The Melody/Sound You Lose (TB Pro's Invited Here)

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by rickbass, Mar 12, 2003.

  1. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Dear Abby of Bass;

    This is making me sick.....I hear a song/sound in my head and I never have the immediate means to record what I hear.

    - Sometimes, I hear a melody in a dream and have no means at my bedside to get it down when I awake. The tune only stays in my head for a couple of minutes before I lose it.
    - Sometimes, I hear something on TV, something as insipid as a sound clip from a commercial, and I immediately, unwillingly, make a song out of it in my head. But I'm not wired 24/7/365 to get the idea down that I hear.

    So, the "universal" questions are;

    > Does this happen to you???

    > Have you figured out a means to get what you hear in your head down so you can develop them later????

    I have no formal background in composition, only in reading music. Besides, the best tunes come into my head when I don't try to force them.

    Any observations/sharings of similar experiences are much appreciated.
  2. secretdonkey


    Oct 9, 2002
    Austin, TX
    If it's any consolation, I remember reading that Hendrix bemoaned his inability to capture and reproduce all of the fantastic music he heard in his head. :)
  3. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Just for that consolation, donkey, you get a link to a tune my band put into a rock idiom and which gets great response as the audience gets'll work for you too since we're both in the southern Midwest...."Big Balls in Cowtown"....all the "fiddle stuff" is done on our gitawrs....and aren't donkeys known to be "testicularly-gifted"???
  4. Yes, it often happens to me. Some times I've got paper around and can sketch down the bas(s)ics of the melody or bassline but that's not often as I come up with most of them when I'm walking on my way home, in the shower or on the buss...

    Get a small recording device you can carry around everyware or have by your bed so you can record yourself singing the melody.
    Alternatively you can sing the melody into your cellphones answering machine. :)
  5. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    What Bela Fleck does, he calls himself and leaves a message where he hums the melody or idea.

    that way when he gets home and checks his messages he is reminded of that moment where he thought of the idea, and he is able to work from there.

    oh yeah...
    happens to me ALL the time
  6. Garry Goodman

    Garry Goodman

    Feb 26, 2003

    i completely relate to your initial inquiry.I think I've tried everybody's suggestions here at one time or another.

    My opinion: The key elements are discipline and ability.
  7. This question came up on TB sometime ago. I suggested carrying a micro cassette recorder (I have one near me at all times for such occasions). When a tune starts to play in my head, I turn the recorder on and hum the tune. People I know have spotted me driving down the road holding a cassette to my mouth, humming and bobbing up and down like one of those rear-window dancing/bobbing dog-head thingamajigs (hey, you gotta get that rhythm thang going when you record your thoughts). I have a cassette filled with me humming - sounds very strange indeed, but it works!

    Ninestring, I think your suggestion has more to do with being able to pick up the bass and play what you're hearing in your head, whereas rickbass (if I understand correctly) wants to know how we remember all these little ideas that pop into our heads at the most misopportune time (driving down the freeway on your way to work in the morning) so that we can try them out when we get back home at 6 in the evening.
  8. I'd look pretty silly doing that on the bus into college in the morning - however, that's where some of my best ideas happen, I'm sure, but I've never really effectivly captured them.

    There is a dictophone in my car though, I use it for that when I'm driving (it's in the car because the car makes funny noises sometimes, and we need to prove them to the guys at the garage) and I might try phoning my own voicemail box tomorrow.

    I do find that the most catchy ideas come back to me though, next time I pick up my bass, especially if they're not in 4/4 (I don't know why that is, maybe because I find not-4/4 a real challenge, so concentrate on it much harder). It's never the same though - in that instant of hearing a totally new tune, I find that I can hear all of it, in real time, verse, chorus, even the lyrics (something I can never even get started on when I try again later), but when I try again later, I'll just have the melodyn or the bass groove. I think that's what annoys me most.
  9. A mini-disc recorder is the answer. Dont worry about getting strange looks. A friend of mine writes all his songs while sitting in a tube train going to work.
  10. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    It's not unusual for musical ideas to come to us in times like this - when we're not thinking about it - e.g. watching telly - and in those moments when you're not quite asleep, but you're drifting off.

    In fact it was at this time (not quite awake, not quite asleep) that McCartney came up with Yellow Submarine.

    It's happened to me - but I don't tend to forget them.

    How is your ear for intervals etc. rickbass? Having heard the melody, are you able to identify the intervals that make it up? If you managed to get to a piano (or whatever) within those 2 minutes, could you play the melody? Or would you have to sit and work out what the notes are?

