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Folklore: How many tunes can be remembered?

Les in Chorlton 30 Aug 11 - 01:09 PM
saulgoldie 30 Aug 11 - 01:29 PM
GUEST,Peter Laban 30 Aug 11 - 01:39 PM
RTim 30 Aug 11 - 01:48 PM
RTim 30 Aug 11 - 01:48 PM
GUEST,Eliza 30 Aug 11 - 01:49 PM
GUEST,Jon 30 Aug 11 - 02:00 PM
Les in Chorlton 30 Aug 11 - 02:30 PM
GUEST,Jon 30 Aug 11 - 02:36 PM
GUEST,Peter Laban 30 Aug 11 - 02:45 PM
Stanron 30 Aug 11 - 04:15 PM
Leadfingers 30 Aug 11 - 04:45 PM
DrugCrazed 30 Aug 11 - 05:24 PM
Artful Codger 30 Aug 11 - 06:01 PM
GUEST,Jon 30 Aug 11 - 06:13 PM
dick greenhaus 30 Aug 11 - 07:21 PM
Joe_F 30 Aug 11 - 07:37 PM
Darowyn 31 Aug 11 - 03:53 AM
Marje 31 Aug 11 - 04:46 AM
Black belt caterpillar wrestler 31 Aug 11 - 07:43 AM
SteveMansfield 31 Aug 11 - 09:06 AM
GloriaJ 31 Aug 11 - 09:25 AM
Zen 31 Aug 11 - 10:44 AM
wysiwyg 31 Aug 11 - 10:54 AM
wysiwyg 31 Aug 11 - 10:57 AM
Les in Chorlton 31 Aug 11 - 01:15 PM
Gurney 31 Aug 11 - 05:10 PM
DrugCrazed 31 Aug 11 - 06:18 PM
Bert 31 Aug 11 - 09:34 PM
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Subject: Folklore: How many tunes can be remembered?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 30 Aug 11 - 01:09 PM

We have around 80 tunes in the current Beech Tune Book. At any one time I can play about 70 of them reasonable well. If I learn another, one of the old ones seems to slip off the "can be played" list.

I guess the number of tunes that stay in the "can be played" will be affected by practice and clearly my advanced age but do others have some kind of ceiling?

L in C#


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Subject: RE: Folklore: How many tunes can be remembered?
From: saulgoldie
Date: 30 Aug 11 - 01:29 PM

Good one, Les. I was just pondering this very thing, meself. Looking forward to hearing from others. I don't have an answer.

Saul


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Subject: RE: Folklore: How many tunes can be remembered?
From: GUEST,Peter Laban
Date: 30 Aug 11 - 01:39 PM

A thousand at least and well more than that I would think. Maybe even several times that should be sustainable in my experience.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: How many tunes can be remembered?
From: RTim
Date: 30 Aug 11 - 01:48 PM

Apparently the singer Henry Burstow from Sussex could sing around 490 songs from memory, so he knew that many tunes as well!!

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: Folklore: How many tunes can be remembered?
From: RTim
Date: 30 Aug 11 - 01:48 PM

Oh - unless he sang them all to one tune!!!!!!

Tim


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Subject: RE: Folklore: How many tunes can be remembered?
From: GUEST,Eliza
Date: 30 Aug 11 - 01:49 PM

Being quite old, I find that tunes I learned when a child have stayed in my head and I sing them spontaneously for no particular reason. But tunes learned recently have to be sung over and over before they stick. However, if I hear the first few notes of almost any tune I may have heard, the rest magically arrives, so it must be on the database in my brain. Norris Winstone MBE ('Win') the musician and inspiration for Kemp's Men Morris, is said to have over 120 traditional Morris tunes in his head, to play on request.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: How many tunes can be remembered?
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 30 Aug 11 - 02:00 PM

The big repertoire people I know are in the 1000 to 1500 range.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: How many tunes can be remembered?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 30 Aug 11 - 02:30 PM

Thanks folks all interesting stuff.

I think I feel a distinction between song tunes and country dance tunes. Song tunes seem easier to hang on to because the words help so much. Dance tunes generally have more notes and certainly take me much longer to learn. As I said above, they seem to slip off the working roster if I leave them alone.

Dance tunes seem to be my challenge - working collections of hundreds or even thousands is very impressive - is this common?

