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Do you sing from Memory?

Greg B 16 Nov 07 - 06:06 PM
Don Firth 16 Nov 07 - 06:12 PM
Art Thieme 16 Nov 07 - 06:25 PM
M.Ted 16 Nov 07 - 06:31 PM
Tootler 16 Nov 07 - 07:06 PM
Stewart 16 Nov 07 - 07:26 PM
Tyke 16 Nov 07 - 07:53 PM
Deckman 16 Nov 07 - 08:03 PM
Beer 16 Nov 07 - 08:31 PM
Jim Lad 16 Nov 07 - 08:37 PM
Bee-dubya-ell 16 Nov 07 - 08:41 PM
Leadfingers 16 Nov 07 - 08:48 PM
Ythanside 16 Nov 07 - 09:29 PM
Don Firth 16 Nov 07 - 10:32 PM
M.Ted 17 Nov 07 - 01:09 AM
Jim Lad 17 Nov 07 - 03:55 AM
Mr Red 17 Nov 07 - 04:02 AM
GUEST,Jim Carroll 17 Nov 07 - 04:13 AM
DMcG 17 Nov 07 - 04:13 AM
My guru always said 17 Nov 07 - 05:16 AM
Liz the Squeak 17 Nov 07 - 05:17 AM
Linda Kelly 17 Nov 07 - 05:53 AM
Wilfried Schaum 17 Nov 07 - 06:16 AM
Jeanie 17 Nov 07 - 06:27 AM
synbyn 17 Nov 07 - 06:31 AM
Carol 17 Nov 07 - 06:33 AM
Carol 17 Nov 07 - 07:11 AM
GUEST,Terry McDonald 17 Nov 07 - 07:23 AM
Diva 17 Nov 07 - 07:46 AM
Leadfingers 17 Nov 07 - 08:00 AM
GUEST,Jay 17 Nov 07 - 08:04 AM
Mo the caller 17 Nov 07 - 08:08 AM
GUEST,Terry McDonald 17 Nov 07 - 08:35 AM
Liz the Squeak 17 Nov 07 - 08:54 AM
Liz the Squeak 17 Nov 07 - 08:55 AM
Lowden Jameswright 17 Nov 07 - 09:44 AM
Rumncoke 17 Nov 07 - 09:51 AM
Sugwash 17 Nov 07 - 09:55 AM
Teribus 17 Nov 07 - 09:58 AM
Lowden Jameswright 17 Nov 07 - 10:05 AM
Flash Company 17 Nov 07 - 10:40 AM
stallion 17 Nov 07 - 10:45 AM
Richard Bridge 17 Nov 07 - 10:48 AM
GUEST,Auldtimer 17 Nov 07 - 10:52 AM
Sabine 17 Nov 07 - 11:00 AM
Essex Girl 17 Nov 07 - 11:12 AM
Liz the Squeak 17 Nov 07 - 12:20 PM
Alice 17 Nov 07 - 12:38 PM
GUEST,Jim Carroll 17 Nov 07 - 03:08 PM
oggie 17 Nov 07 - 03:54 PM
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Subject: RE: Do you sing from Memory?
From: Greg B
Date: 16 Nov 07 - 06:06 PM

I'm with the 'from memory' set except, as someone mentioned above,
when the mortal flesh has intervened such as from a TIA or just plain
old age. In that case, the singer isn't cribbing it because s/he doesn't
know the song well enough, but rather because of a memory issue---
which means they understand how well one must understand a song to
sing it in public.

The other thing about singing from memory is that if you make
it a rule then you'll be singing the new song constantly. Driving, at
work, out loud and in your head/heart. Which means that you go about
with a song on your lips or in your heart much of the time, which is
a good thing, now isn't it?

Unless of course it's Barnacle Bill, and you're at work.

And forgetting the words isn't that awful, really. Hell, if Lou
Killen can do it on occasion, I sure can. Only thing I can't figure
out is how in the hell he gets the words projected up there on the
ceiling where he always seems to look for--- and find--- them. I
can't see him. Must be some sort of invisible ink laser projector
he carries with him, with about 10,000 songs in its memory.


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Subject: RE: Do you sing from Memory?
From: Don Firth
Date: 16 Nov 07 - 06:12 PM

"re Classical Performers - I've never known why soloists have the music there as they know it inside out anyway."

