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 do you learn/memorize songs?

Related threads:
Reading Lyrics vs Memorization (138)
Conversation abt club and reading words-Dick Miles (44) (closed)
Advice please!!! - memorize fiddle tunes? (34)
Recreating versus memorizing a song (61)
Help: World record for most songs memorized (15)
BS: The first song or poem you memorized (57) (closed)
Tips for Memorizing Songs (40)
BS: How to do you memorize a song? (37) (closed)


Ewan McV 14 Dec 98 - 03:52 PM
MMario 14 Dec 98 - 04:07 PM
Pete M 14 Dec 98 - 04:34 PM
MMario 14 Dec 98 - 04:45 PM
Earl 14 Dec 98 - 05:08 PM
dobro 14 Dec 98 - 05:13 PM
Roger in Baltimore 14 Dec 98 - 05:32 PM
Allan S. 14 Dec 98 - 06:23 PM
Jo Taylor 14 Dec 98 - 07:06 PM
rich r 14 Dec 98 - 08:24 PM
Pete M 14 Dec 98 - 08:48 PM
Bill D 14 Dec 98 - 08:49 PM
Bill Cameron 14 Dec 98 - 09:18 PM
Barry Finn 14 Dec 98 - 10:22 PM
Roger in Baltimore 14 Dec 98 - 10:38 PM
JIMI JAM 14 Dec 98 - 11:15 PM
AndreasW 14 Dec 98 - 11:45 PM
Charlie Baum 15 Dec 98 - 12:29 AM
Big Mick 15 Dec 98 - 12:48 AM
BSeed 15 Dec 98 - 02:21 AM
Ewan McV 15 Dec 98 - 04:08 AM
Joe Offer 15 Dec 98 - 04:12 AM
Gearoid 15 Dec 98 - 05:32 AM
Pete M 15 Dec 98 - 05:55 AM
Roger in Baltimore 15 Dec 98 - 06:11 AM
Richard McD, Bridge 15 Dec 98 - 06:45 AM
Susan-Marie 15 Dec 98 - 08:23 AM
Ritchie 15 Dec 98 - 08:31 AM
Bill Cameron 15 Dec 98 - 09:09 AM
Hank 15 Dec 98 - 09:44 AM
Bert 15 Dec 98 - 10:43 AM
Big Mick 15 Dec 98 - 11:19 AM
Joe Offer 15 Dec 98 - 02:19 PM
Ralph Butts 15 Dec 98 - 03:57 PM
Les B 15 Dec 98 - 04:57 PM
Art Thieme 15 Dec 98 - 05:33 PM
Alice 15 Dec 98 - 07:32 PM
John in Brisbane 15 Dec 98 - 07:57 PM
Harry O 15 Dec 98 - 08:32 PM
Jo Taylor 15 Dec 98 - 08:55 PM
Joe Offer 15 Dec 98 - 09:43 PM
Bill D 15 Dec 98 - 10:00 PM
Alice 15 Dec 98 - 10:17 PM
Big Mick 15 Dec 98 - 10:24 PM
Ralph Butts 15 Dec 98 - 10:39 PM
Alice 15 Dec 98 - 11:17 PM
MissMac 16 Dec 98 - 12:16 AM
Ewan McV 16 Dec 98 - 04:13 AM
Martin Ryan. 16 Dec 98 - 05:12 AM
alison 16 Dec 98 - 06:18 AM
Barbara 16 Dec 98 - 07:33 AM
Steve Parkes 16 Dec 98 - 07:58 AM
Susan-Marie 16 Dec 98 - 09:15 AM
Allan C. 16 Dec 98 - 10:22 AM
Martin Ryan. 16 Dec 98 - 10:33 AM
Paul 16 Dec 98 - 10:42 AM
Jon W. 16 Dec 98 - 10:52 AM
Ewan McV 16 Dec 98 - 12:15 PM
Frank in the swamps 16 Dec 98 - 04:19 PM
The Shambles 16 Dec 98 - 06:19 PM
phinque 19 Dec 98 - 01:51 PM
Harald Schmidt 19 Dec 98 - 09:14 PM
Jen 19 Dec 98 - 10:08 PM
Dave T 20 Dec 98 - 08:05 PM
DonMeixner 20 Dec 98 - 11:15 PM
Richard McD. Bridge 22 Dec 98 - 07:18 PM
Bert 23 Dec 98 - 08:50 AM
katlaughing 27 Dec 08 - 01:13 PM
Ebbie 27 Dec 08 - 07:02 PM
Gurney 27 Dec 08 - 08:17 PM
Suegorgeous 28 Dec 08 - 01:57 PM
Ebbie 28 Dec 08 - 03:31 PM
Joe_F 28 Dec 08 - 03:38 PM
Stringsinger 28 Dec 08 - 05:19 PM
Marje 29 Dec 08 - 09:02 AM
Ebbie 29 Dec 08 - 01:16 PM
Phil Edwards 29 Dec 08 - 02:43 PM
Deckman 31 Dec 08 - 08:41 PM
Geoff the Duck 31 Dec 08 - 08:47 PM
Joe Offer 31 Dec 08 - 08:51 PM
Stewart 31 Dec 08 - 09:04 PM
Deckman 31 Dec 08 - 09:49 PM
Barry Finn 31 Dec 08 - 11:05 PM
GUEST,Freddy Heady (7 Jan 2015) 21 Feb 15 - 09:50 PM
GUEST,Jim Bainbridge (7 Jan 2015) 21 Feb 15 - 09:51 PM
Share Thread
more
Lyrics & Knowledge Search [Advanced]
DT  Forum
Sort (Forum) by:relevance date
DT Lyrics:









Subject: How do you learn songs?
From: Ewan McV
Date: 14 Dec 98 - 03:52 PM

So many messages appear on threads for song lyrics from named recordings. Now and then the recordings may not be recent or findable, but they often seem to be available easily enough. Indeed, a couple of recent threads confirm that the lyric seekers have the recording to hand! Why don't they just listen to the song, and learn it? That's kind of the way most songs used to be learned. Have some people lost their aural memories, and must rely on their visual memories only, visualising the lyric as they sing it? And they cannot use that old trick of playing the song a few times, scribbling down the text and thereby helping fix it in the brain. Or are the recordings so oddly mixed that the lyrics cannot be comprehended? I truly would like to know.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn songs?
From: MMario
Date: 14 Dec 98 - 04:07 PM

Many people find it much easier to memorize from the printed page then from the spoken/sung. Also recordings can sometimes be very difficult to understand. I have memorized songs in many different ways, but if I need to do it IN A HURRY find I can do it best from print. And those of us who do not play an instrument obviously cannot use the play and scribble method....

