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Do you sing from Memory?

Dave Roberts 18 Nov 07 - 08:13 AM
Lowden Jameswright 18 Nov 07 - 07:30 AM
Richard Bridge 18 Nov 07 - 07:27 AM
GUEST,Waco Jacko 18 Nov 07 - 07:25 AM
stallion 18 Nov 07 - 07:03 AM
Barry Finn 18 Nov 07 - 01:13 AM
Ferrara 18 Nov 07 - 12:09 AM
GUEST,Captain Swing 17 Nov 07 - 07:58 PM
Don Firth 17 Nov 07 - 07:40 PM
Liz the Squeak 17 Nov 07 - 06:36 PM
Don Firth 17 Nov 07 - 06:20 PM
Greg B 17 Nov 07 - 06:19 PM
Liz the Squeak 17 Nov 07 - 06:13 PM
Stringsinger 17 Nov 07 - 05:58 PM
Santa 17 Nov 07 - 05:34 PM
RTim 17 Nov 07 - 05:33 PM
GUEST,Captain Swing 17 Nov 07 - 05:14 PM
Liz the Squeak 17 Nov 07 - 05:02 PM
GUEST,Bruce Michael Baillie 17 Nov 07 - 04:58 PM
RTim 17 Nov 07 - 03:58 PM
oggie 17 Nov 07 - 03:54 PM
GUEST,Jim Carroll 17 Nov 07 - 03:08 PM
Alice 17 Nov 07 - 12:38 PM
Liz the Squeak 17 Nov 07 - 12:20 PM
Essex Girl 17 Nov 07 - 11:12 AM
Sabine 17 Nov 07 - 11:00 AM
GUEST,Auldtimer 17 Nov 07 - 10:52 AM
Richard Bridge 17 Nov 07 - 10:48 AM
stallion 17 Nov 07 - 10:45 AM
Flash Company 17 Nov 07 - 10:40 AM
Lowden Jameswright 17 Nov 07 - 10:05 AM
Teribus 17 Nov 07 - 09:58 AM
Sugwash 17 Nov 07 - 09:55 AM
Rumncoke 17 Nov 07 - 09:51 AM
Lowden Jameswright 17 Nov 07 - 09:44 AM
Liz the Squeak 17 Nov 07 - 08:55 AM
Liz the Squeak 17 Nov 07 - 08:54 AM
GUEST,Terry McDonald 17 Nov 07 - 08:35 AM
Mo the caller 17 Nov 07 - 08:08 AM
GUEST,Jay 17 Nov 07 - 08:04 AM
Leadfingers 17 Nov 07 - 08:00 AM
Diva 17 Nov 07 - 07:46 AM
GUEST,Terry McDonald 17 Nov 07 - 07:23 AM
Carol 17 Nov 07 - 07:11 AM
Carol 17 Nov 07 - 06:33 AM
synbyn 17 Nov 07 - 06:31 AM
Jeanie 17 Nov 07 - 06:27 AM
Wilfried Schaum 17 Nov 07 - 06:16 AM
Linda Kelly 17 Nov 07 - 05:53 AM
Liz the Squeak 17 Nov 07 - 05:17 AM
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Subject: RE: Do you sing from Memory?
From: Dave Roberts
Date: 18 Nov 07 - 08:13 AM

Just a thought - many of the greatest performances by our leading actors have been read from the page.
The definitive example would be Dylan Thomas' 'Under Milk Wood', starring Richard Burton.
I'm referring , of course, to the art of the radio drama (and comedy, come to that) which is read from a script and can lead to undeniably rich and rewarding, sometimes award-winning, performances.
In the case of some classic radio comedy - eg The Goon Show - this was achieved without a great deal of rehearsal or production.
It's nice to see singers doing it all from memory, but I don't personally think the end of civilisation is upon us if a crib sheet is used from time to time.


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Subject: RE: Do you sing from Memory?
From: Lowden Jameswright
Date: 18 Nov 07 - 07:30 AM

It's an Ad jingle for Viagra


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Subject: RE: Do you sing from Memory?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 18 Nov 07 - 07:27 AM

We don't seem to get this "Rise up Singing" in the UK. What is it exactly? I know it must be a song-book. It sounds like a hymn book - and I do mean with the emphasis on religious or religious-tinged music (which can usually get me out of a song session faster than a rat up a drainpipe)


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Subject: RE: Do you sing from Memory?
From: GUEST,Waco Jacko
Date: 18 Nov 07 - 07:25 AM