Knowing the music "inside out" does not necessarily mean that even the best of them won't have a memory lapse from time to time. Even the recitalist, standing in the curve of a grand piano, has his or her accompanist a few feet away with the music in front of them to prompt them if necessary should they falter. In full-blown opera productions, Broadway musicals, and stage plays, there is a prompter's box under the stage and out of sight of the audience where someone with a score or a script hunkers down, ready to feed a line to a singer or actor when and if necessary.

So no matter how well you--or a very highly paid, world renown singer--know the material, neither you--nor they--are immune to the occasional brain-fart.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Do you sing from Memory?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 16 Nov 07 - 06:25 PM

...And I'll know my song well
Before I start singing.

It's a hard rain's a gonna fall~


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Subject: RE: Do you sing from Memory?
From: M.Ted
Date: 16 Nov 07 - 06:31 PM

And I am sure that none of you have ever recorded a song with the lyrics in front of you, either. That would be dishonest, as well.

LTS raises an important point when she mentions the ones who think they've got it down, so sing from memory and get it wrong.    I will suggest that many of you who are so proud of your memory often confabulate the melody, as well as the lyrics. Many who sing folk music, and even perform it, are often lazy, sloppy, or just plain incompetent in their melodic efforts, and use some combination of excuses about the folk process and sponteneity--


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Subject: RE: Do you sing from Memory?
From: Tootler
Date: 16 Nov 07 - 07:06 PM

I don't sing professionally, never have and, at 62 probably never will.

I have been singing at local folk club singarounds for about a year and I always try to learn the words of the songs I am going to sing. This has been hard work, but has been worth the effort and I have only had to use a crib sheet about 3 times over the year. I do keep my words to hand, though and I often go through bits I am not absolutely confident about just before my turn.

I see the effort of learning the words as something to help keep my memory active, something I am very keen to do. My mother had alzheimer's disease and having seen what it did to her, I am petrified of going the same way so anything I can do to keep my memory functioning effectively is worthwhile.

I was interested in this comment by Don Firth "But 'knowing' a song goes beyond merely having the words committed to memory." because I think the converse is also true. The process of committing the words to memory helps in understanding what the song is about. I find that while I am learning the words, the process of going over them brings insights into what the song is saying at that point.

Although I can read music, I cannot sight sing, so I generally learn song tunes by ear. If I can get the dots for a tune, I can play it on my concertina and sing along which helps considerably.


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Subject: RE: Do you sing from Memory?
From: Stewart
Date: 16 Nov 07 - 07:26 PM

I don't go to song circle very often now, but when I do I am still amazed to see some people bringing several bags of song books and loose-leaf notebooks full of songs - hundreds if not thousands of songs. Then if they need the words (which they usually do) they awkwardly try and position the song sheet on their knee in front of their guitar, and then it usually falls on the floor.

Just having not to lug all that stuff around and then not having to position the song sheet and still play the guitar, by itself makes memorizing the song worth all the effort. It's a very freeing experience.

I find it harder to memorize the older I get, but still do it cause it's worth the effort. It just takes longer to do.

When peforming before an audience, eye contact and other visual communication with the audience is as important as knowing what the song is about, etc., and even glancing down at the words from time to time takes away from that important aspect of performance.

Cheers, S. in Seattle


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Subject: RE: Do you sing from Memory?
From: Tyke
Date: 16 Nov 07 - 07:53 PM

When people turn up with the words of the song in a book and the book is as thick as my fist with hundreds of songs in it most if not all printed from the Mudcat. Then I think it can be a problem. As already stated on this thread are many good reasons why and why not crib sheets. But who is going to sing 50 songs plus in one evening.

Oh and if anyone tells you that I was seen down the then Tap and Spiel in Whitby with a laptop loaded with the digital tradition song files its true and I thought of it first! Yes I was taking the Mickey! Well there was hardly enough room for beer on the tables for songbooks.

I don't know if anyone has mentioned the Oral Tradition where a song is learned from a source singer. "Folk" is a living thing I don't want people in the future pointing at their crib sheets and insisting that they are singing the correct words. Because they got the words of the back of an LP by the Corries as recorded in 1957 or the Mudcat! Wasn't it Mr C Sharp who made a habit of taking all the swear word out of the Sea Shanties and other "Folk" songs

Here's the words you weren't looking for Dick!