L in C#


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Subject: RE: Folklore: How many tunes can be remembered?
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 30 Aug 11 - 02:36 PM

I'm not sure less but I'd be inclined to say 1000+ repertoires are by no means unknown rather than say they are common.

In sessions I go to where there are players with that sort of repertoire, your probably only talking one or two out of the dozen or so who may attend with this sort of repertoire and not every session I've been to has one.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: How many tunes can be remembered?
From: GUEST,Peter Laban
Date: 30 Aug 11 - 02:45 PM

I think it depends very much on the people you're with. I am in the west of Ireland and know quite a few people you wouldn't get a tune past. It is really a matter of absorbing music, when you're around music a lot you internalise an awful lot of music and at some point it becomes less of an effort to play anything, once you're reminded of it.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: How many tunes can be remembered?
From: Stanron
Date: 30 Aug 11 - 04:15 PM

For me there are two types of memorised tunes. One type is tunes I can remember and start and the other type is tunes I've forgotten I know until someone else starts to play it. I've no idea how many there are in each group but I suspect that the second group is the larger.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: How many tunes can be remembered?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 30 Aug 11 - 04:45 PM

When I was doing a LOT of Solo performing I had a small noebook with over 500 song titles , ALL of which I could sing on demand as well as Lord knows how many I could dredge from memory , sone learnt purely by absortion !
Never tried to count how many Jigs , Reels , Hornpipes etc I could play or at least busk along with and a LOT of 'standards' from Pre Folk days
It obviously varies from person to person , and the more you play the better they stick !


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Subject: RE: Folklore: How many tunes can be remembered?
From: DrugCrazed
Date: 30 Aug 11 - 05:24 PM

I'm a guitarist, just shout the key and I'll join in...

I know a lot of tunes that just stick in there. A quick count says that I know about 15 songs, 10 tunes, and a myriad of songs that I don't know the words to but know the choruses and the tune for the verse. But, I've only been doing this for 8 months. I'm working on getting some more ;)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: How many tunes can be remembered?
From: Artful Codger
Date: 30 Aug 11 - 06:01 PM

Without being immodest, or even especially unusual, I must be able to sing or play tens of thousands of tunes. Consider all the tunes you really know: the pop songs, standards, carols, classical music, trad songs and dance tunes! Now, at any time, I can only sing maybe 300-500 songs end-to-end (that is, things I'd consider "repertoire"); as I learn new songs, the lyrics to others get shaky, just because I don't keep refreshing them in my memory by singing them, hearing them or glancing back over the lyrics. But I still remember major portions of them, and I remember their tunes right enough, as I remember countless other dance tunes and song tunes complete. If I systematically kept refreshing the lyrics of the shaky songs, I could easily expand my drop-of-a-hat song list to "thousands or more". Similarly, I might just be able to keep the names of dance tunes straight. I'm just not that disciplined. It floors me I can recall as much as I can on demand, since this has never been one of my strong suits. (Just watch me stammer searching for a word when I speak.)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: How many tunes can be remembered?
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 30 Aug 11 - 06:13 PM

True but I think the OP was asking session tunes. The 1000+ repertiore players I was thinking of and I'd imagine Peter Laban was to have this in Irish dance tunes alone.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: How many tunes can be remembered?
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 30 Aug 11 - 07:21 PM

As has been said about Irish session tunes, once you've heard one, you've heard them both.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: How many tunes can be remembered?
From: Joe_F
Date: 30 Aug 11 - 07:37 PM

Same as with people (names & faces). For me, on the order of 10^2. For the people I admire, on the order of 10^3 or more.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: How many tunes can be remembered?
From: Darowyn
Date: 31 Aug 11 - 03:53 AM

I used to play with an orchestra that had a repertoire of fifty or sixty tunes.
But every rehearsal and every performance was done from the written score.
Ten years later, I could not even recall what keys I played them in or how the tunes went.
Unless I look at the books, then my fingers still know the tunes.
Funny thing, memory.
Cheers
Dave


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Subject: RE: Folklore: How many tunes can be remembered?
From: Marje
Date: 31 Aug 11 - 04:46 AM

I can play a hundred or more tunes and could play a great many more if the occasion arose, no problem. As Artful Codger says above, there are so many tunes we just absorb - hymns, classical melodies, popular songs, etc. I'm not saying I play them all well, but I could play them well enough for them to be recognised.