Memory is best. If I'm watching another performer singing from words on a music stand or crib sheet I always get the impression that I'm sitting watching them practice and I'd rather watch and listen to a performance of a song. If you get some words wrong, it's not crucial, much more important is your interpretaion of the number. We all hit wrong chords and get verses mixed up from time to time but what I want to see is a performance of a song not a paint by numbers tune. The other thing is once you start to rely on crib sheets it's very hard to move away from them. Those comfort zones are very hard to escape from. You can only practice live performance by doing it live, so start as you mean to go on. I've seen performers struggle at outdoor gigs when the wind has blown over their lyrics or poor lighting has left them unable to read or they can't start a number until they find the right page in their folder, which is on the floor underneath some guitar leads! It's really best to learn the song,get the feel of it and let it flow out. It also builds your confidence.It's your decision to go out and play live so I think you owe it to your audience, it also means you can look at them and not stare at a sheet of paper.


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Subject: RE: Do you sing from Memory?
From: stallion
Date: 18 Nov 07 - 07:03 AM

Whoa Barry, nice piece, immersing oneself in the song is the key. Oh and the "Rise up Singing" bit I found interesting. As you know we have been recently in your company and when I was setting the trip up I tried to get something going with a local (Boston Mass) organisation after twelve months drew a complete blank, but in the spiel for one of their events was "bring your own copy Rise up Singing because there was only a limited amount of spare copies" Seems like we were saved by their inactivity! Oh and if you haven't heard Barry sing I thoroughly recommend the cd "Fathom This" Finn & Haddie or better still go see him live very distinctive style and a real performer of songs not just a singer.

Pete


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Subject: RE: Do you sing from Memory?
From: Barry Finn
Date: 18 Nov 07 - 01:13 AM

A bit long, but

I attend all different kinds of singsongs, singarounds, singing sessions, etc, as much as time allows. Some of the worst I've ever been to are where folks are all singing from "Rise Up Singing" but if that's what gets them off far be it from me to want to change it, if it works from them great. The best singing sessions that I've ever been to there's not a piece of paper, book or crib sheet in site. It's off the cuff 1 song inspiring the next nothing planned just from one singer to the next, each doing their best to keep the juices flowing. This usually has happened at late night sessions during festivals or at singer's camps or getaways, some singing sessions or clubs, it's not all that often but it's almost always spontaneous, with a few exceptions, like at Mystic on their Fri & Sat night sings. How do you do spontaneous from a book or a notepad, how do you follow a few songs about mining than go to page 56???
It's fine if all you want is a few songs between friends who don't normally get together & don't need to digest what they want to sing but if you want to really get the crowning joy of singing in a community setting with those that feel the same way either do as they do or just listen or sing along with them until you can do it on your own, it takes time but it took all of them time and nothing's feels as good when the time & effort is put into it to get there.

As far as memory goes, if you forget a spot here or there who gives a shit as long as you were doing it well, most of us can use our imagination to get past "you forgot a verse". I rather hear half a song done well than a complete song done like shit by someone reading it at me.

I've got a memory worst than most to start with & then I take meds that furthers it's uselessness but I can still sing from a very very
large repertoire. You want to sing a song from recall not memory. You want to sing from recall learn the song 1st, commit it to memory, sing it in the shower, in the car, at work, as you go to sleep, then sing it front of friends or at a session but start to sing them in public without the aids, that's when you'll put the songs into a place that you can later recall them from. You need eat the song, digest it, spit it out & swallow it again & again untill the song's no longer the song you originally heard it's now your song. If you only have the time or efort for a few songs that's better than none or a bunch from a book but doing it this way you can have a lot in a small amount of time if you're willing.
You've fit that song to your style, your way of singing, you've put into it your own little special quirks, personality, subtle traits, phrasing, that's not in your memory now, that's some place else now,
your gut, your heart, your recall whatever you want to call it, it's in a place where it'll be accessable enough to place it back in the forefront enough so that you'll find it with much less effort than if it were just in your memory. It doesn't have to be tha same way as you 1st heard it but it can be if you want. You take the song as far as you're willing to go with it, it's not like you can beat a song to death, you can only kill it by not trying to do it justice though. You don't need a great voice either. Dave Van Ronk, IMHO didn't have a great voice neither did Dylan or Cash, or a whole list of others but they had a special way of putting a song over & across that made them & the song appealing & theyall knew their song well before singing it too. You take any of the Cathy's or Watersons, Blairs & Stewarts, Carters yes they've all great voices but they've also put loads of time & effort into their voices & their songs. So in the end it's up to you to use what you've got & how much you want to put into the songs you want to sing. If the singing from a book crowd does it for you, that's great if not go further take it far as you want or can, otherwise listen to those that have taken it to a place beyond where you're willing to go.

