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How not to forget words?

21 Apr 17 - 05:12 AM (#3851571)
Subject: How not to forget words?
From: Andy7

Like many people, I'm sometimes hit with a sudden loss of memory when performing, at a singaround, a song I've sung countless times at home without trouble.

The technique I've found helps most, is to try not to listen very much to the singer immediately before me, but instead to go over my own song in my head during their turn. Not always easy, though, if that singer is particularly good, or if they're leading a rousing chorus song!

What other suggestions do Mudcatters have for not forgetting words?


21 Apr 17 - 06:05 AM (#3851581)
Subject: RE: How not to forget words?
From: Mo the caller

Then there's Spoonerisms creeping in "three hanks of fine yarn" - no Yanks please.


21 Apr 17 - 06:31 AM (#3851586)
Subject: RE: How not to forget words?
From: GUEST,DTM

Do what Wilson Pickett did when recording "Land of 1000 Dances"
He forgot the words and sang "La-la-la-la-la la-la-la-la la-la-la-la-la-la....." The rest is history.

The secret of not forgetting your words is to learn the song in your teens. I can remember the words of all the songs from that era but now, in my late 60's, I can't remember what I did yesterday.


21 Apr 17 - 07:37 AM (#3851597)
Subject: RE: How not to forget words?
From: GUEST,Jon

For me, I think if that sort of blanking mentioned by the OP is going to happen, it's going to happen and there's nothing you can do about it. If one is singing regularly, one might become more adept at recovering from the situation but sometimes there is no way back.

I can try to run through words in my head before a song to see if I remember the words (if I ever knew them all the way through to start off with) but I don't do it as often as I perhaps should and it's not always that easy to do.

The place I'm most likely to sing in is a mixed session. I'm joining in a lot of the time, whether I start a tune or song may depend on what instrument I have in my hand after the person before me (usually goes in a circle), the way I feel the "mood" of the room is going... it's pretty spontaneous. It's not long back that for some reason I decided "The Last Farewell" (made popular by Roger Whittaker) would fit as something a bit different and I've only ever known the 1st verse of that.


21 Apr 17 - 08:24 AM (#3851607)
Subject: RE: How not to forget words?
From: Jim Carroll

I listened to MacColl up to shortly before his death, when his memory began to fail
I never saw him stumble over lost words - he had absorbed his songs so well that he could improvise them
Unless you had heard them enough times before his improvisations were unnoticeable
On several occasions, when one of us caught his eye after an improvisations, he would shrug slightly and grin - warm memories.
He said the secret was to tell the story, not just sing the words
Makes sense to me
Jim Carroll


21 Apr 17 - 09:18 AM (#3851623)
Subject: RE: How not to forget words?
From: Thompson

One trick used by behavioural scientists is to backchain the words - learn the last line first, then last two lines, last three lines, and so on back to the beginning, so you're always working towards strength.

Another is to use unusual images to fix the words in your head:

"Of all the comrades that e'er I had" (your best buddy with a Che beret with Communist star)
"They are sorry for my going away" (your buddy waving his beret as you sail off from the quay)


21 Apr 17 - 09:50 AM (#3851631)
Subject: RE: How not to forget words?
From: leeneia

If you haven't been doing this, try it. Sing the song beforehand - while driving the car, while doing the dishes, while in the shower. That will show you where the tricky bits are.

Take the words along to the session with the tricky bits marked. Then if they fail you, a mere glance should be able to set you right.

I think.


21 Apr 17 - 10:16 AM (#3851643)
Subject: RE: How not to forget words?
From: Thompson

There's a great scene in one of Hilary Mantel's books about memory methods… let's see if I can find it, ah yes, from Wolf Hall:

""Once, in Thessaly, there was a poet called Simonides. He was commissioned to appear at a banquet, given by a man called Scopas, and recite a lyric in praise of his host. Poets have strange vagaries, and in his lyric Simonides incorporated verses in praise of Castor and Pollux, the Heavenly Twins. Scopas was sulky, and said he would pay only half the fee: 'As for the rest, get it from the Twins.' A little later, a servant came into the hall. He whispered to Simonides; there were two young men outside, asking for him by name. He rose and left the banqueting hall. He looked around for the two young men, but he could see no one. As he turned back, to go and finish his dinner, he heard a terrible noise, of stone splitting and crumbling. He heard the cries of the dying, as the roof of the hall collapsed. Of all the diners, he was the only one left alive. The bodies were so broken and disfigured that the relatives of the dead could not identify them. But Simonides was a remarkable man. Whatever he saw was imprinted on his mind. He led each of the relatives through the ruins; and pointing to the crushed remains, he said, there is your man. In linking the dead to their names, he worked from the seating plan in his head.
It is Cicero who tells us this story. He tells us how, on that day, Simonides invented the art of memory. He remembered the names, the faces, some sour and bloated, some blithe, some bored. He remembered exactly where everyone was sitting, at the moment the roof fell in.""

