Lyrics & Knowledge Personal Pages Record Shop Auction Links Radio & Media Kids Membership Help
The Mudcat Cafemuddy

Post to this Thread - Sort Descending - Printer Friendly - Home


How'd you learn a song?

Related threads:
Learning and remembering the words.. (48)
How to learn a song in another language? (79)
Fastest way to learn a song? (55)
PermaThread: Learning Songs - A Summary (7)
Leisurely Learning Lyrics (8)
learning new songs for music camps (1)
How long before you learned that song? (3)
Teaching kids who don't want to learn (12)
Learning songs by heart (37)
Best way to learn tunes (14)
Help: Learning Folk Music (20)
Help: Learning songs (22)


DrugCrazed 06 Apr 11 - 09:27 PM
Deckman 06 Apr 11 - 09:58 PM
Beer 06 Apr 11 - 10:03 PM
Beer 06 Apr 11 - 10:05 PM
The Fooles Troupe 06 Apr 11 - 10:23 PM
Beer 06 Apr 11 - 10:39 PM
Sandy Mc Lean 06 Apr 11 - 11:28 PM
Beer 06 Apr 11 - 11:41 PM
Deckman 06 Apr 11 - 11:46 PM
Sandy Mc Lean 07 Apr 11 - 12:01 AM
Crowhugger 07 Apr 11 - 12:14 AM
GUEST,999 07 Apr 11 - 02:11 AM
The Fooles Troupe 07 Apr 11 - 03:12 AM
DrugCrazed 07 Apr 11 - 03:17 AM
GUEST,Desi C 07 Apr 11 - 09:15 AM
Bernard 07 Apr 11 - 10:10 AM
RTim 07 Apr 11 - 10:17 AM
FloraG 07 Apr 11 - 11:25 AM
DrugCrazed 08 Apr 11 - 12:15 PM
FloraG 09 Apr 11 - 05:07 AM
Suegorgeous 09 Apr 11 - 05:56 AM
GUEST,Desi C 09 Apr 11 - 08:12 AM
leeneia 09 Apr 11 - 01:08 PM
Crowhugger 09 Apr 11 - 01:49 PM
YorkshireYankee 09 Apr 11 - 02:32 PM
stallion 09 Apr 11 - 03:16 PM
DrugCrazed 09 Apr 11 - 08:01 PM
Share Thread
more
Lyrics & Knowledge Search [Advanced]
DT  Forum
Sort (Forum) by:relevance date
DT Lyrics:









Subject: BS: How'd you learn a song?
From: DrugCrazed
Date: 06 Apr 11 - 09:27 PM

A thought occurred when I was learning something today: How do you learn songs? I'm not asking how you do it (repeat it ad lib for me...), but more what you do. That makes little sense, probably because it happens to be 2:25 in the morning, so it's probably easier if I explain what I do:
  1. Discover the song
    A bit of an obvious one really, but that's always the first step
  2. Learn the song
    Keep singing it over and over again. If it's something that might involve a band this is where any feeble attempts at transcription/arranging take place.
  3. Learn the lore
    I can pick up songs fairly quickly (unless they're in a foreign language - in which case the melody is down but the damn lyrics remain foreign...), and I usually look at where the songs come from, and any choice words that make no sense with current context. I'm looking at you Hanging Johnny.
  4. Perform
    I've done precious little performing, but I always give something saying where the song is from. Mostly because if I don't, people get confused and think I'm talking about riding a donkey animal.

I'm mostly interested in how other people go about it. Seeing as my performance experience is fairly limited and based in playing in a non-folk environment 3 tends to be more important, but for those who've played for longer than me, how do you roll?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: How'd you learn a song?
From: Deckman
Date: 06 Apr 11 - 09:58 PM

I'm 174 years old now, and I've been doing this since I was 13 ... that's a lot of years. I would add another aspect to your list. I have to "fall in love" with the song ... then all I have to do is "share the love." It works every time for me. bob(deckman)nelson


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: How'd you learn a song?
From: Beer
Date: 06 Apr 11 - 10:03 PM

I always try and find out a bit about the composer, then speak about his/her song before I start singing it. Other than this I think you have it nailed correctely.
ad.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: How'd you learn a song?
From: Beer
Date: 06 Apr 11 - 10:05 PM

Excellent point Bob.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: How'd you learn a song?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 06 Apr 11 - 10:23 PM

Sometimes, for some songs, it's not so much a matter of 'learning' it, as getting the damn thing out of your head ...


