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What is the size of your repertoire?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Bassist4Eris, Nov 18, 2012.

  1. Bassist4Eris

    Bassist4Eris Frat-Pack Sympathizer

    I'm wondering just how many songs the human brain can remember. So I'm curious about how many songs other people "know". Here's my criteria: both originals and covers count. For covers, simply knowing the chord changes and faking the bass line does not count, for purposes of this survey anyway. To "know" a cover, you must either know the bassline pretty close to note-for-note, or, if the original version is played in a more improvisational style, you must know the chords and form, and be able to improvise convincingly in a similar style. Unique re-arrangments of cover tunes (like your polka version of "Stairway to Heaven") also count. You must be able to play these songs without a chart or other "cheat sheet" in front of you.

    I just listed them out, and assuming I'm not forgetting any (I'm sure I must be) I come up with 23 originals and 29 covers, or 52 songs altogether. These are not all the songs I've ever known (I'm sure I've forgotten more than I currently know) but that's what I could step on a stage right this minute and play.

    The reason for my curiousity is, I just got "recruited" to play in a reggae band, and I'm going to have to add maybe 30-40 covers to my current repertoire pretty soon, since I only know two reggae songs at the moment. That's going to bring me darn close to 100, and being primarily an originals guy, there's always another tune on the horizon (I got two cooking right now, and my guitar player has at least one he was showing me). I'm wondering at what point my brain is simply going to forget forms, variations, even basic rhythms for these tunes. Has anyone hit overload with this info?

    Noob disclaimer: I did search first, and was surprised to come up empty-handed. Maybe I didn't use the right search terms. Please don't flame me, I cry easily ;)
  2. Tituscrow

    Tituscrow Banned

    Feb 14, 2011
    NW England
    Hundreds. Decades of just humming tunes in my head, noodling on guitars in my spare time and performing in bands. Yep, hundreds.
  3. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    I'd say somewhere in the range of 300 to 400. And that's not counting the ones I probably could play the first time just by hearing them so many times. I made a list that has 250 songs on it, and that doesn't count stuff from my early bands.
  4. About 150 note for note. Good thing about the reggae stuff is it's all very basic and similar.
  5. there is no limit really. brain is not a computer hard drive it doesnt work the storage room way.
    n it depends on how much time you dedicate to it. also you memorize by repitition so if you listen to music you wouldnt even have to play it to know it.

    for me the only problem is ... if i dont play/listen to songs i know for a while i forget them pretty easily but if i played in say 10 bands at the same time id be able to memorize every song as long as its played regularly. but dont play it for a month or so (except songs that are burned unto the skull) and its gone
  6. Kmonk


    Oct 18, 2012
    South Shore, Massachusetts
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Spector, Ampeg, Curt Mangan Strings, Nordstrand Pickups, Korg Keyboards
    My first band was a cover band that gigged 5 nights per week for 4 years. We knew about 200 songs. After 34 years of playing in cover and original bands, my total is in the hundreds, possibly close to 1,000 that I could play well enough to get through a gig without a train wreck happening. If I hear a song a few times I can usually play it. I sometimes put my Ipod on shuffle and just play along with whatever comes on. I enjoy revisiting songs that I haven't played in a while. Everybody is different. Some people can only seem to remember 50 songs or so. I know a keyboard player who play several thousand songs from memory.
  7. pflash4001


    Dec 2, 2011
    Would you feel self conscious if a woman asked you that?
  8. Bassist4Eris

    Bassist4Eris Frat-Pack Sympathizer

    Well, I'd be tempted to exaggerate a little bit :D
  9. pflash4001


    Dec 2, 2011
    Aaahhh, I see...Internet inches! The golden measure!
  10. Bassist4Eris

    Bassist4Eris Frat-Pack Sympathizer

    To be honest, and at the same time continue with the double entendre, I am feeling a bit "inadequate" compared to these guys with hundreds of tunes. It's the life of an originals guy: you get a band going, get thirty or so tunes together, something stupid happens, the band breaks up, and the thirty songs evaporate. I suppose you can take some of them with you, but we bass players are rarely responsible for melodies, lyrics, etc, even if tunes are sometimes written starting with our bass riffs. So I'm usually starting again from scratch, and instead of having thirty covers I can take with me, I've got nothing.