Thomas Cromwell, in Mantel's books (and perhaps in reality) uses Simonides' famous memory system. A little later he is asked some obscure fact and an imaginary spider scuttles out from under a nearby piece of furniture and offers it to him.


21 Apr 17 - 10:55 AM (#3851657)
Subject: RE: How not to forget words?
From: GUEST

I tend to recite lyrics as if they were poetry..when I'm washing up or hovering, even if I'm out for a walk..seems to help.


21 Apr 17 - 11:11 AM (#3851668)
Subject: RE: How not to forget words?
From: Joe Nicholson

I also think up a couple of songs as I am driving to the venue and sing them trouble is when there you find they are not appropriate to the time or place so you fall back on some you have sung so many times you can't possibly forget. But it's back to the old saying practice. practice 7 practice some more.


21 Apr 17 - 11:53 AM (#3851679)
Subject: RE: How not to forget words?
From: FreddyHeadey

tip, if closing your eyes helps you to remember the words, don't practise when driving.


21 Apr 17 - 11:57 AM (#3851680)
Subject: RE: How not to forget words?
From: Nigel Parsons

As Guest:DTM says above.
Anything learned while young seems to stick.

Most of the Hackney Scout Song Book,
Monologues from Julius Caesar
W S Gilbert's 'Etiquette'
and so forth

Lewis Carroll's "You are old father William", which I found myself singing after singing 'Rolling down to old Maui". It fits quite well!

More recent stuff is more troublesome.


21 Apr 17 - 12:10 PM (#3851683)
Subject: RE: How not to forget words?
From: JHW

'If you haven't been doing this, try it. Sing the song beforehand - while driving the car, while doing the dishes, while in the shower. That will show you where the tricky bits are.'
Trouble with this is I can convince myself I've forgotten it as I can come to completely no idea what's next, same with trying (against another song being sung) to scroll through the words just before my turn. This is just like seeing say a hydrangea yet being completely beat for knowing what its called.
I have announced once 'look I've no idea what the second verse is but this is what I want to sing because...'. Result; not a hiccup when actually singing the song.


21 Apr 17 - 12:18 PM (#3851684)
Subject: RE: How not to forget words?
From: gillymor

I also don't have any problems with lyrics I learned long ago but at 64 it's hard to absorb new ones. The only thing that works for me is to practice new songs over and over until I have the words as good as I'm going to get them and then while performing one verse think ahead to the next verse and if I get the opening line of it I'm fine, most of the time. It doesn't seem to take me out of the moment.


21 Apr 17 - 01:59 PM (#3851700)
Subject: RE: How not to forget words?
From: Thompson

It's practice, gillymor, when we were young most of our time was spent learning new things, and we practised, practised, practised all the time.
Get yourself over to Duolingo and decide on a language to learn - better still, pick two. Duolingo is basically a simple computer game that drills you while teaching you new words and phrases. Very addictive - you see people with 10 or 20 languages! And you find the language slipping seamlessly into your mind, and with it your ability to learn reappearing.

The other thing about learning by heart is to do it while you're active. At the moment I'm learning the Internationale in French, on my almost-daily cycles downriver to the sea and back. The fact that you're moving rhythmically, and the fact that you're in fresh air, and the sight of flowing water all contribute to learning by heart.


21 Apr 17 - 02:38 PM (#3851708)
Subject: RE: How not to forget words?
From: leeneia

Some songs are easier to remember than others.

The line that seems to come out of nowhere and is just in there to make a rhyme is often hard to remember. The line whose grammar is jerked out of the ordinary in order to force a rhyme is also hard to remember.

A song which tells a story in a logical order in natural language is the best bet.


21 Apr 17 - 02:43 PM (#3851711)
Subject: RE: How not to forget words?
From: Andy7

"A song which tells a story in a logical order in natural language is the best bet."

Yes that's very true!


21 Apr 17 - 04:53 PM (#3851731)
Subject: RE: How not to forget words?
From: Thompson

I tend to recite lyrics as if they were poetry..when I'm washing up or hovering

Your powers are great, O hovering one!


22 Apr 17 - 07:30 AM (#3851831)
Subject: RE: How not to forget words?
From: Marje

I have probably shared this tip before - it's my own system but not patented so you are all welcome to try it!

When I am learning or have just learned a song, I take a little card, the size of a credit card. On one side I write the name of the song and the key that works best for me. On the other side I write the first few words of each line, as well as whatever other prompts may be needed: how the second half of the verse starts; any names of places/people that I may forget, any tricky phrases, etc. The act of doing this is part of the learning process.

This can be refined any way you like, e.g. different coloured cards, or symbols on the front, for songs with accompaniment, songs with choruses, etc.

You may think there isn't enough room to write much on a card, but if you go through any half-learned or half-forgotten song, you'll probably find there are only a few potential sticking or stumbling points. Once those are noted on the card, you're sorted.