My singing repertoire is much smaller, not because of the tunes (which I almost never forget) but because of the words. There are at least 50 decent songs I could sing from memory right now, and probably antoher 50 that I rarely or never sing but do know well. Then there are a further 50 or 100 that are half-learned or half-forgotten but which I could soon lick into shape if I wanted to sing them tonight. But it's the words that I'd have to revise, not the tunes.

Marje


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Subject: RE: Folklore: How many tunes can be remembered?
From: Black belt caterpillar wrestler
Date: 31 Aug 11 - 07:43 AM

It must be thousands for me. If I can remember it I can have a go at playing it but perhaps not all will fit best on concertina, or on whistle etc.

When I was in my teens I used to be able to do a realtime playback in memory of all of my LPs. It was one way of dispersing teenage boredom!Still can for some of them after a bit of thought. Emerson Lake and Palmer anyone?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: How many tunes can be remembered?
From: SteveMansfield
Date: 31 Aug 11 - 09:06 AM

I wouldn't be surprised if I didn't have 1000+ session / dance tunes stored away all in all - some are fresher in the memory, whilst others need a bit of dust blowing off of them.

The only way to tell, I guess, would be to sit down and start playing, and see how many tunes came out until I'd completely run out ... but I'd be there a while by the time I'd worked through the English and morris and Scottish and Irish and French and Scandinavian and Galician and ...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: How many tunes can be remembered?
From: GloriaJ
Date: 31 Aug 11 - 09:25 AM

Willie Clancy, the irish piper,is supposed to have had about 3000 tunes in his repertoire. Anyone can learn to remember hundreds of tunes or songs but you have to work at it.I've noticed now so many people taking books of their songs to sessions and playing from them.Thats ok - but I believe it's much better when you learn a piece because then you make it your own


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Subject: RE: Folklore: How many tunes can be remembered?
From: Zen
Date: 31 Aug 11 - 10:44 AM

I've never counted them or written them down but it must be in the region of several hundred at least. As others have remarked also, there lots that I will regularly start myself but many times more than that I have learned at one time but which have slipped from active RAM to the archive on the hard drive but which I can readily join in with if someone else starts them up.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: How many tunes can be remembered?
From: wysiwyg
Date: 31 Aug 11 - 10:54 AM

I think tune memory varies by individual more than age, but age has shortened my prodigious one. Age has affected linking tune name to tune more than anything else-- if I hear a bar I can do the whole tune but I may not get it right if I only hear the name. But I can usually tap right into the ornamentation I have most often heard and reproduce all that as well as the underlying un-ornamented tune, at will.

~S~


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Subject: RE: Folklore: How many tunes can be remembered?
From: wysiwyg
Date: 31 Aug 11 - 10:57 AM

Oh PS-- if it's a tune with words I will have the tune play in my head just from a glance at the title or text. Flipping thru a songbook is thus a painful experience, but I can refresh a tune recall just from a look at the words.

Age seems not to affect that-- if it's in there it's in there, and just needs different access to get AT it.

I seem usually to recall (by ear) the preferred key as well.

~S~


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Subject: RE: Folklore: How many tunes can be remembered?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 31 Aug 11 - 01:15 PM

Thank you all for confirming the collapse of my RAM, hard disc and other memory related bits of skull. I guess at some point I will be left with just one tune - either The Dorset 4 Hand Reel or The Bear Dance

Cheers

L in C#


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Subject: RE: Folklore: How many tunes can be remembered?
From: Gurney
Date: 31 Aug 11 - 05:10 PM

My old songbooks have over 500 songs that I used to sing, but I was younger when I compiled them. There must be a similar number that I sort-of-knew, but never performed. I could once learn 'the words' at one or two hearings.

The question is complicated by tunes that you can play, as opposed to sing. I always found that harder, because I became sidetracked, as I tended to when I sang songs with no 'story' to them.

It's different when you are 70, though.
Learn the music when you are young!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: How many tunes can be remembered?
From: DrugCrazed
Date: 31 Aug 11 - 06:18 PM

On the subject of tunes from names, I don't usually know many names. I make it a point to know the names if I'll be performing them, otherwise I'll just keep going and pray that it is actually in G, and I didn't mishear D.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: How many tunes can be remembered?
From: Bert
Date: 31 Aug 11 - 09:34 PM

My regular song list has 560 entries but I know a lot more tunes of songs that I don't perform.


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