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: How'd you learn a song?
From: Beer
Date: 06 Apr 11 - 10:39 PM

You just hurt my belly Fooles. LOL.
ad.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How'd you learn a song?
From: Sandy Mc Lean
Date: 06 Apr 11 - 11:28 PM

Some songs it seems that I knew forever. Others including some that I have written I still get mixed up in. I usually try to sing from memory rather than from a sheet and my memory is good for the old stuff even when it seems that I can't remember my name. I learn new stuff by singing into the computer using "audacity" and repeating it over until it sounds "right to my ear" and I am confident that I have it down pat before I let 'er fly in public. Repeat and repeat.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How'd you learn a song?
From: Beer
Date: 06 Apr 11 - 11:41 PM

Sounds as if you have developed a good system for yourself. I'll have to check into what "Audacity" is all about.
ad.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How'd you learn a song?
From: Deckman
Date: 06 Apr 11 - 11:46 PM

I've found that the hardest songs for me to memorize are those I write myself. I think it's becasue I never quite stop re-writing them. Anyone else have this problem? bob


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How'd you learn a song?
From: Sandy Mc Lean
Date: 07 Apr 11 - 12:01 AM

Ditto Bob! I have a recording of some of Hank Williams' old Mother's Best radio shows. He is singing some of his biggest hits for the first time on radio and the words are often different from the records.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How'd you learn a song?
From: Crowhugger
Date: 07 Apr 11 - 12:14 AM

Bob you're so right about loving the song, otherwise steps 2 and up just don't happen for me. Well except for the ones TFT is talking about, which are absorbed against one's will!

DC, that's a pretty good summary. The only thing I'd mention is that usually the melody anchors my learning and the words take more time to become part of it over time. But sometimes the words are magic and become quickly absorbed, in which case the tune and harmonies (intstrumental parts and/or voices) fit into, and around, the poetry over time. If that makes any sense at all.

Before performing, to check if I like the way I've put it together, I just use a small digital voice recorder; the sound is good through the ear buds for that purpose anyway.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How'd you learn a song?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 07 Apr 11 - 02:11 AM

"I've found that the hardest songs for me to memorize are those I write myself. I think it's becasue I never quite stop re-writing them. Anyone else have this problem? bob"

Oh, yeah!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How'd you learn a song?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 07 Apr 11 - 03:12 AM

Which is why I don't like singing anything I write, so nobody else does either .... I think that's the logic....


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How'd you learn a song?
From: DrugCrazed
Date: 07 Apr 11 - 03:17 AM

I've gone back and listened to stuff I've written and been horrified with myself. The only one I'm still happy with it one I wrote last year as a kind of show off to the music teacher (since I wasn't doing the A Level and stopped at AS - Mostly because I hated writing essays).

Wholeheartedly agree with the falling in love. I tend to only perform those that I like and enjoy since that means other people will enjoy it more.

The Audacity thing interests me. I tend to do an awful lot of arranging while walking/cycling since my mind gets the chance to wander.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How'd you learn a song?
From: GUEST,Desi C
Date: 07 Apr 11 - 09:15 AM

've become a bit nerdy in researching the full history of all my songs (440 and rising) as it helps to know the story to enable me to put the right inflection to it. But first I look on you tube, not for the best known version, but for various amateur versions. I feel if I look at the pro recording, where there is one, A) I'm might get intimidated by it, and B) I might just copy it Karaoke style, and I like to look for a different way to perform it. Finally I go to the Pro or definitive version, by which time I'll have sang it through half a dozen times. Then write it out longhand arranged to best suit me. If it passes all that without being rejected it usually adds tomy repertoire, and If I don't perform it too well, I'll at least have a little story to tell about it


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How'd you learn a song?
From: Bernard
Date: 07 Apr 11 - 10:10 AM

I've rarely had to make a conscious effort to 'learn' a song - I sort of assimilate them, realise I know them, start singing them, and occasionally do a little research to check the accuracy of the words and tune, and from whence they came...