MMario


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn songs?
From: Pete M
Date: 14 Dec 98 - 04:34 PM

I must agree Ewan, thats how I learned all the songs I know, either from live singing or recordings. Admittedly it can lead to some misconceptions if you don't understand the dialect/accent or even worse the context of the song. However getting round this does give you a marvellous opportunity to broaden your understanding and vocabulary. I buy books on folk song for the background information on their origins, derivations and development, not to learn new songs.

I suspect, and I'm willing to listen to arguments to the contrary, that this phenonemenon is related to the idea that there is a "correct" set of lyrics, which in turn is an artifact of both the practice of recording itself, and also the increasing numbers of singer/songwriters considered under the "folk" umbrella who want to collect royalties, and whose fans think the singers therapy sessions set to music are of world shaking importance!

Oops my prejudices are showing.

Surely the whole point of the folk process, regardless of the origin of the song is to change the received version to suit your own voice, style and circumstances? Otherwise we are just another offshoot of the popular music culture with a shelf life of about two weeks for a song and might as well mindlessly mimic the Spice Girls!

Pete M

PS Mario, the "play and scribble" method, which I use, refers to playing the recording not an instrument.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn songs?
From: MMario
Date: 14 Dec 98 - 04:45 PM

Pete M - oops! pre-concieved notions affecting my reading... since I have several friends who play the tune on their instruments - and combine that with writing out the lyrics in order to learn the combo.... I myself learn BEST by playing the recording while driving....or reading...or performing some activity that requires my attention My friends call that the "osmosis method". songs I learn by that method I retain. In fact, I frequently cannot get them out of my head!!!

MMario


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn songs?
From: Earl
Date: 14 Dec 98 - 05:08 PM

I agree that learning a song directly from the record or from another singer is the best way. It shouldn't be a problem with modern records but learning from old recordings, especially blues or oldtime country, can be an arduous process due to sound quality, enunciation, dialect, etc. If someone else has already done the work it can really make your life easier.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn songs?
From: dobro
Date: 14 Dec 98 - 05:13 PM

REPITATION!!!!!!!!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn songs?
From: Roger in Baltimore
Date: 14 Dec 98 - 05:32 PM

Ewan,

I turned 52 this year. I have been singing and playing "folk music" since I was 16 years old. If it was possible you could say I've forgotten more than I'll ever know. My memory for tunes seems to last better than my memory for words (or perhaps I just don't notice that I have lost the tune). Consequently, when my memory spits out an old tune it often is not whole. Then I punch up the DT or the Forum.

Most tunes I learn for the first time are from recordings, and I use MMario's "osmosis" method. However, if I have some time pressure (to learn a tune for a particular performance) I like the words on paper.

Pete M., my, my, my. There are times when what I think is the correct lyric is far from what the song intended. Although there is some joy in the "folk process", when singing in a group I prefer we all sing the same words (must be my German background). So a written version is helpful. I know others are "agin it".

Most every song I perform regularly has gone through a "folk process" of my own that often results in a song that is not reminiscent of the original. Then I am proud to have put "my stamp" on it. It is in some way "my song" then as well as writer's.

In my early years, when I was comfortable with neither my guitar or voice, it was quite comforting for someone to tell me what the "words and chords" were. As I gained in experienced, I found out that I often disagreed with someone else's idea of the "words and chords" and struck out on my own. I suspect those who request lyrics despite owning the recording may be in an early stage as well and are searching for certainty where none may be. They, too, will grow and become more independent minded.

Roger in Baltimore


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn songs?
From: Allan S.
Date: 14 Dec 98 - 06:23 PM

Thirty or fourty years ago my pipe teacher said play the first line over and over untill you have it to memory, Then play the first and add the second line untill you have it to memory. Add the third line. etc Etc. I did the same with songs singing and playing the first line over and over etc . As I have gotten older 70, I find that I can no longer Memorize them no mater what I do so I have the words on paper infront of me. yet I remember the old ones I learned years ago.

MORAL to all this LEARN THEM WHEN YOU ARE YOUNG " As you are, I once was. As I am, you shal become."

. 


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn songs?
From: Jo Taylor
Date: 14 Dec 98 - 07:06 PM

Osmosis for learning tunes is fine and the best way but have you never tried to write words from a recording and not been able to hear them, or rather you hear SOMETHING TOTALLY DIFFERENT and the more you hear them the more you hear the wrong words, when I was a child I thought the angels in the carol were very happy when they sang "ha ha" - you know, "ha the herald angels sing"?! I was recently trying to learn a song and had no less than three different recordings, still couldn't work it out but thanks to you kind people out there I was put out of my misery...


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn songs?
From: rich r
Date: 14 Dec 98 - 08:24 PM

The Mudcat should be considered a success if it does nothing more than put people out of their misery.

rich r


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn songs?
From: Pete M
Date: 14 Dec 98 - 08:48 PM

Roger, I'm not quite sure if "my my my" is expressing agreement, horror, perplexity or what?

I have no problem with writing things down to remember them, and I don't think I said anything to imply that. I think you put your finger on what I intended when you said "..I am proud to have put "my stamp" on it. It is in some way "my song" then as well as writer's." To my mind, and others may disagree, a song "belongs" to the singer for the duration of its delivery, not to the author, after all, all songs had an author even if we no longer know who it was. Similarly, works like the DT and Bruce's site are invaluable resources for both newcomers and people like me who, just occasionally, :-) forget things! I was not arguing against a written record per se, rather supporting Ewan contention that it is possible, maybe with a little more effort, to learn songs directly rather than be spoon fed. It seems that a lot of requests recently are from people who have not bothered to read either the information at the top of the 'Cat page, or even preceeding posts in a thread. In the IT industry where we are not so polite as on the 'Cat the standard response to such requests is RTBM! (read the bloody manual).

On a more serious point, a problem with published written work is that it is inevitably edited to meet the mores of the time, eg in another thread it has been pointed out that songs in "Rise up singing" had been bowdlerised to make them "innoffensive" to some sections of society. Similarly, Broadwood, Sharp, Baring Gould etc all ommitted or changed sexual references in their published works (whilst retaining references to "niggers" etc. we have now gone full circle on that one.)

Do our professional and amateur ethnographers have any views on this one?

Pete M


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn songs?
From: Bill D
Date: 14 Dec 98 - 08:49 PM

there are a couple of issues here...

1)..how do people learn ANYTHING..

2)..what are the questioners really asking for..

1)..people's minds/brains just work differently. Some have wonderful aural memories, others 'see' the words on paper as they repeat them, at least in the early stages of learning. I, personally, hate workshops or song circles where I am expected to pick up a complex chorus, or a round, and join in by verse two. Yet, I watch others do it with little difficulty.(and *envy*) I learn by repetition, and it is made 223.41% easier if I have the words written out. But I also find that a memorizing session, followed by a rest...a few hours, or even a day or two, and then a return to the song, will make it easier...as if my brain cells were tired and wanted time to absorb what I gave them..