It's adieu sweet lovely Nancy I've forgotten a verse or two.
So I'm going home for my Mudcat Book to look for something new.
Kind emails I will send to you from my home to your mobile phone,
I when I do return again I sing the song once more.

If only I had been their in 1977 with my Laptop!


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Subject: RE: Do you sing from Memory?
From: Deckman
Date: 16 Nov 07 - 08:03 PM

I was going to make a profound comment ... but I forgot what I was going to say. Oh well! Bob


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Subject: RE: Do you sing from Memory?
From: Beer
Date: 16 Nov 07 - 08:31 PM

Not any more.
Beer (adrien)


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Subject: RE: Do you sing from Memory?
From: Jim Lad
Date: 16 Nov 07 - 08:37 PM

I used to keep my set lists by the amp and read over them during the breaks.
I threw them away about 5 years ago with the intention of replacing them with brand new sets.
I swear to God, I forgot.


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Subject: RE: Do you sing from Memory?
From: Bee-dubya-ell
Date: 16 Nov 07 - 08:41 PM

I sing and play from memory as far as my own repetoire goes, but I have no problem using a cheat sheet if I'm accompanying someone else and they're doing something I don't know well. I just did a festival gig with a fiddler friend who has written some outstanding tunes, but I only play them a couple of times a year. I'd rather have the changes in front of me so I get 'em right. If we had a "real band" together and played the tunes more regularly, I'd memorize them.


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Subject: RE: Do you sing from Memory?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 16 Nov 07 - 08:48 PM

I know of at least one Floor Singer in MY Patch who has all his songs on a PDA ! AND he uses it when he is 'on Stage'

Personally , I go with the 'If you dont KNOW the song , you dont know the song' school !

Even for One Off songs ate Theme nights , I prefer to have the songe memorised !

If recording , though , I WOULD have the words on a stand in front of me - Easier than Re Recording a song if you DO have a CRAFT moment .

(CRAFT MOMENT ?? Cant Remember A F****** Thing)


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Subject: RE: Do you sing from Memory?
From: Ythanside
Date: 16 Nov 07 - 09:29 PM

Always, unless I'm re-recording 'word-perfect' tracks that vary too widely from established lyrics. :-)


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Subject: RE: Do you sing from Memory?
From: Don Firth
Date: 16 Nov 07 - 10:32 PM

"The process of committing the words to memory helps in understanding what the song is about."

Absolutely! But please don't misunderstand what I'm saying when I say that I don't think having a crib-sheet within eye-shot is a hanging offense. I am not advocating reading the song rather than memorizing it. Most definitely not! Memorize the words and know the song (the two are closely connected, but they are not necessarily the same thing), and do not read from the crib-sheet when you sing before an audience. Stay in contact with the audience. But having that safety net there--to glance at only in case of a "senior moment"--can make for a much smoother performance and a more enjoyable experience for the audience. If a memory lapse should occur, a quick glance slaps a patch on it, and the song goes on smoothly and without interruption. If and only if.

I have not actually done it yet, but if I were to use crib-sheets in a live performance, I would not be lugging around a gunnysack full of books. It would be one three-ring binder containing only the songs I intend to sing in that performance.

And I'm only thinking about it.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Do you sing from Memory?
From: M.Ted
Date: 17 Nov 07 - 01:09 AM

I like the guy with the PDA--you can also use your PDA/Cell Phone to look up lyrics in the DT(and other places)--so those stacks of songbooks will soon be things of the past--as will those of you who insist on singing only what you've memorized;-)


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Subject: RE: Do you sing from Memory?
From: Jim Lad
Date: 17 Nov 07 - 03:55 AM

Sorry: I thought we were talking about sets.
I wouldn't dare sing a song that I have not committed to memory.


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Subject: RE: Do you sing from Memory?
From: Mr Red
Date: 17 Nov 07 - 04:02 AM

Yes
And memory is not what it was.
I have to sing in the car to refresh that memory.

My feeling is that by singing off the page expression and artistic impression is impoverished or even non-existent.