    Despite it all, originals are still my love. But I'm starting to see the light about doing covers too, and I think I'm going to enjoy playing in this reggae band and getting some good paying gigs. I just hope I can cut it. I'm a total reggae noob, but I'm getting hooked quickly. The guys in this band are all respected area pros from the cover scene, so I'm feeling very challenged at this point. But I'm ready to give it my all!
  11. Richland123


    Apr 17, 2009
    I have a few hundred songs memorized.
  12. Rockbassist4


    Oct 13, 2012
    I am in the several hundred range.
  13. mellowinman

    mellowinman Free Man

    Oct 19, 2011
    That's kind of a personal question, isn't it?

    Anyway, I've never called it that.
  14. 8 and a half inches.

    Oh, uh... about 10 originals and 20 covers or so. Probably more if I really reached around
  15. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize! Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    Note for note? Probably zero. Good thing I am not expected to play note for note :p
  16. QweziRider

    QweziRider Supporting Member

    Sep 15, 2008
    Las Vegas
    Somewhere in the neighborhood of about 400. But.....

    Where I do what I do, that's not always practical or expected to be able to "know the song." When you do sub work a fair amount (i.e., "we need you to know this set of 40 songs in a couple weeks"), they get what they get from me. Which is a good show, signature lines known note-for-note, and everything else played to the feel of the given band.
  17. FunkHead

    FunkHead Supporting Member

    Mar 10, 2007
    Phillipsburg, NJ
    1,000's! I believe it's infinite. The Brain is like a sponge. Like a Muscle that keeps growing the more you use it. Take a 10 year old kid and have him jam to songs a few hours a day every day for about 30 years.
    The thing is you have to visualize the fretboard when you listen to music. After a while you learn songs without even having your bass in your hands.
  18. Duckwater


    May 10, 2010
    USA, Washington
    I know about 1000 songs, some of them I forget until I try playing them and BAM it's all back.
  19. hgiles


    Nov 8, 2012
    "Once you've learned a thousand tunes, you realize there is only about ten tunes."
  20. Bassist4Eris

    Bassist4Eris Frat-Pack Sympathizer

    Thanks for the replies, guys. This is very motivating. What's going on here is I'm nearly 40, and I worry that there may come a time soon when finding a decent originals band may prove difficult. I've got a couple now, but nothing lasts forever, and I'd like to be able to remain a part of the local music scene until they lay me in the cold, cold ground. The recent "old guys playing originals" thread has got me doing a lot of thinking. And that thinking has basically come down to: stick with originals for as long as you can, cuz that's what you love, but learn some darn covers too, so you don't have to start from scratch.

    And now this strange reggae opportunity has come along, and maybe that's a path I'm supposed to be on. The drummer in my originals band is a respected reggae drummer, having played for a couple of the top bands in my area. BL issues caused him to split from his last band, and now he wants to try putting something new together. A good friend of his is one of the top blues guitarists in the area, but he's looking to try something different, and agreed to come on board. Just having this guy on guitar is enough to make me want to come on board too. His presence has also already attracted a keyboardist, trumpeter, and trombonist. I would kill for keys or horns in my originals bands, but I simply can't afford them! Start a potential money-maker, and they all come out of the woodwork.

    But I do wonder: why me? They can't find a guy who's already well-versed in this stuff? But I was talking with my drummer tonight, and I mentioned to him that I've noticed that in reggae, note length is crucial. He replied, yep, and then sang a bass line to me to prove the point further. He then stated that I would be surprised how many bass players don't get that. So maybe that's why he thinks I'd fit the bill: I pay attention to the details.

    I think I just hijacked my own thread. :)