Then before I go out to a club or session, I select a group of suitable songs that I feel like singing, and put the cards in a little cardholder in my bag (reading through them first). I hardly ever need them while singing, but do sometimes use them beforehand, to remind myself what songs I have, and check my notes if I'm unsure of any bits. I may just keep the card in my hand for security while I'm singing, and if I do need to glance down at it, it doesn't interfere with communication as a wordsheet can.

Works for me.


Marje


22 Apr 17 - 08:04 AM (#3851837)
Subject: RE: How not to forget words?
From: FreddyHeadey

Marje, that sounds brilliant.
:-( I suspect I'd loose them or not file them away again.

I can picture though, if they were small enough, keeping them in a hat and having a sort of raffle. ;-)


22 Apr 17 - 08:14 AM (#3851839)
Subject: RE: How not to forget words?
From: Will Fly

I just sing 'em over and over until they're etched into the brain. But I will share one tip that helps me:

If the song is a bit more complex, I start by writing all the words out in longhand, with a pen, on paper. I do a preliminary learning session with the paper in front of me. Then, when I look away from the paper, I visualise it, with the words on it, the margins, the look of the handwriting - and it all appears in front of me.

So, if the memory starts to fray while singing - luckily, it rarely does - I call up the piece of paper and "see" it. Same goes for chord sequences. Recently I was asked to sing "The Song Of The Prune", by Frank Crumit, which I hadn't sung for years. I must have written it down about 20 years ago but - when I concentrated - the bit of paper I'd written it down on appeared in my mind's eye, and I was able to do it.

Of course I can trip up like everyone else, but - so far at my age - recall is good. (Whew!)


22 Apr 17 - 08:18 AM (#3851841)
Subject: RE: How not to forget words?
From: MoorleyMan

Words of wisdom indeed.
Especially good to see you posting again Joe - you mirror my own experience there: >>trouble is when there you find they are not appropriate to the time or place so you fall back on some you have sung so many times you can't possibly forget<<. Practice is all very good, but of little use if the time or place don't allow singing-out of what you've practised!


22 Apr 17 - 08:42 AM (#3851849)
Subject: RE: How not to forget words?
From: FreddyHeadey

Will "...call up the piece of paper and "see" it. ..."

Wow, that's a gift I wish I had.
For me it has faded to a grey mush in just over a second :-(


22 Apr 17 - 09:03 AM (#3851853)
Subject: RE: How not to forget words?
From: GUEST,Gerry

The only surefire way not to forget words is not to learn any in the first place.


22 Apr 17 - 12:18 PM (#3851870)
Subject: RE: How not to forget words?
From: jojofolkagogo

Well I sing Long Lankin which is quite long and what I do is visualize the story which is being told : 'so the lady came downstairs shes thinking no harm' I see a lady coming down with a fair face.
Seeing the words are what I call a ohotographic memory - I have this gift but now those photos are fading so out come the words again to take another photo !
You could all try ALL the above because they might work 4 u - good luck !


22 Apr 17 - 01:31 PM (#3851878)
Subject: RE: How not to forget words?
From: Marje

Funny how differently we all learn. Seeing the text on a page doesn't help me learn it (except to see what the words are, of course). I need to hear the words aloud, in the right rhythm and preferably with the tune. Even if I learn a song from a book, I will do this by singing or reciting the words so that I get the sound and the cadences of them in my head.

There are pitfalls in this method. Some times I find that the word that comes into my head, or even out of my mouth, is something with similar vowel sounds to the correct word but a totally different meaning; so "habits" could become "cabbage", or "shipmates" turn to "fishcakes". (Purely hypothetical examples, affected by the fact that I am just about to go and cook my dinner).

This only happens when I'm not concentrating, most likely singing in the car or something. Focusing on the meaning of the lyrics will prevent this type of blunder.

Marje


22 Apr 17 - 02:49 PM (#3851887)
Subject: RE: How not to forget words?
From: GUEST,Desi C

This may sound stupidly simple but I tried various methods and none really worked. Then I set aside my instrument and began singing the songs out loud just going about the house doing chores or whatever, until I knew them so well that I simply haven't had a memory lapse performing in ages, and I can just break into even very long songs any time of the day and get them right....touch wood


22 Apr 17 - 06:32 PM (#3851909)
Subject: RE: How not to forget words?
From: GUEST

I do not have a big problem forgetting the words of songs my problem is forgetting which songs I know so I have to keep a note book with just the titles written in


22 Apr 17 - 06:33 PM (#3851910)
Subject: RE: How not to forget words?
From: GUEST,Joe Nicholson

Guest was me


23 Apr 17 - 01:19 AM (#3851931)
Subject: RE: How not to forget words?
From: Gurney

As guestDTM said right at the top, learn them while you're young.

Then don't ever change your style!

I have all these English trad songs that are easily called to mind, but I've become lily-livered in my old age, and the sight of the audience slitting their wrists.....

I CAN learn new songs, with serious effort, but they only stick for a day or so. Sometimes after a week I can't even remember WHICH song I last learned.....
Seriously, there seems to be a finite size for my lyrics memory, and I've reached it. It used to be so easy.....