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Subject: RE: Do you sing from Memory?
From: GUEST,Jim Carroll
Date: 17 Nov 07 - 04:13 AM

I agree totally with Captain Swing - reading from crib-sheets is an insult to the audience.
In all the years I have spent with traditional (source) singers, I have known very few who have use written texts while they were singing.
One was/is a local singer who now has Alzheimer's, but is still asked to sing occasionally and has been encouraged to write his songs in a book by his daughter.
On the couple of occasions I have seen it happen elsewhere, the singers have apologised for having done so and have obviously been extremely uncomfortable.
Walter Pardon did it once; he had put a tune to Thomas Hardy's poem, The Trampwoman's Tragedy but had stopped singing in public by then so had not bothered to learn it, so he read it from a sheet in order that we might record it. He would never in a thousand years get up in front of an audience to sing from the page.
I believe it is essential to know the song inside out before you can make a good (or even passable) job of it, otherwise you end up just singing the words, and singing should be much more than that.
In my experience, reading from the page has always made the song stilted and unconvincing.
Risking the wrath of god (or Khan) being brought down on my head, it is why I have never really liked The Coppers singing. The fact that they read the text from a book has always made their songs poorly phrased and samey; the great exception being Bob Copper's solo Topic album (Rosebud in June??) where he proved what a fine singer he really was, to my satisfaction at least.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Do you sing from Memory?
From: DMcG
Date: 17 Nov 07 - 04:13 AM

Surely the context in which you are singing is everything? I've never sung professionally but have in various formal occasions such as choral evenings. In singarounds, I normally have a mental list of things that I may sing that are relevant to the time or date: ones about Napolean in mid-June for example. But I rarely stick to that because I prefer to react to what other people sing to make a kind of 'conversation' of the session. As a result, at sessions I sing from memory, even the ones I had as possibles. But when I sing a psalm solo in church, I always have the music. Ditto in choral work.

When I play music, I always have fixed pieces with the notes in front of me because I'm simply not confident (or competent) enough to do anything else.


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Subject: RE: Do you sing from Memory?
From: My guru always said
Date: 17 Nov 07 - 05:16 AM

That's exactly how I feel about learning a new song Greg B, it IS a good thing for a singer to have a song on their lips!

And Stewart, that bit about not lugging songbooks being a freeing experience - so true!

Also Tootler regarding keeping the memory active, so very important, losing one's memory is a terrifying possibility!

Wonderful discussion!


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Subject: RE: Do you sing from Memory?
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 17 Nov 07 - 05:17 AM

*Humour warning*

I sang my first paid gig aged 9 with the music in front of me and I see no reason to change now!


Trouble is, if I were to sing a song now, on my own, in the bath or singing along with a recording, I could do it, perd worfectly. It's when you put an audience in the mix that the brain leaks out my ears.

LTS


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Subject: RE: Do you sing from Memory?
From: Linda Kelly
Date: 17 Nov 07 - 05:53 AM

i have some songs that i would love to perform, mainly my own which I cannot because I do not possess the abiity to recall them-when you sing in a duo then that is a bigger problem. If proffessionls came to our club with crib sheets and some have dont think we would worry, especially if it is a new song, the performance counts. Memory is a problem because it needs time and space-I don't get that too often!Also if we have a break in performing I cannot retain words this is a bigger problem because you write your gig list and get to the stage and then think hell-what did I put that in the set for I cant remember any of it. Mainly for me it is the order of the verses so I occasionaly have first lines written on a scrap of paper to remind me


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Subject: RE: Do you sing from Memory?
From: Wilfried Schaum
Date: 17 Nov 07 - 06:16 AM

When a troop leader with the Boy Scouts we always sang our songs by memory. No chance to hold a song book when hiking or aaround the camp fire.

Now I'm glad that we had learned about 300 songs by heart; the most I still can remember after half a century. Now that I have lost the most of my voice I often hum or whistle the songs and think the words (I call it inward singing).

Sometimes I forget some verses of certain songs, even shorter ones, e.g. John Kanaka. So I have to look it up often. That is exactly what I shall do now. Thanks DT).


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Subject: RE: Do you sing from Memory?
From: Jeanie
Date: 17 Nov 07 - 06:27 AM

I think it depends very much on where you are doing the singing. In a concert-style set-up (i.e. specific performing area) where there is a paying audience, then I think all songs should be performed from memory (whether the performers are being paid to sing or not). In a set-up which attempts to create an "everyone sitting round in the back parlour" atmosphere, then it would be acceptable for people to sing from printed words. Personally, I am only really happy performing in public from memory.