    If you can identify the intervals when you hear it the first time, you can then have something tangible you can remember.
  11. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Xavier - You nail it correctly. It's like an "assault."

    Of course, the bass figures/lines are the foundations, but I'm also hearing beats/meter and melody on top of the bass.

    I say "assault" because it all just comes on at once. So, there's all these elements that I hear simultaneously.

    What is easier is when I listen to an actual song and hear, in my head, "This is how I'd do it." But when it comes to works by geniuses such as Stravinsky or Debussy, I can't expand on what they created.........hell, I can barely keep up!
  12. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Excellent questions, moley. I haven't had a problem with intervals because I think I've been at it so long. Some people are amazed that I can hear a sound clip for the first time and play it respectably well.
    To me, it's not amazing at all. It's like "Damn, I'd better be able to pick out the bassline after all these years."

    One of my biggest troubles, in relation to what this thread is about, is that within 10 minutes of hearing the tune in my head, I'll hear other music and I forget how to recreate what I heard in my head.

    I don't think I'm the only one here who gets distracted from what they conceptualize by music that is "forced" on them. You can awake in total silence and as soon as you step out the door, a passing car, walking into a building lobby, or stopping at the convenience store will put a different tune in your head.
  13. Erlendur Már

    Erlendur Már

    May 24, 2000
    It happens to me all the time. I do remember some of it, but only if I'm not doing anything so I can hum it (or play, if I have my bass) until I can't forget it..
  14. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK

    I was just thinking that maybe if, having heard the melody - in that moment (before you forget it!) you could "transcribe" it in your head, if you get what I mean. So if you think "Ok, it's major, and starts on the 3rd, then goes to the 5th, then the 6th etc. etc." - or just think "It's major, starts on the 3rd, then up a minor 3rd, then up a tone" etc. etc.

    That would give you something tangible to remember, if you see my point. It might be easier to remember the numbers than to remember the melody itself, given that a melody is pretty abstract.

    If you can remember *some* of it in this way - maybe you could use that to jog your memory of the rest of it?
  15. rickbass,

    I have been writing longer than I care to admit publicly here in this forum and.........

    Years ago I used to bemoan the fact that what I "heard" in my head I couldn't write down, but when I did learn to write it down, I found that what I was "writing" was really someone else's melody that I had subconciously picked up.

    Thus, anything that I "wrote" in this method turned out to be a rip off.

    So I stopped trying to write like that.

    For many years now my best stuff has been created at my guitar - getting out of my own way and letting the "accidents" take me somewhere that I can shape.

    That's just my opinion and I could be wrong.
  16. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Yeah, it can happen that you've inadvertantly stolen something, and you think that you've just thought it up. I've done that once or twice.

    But, let's not forget, Yesterday came about like that.

    McCartney woke up with this tune in his head, and figured out the chords on a piano.

    "Scrambled Eggs, oh my baby how I love your legs..."
  17. My problem exactly! It would be simple enough if all that came into my head for the duration of the day was one simple tune, then I could play it over and over until I got to a paper and pen to write it down (or recorder, to record it). Like rickbass, I usually get many of these ideas throughout the day, and by the time I get to the 3rd one, if I havn't yet put the 1st one down in some form of hardcopy, there's a good chance the 1st one would have been "corrupted", if not completely wiped from memory. What we need is a "Smart Media Disk" or other form of storage, attached to our brain, where a push of a button would download all content from memory to disk (or card). Can someone please suggest this to Mr. Gates?
  18. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    No! Anyone but Gates! It would crash and you would go into a coma! :eek:
  19. secretdonkey


    Oct 9, 2002
    Austin, TX
    Drat! I'm at work so I'll have to wait till I get home to check out the song - sounds like a hoot!

    As far as the gift, it applies to the twig as well as the berries! :eek: Actually, I only wish that the metaphor, ummm, extended in that direction for me.

    Speaking of Cowtown, though, I remember visiting some huge Dallas/Ft. Worth honky tonk institution years ago. Their gift shop was filled with purses and other accessories made from bull scrotums. :eek:

    Thanks for the 'consolation prize' :D
  20. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    I really envy people like you and Xavier - people who can read AND WRITE like you were just using the alphabet.

    Ever endure the Shammy, er, I mean, Grammy Awards in the past few years??? They have a different term for "musical plagiarism." They call it "your influences" nowadays. :rolleyes:

    "My Sweet Lord" and "He's So Fine" used to be an aberration.