2)...some who ask for words/chords are simply beginners and/or unable to figure out easily what they are hearing. Some are just lazy..(let's be honest..*smile*) And others, like Pete M. said, want THIS version of song 'X' just like Jimmy Thudpucker did it, so they can partake of whatever is 'in'. Sometimes, in a post one can guess which it is...sometimes you just gotta shrug and help 'em or not, depending on your inclinations.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn songs?
From: Bill Cameron
Date: 14 Dec 98 - 09:18 PM

Well...

1. listen to it over and over till my family is sick of me

2. take it downstairs and type out the lyrics on the computer--handwriting is a lost art for me.

3. listen, work out chords or modal equivalent, and decide if I can effectively sing it in the same key I'm hearing.

4. make the necessary adjustments till key and accompaniment feel right

5. Play it and play it and play it till I'm sick of it.

Its a funny thing...I pretty much have to get lyrics on paper to learn them--but in learning to play a tune (ie not a song), it comes quicker if I learn it all or mostly by ear. If I try to learn it depending heavily on the printed notation, it takes forever to commit it to memory.

Bill


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn songs?
From: Barry Finn
Date: 14 Dec 98 - 10:22 PM

For me it's a ritual of writing out the words then going over & over them. I spent alot of time driving, so that's where I usually practice them (found it's the best place for me). Every one has there personnal style for learning. Give me more than a 3 step driving direction & I'm stopping at every corner but if I've been there once or give me a map , I'm already there. give others a map & they'll never find their way. Some people do word assocation to help, some take it in best by hearing it over & over. A long chorus (like some of the above) takes me some time to commit to memory but a written chorus I'll have logged before the song's over & the paper's scrap, meanwhile one of my singing partners hear's the chorus once & the second time around he's singing it in three part harmony. My biggest problem is not singing some of the stuff that's grown old to me, eventually some songs disappear & I can't get them back no matter what I do. Barry


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn songs?
From: Roger in Baltimore
Date: 14 Dec 98 - 10:38 PM

Pete M,

I guess perplexity is the closest. I was surprised at the depth of feeling that came forth on a post about "How do you learn songs?" My plea was for a little tolerance. I do suffer from intolerance of intolerance, I know.

I suspect there are multiple reasons why people post with so little understanding of what they are doing. The reasons probably range from sheer stupidity to over eagerness (I have asked for lyrics without checking the DT).

It does get frustrating at times, but I have taken Joe as a model attempting to be a gentle teacher without jeopardizing the focus of the forum. I remember how I first came to the 'Cat. I plugged in Lead Belly in some Search Engine and mudcat.org was just one of the many URL's that came up.

I consider myself a quick learner, but I suspect it took me all of six months to become facile with the Forum. That is partly because I was learning the Internet at the same time.

I think I understand your defense of the folk process. I hope you understand my defense of written lyrics as well. Jo Taylor's post reminds me of the young child who drew a Christmas picture of a stable with a star over it. Behind the stable was a huge roly-poly figure about three stories high. When the Sunday school teacher asked about the figure, the child simply said, "That's round John Virgin".

It is difficult for me to imagine how the oral tradition maintained songs. The most recent examples come from Appalachia and the Delta where music passed from person to person until the advent of the radio, the vinyl record, and the Juke Box. Certainly the speed of dissemination picks up and there becomes a "reference" point to which people may return. One might say this deadens the music, takes away its vitality. And yet, classical music remains quite vital and yet the reference points for Bach are there, note for note.

I served in Uncle Sam's Army in the quartermaster corps. One ROTC lieutenant had a stamp for paper work that was subpar in format. It simply said, "You must be new!" I suggest we help out the newcomer.

It becomes clear with re-reading that I have rambled more than usual, but I'll leave it as it lays.

Roger in Baltimore


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn songs?
From: JIMI JAM
Date: 14 Dec 98 - 11:15 PM

you learn some songs by letting it sink in, and be coming a part of you or just listen to what the writer is saying.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn songs?
From: AndreasW
Date: 14 Dec 98 - 11:45 PM

Hi Ewan McV

Right now I have almost finished (after some monthes of listening/scribbling)
typing up the lyrics to all my folk song recordings
(about 360 songs, so I would say I am not a beginner at this business anymore).
But still I have difficulties understanding all the words/verses of some lyrics.

There are several reasons:
- sometimes parts of vocals are very low (while instruments are louder)
- sometimes the singer has a strong accent
- sometimes I just can't figure out what the verse is meant to say, and many English words sound the same.
- sometimes the cause is that English is not my native language.

Don't forget, there's more countries where English is not the native language,
and it is hard to understand some song lyrics for non-native speakers,
especially if you consider there are some "versions" of English:
English, Scottish, Irish, American, Canadian, Australian, ...,
some of them could even be seen more distinguished,
e.g. BBC-English vs. London-working-class English...

(Disclaimer: all examples are selected randomly,
omitted language variations are not better or worse than the ones mentioned)

If you can understand all the song lyrics from listening to
your recordings, I envy you.
But don't forget there are some people (like me) who are not perfect.

Please forgive my non-perfect English, I am not a native speaker...

Andreas


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn songs?
From: Charlie Baum
Date: 15 Dec 98 - 12:29 AM

I have the same problems as Andreas when I'm learning a song in a foreign language (Russian, Georgian, Yiddish, Hebrew, etc.) And sometiems with English--I've been trying to learn some blues hollers and songs from the Southern prisons, and can barely figure out what those people are saying. Some of the songs are in such a strange dialect that even if I see it printed out, I need to do research to find out what the idioms mean. Before I put in the effort to memorize a song, I'd like to make sure I understand it and that it makes sense. Otherwise, it's just syllables and you get nonsense and semi-sense like "Gladly, the cross-eyed bear..."

I've also realized that one of the best ways for me to learn a song is to write it out. Even if I already have a written copy of the lyrics in front of me, the physical act of transcribing the lyrics helps to set them in my mind.

--Charlie Baum


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn songs?
From: Big Mick
Date: 15 Dec 98 - 12:48 AM

Very interesting thread. Barry Finn, Ewan McV. and Roger in Baltimore are some of my favorite 'Catters, and I always pay attention to their postings, given the level of respect I have come to have for their opinions. So I guess it shouldn't surprise me that I agree with their opinions on this matter. For me, I would have to say that I use most of the methods mentioned above to learn. By far, the best for me is to listen to the cut, scribbling furiously on a pad, then taking it and typing it up from my notes. I then work out the chord structure, as recorded. Then I make the modifications that I am going to make to interpret the song "my way". It could be as little as a key change, or as much as a complete restructure.