There are some that bring notebooks to sessions that I frequent that are learning a new song & I don't mind, neither do other I'd guess.
As far as I'm concerned they're learning a new song & are practiced singers just trying it out amongst friends & using us as their sounding board, again that's ok among friends, I wouldn't be agreeable to them doing that anywhere else or in a different setting.

I've been to a few late night after hour festival sessions where the singers were great, the songs kept coming each one better than the last till you thought that you were in heaven & it just couldn't get any better but it does then some joker pulls out a book & starts reading off a song & the death bell starts tolling next some one says page 22 in Rise Up Singing, before you know it all the singers just left the bar for a unannounced dark corner of the festival grounds to start another round of songs but this time it's private
& it sucks because they would have rather had been singing for more than just themselves but they'll settle for singing within their own crowd rather than be sung at by those that chose not to put the song in front of themselves, after all it's the song that's of importance, the singer is only important because of what they can do for the song & for the folks that are listening to it or joinging in.

Barry


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Subject: RE: Do you sing from Memory?
From: Ferrara
Date: 18 Nov 07 - 12:09 AM

Obviously there are strong opinions here but it's a question that each person needs to decide for themself.

I agree with what Bill D said (16 Nov 07 - 05:26 PM). [Well I ought to, we have discussed it often enough.]

If it helps to have a crib sheet there as a backup when performing; if you are singing in a song circle and really want to do a particular song; if you need it for some other reason; and if you can sing the song and make it sound as if you were singing from memory -- I think there are plenty of times when a crib sheet is OK. Obviously no one here is advocating singing every song from a crib sheet, or reading the words during a performance.

But, you know, I believe Big Mick did that just once, in the Getaway evening concert. He was reading a song he had just learned from El Greko; there hadn't been time to memorize it but Mick wanted to share the song. The song, and Mick's singing, were wonderful and memorable. Absolutely appropriate.

We have a friend who physically cannot remember complicated words without a tremendous amount of effort put into learning them. But she is a good singer. I am happy to hear her sing a song with words in front of her. I wish she would bring her song sheets and sing more often.

I have a good memory for lyrics and know hundreds of songs (not necessarily folk songs) and can dredge up many of them with a quick mental run-through. All the same I take a cheat sheet to our local Open Sings if I want to sing something I'm not 100% sure of. Most of the time I just use it to clue me into the next line or verse if needed.

BTW -- Knowing a song really well doesn't keep you from forgetting the words! I sang "Dumbarton's Drums" in front of quite a large audience a couple of years ago. I sing it frequently, have sung it for years, and never dreamed I might need to mentally "run through the words" first. I got to the first chorus, sang "What fond delight, doth ... ... ... ..." Luckily someone called out, "steal." I waved a thank-you, sang "steal upon me," and went on from there.

The rest of the song went beautifully, and the singing on the choruses was all one could ask for.

Rita F


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Subject: RE: Do you sing from Memory?
From: GUEST,Captain Swing
Date: 17 Nov 07 - 07:58 PM

Other than in a rehearsal or a recording, I can't see any justification for having crib sheets. If you don't know it, don't sing it. Performing a song is a method of communication. It's on a par with acting. Who would expect actors to read from scripts?

Mistakes are acceptable in either context. A great part of stage craft is in dealing with the mistakes and esuring that the communication continues.

Whenever I perform a new song I expect to forget some of it so I work out a stratgey to deal with it when I do. That takes the pressure away and makes it less likely that I will forget some of it.

Communication is everything. You can't communicate what you don't know.


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Subject: RE: Do you sing from Memory?
From: Don Firth
Date: 17 Nov 07 - 07:40 PM

Hmm . . . this is beginning to take on a whole new dimension. . . .

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Do you sing from Memory?
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 17 Nov 07 - 06:36 PM

you suddenly begin to feel your pants sliding toward the floor.

So THAT'S why they keep asking me to sing!

LTS


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Subject: RE: Do you sing from Memory?
From: Don Firth
Date: 17 Nov 07 - 06:20 PM

". . . if you can't remember it don't fuckingwell bother!"

Well, GUEST BMB, one assumes that they have the song solidly memorized--in fact, may have sung the song hundreds of times with no glitches. And then, suddenly, there you are, in front of an audience that paid a fairly good wad to hear you sing, and you blank out on the words! That's rather on a par with having your belt suddenly break and your pants hitting the floor. You didn't plan on it, it's never happened before, but there it is!

No one--no one--can be guaranteed that this isn't going to happen to them. And if it does happen a time or two, you begin to reassess your thinking about having a notebook of crib-sheets set unobtrusively by, where you can give it a quick glance if you suddenly begin to feel your pants sliding toward the floor.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Do you sing from Memory?
From: Greg B
Date: 17 Nov 07 - 06:19 PM

Thing about using a crib sheet because you're getting older and
starting to forget more---- as you get older you find that you
can't read the bloody lyric sheet, either.