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How'd you learn a song?
From: RTim
Date: 07 Apr 11 - 10:17 AM

These days, now as I get older - With increasing difficulties!!
I used to be very quick, but now it takes a lot of concentration.
I learn the tune, or at least a singable tune, first,; then sing verse by verse,
until I hate it!! Then I probably know it.
However, that first performance is alway important - you don't know it until after that.

Tim Radford


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How'd you learn a song?
From: FloraG
Date: 07 Apr 11 - 11:25 AM

drugcrazed

good to hear that you are both singing in the tradition and doing some of your own. Your (2) is what I'm most interested in. The folk tradition does not expect you to do covers but to make the song your own in some way. here is a little check list that might help
- sing it as fast as you can, then really slowly, then pick a speed where all the words can be understood
- sing it as high, then low as you can - where is your voice best
- try putting it in a different time signature eg 3/4 rather than 4/4.
- put a major key into a minor and try it
- add a repeated line or a chorus

You may end up going back to the original version but you might like some of your own variations too.

I think the best advice is to get to folk clubs and sessions and try your songs out. You will get fairly instant feedback about what works well and what not so. Don't do (3) at folk clubs or sessions. Most folkies have a good understanding of song meanings.
FloraG.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How'd you learn a song?
From: DrugCrazed
Date: 08 Apr 11 - 12:15 PM

Until last month I'd never done a session (unless folk carols count - even then I was new to it), and am quite scared about how they work.

I just want to throw a bit into this.

  • Sing it as fast as you can, then really slowly, then pick a speed where all the words can be understood
    I quite like this idea. I'll give it a try with Broomfield Hill.
  • Sing it as high, then low as you can - where is your voice best
    This might be quite difficult. I suffer from/am blessed with relative pitch and thus find it difficult to sing in a different key to the first version. Only way it would work is if I was doing it straight away. My main reason for any transcription is I know where my voice mostly fits. Mostly.
  • Try putting it in a different time signature eg 3/4 rather than 4/4.
    For want of a better phrase, this sounds mindfuckery. But like it'd be fun - I'll give it a go
  • Put a major key into a minor and try it
    See above
  • Add a repeated line or a chorus
    That tends to happen without it meaning to...

Something I'm having to get my head out of is the classical mindset of "YOU PLAY AS IT IS WRITTEN AND YOU DON'T CHANGE IT OR BACH WILL COME AND SMITE YOU".


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How'd you learn a song?
From: FloraG
Date: 09 Apr 11 - 05:07 AM

I use a couple of classically trained keyboard players in the barn dances I do - good players both - but it took a while for them to relax into the freedom that folk music gives you. I expect each time through the tune it should sound a bit different- but I still like to be able to hear the tune. Thing is - if you do a song just as you have heard it - you may as well just as well put the CD on.
BUT - if you are playing in a pub for money- non folkey audience mostly- they will want to hear whiskey in the jar etc as they know it. Dont put in variations except perhaps a few twidley bits with an instrument. Singing as you heard it also gives you confidence. Also in some sessions however you sing it the others may well sing the choras as they know it. We use the older version of new york girls - you sure do like the money - but are often drowned out by people singing - sure do like to polka.

If you mention the area you live in on this site locals will tell you about the most welcoming sessions. Some sessions are very serious - for near proffessional singers. Most are more relaxed - and welcome newcomers. Some sessions are run ( organised ) by someone so look out to catch their eye. Others ( fewer ) - you just jump in. Some of the best sessions are run by morris sides after the dancing - but some morris sides just dance and then go home. If you only have one song it is OK to say so.