On the subject of those who ask for words and chords, I always figure it is someone who is not at the level of accomplishment to be able to do it, or they would. I remember those days, and was always grateful for the help. So I try to help where I can. Also, sometimes I figure that someone has just heard the song, but doesn't have the recording and want a little help quickly. In fact, I did that very ting (can I buy a consonant?) on a couple of songs here, that I needed quickly. One was "45 Years" and I hadn't heard it in a while, and got a request from the Bride at the wedding, the day before. And my dear friends from Mudcat came through for me.

All the best,

Mick


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn songs?
From: BSeed
Date: 15 Dec 98 - 02:21 AM

It's funny--some songs just seem to implant themselves in my brain in only a couple of hearings; others I copy down with my CD player on repeat, listening over and over again until I have it all on paper, and then I still have to play and sing it again and again, day after day, until I think I have it--and then, if I try to perform it, I forget key phrases, so I go back to playing it over and over ogain...

Right now I'm working on a song Barbara posted a couple of weeks ago, "Overflowing Catbox Blues," and--although I'd never heard it performed--a melody grabbed onto it as I was first reading the words in Barbara's post. I haven't quite memorized it all, but I did play it for the Poodle Players (the name that won't die) tonight, and they got a big kick out of it. --seed


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn songs?
From: Ewan McV
Date: 15 Dec 98 - 04:08 AM

Thanks for enlightening (and even complimentary!) postings. I had not thought of various explanations. I especially take to heart the points excellently made by AndreasW. And 'Round John Virgin' deserves a new song - to the tune of Alabama John Cherokee?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn songs?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 15 Dec 98 - 04:12 AM

I'm listening to Dan Milner's "Irish Ballads & Songs of the Sea" for the first time just now - it arrived in today's mail. Dan (Liam's Brother) has terrific notes for the CD, prepared with help from William Main Doerflinger himself. I won't fault Dan for not providing lyrics, since most of the songs are in the database, but I won't really appreciate this CD until I take the time to listen to it while I'm looking at the lyrics of the songs that are new to me. Maybe we have too many distractions nowadays, or maybe our memories are wasted away from overexposure to recorded media, or maybe we're just lazy. Whatever the case, I often need printed lyrics to fully understand a song.
To learn a song, I type it out and print it in large type, and then take it with me on the road and sing with the songsheet and/or a tape, since I do a lot of driving on the job. The typing is a good start, but singing in the car is when I really learn. I improvise lyrics all the time when I sing solo; but I usually sing with groups, and it's very helpful to get the lyrics right.
Of course, I'm one of those people who gets lost whenever people give me directions. I gotta have a road map.
-Joe Offer-

Oh, and Dan's CD is over now, and I can tell you it's terrific. Buy it.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn songs?
From: Gearoid
Date: 15 Dec 98 - 05:32 AM

People I'm pretty new to the Mudcat, so I think I'm still caught up in the novelty of having people all over the world discussing something I love (Irish ballads etc.) but I would definitely say that reading the lyrics while listening to the song certainly clarifies a lot for me and therefore makes it easier to learn.

I usually just sit down the back of the bus on my way to work and listen to Mr Luke Kelly shouting in my ears the way only he could.(sometimes with the words in tow)

What works for me is just listen to the songs (get the tune going in your head) try and sing along to the song even if the words are wrong, after listening to the song a couple of times you will notice you have most of the words (when you come to read them the rest will automatically fall into place)

Excellent Thread

Gearoid


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn songs?
From: Pete M
Date: 15 Dec 98 - 05:55 AM

I don't want to make this too much of a dialogue Roger, but I think from your last post that I may have over stated my case, probably by trying to be succinct. I didn't intend to be heavy handed, and I agree totally about tolerance and the need to make newcomers welcome. I think on the basis of posts to the forum, that we all, even Joe (please correct me if I'm wrong Joe), get fed up at times with some of the more innane requests, but I have always tried to help anyone who has asked for information or lyrics that I have.

Of course we all have our own preferred method of learning and remembering songs; as I said above, mine is to write them down whilst listening to them, this has for me the dual benefit of helping to push it into my brain and providing an aide memoir for the future, so let me re-iterate that I am not arguing against written records of lyrics, just the potential misuse to ossify a set of lyrics as the definitive and only version.

Your point about classical music is well made, but I think that there is also a parallel with the folk process in the changes in interpretation by differing conductors amd orchestras.

I have my favourite singers too, but to me the song is more important than the singer, and to return to your plea for tolerance, if someone wants, or prefers a version of a song as recorded by XYZ thats fine, but I would ask that they accept that another version is just as valid. I believe that the 'Cat generally and the forum specifically does a great job in maintaining the knowledge of this diversity and of the folk process, but I don't think it hurts to re-iterate the point at times.

I suspect I too have rambled unconciably, but it is late and I plead insanitary. By the way, "A round John virgin" has got to be the song this Christmas!

Pete M


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn songs?
From: Roger in Baltimore
Date: 15 Dec 98 - 06:11 AM

Pete M.,

Peace be with you and with me.

Roger in Baltimore


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn songs?
From: Richard McD, Bridge
Date: 15 Dec 98 - 06:45 AM

Surely "Round John Virgin" should be a round starting "John Virgin" - perhaps to the tune of "Ah poor bird".

Part of the difficulty I have with this thread arises from the apparent conflation of a song with a version of a song. There are many versions of "Ramble away", and I guess that the Young Tradition recording represents possibly the earliest words and tune. If we are folklorists we should want to know the origin and the original form of a song. If we are performers we will want to perform it "our" way. Etcetera. So tempo and harmony may change. I suspect everyone reading will have wanted to end a song which normally closes on a minor chord with a modulation to the major, just for the effect. Now is that the folk process, or is it only the folk process if I come to think that the song ends with that modulation rather than the original minor? Would you think the same of my insistence on playing the Wild Mountain Thyme in 4/4 rather than 3/4? Most recordings I have heard are of the 3 verse version, but I am told that if you leave out the verse "I will walk through the dark, etc" in Scotland you will be asked "Do you no ken the Scots version" (to which the answer, I am told, is "Aye, but I dinna mind the words").

If you learn a song by listening to a recording you will almost inevitably learn the version and the performance, too and think that they are part of the song. If you learn by live listening you will almost certainly modify the tune and words to a greater or lesser extent - unless your memory is a lot better than mine. If you take a song from text and dots, when you as a folk musician come to play it you are likely to alter tempo and timing, but to retain the "correct" words. That, I suspect, is the difference.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn songs?
From: Susan-Marie
Date: 15 Dec 98 - 08:23 AM

This has been such an interesting thread - I love hearing that I'm not the only one with song lyric sheets in the car with me (Thanks, Joe) learning songs as I drive around Baltimore and Wash D.C. (in my case, from a tape I make called "songs to learn"). After a conservation with another friend who sings in her car a lot, we thought there might be a market for bumper stickers that say :

"This may look like a car
But to me it's a concert hall"

As for needing written lyrics, I have so little free time that although I probably could listen to a CD and scribble, I'd rather be singing, so if someone else has already done the scribbling part, I'm more than willing to take advantage of it.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn songs?
From: Ritchie
Date: 15 Dec 98 - 08:31 AM

Well, Here's my tuppence worth.

