Memorizing Pieces

Classical Guitar technique: studies, scales, arpeggios, theory
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IV Laws governing the quotation/citation of music


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andreas777
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Re: Memorizing Pieces

Post by andreas777 » Sat Jul 01, 2017 8:13 am

For me it's often more difficult to memorize the notes in the bass strings than the notes in the treble strings ( melody), especially if there is no obvious pattern. Tango by Tarrega, for example, is a simple piece but it took me longer than expected to memorize the notes on the low E string (tuned to D) and A string (tuned to G). The solution is not only focus on the melody but try to hear all notes.
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Mark567
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Re: Memorizing Pieces

Post by Mark567 » Sat Jul 01, 2017 4:04 pm

Rather, I'm interested in hearing the thoughts of others regarding why some pieces seem to be easier to memorize than others
I think it's the level of challenge. I seem to be able to recall (and I'm drawn to learn) more complex pieces of music, where in order to play a simple piece, I have to break out the score.

I don't know if that's a good thing or bad thing.
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bensonm
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Re: Memorizing Pieces

Post by bensonm » Sat Jul 01, 2017 6:32 pm

Guitar Slim Jr. wrote:
Sat Jul 01, 2017 6:06 am
I find that the more difficult a piece is, the easier it is to memorize. I invest more time and effort into the challenging pieces.

Also, the simpler ones tend to be easier to sight-read, and so I have to make a special effort to memorize them. If it's a difficult repertoire piece, by the time I can play it, it's already memorized....
Now, that's an interesting thought! I hadn't thought of it that way. "A Day in November" is right at the outer edge of my current abilities and maybe while learning it I concentrated extra hard on every bar because it was (is) so difficult for me. But with Cancao Trieste, I could pretty much read straight through it from the start, and perhaps my brain just decided that there was no need to really memorize it because I could read it so easily.
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Re: Memorizing Pieces

Post by bensonm » Sat Jul 01, 2017 6:35 pm

andreas777 wrote:
Sat Jul 01, 2017 8:13 am
For me it's often more difficult to memorize the notes in the bass strings than the notes in the treble strings ( melody), especially if there is no obvious pattern. Tango by Tarrega, for example, is a simple piece but it took me longer than expected to memorize the notes on the low E string (tuned to D) and A string (tuned to G). The solution is not only focus on the melody but try to hear all notes.
For me, different tunings in the base strings automatically raise the level of difficulty of memorizing a piece.
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dtoh
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Re: Memorizing Pieces

Post by dtoh » Sun Jul 02, 2017 12:47 am

Here's a theory. There are multiple ways of memorizing music. One is a physical and locatioanal process that involves looking at the fretboard. One is a mental and visual process that involves memorizing notes on a sheet of paper. The latter method is harder... so..... memorizing easy pieces that you sight read without looking at the fretboard is harder than memorizing a more difficult piece where you have to concentrate on your fingers and the fretboard.
Last edited by dtoh on Mon Jul 03, 2017 8:33 am, edited 1 time in total.

Sprucetop
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Re: Memorizing Pieces

Post by Sprucetop » Sun Jul 02, 2017 3:55 am

In my experience, quite often it is a question of form and also the length of the piece. For example, a through-composed, (no repeated sections), piece may very well take longer to learn than a piece that is written in binary or ternary form. As someone else mentioned, the density of the texture/number of independent voices in the piece can also be an issue. I remember Bach's fugue BWV 1000 was tricky for these reasons! Must get on that piece again...
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Guitar Slim Jr.
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Re: Memorizing Pieces

Post by Guitar Slim Jr. » Sun Jul 02, 2017 5:07 am

If learning the harmony helps in memorization, then learning the bass is essential. For me, it's particularly helpful if I'm re-memorizing a piece. Once I fix the bass in my mind, then muscle memory takes over and the positions, chord shapes and scale patterns just fall under the hand.