Good luck with your singing.
FloraG.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How'd you learn a song?
From: Suegorgeous
Date: 09 Apr 11 - 05:56 AM

"I've found that the hardest songs for me to memorize are those I write myself. I think it's becasue I never quite stop re-writing them. Anyone else have this problem? bob"

Oh yes! I'm so glad to know it's not just me. I often think that I SHOULD remember my own songs better than the trad ones I've learnt. As I've conjured them, somehow it seems more logical. But maybe it doesn't work like that.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How'd you learn a song?
From: GUEST,Desi C
Date: 09 Apr 11 - 08:12 AM

That's a very good point RTIM I've lost count of how many songs sounded great in practise, and as someone said, yes do practise it till you're near sick of it, But then in performance just do not work! You never know for sure till you're sat there on the night, expectant faces looking at you and you open your mouth, just what will come out of it. You can only lessen it by practise


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How'd you learn a song?
From: leeneia
Date: 09 Apr 11 - 01:08 PM

When I want to learn new lyrics, I print them and tape them to a cupboard in the kitchen. As I cook or clean up, I sing the song. When I can't remember a line, I refer to the sheet of lyrics.

A story line and rhymes help.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How'd you learn a song?
From: Crowhugger
Date: 09 Apr 11 - 01:49 PM

I like that idea Leeneia...will use it for sure.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How'd you learn a song?
From: YorkshireYankee
Date: 09 Apr 11 - 02:32 PM

First, I play the song over & over again -- not bothering with the words -- just to get the tune set very firmly in my head.

Next, I write down the words -- at least once. (When I was younger, writing it down once was, in and of itself, almost enough to fix the words in my brain; now it takes rather more work than that [sigh]). Even so, I still find it incredibly helpful to write down the words when I'm trying to learn a song.

Then I try to sing it without looking at the words; usually I sing with a recording (a cd/mp3 of someone else or a friend or even myself) and (like RTim) work on singing/memorising a verse at a time: i.e. sing first verse (without referring to the words) 'til I can do it without mistakes, then 1st & 2nd verses, 1st, 2nd & 3rd, etc.

After that -- what others have already said -- play with it: keys, phrasing, rhythm, tempo, etc. This may include research, looking up words & places (especially old or possibly misheard ones) and finding other versions, etc.

The better you know it, the more comfortable you feel with it and the more freedom you have to play with it and be creative. It's like what people say about knowing the "rules" before you break them; the better you understand a thing, the better you know what/which liberties may be taken without messing it up...


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How'd you learn a song?
From: stallion
Date: 09 Apr 11 - 03:16 PM

Kinda echo Tim's method, get the melody nailed, then keep adding verses, often singing the same line all day til I have the phrasing right then move to the next. At some point i get to sing the whole song whilst thinking about something else then it's ready to perform. Some I give up on. Oddly if someone else's leading I think the first few run throughs are quite exciting and creative after the arrangement has been settled, less so. Having said that everything we do is work in progress we are always teaking things.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How'd you learn a song?
From: DrugCrazed
Date: 09 Apr 11 - 08:01 PM

Thanks for the hints. I'm in the Sheffield area mostly but will be in Manchester for the next 3 weeks if anyone knows any area? Singing or playing would be awesome :)

I think what I need to do more than often is to listen to a few versions of a song. Don't get too attached to prevent relative pitch screwing me over. Or sit with a guitar and just sing it while doing crazy things. If it works when writing my own stuff it'll work with arranging.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate
  Share Thread:
More...

Reply to Thread
Subject:  Help
From:
Preview   Automatic Linebreaks   Make a link ("blue clicky")


Mudcat time: 14 August 11:49 AM EDT

[ Home ]

All original material is copyright © 1998 by the Mudcat Café Music Foundation, Inc. All photos, music, images, etc. are copyright © by their rightful owners. Every effort is taken to attribute appropriate copyright to images, content, music, etc. We are not a copyright resource.