I started out on Mudcat with a request for lyrics to a song that I no longer could remember or, had a recording of..(somebody out there must have them)...but as yet I still have n't got them, but what I have got is a lot, lot more.

I get a thrill when particular names are on a thread.... (and also when new names are on a thread) and Gene ,thanks publically,has opened me up to a whole new type of music that I'm learning the words to from recordings rather than the written word.

And this is all because I asked for lyrics...

To do things properly though, perhaps we should not only just repeat the lyrics, but have a clear understanding of exactly what the author had in mind when they wrote them.

Personally I don't think so and to confirm this I'll be singing 'A round John Virgin' this christmas..

love & happiness

Ritchie


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn/a modest proposal to DT
From: Bill Cameron
Date: 15 Dec 98 - 09:09 AM

Some interesting stuff here--I wanted to add a couple of ps's.

True enough one tends to be true to one's source, whether written lyrics or recording. That's why it's great that different variants are available. On the DT or elsewhere. Anyone who has any version of Child's "English & Scottish Popular Ballads" knows that you can't just "learn" a song out of it--most songs have multiple variants, up to 30 in some cases, and there are no tunes given. And usually no single variant is quite satisfactory to me--a redundant verse here, one that makes no sense there, and so on.

Best case is to have more than one recording, more than one text, then if it still doesn't work for you--add your own variance!

But beginners often need more certainty. Most have trouble distinguishing between a variant and a mistake, (Don't we all) and are baffled by suggestions that there's more than one "right" way to play something. Handle gently.

Here's my modest suggestion for ameliorating (my Big Word of the Month) the number of overeager requests for info thats in the DT: it would do no harm to add a couple of explanatory lines to the search engine window up top there. ("To find a song lyric: Type full or partial song title, or lyric fragment, and press 'search'") Since it's evident that many newcomers are just as new to net lingo as to folk process, I bet that would help a lot.

Bill


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn songs?
From: Hank
Date: 15 Dec 98 - 09:44 AM

Well, once again it appears each person is different, and you better know yourself.

I remember in high school choir that we would sing a song from music every day for a couple months. About two weeks before the concert our director would have us sing the song, then tell us "Close the music". Suddenly nobody could sing that song, even though we knew more or less where it was going. For the next few days he would alternate between music and no music. After that it was no music, and we really didn't need it. (he might have us pull out the music for on tricky section if needed) So while learning, put away all aids, and try to get through on your memory, just strum and hum if needed, but force yoruself to try. If you never rely on your memory, your memory will not come through! Ever notice that you don't have to see the last measure of a page, or the first one on the next? You have to keep playing, so your memory learns those measures well.

As for me, when a new song comes on the radio I can normally sing along (very inacceratly, but close enough) by the thrid line. Of course the songs they play on the radio are strict format songs, so you know when the bridge is coming. I'm not up to playing along with songs yet, but I hope to get there. I'm just a beginner on my mandolin yet though.

p>One thing psycologist say is that in general if you memorise something in one day you will probably forget it. If you memorise it over several days you have a much better chance of remembering next week. So don't try to learn something too quickly, better to learn several somethings over a longer time. You don't get as bored that way. (Of course if your just starting like me, you probably don't know enough basics to memorise a lot. So I just have fun, and avoid memorizing. I'm not ready for proformance anyway.)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn songs?
From: Bert
Date: 15 Dec 98 - 10:43 AM

I'm with Susan-Marie, I sing in the car.
I'll try to learn a song, sing it on the way to work. When I get home I'll look up the vague bits that didn't stick in my memory (actually mine would more aptly be called a 'forgetory' nowadays).

Don't knock the people who post a request without having searched first. Many times they have jogged my memory of songs that I thought I had forgotten.

I get the impression that some Mudcateers have learned all of the 7000 or so songs in DT (Dick not only knows ALL the songs but knows many other versions for each of them :-) ). But I haven't even got through reading the INDEX yet.
So please, keep the requests coming, it's nice to be reminded of the vast variety of songs that are in DT.
Also, sometimes, the simplest request for a well known song will lead to a wealth of information about the song or will diverge into an interesting discussion.

Bert.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn songs?
From: Big Mick
Date: 15 Dec 98 - 11:19 AM

Bert,

I don't believe in knocking folks for asking. I use it as a chance to explain one of the protocols of the 'Cat. It gives a chance to help with learning how to use this resource to its best benefit.

BTW, I use singing in the car intensively. I put 200 to 400 miles per day on my car, gives me lots of time for singing.

all the best,

Mick


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn songs?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 15 Dec 98 - 02:19 PM

Pete, I rather enjoy the more inane requests for lyrics. They give me a chance to feel smug and superior.
Unlike Susan-Marie, however, I do NOT sing from lyrics sheets while driving in Wahington, DC. I watch the road. Those drivers are crazy there. On California freeways, I can sing from lyrics sheets, read novels, and all sorts of things - but I sure wouldn't do it in DC!
-Joe Offer-


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn songs?
From: Ralph Butts
Date: 15 Dec 98 - 03:57 PM

I'm with Joe, Susan-Marie, Bert and Big Mick as a car singer/learner. It's the only way to get to sing a song 15 or 20 times without offending someone. I probably average an hour a day in the car between clients (sometimes more) and not infrequently come home hoarse, especially if I've been Gordon Bok for the last hour.

You're right, Joe, it's a little scary to peek down at the lyrics, but I'm careful, and I print big.

BTW, Susan-Marie, where can I get one of them bumper stickers?

......Tiger


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn songs?
From: Les B
Date: 15 Dec 98 - 04:57 PM

Great thread! I too am a car "learner" -- even 15 minutes is time to run over a new verse or two. However, people in front of you at stop lights sometimes think you're "talking" at them and flip you the bird, or is it the "you're # 1 sign" ? I once asked a good musician how he went about learning tunes (mainly instrumental) and he said he always started by listening to the record at least ten times before sitting down to work out words, chords or lead lines. Then its the play & scribble out the lines method. At a site on the web about Opera singing, I found the hint that people memorize lines more quickly when they are reclining. I suppose that's because you're less occupied with anything else. I don't know about the rest of you, but when I'm playing an instrument with someone else singing, I have a hard time picking up the words -- too busy with chords, etc. To learn from another singer I have to sit and listen to them without playing along. Somehow I suspect that -- contrary to oral tradition ideals -- most singers learn by writing down the words. Even if you learned it orally, you usually jot down the words for archival purposes. If you don't write it down you run the risk in five years or so of forgetting part of the words if its not a regular song in your set list. It seems to me I heard a folk scholar expound on this -- saying that only children's songs (like jump rope rhymes) are the few that are really transmitted orally.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn songs?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 15 Dec 98 - 05:33 PM

1) Write it out from my source.

