the age of 5-15(I'm 19 now) and I was required to memorize entire pieces of music and play them from memory at recitals. I don't think it would really be that hard to memorize that piece. You would be surprised at how much you can remember. :)

    I personally prefer to play from memory(after I have memorized a piece) because I find that I am able to put more emphasis on the music instead of on reading the notes.

  6. Don't we all memorize? :)

    But I do agree with what you're getting at with the clip...it's played very well, but it lacks 'feeling'. There's just a lack of dynamics and subtlety to it...the bends are all right to the step/half-step, the attack seems to be exactly the same on every note, really on top of the beat, etc....almost as if it's being played by a high-end midi.

    I believe this thread is a good companion to this discussion.
  7. playing from memory or reading a chart you should still be able to play w/ feeling and ad-lib.

    I sometimes play w/ a guitar player that works out solo's before hand - that seems kinda odd to me
  8. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    some folks like to work out solos beforehand so they don't play something hideous trying to improv.


    Apr 16, 2010
    I agree with Ric5...
    At my level of playing, I will learn a song by reading the sheet music (If I have to) and then set it to memory.
    When I took enough lessons to start reading music, I discovered a whole lot of tunes I had been playing were not
    exactly what was written.
    I guess what I am trying to say is that if I learned a song by ear and cross checked it with the actual written score, I usually had to make a couple corrections to my memory taught tunes.
    I play Rock&Roll. No need for a music stand and sheet music in front of me on stage.
  10. I've heard this before from rock players but I think it has more to do with reading proficiency than any other reason that you could come up with.

    Classical musicians who are good enough to make a living as employees of symphony orchestras all read music during live performances so it definely does not prevent someone from playing a song smoothly, with more feeling or any other dynamic that you could think of.

    That being said, I try not to use sheet music at big gigs because a few of the musicians I play with feel that it isn't good showmanship in a rock band.

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