Traditional songs were, by their very nature, always performed from memory and passed on in that way - and I think that is why it instinctively feels somehow odd to sing them, or hear them being sung, using the written word.

I think that if you forget a verse (or two), it is far better to carry on with the next verse you know than to double back on yourself to see if the missing verse(s) re-emerge into your brain. I remember an agonizing time listening to a man singing a song he had written himself, something about a boat going out of the harbour. He (and the boat) kept going round in circles, out of the harbour, and out of the harbour again and again... It felt as if we had crossed the Atlantic a hundred times over, rather than just the Channel, before getting to the destination !

It's a sad truth: audiences (whether watching a play or listening to a song) may appear to be hanging on your every word. Hopefully they are, most of the time, but when slip-ups are made, they are only really noticed by the audience if the performer draws attention to them. Best to just carry on regardless and only you will know what went missing.

- jeanie


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Subject: RE: Do you sing from Memory?
From: synbyn
Date: 17 Nov 07 - 06:31 AM

Is it better to read from a book or sing with eyes shut in desperate recall? Nowadays I practice new songs with my eyes open- it helps with trees and lampposts- they say that you remember songs as you first learned them, which is why so many lead guitarists struggle sober...


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Subject: RE: Do you sing from Memory?
From: Carol
Date: 17 Nov 07 - 06:33 AM

I only sing in singarounds or folk club singers' evenings but much prefer to sing from memory - sounds corny but I think I can concentrate more on the song when I'm not looking at the words, but hopefully singing them on 'autopilot'.
However a few years ago I invested in a PDA gizmo which took the place of my folkofax and made my handbag much easier to carry. Even if I have been called the gadget woman!
These days I often look at it to remind me of a song, especially the 'run' of the verses if it's not telling a story.
I do cheat with words on paper when it's a song for a special occassion, e.g. birthday,Christmas that I'm unlikely to sing again.


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Subject: RE: Do you sing from Memory?
From: Carol
Date: 17 Nov 07 - 07:11 AM

Oh and always have my eyes open - for some reason I find it disconcerting to look at someone singing with their eyes closed, so when I started singing I made myself keep my eyes open - at least you can 'see' if people are still listening to you, haven't fallen asleep etc.!


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Subject: RE: Do you sing from Memory?
From: GUEST,Terry McDonald
Date: 17 Nov 07 - 07:23 AM

I always sing with my eyes shut - simply can't do it any other way. Probably the only time I open them is if I'm trying to do something clever with the guitar and need to ensure that my fingers are about to hit the correct fret and/or strings.


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Subject: RE: Do you sing from Memory?
From: Diva
Date: 17 Nov 07 - 07:46 AM

Oh God i try........most certainly if its a solo performance ie paid but singarounds i tend to have ma wee book with me......its more of a security thing


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Subject: RE: Do you sing from Memory?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 17 Nov 07 - 08:00 AM

I always thought that people who alwys sang with their eys closed had the words on the inside of their eye lids !


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Subject: RE: Do you sing from Memory?
From: GUEST,Jay
Date: 17 Nov 07 - 08:04 AM

My, what a lot of interest in this thread. May I add my fourpence worth as I've been singing for years (and years) and now find I have much more difficulty remembering than I used to. Sadly, it's an age thing - and there's a lot of it about these days! Of course, I always make huge efforts to learn new stuff but I also always like to have the words handy to keep me going if absolutely necessary. A quick glimpse at the first line of each verse is usually all that is needed.

Now to be rather frank (and probably upset a few people) I truly believe there is nothing worse than someone refusing point blank to use a prompt when they are almost certainly going to be unable to get through a song without breaking down, sometimes over and over again. It's boring, inconsiderate and I consider it to be bad manners to an audience. One is there to entertain.

OK - disagree - I can take it on the chin!


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Subject: RE: Do you sing from Memory?
From: Mo the caller
Date: 17 Nov 07 - 08:08 AM

Does singing from memory mean a smaller repertoire?
When I call dances at club I use a card, but practise with the music so that (after the walk through) I don't usually need the card. I have a wide selection which I'm always adding to. Calling for barn dances I don't use cards, but there are lots of dances that might go well, that I don't use, I just stick to the same tried and trusty few.

The suggestion that you should spend the previous verse of a song imagining mnemonics (3 long steps) for the next verse, seems more distracting than a crib sheet.