2) Read it over a few times.

3) Write it out, verse by verse, until I get to the point where I forget something,

4) Go back to the the start and do it over again until I hit another snag.(Do that until I get all the way through it SEVERAL TIMES IN A ROW).

5) Work on it with guitar or banjo or saw.

6) Get in car & practice what I've learned as I drive to gig. (The further the better for learning the song.)

7) Get on stage and introduce the song by saying, "Here's one I learned in the car on the way here!!"

IS THAT A LIE?? NO!! (TELL THAT TO THE CONGRESS!!)

Art Thieme


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn songs?
From: Alice
Date: 15 Dec 98 - 07:32 PM

Well,..... if you really want to know. I tape thermal fax copies (waterproof) to the wall of the shower with masking tape. I have them layered sometimes three or four deep. I almost always have heard it first live or from a recording, and then drill the lyrics into my head by singing in the shower every day. I have been using this method for several years. As I commit the words to memory, the wrinkled old page of lyrics is pulled off the shower wall. New ones are added as needed

So, how do I learn them? in the nude... well, you asked.

alice


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn songs?
From: John in Brisbane
Date: 15 Dec 98 - 07:57 PM

Peace on Earth, goodwill to men. It's great to see that we're all so passionate about our differences. I will experiment with a number of the techniques above - I surely need them. Thanks for all the tips.

I am slowly acquiring a new repertoire from the DT, particularly those I've never heard before. I intend to sing a new one (Christmas social commentary) on Friday night, but I haven't found it yet.

Regards
John


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn songs?
From: Harry O
Date: 15 Dec 98 - 08:32 PM

As in all learning situations, motivation is the key. You learn a song because you like it for itself. Learning for fashion sake is laborious and unconvincing in performance, by the same token, learning for effect is equally meritricious, learning to impress will only impress those of like mind - the "Whoofley-Dendum Bird Syndrum" - learning songs I have found relatively painless since I only learn those I (1) have grown up with and (2)have absorbed almost unconsciously. A large part of my extensive repertoire would horrify purists - but then, I can't help what sticks in my mind. Liking anything is so subjective. Harry O


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn songs?
From: Jo Taylor
Date: 15 Dec 98 - 08:55 PM

Learning in the car certainly does work, mine (Citroen 2CV) has a loud engine which provides a drone in just the right key. Usually. A friend tuned it for me a couple of weeks ago but I can't tell the difference :)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn songs?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 15 Dec 98 - 09:43 PM

I think I'll wander over to Montana and learn a song or two with Alice.....


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn songs?
From: Bill D
Date: 15 Dec 98 - 10:00 PM

I'll bet she sure gets wrinkled when she is learning LONG ballads...and the water bill!!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn songs?
From: Alice
Date: 15 Dec 98 - 10:17 PM

Try it.... you'll like it. (great acoustics in the shower)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn songs?
From: Big Mick
Date: 15 Dec 98 - 10:24 PM

Alice,

I have a song that goes 8 1/2 minutes. I'm thinking we could do it as a duet, but it will take a ton of rehearsal. Whaddya think.

Don't tell Alison though. ****Wink, Wink****

All the best,

Mick


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn songs?
From: Ralph Butts
Date: 15 Dec 98 - 10:39 PM

My longest is 6 minutes, but that's enough......Tiger


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn songs?
From: Alice
Date: 15 Dec 98 - 11:17 PM

only eight and a half?
you must be kidding

Seriously, though, folks, the shower is a great place to practice singing... warm water relaxes the muscles, privacy, and if all the lyrics you are working on are taped to the wall, what more do you need (assuming you do a cappella)? I sometimes set a tape recorder on the window ledge next to the shower, and then I can listen to what I am practicing, if I am still at the stage of learning the tune as well as the lyrics.

Since I started working out of my home office eight years ago, my commute is a few feet from the kitchen. I still sing in the car, but I rarely have to drive anywhere now that I work at home.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn songs?
From: MissMac
Date: 16 Dec 98 - 12:16 AM

Wow neat thread. I learn by listening over and over and over to tapes in the car. I am just starting to get used to the DT and it is a marvolous place to get the lyrics to songs that my music partner has had memorized (and and forgotton) years ago and has no recordings for. I pick up the tunes fastest then I take weeks on the lyrics if I am just singing along at work. He does not always have time to record them for me.

MissMac


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn songs?
From: Ewan McV
Date: 16 Dec 98 - 04:13 AM

Lots more fascinating points. I realise I value the printed words of songs on LP sleeves or in those great little CD booklets very much when I want to listen to and appreciate the maker's craft and detail of the song. But if I want / need to learn the song and it does not easily attach itself to my frontal lobes then I must keep playing it and singing along (can of course lead to much squeeking and grunting if the key is not Ewan friendly), or if I've getting it from the printed page then I must close my eyes and sing it without peeking, except to confirm what I'm stumbling upon. The worst ones to learn and remember are those I write myself - I think that's because I know that they could have gone / could still go other ways lyrically. I have to tape bits of paper on instruments, with the key word/s of each verse shown. I'm involved with an amateur acappella song group, who grip the paper like it'll save therm from drowning, and most of them never get a proper grip on the songs!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn songs?
From: Martin Ryan.
Date: 16 Dec 98 - 05:12 AM

Ewan

That last sentence hits the nail on the head! The words and even the tune of a traditional song are the least of our worries. It's getting a grip on what the song is communicating through both that matters. Sometimes that's relatively easy. Learning the words and tossing them around - whether in the car or the shower - will soon get a passable version into you. It then becomes a matter of recognising whether the combination of words, tune and YOU actually does justice to the song.

Sometimes its more difficult. I find that some songs sneak up on you over many years. You often KNOW that you will sing them at some stage but put off tackling them until you feel you have some chance of doing justice to them Once you set about it - you find that osmosis has worked and you know it already!

I sympathise with the difficulty of those trying to work from recordings only, especially when the language, culture or placenames are unfamiliar. Again, it comes back to whether you can get inside the song to the point where it will work FOR YOU. This, incidentally, is why I am more than happy to help on matters of detail in Irish songs. Hopefully, it helps make the singer more comfortable with the song.

I realise, of course, that the dyanamic for professionals is, of necessity, different.