Wot's to do?


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Subject: RE: Do you sing from Memory?
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 17 Nov 07 - 06:13 PM

So we've got a circular argument going on here.

Some feel it is unprofessional to use a crib sheet, even though there are examples of professionals doing so (there's film evidence of Elvis using a crib sheet in the middle of a concert - and that was before he addled his brains with drugs and burgers); others feel it is acceptable for crib sheets in informal situations. Still others consider carrying a library with them perfectly acceptable regardless of the circumstances (that would be Les Barker then. Never heard him do a single poem from memory yet). So when does an informal singaround become a formal concert? When payment has been given?

Frank has hit it on the head with his final statement. We don't need to start getting personal or insulting.

If people find my using a cribsheet so offensive, they should stop asking me to sing.

LTS


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Subject: RE: Do you sing from Memory?
From: Stringsinger
Date: 17 Nov 07 - 05:58 PM

there are some who are gifted with memory for words. I am not one of them.
I can remember tunes forever.
in the movies,
there are many well-known actors who use a crib sheet and can turn out a convincing
performance.

I don't agree that memorizing words automatically makes for a good performance.
I don't agree that reading from printed material does either.

If you do one style of music, it's easier to memorise without words in front of you,
however if you do a lot of different types of songs, then this is not easier.

I think you can do both depending on the situation. Even recording artists often
have words in front of them and can be convincing in their performance.

You can't generalize because it changes from performer to performer.

Frank


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Subject: RE: Do you sing from Memory?
From: Santa
Date: 17 Nov 07 - 05:34 PM

LTS: or fewer people put off by amateurish performances?

I don't recall any professional singer reading from notes, even for a brand-new song. It is a privilege to experience a new song for the first (or at least very early) time, and using notes might reasonably be forgiven, but I don't recall it happening in my experience.

This might well be the kind of thing that varies from club to club. My regular club is predominantly a "concert" club: even on singers nights people do sing and play without texts. (Generally, there are always exceptions.) If your club is only a bunch of friends that sit around and sing to each other, then all sorts of allowances can be made. The same for a gathering in a pub at a festival. But if you have paying customers, then it is rude not to have learnt the words. Forgetting the words in mid-song is a much less heinous offence: that can and does happen to the best.

Folk etiquette, either you get it or you don't. A bit like people who get up for a beer, or wander in with a new one, in the middle of a song. You just don't do that! But people do.


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Subject: RE: Do you sing from Memory?
From: RTim
Date: 17 Nov 07 - 05:33 PM

Yes - Folk Clubs in the 70's didn't just have people there to listen - They also performed, and I know from my experiences that some singers were pretty bad when they started and it was great to see them improve over time. You have to have space for singers and musicians to try out infront of an audience!
Today there are TOO MANY concert clubs and not enough performance opportunies!

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: Do you sing from Memory?
From: GUEST,Captain Swing
Date: 17 Nov 07 - 05:14 PM

As I said earlier, one of the reasons the genre is dwindling is because people associate folk clubs (and music) with poor performance and presentation. This wasn't the case in the 70s when clubs were packed and there wasn't a music stand in sight.


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Subject: RE: Do you sing from Memory?
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 17 Nov 07 - 05:02 PM

Can't help but feel that the attitude of the previous poster would mean far fewer people wanting to participate in an already dwindling genre.

LTS


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Subject: RE: Do you sing from Memory?
From: GUEST,Bruce Michael Baillie
Date: 17 Nov 07 - 04:58 PM

..I'm with Sugwash ans the others in the memory camp, if you can't remember it don't fuckingwell bother!There's little enough room in the average folk club without nusic stands and reams of bloody paper!


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Subject: RE: Do you sing from Memory?
From: RTim
Date: 17 Nov 07 - 03:58 PM

Thank you to everyone who has been interested in this thread - I think it has been worthwhile.

I want to make it clearer now than my first note - That I ALWAYS prefer to sing from memory and hate it when I have to occasionally "Peek" at the book - however in all cases I know the tune solidly, and have sung the song many times before performing it in public - I just haven't always commited the words to my memory - Totally!

What sparked the thread to begin with was a gig my band (Beggars Description) did today - where I sang one song that I have only just started learning that was perfect for the occasion - and it also had my wife playing English Concertina for me - which is something we don't normally do. As my wife is an Early Musician, she is used to dots, etc. in front of her and she can never really understand why I always try and sing from memory! And as we can see by the responses - it is horses for courses - some like it some don't.

But again thanks for your words - I learnt something and I hope others did too.

Tim Radford
www.timradford.com


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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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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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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,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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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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