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Subject: RE: Do you sing from Memory?
From: GUEST,Terry McDonald
Date: 17 Nov 07 - 08:35 AM

I don't think memory and size of repertoire are related. You're either blessed (or cursed) with a good memory or you're not and whilst it undoubtably declines as you grow older it doesn't seem to have happened to me..........yet. (I'm 68 by the way) I draw upon a 'working' repertoire of about 150 songs but felt quite humbled by Bonny Sartin of the Yetties mentioning, at their Sherborne club, that he knew 800 songs. Everything they performed that evening (and some were requests) he sang from memory.


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Subject: RE: Do you sing from Memory?
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 17 Nov 07 - 08:54 AM

If I'm singing along with the CD, then I can remember every sodding word... it's just nature's cruel trick that I can't remember words when people are standing next to me, the same way that I can't type quickly if someone is watching me.

LTS


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Subject: RE: Do you sing from Memory?
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 17 Nov 07 - 08:55 AM

And believe me, when you're as big an attention seeker as I am, that's not a good way to be!

LTS (who can laugh at herself with the best of 'em!)


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Subject: RE: Do you sing from Memory?
From: Lowden Jameswright
Date: 17 Nov 07 - 09:44 AM

Bram Taylor gave a performance workshop at a festival recently and said the use of a music stand/song sheets was very unprofessional, as indeed was forgetting words to a song. During a tea-time informal performance later that day he then apologised for forgetting his words; a true "I don't believe it!" senior moment. So it's a case of "do as I say but not as I do" - sure it's preferable to operate without props, but as we all get older it's inevitable we will suffer these senior moments - I don't think the audiences will call for the curtain unless it starts to define the whole performance. Trick is, be prepared for the slip, and show you're human.

From a personal standpoint, I couldn't care less whether the artist uses a music stand/song sheets as long as I enjoy listening to what's on offer.


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Subject: RE: Do you sing from Memory?
From: Rumncoke
Date: 17 Nov 07 - 09:51 AM

I wrote all my songs down from memory when I found that my memory was failing.

Some of them took several weeks to get right, though now I find that there are discrepancies between what I wrote and what I sing - I'm not actually singing from the book, even if I am reading it - somehow the words prompt the memory of other words - no idea how it works.

Perhaps I should rewrite them all in the modern versions - which I think are better as they iron out poor rhymes and do a bit of pruning.

If I do another book another change I will make is from A6 size to A5 and write, or even print out, larger - I still have good visual acuity but not as good as it was.

I sing in public very little these days - just at Sidmouth and Wareham, and I like to have the choice of all my songs - just so I can fit in one which seems to go with the others that have been sung, or sometimes I will be asked if I know a song, and then I can sing that. Perhaps if I cut my repertoire down to just a few songs, then I would have sufficient retention to sing them without the book, but I like having 300 songs, I like to see the expression on someone's face when I consult my index and find the words to something they have not heard sung for ages.

If someone gets exercised about my singing from my book I could always do Tam Lin - it might just make them realise that it is lack of recall, not failure to memorise. I am just grateful that I can always recall the tune if I have the words, and most times can play the guitar cords without having to think about it. If I can't get the cords first time I just put the capo on the fret I indicate in my book, and try out a few that might do - usually the shapes start to surface then. At least they have up till now.


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Subject: RE: Do you sing from Memory?
From: Sugwash
Date: 17 Nov 07 - 09:55 AM

Firmly in the memory camp. It's easier if there is a strong story line in a song, happily a feature of many folk songs. Internal visualisation is the key for me.

I find it depressing to turn up at a sing-around and see more copy holders and ledgers than you'd once find in a typing pool. I see more and more music stands at folk clubs, often these are assembled when the floor singer gets up to sing, not before hand. As most of them are on a par with deckchairs in ease of assembly it also wastes time as well as looking amateurish.


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Subject: RE: Do you sing from Memory?
From: Teribus
Date: 17 Nov 07 - 09:58 AM

Always from memory, never from a book or sheet. If you haven't got the song firmly fixed in your head, then it is not well enough known by you to be performed in public.


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Subject: RE: Do you sing from Memory?
From: Lowden Jameswright
Date: 17 Nov 07 - 10:05 AM

I find it depressing to listen to someone who has a super-powered memory enabling them to be word perfect in 38+ verses, especially if it's associated with 38+ repeats of the same "tune".