Regards


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn songs?
From: alison
Date: 16 Dec 98 - 06:18 AM

only eight and a half....... that's not what you told me Mick!!!

I like the idea though Alice......... think I'll try that one.. much safer than trying to learn in the car in Sydney traffic.

wonder if it'd work for whistle tunes too........

slainte

alison


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn songs?
From: Barbara
Date: 16 Dec 98 - 07:33 AM

Honestly, alison what does it matter about the length?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn songs?
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 16 Dec 98 - 07:58 AM

Hey, Jo! What did your friend tune your 2CV to? My old Mini Traveller was B flat - and that was just the tyres!

On a slightly serious note (no pun intended this time), I heard of some research some years ago that indicates that you remember things better when you're in the same emotional state as when you tried to learn them. Since then I've revised for exams by working up a good panic and repeating "Ohmygodohmygodi'llneverrememberthis" rapidly under my breath, over and over. I can't say if it helps or not, since I've nothing to compare results with. I'm not sure if you can do it with songs, but it might get a laugh if you work it into the act.

Steve


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn songs?
From: Susan-Marie
Date: 16 Dec 98 - 09:15 AM

Oh Alice, thanks for a great laugh this morning. Joe, don't worry about my driving, I print the lyrics real big and only look when stopped at red lights.

Ewan and Martin are right about lyrics not being the hard part - the only time learning music in the car almost got me into a car accident was when I was listening to a recording of Frank Harte singing "Now Westlin Winds". He does a very intricate ornamentation on "weary farmer" and when the tape got to that part I unthinkingly CLOSED MY EYES to hear it better - while driving along at 50 mph. Luckily I stayed on the road, but I couldn't believe how stupid that was.

Tiger, if I ever decide to print up "This car is my concert hall" bumper stickers, you can be sure I'll offer them on the Mudcat.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn songs?
From: Allan C.
Date: 16 Dec 98 - 10:22 AM

I am all for Ewan's method of taping bits of paper to instruments with key words of song lyrics. I have done that for a number of years. For me it has been more of a problem of connecting song titles with their lyrics. I used to simply write out a song list and post it where I could see it. More than once though, I found that on stage I would read the song title but to save my life could not remember how the song began! Lyric fragments, judiciously posted, have ever since saved the day.

As for memorizing lyrics from written copy I can only say that in years past (before the advent of hydraulic cueing devices) I scratched a number of my records trying to transcribe lyrics. More recently I ruined a few cassettes by fast-forwarding/rapid rewinding, etc., to accomplish the same thing. I am ALWAYS grateful to find a ready source for lyrics. Like nearly all of us, it was this feature of the Mudcat which brought me here in the first place.

Having the written text helps me immensely in learning a song. Often I do not possess a recording of a particular song so written lyrics are all I have to work from. If I can remember the melody then it is simply a matter of repetition, repetition, repetition, repetition, repetition...!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn songs?
From: Martin Ryan.
Date: 16 Dec 98 - 10:33 AM

Susan-Marie

Funny that it should be Frank Harte that nearly killed you. I remember meeting him at a festival some years ago. He had just arrived in Clare having driven down from Dublin and was, to quote him, "a bit shook"! He had the words of a song stuck on the steering wheel and was trying to learn it as he drove down! Very nearly went off the road, not surprisingly, and was suffering the consequences.

regards


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn songs?
From: Paul
Date: 16 Dec 98 - 10:42 AM

I expect that I'm not the only one who use to get their music teacher to play the song over once, before trying to read the music. To this day, I'll just listen and join in, leaving the sheet music as a last resort.

The lyrics, however, are another story. I will often agonize over a recording for hours, and still have significant holes in the lyrics.

Why do we have a resource such as the Mudcat, if not for helping the lyrically challenged, like me?

Thanks for all of the help I've received in the past.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn songs?
From: Jon W.
Date: 16 Dec 98 - 10:52 AM

I, too, am a closet car singer. Of course it's pretty crowded in my closet what with the car in there and all -)

Seriously, I don't have much problem memorizing (my wife calls me Memorex) but I do have problems projecting my voice and also enunciating properly. So I take my five-minute commute home for lunch, back to work, and back home in the evening and sing away at full blast (if I feel like it). I don't usually sing on the way to work in the morning. It's too early, besides I have kids in the car to drop off at school and it inhibits me a little.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn songs?
From: Ewan McV
Date: 16 Dec 98 - 12:15 PM

As Martin indicates, yet another complicating factor is the assumption that the tune is the same / works the same way for each verse, when consideration of the song in action shows so many subtle variations and possibilities, e.g. Susan-Marie's 'weary farmer' phrasing. One of the joys of working from the printed page can be the creation of such 'interpretation', and often the conscientious editor emphasises that the tune as shown is a sketch / outline / averaging out of verses. Whereas the recorded version can trap you in the moils of some other singer's personalised version. This of course is an argument for working from the printed text - the opposite of my above expressed opinion. On balance I think I had to learn by rote other older singers' ways, till I could absorb and express my own notions of appropriate and permissable style and interpretation. Then I listened to learn while somehow editing down the other singer's personality and highlighting for myself the core of the song.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn songs?
From: Frank in the swamps
Date: 16 Dec 98 - 04:19 PM

Most of what I play is jazz and some of the chord progressions give me a devil of a time if I'm trying to memorize from the written page, perhaps it's just too easy to "get it" for the tunes to stick, but when figuring things out from recordings I seem to get the tune halfway memorized just through the process of working it out. Best of all for me though, is live transmission. If somebody plays a song for me, then with me, it comes across real fast. Not easy, it demands concentration, but it's fast. Lyrics to songs are a different thing for me though, I keep a written copy handy and just keep trying to recall it over and over, if I'm stuck, I reference the paper just for the line or phrase that jammed me, then try to recall from the beginning again.

Frank i.t.s.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn songs?
From: The Shambles
Date: 16 Dec 98 - 06:19 PM

Great stuff all. A round John Virgin! Reminds me of the story of the Nativity Play where the ad-libbing young lad playing the inn-keeper tells Joseph that “the Inn was full up until after Christmas”.

Just a word here for the long-suffering partners/etc of all of us. They have to listen to the same songs, over and over, whilst waiting to use the shower, sitting in the car and in all those other strange places.

I would suggest that they know the words far better than us so why not let them sing the songs instead.