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Re: Memorizing Pieces

Post by Adam Puryear » Tue Jul 04, 2017 10:31 am

As it was said earlier in the thread, I also find Renaissance and Baroque music difficult to memorize. I guess it's the contrapuntal nature of this music, the multiple voices one must manage simultaneously. This is incredibly complex music! Its easy to memorize chord progressions and similar musical patterns. Also, the more virtuosic the music, the more memorization becomes essential. I am also a pianist and have struggled for years with memorization. I am a much better sight reader and now that I am not doing as much accompaniment work, I am working on building my memorization skills. I very much believe memory skills can be built and perfected. One thing that helps me is to internalize the notes in my mind before I begin trudging through them, (basically by visualizing the score) usually just one phrase or a couple measures at a time. Muscle memory should be the last thing relied upon with memorization. In my experience, some people are better readers and some are better with memorization. I have met very few young musicians who are good sight readers (especially pianists). They rely far to much on visual memory of what their hands are doing and muscle memory in general. This could also be the case with a guitar... relying on what one sees by looking down at the hands. I guess when the musician could sit down and write out the score, then they truly have things memorized.

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zupfgeiger
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Re: Memorizing Pieces

Post by zupfgeiger » Tue Jul 04, 2017 12:12 pm

In former years I sometimes desperately tried to memorize pieces asap. But force and frustration are counterproductiv. Today I don't care and just play the sheet music. After a longer while I try to play my piece by memory, without any preparational strategy. And uuups - it works.
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Rognvald
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Re: Memorizing Pieces

Post by Rognvald » Sat Jul 08, 2017 1:40 pm

Mike, your statement concerning knowledge of musical theory is essential to memorization. For example, when I initially look at a piece, I work out the chord progressions which tell me immediately where the piece is going. .. . especially in appregiated pieces where it is critical. However, if you try to memorize notes in isolation, it will take you much longer and you will never really understand a piece. A musician cannot progress beyond a rudimentary level if he/she does not understand music theory. . . unless you are a savant and it is intuitive. Any savants out there?? Playing again . . . Rognvald
"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music." Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra

dtoh
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Re: Memorizing Pieces

Post by dtoh » Mon Jul 10, 2017 5:54 am

Rognvald wrote:
Sat Jul 08, 2017 1:40 pm
Mike, your statement concerning knowledge of musical theory is essential to memorization. For example, when I initially look at a piece, I work out the chord progressions which tell me immediately where the piece is going. .. . especially in appregiated pieces where it is critical. However, if you try to memorize notes in isolation, it will take you much longer and you will never really understand a piece. A musician cannot progress beyond a rudimentary level if he/she does not understand music theory. . . unless you are a savant and it is intuitive. Any savants out there?? Playing again . . . Rognvald
I think you are mostly right, but I also think it's possible to (and I suspect a lot of non-classical players do) memorize a piece as a series of hand movements through different chord shapes while knowing virtually nothing about music theory except maybe the names of the chords.

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Re: Memorizing Pieces

Post by Sean Eric Howard » Sun Jul 16, 2017 9:41 am

Go online and purchase the book By Heart by Paul Cienniwa. I think it's the finest book written on memorizing music.
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ashworth
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Re: Memorizing Pieces

Post by ashworth » Sun Jul 16, 2017 11:43 am

I find early 19th century guitar music (Carcassi, Sor, Carulli, Mertz, etc.) the easiest to memorize—I suppose because the notes fall into logical, expected patterns on the fingerboard, shapes and sequences that fall under the fingers well and are easier for me to visualize. This is a good thing, because it's my favorite repertoire, anyway.
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bensonm
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Re: Memorizing Pieces

Post by bensonm » Sun Jul 16, 2017 5:39 pm

Sean Eric Howard wrote:
Sun Jul 16, 2017 9:41 am
Go online and purchase the book By Heart by Paul Cienniwa. I think it's the finest book written on memorizing music.
Thanks for the tip. I've ordered it from Amazon.
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bensonm
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Re: Memorizing Pieces

Post by bensonm » Sun Jul 16, 2017 5:41 pm

Rognvald wrote:
Sat Jul 08, 2017 1:40 pm
Mike, your statement concerning knowledge of musical theory is essential to memorization. For example, when I initially look at a piece, I work out the chord progressions which tell me immediately where the piece is going. .. . especially in appregiated pieces where it is critical. However, if you try to memorize notes in isolation, it will take you much longer and you will never really understand a piece. A musician cannot progress beyond a rudimentary level if he/she does not understand music theory. . . unless you are a savant and it is intuitive. Any savants out there?? Playing again . . . Rognvald
Rognvald,

I know and it's on my to do list when I retire to finally get serious about learning music theory. If you have any suggestions on books, I'd love to hear them.

Mike
Michael L. Benson
Cervantes Rodriguez Concert
Aria AC60

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