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Subject: RE: Do you sing from Memory?
From: Flash Company
Date: 17 Nov 07 - 10:40 AM

I have a magpie mind, and can remember the words of songs from all stages of my development, some of which I wish I could forget!
Many a song has come back out of the mists of time to haunt me for days, once it pops up in my head, it won't go away.
When I was singing I could usually exorcise it by public performance, now I tend to be stuck with it.

FC


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Subject: RE: Do you sing from Memory?
From: stallion
Date: 17 Nov 07 - 10:45 AM

memory, but well prepared before gig with rehearsals, and, even then the wheels come off occasionally but having heard Cockersdale and Martin Carthy forget words in a concert I don't feel so bad about it, doesn't happen often enough, preparation is the key though.


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Subject: RE: Do you sing from Memory?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 17 Nov 07 - 10:48 AM

Memorisation is strongly desirable. It is what we should aspire to although I wouldn't be as judgmental as some posters here.
A safety net is also sometimes desirable.
If both fail, and ad-lib is an essential survival trait.

I'll usually have the words with me (big bag) but mostly I won't even take them out - unless someone asks for one I expect to be shaky on.


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Subject: RE: Do you sing from Memory?
From: GUEST,Auldtimer
Date: 17 Nov 07 - 10:52 AM

If the "singer" can't be bothered to learn the song, why should an audience be bothered to listen? If you are just going to read out the words then get them coppied and just pass them round. This will save you the bother of learning the song AND reading out the words. If you send off the coppies to the venues you are/were going to this would also save you bothering to turn up as well.


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Subject: RE: Do you sing from Memory?
From: Sabine
Date: 17 Nov 07 - 11:00 AM

When I was younger and started singing Folk songs, also in public, I sang from my memory, never a textbook or anything like that.
Then friends and me were asked to do a gig over several hours (a wedding of friends) and we had to put up a hugh song and gig list.
I think, it was then when I had to use my textbook / printed sheets with the words on it.
During the last years I did not have the chance to perform in front of audience very much, but became quite less self assured.
Also, funny enough, I know the melodies of several hundred songs and mostly one or two verses including the refrain and I have no idea why I cannot memorize the complete song which I find rather annoying.
So I use to have a sheet in front of me but only look down if I ran out of words.
Which also means that I have eye contact with the audience most of the time.

There are so many things which fill up my brains and memories at the moment that I cannot keep all these words in my memory. Have not find a way to change this so far and simply do not know how to get a better memory.
A memory just for song lyrics would be great...


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Subject: RE: Do you sing from Memory?
From: Essex Girl
Date: 17 Nov 07 - 11:12 AM

I agree with Kitty on this one, if I'm singing to an audience - especially when using a p.a. I always sing from memory, but in singarounds at my local club I will use words if I'm learning a new song or singing one I haven't done for many years.


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Subject: RE: Do you sing from Memory?
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 17 Nov 07 - 12:20 PM

Here's a coincidence - my choir has been asked to sing some carols for which I'm busy this weekend finding the music and compiling a carol book because many of the choir don't sing carols often and can't remember the tunes without the dots - the irony is that the gig is for the Alzheimers' society!

LTS


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Subject: RE: Do you sing from Memory?
From: Alice
Date: 17 Nov 07 - 12:38 PM

Always memorize lyrics when I plan to sing for people, either paid or unpaid.

alice


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Subject: RE: Do you sing from Memory?
From: GUEST,Jim Carroll
Date: 17 Nov 07 - 03:08 PM

Ballad scholar David Buchan suggested that at one time there were no set texts for ballads, just plots and commonplaces (milk white breasts, snow white steeds, wee penknives etc) and that a singer would extemporise every time he or she sang.
The nearest I have seen this in practice was with MacColl as he grew older and his memory started to go.
He would never dry up on a song, but quite often you could spot changes in his texts. You would always know he had put something in because he had forgotten the written text, by the little grin.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Do you sing from Memory?
From: oggie
Date: 17 Nov 07 - 03:54 PM

I find that the hardest part is realising I still know a song as I've not sung it for twenty odd years and so don't think about. A case in point is Pete Mundy's "Take Your Time". As soon as I saw the title (on a Mudcat thread) I thought "Take your time, me lovely ...." and yes I still know all the words but without that prompt I would never have thought of it.

All the best

Steve


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