On a more serious note I would hate to see an end to the requests for songs, no matter that they could find the answers in the DT or elsewhere. The questions and the answers prompt memories and lead to all sorts of unexpected places, where we all go and in the process the new posters find out the way things are usually done, the best way to do it, I would suggest.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn songs?
From: phinque
Date: 19 Dec 98 - 01:51 PM

I tape it, sometimes several times on a "to learn tape." Then I can easily play it at home, or in my car to memorize tune and words. If I know the song but don't know the words well I use a printed sheet and just play it as often as I can to practice.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn songs?
From: Harald Schmidt
Date: 19 Dec 98 - 09:14 PM

I also tape the songs I have to learn. I play guitar and I sing in 2 different bands, so I can listen to my own recordings when I'm on the road or when I'd like to take a walk (i. e. shopping). I always carry my walkman with me and often I have to look to the lyrics which I also take with me. That is the best way for me to learn songs.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn songs?
From: Jen
Date: 19 Dec 98 - 10:08 PM

I usually learn them from the radio, or a recording, first. I listen to the song with earphones, and type the lyrics while I'm playing the song(I can type really fast!) The verses I don't know I wait until next time, and play it again. I do have a habit of leaving a CD on repeat all day long, and I love getting movie soundtracks with songs before the movie, so I can sing at the movie...*g*

And singing in the shower is great!! I wish I could sing in the shower(or sound as good as I sing in the shower) on Christmas Eve. I'm singing 'I Wonder as I Wander' a cappella (or however you spell that.) Wish me luck.

Jen


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn songs?
From: Dave T
Date: 20 Dec 98 - 08:05 PM

My preference is to learn from 1) other musicians, 2) recordings, 3) sheet music, in that order.
I have problems remembering lyrics unless I write them down. I'm generally a visual thinking type and can often "see" the page of lyrics in my mind when I'm singing.
Repetition is really important for me. Some songs stick in my head easily but most of the time I need to hear, play and sing songs a lot before I know them. I too, use the car to learn songs. The shower's OK but personally, I'd have to use it solo (sorry Alice) for learning songs, otherwise I'd probably get too distracted. BTW, what time signature should you use for shower duets? Is it OK to change timing in mid-stream? Should you put your instrument in a case? So many questions...

Dave T


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn songs?
From: DonMeixner
Date: 20 Dec 98 - 11:15 PM

I have always been blessed with an excellent memory. Not always a blessing as I tend to remember moments my kid would rather I never mentioned to their dates. My memory for lyrics tends to be aural. If I hear something its there forever, or pretty close. But like every one I can hear things wrong like singing "Wild Shepards washed their socks by Night" or " My Goat knows The Bowling Score, Ally oops sala.". Thats why I ask for lyrics from people on the list. Mary Black sings "Men of Worth" beautifully, but she has such a high voice that it tends to be unclear in a few areas. Christy Moore sings so low and records the music louder than he sings, I need help with words from time to time. MUDCAT is great for me in this regard, and I've meet some fine and generous people as well.

Don Meixner


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn songs?
From: Richard McD. Bridge
Date: 22 Dec 98 - 07:18 PM

3 things.

I would always be very wary about singing a song in a language I didn't know fairly well. I even have trouble with American sometimes, and it's very similar to English most of the time.

I would also be wary about using someone else's decoration - that way lies the peril of trying to sound like Bert Lloyd or Peter Bellamy, but sometimes it is hard to distinguish variation of the tune from decoration.

Once upon a time we were trying to recruit a fiddle player. He ran a construction company. He used to practice the violin on the M25 - mostly in traffic jams but he claimed he could steer with his knees. Now that's harder than learning lyrics in the car.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn songs?
From: Bert
Date: 23 Dec 98 - 08:50 AM

Richard,
You say....but sometimes it is hard to distinguish variation of the tune from decoration.

I'm glad I'm not the only one with that problem, When I sing a new song that I've heard, I have to consciously ask myself, 'Now how would this sound if Bert was singing it'. Otherwise I find myself copying the performance instead of singing the song.

Bert.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn songs?
From: katlaughing
Date: 27 Dec 08 - 01:13 PM

Good stuff in this early thread.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn songs?
From: Ebbie
Date: 27 Dec 08 - 07:02 PM

Glad you refreshed this thread, kat. It's a good one.

I discovered that it is easier and probably faster to learn one song at a time. The first time I heard Ginny Hawker sing (she was the featured Guest Artist at the Alaska Folk Festival some years back) I fell so in love with her voice, her interpretation and the songs themselves that after that week was over I found myself learning SEVEN songs at the same time. I eventually got it done but it took a week. On the other hand I've never forgotten them.

In reference to 'making it one's own', I had an epiphany one day regarding the Carter Family recordings. As you know, they are frequently just plain wrong with some of the words and phrases they use; they used precious little quallity control, one might say, they did little editing.

But they are an invaluable resource and I am more grateful to them than I can say.

One day I realized that a Carter Family recording is a baseline, enabling one to learn hundreds of 'new' songs. It is not meant to be the definitive version. We are meant to make each song our own.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn songs?
From: Gurney
Date: 27 Dec 08 - 08:17 PM

When I was in my 20s I learned songs aurally, words and music together. Two to four repetitions gave me the words. The guitar part was much harder.
Now that I'm in my 60s, the best description is 'with great difficulty.' I have no problem remembering songs I've known for 40 years, but learning new ones is next to impossible.

My advice? Learn lots of songs now!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn songs?
From: Suegorgeous
Date: 28 Dec 08 - 01:57 PM

Who are/were the Carter family?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn songs?
From: Ebbie
Date: 28 Dec 08 - 03:31 PM

"The Carter Family pioneered modern country music by setting folk songs to string-band backup, and were one of the most popular groups in America from 1926 until they disbanded in 1943.
http://www.rollingstone.com/artists/thecarterfamily/biography

They recorded hundreds of songs that A.P. Carter collected - and in some cases, wrote -, songs that have become standards in America. One can see and hear the influence of the Carter Family in many modern songs.

You may have heard of Country music's Johnny Cash - he was the son in law of 'Mother' Maybelle Carter.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn songs?
From: Joe_F
Date: 28 Dec 08 - 03:38 PM

When I was in grade school in the 1940s, we had a singing class in which we learned songs from aging 78s on which the words were just barely intelligible. The teacher would play a song, and if you thought you understood a bit, you raised your hand & recited it, and the teacher wrote it on the blackboard. The teacher replayed the song until the whole thing had been deciphered. By that time, everybody knew it.

Perhaps phonographs could be provided with a special lo-fi setting for that purpose.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn songs?
From: Stringsinger
Date: 28 Dec 08 - 05:19 PM

Here is a suggestion. Any word in a foreign language can be learned by repeating it 20 times. This could be true for each line in a song.

The facial muscles remember what they've been taught as the fingers on a guitar.
Print works up to a point. Actors will recite lines over and over until they have them
on the lips, tongue, teeth and then in the brain associating the words with images,
interaction and sense-memory.

20 times per line and then 20 times per stanza and then 20 times per song.

Try it.

Frank Hamilton


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn songs?
From: Marje
Date: 29 Dec 08 - 09:02 AM

I thik I learn tunes in a different part of my brain from words, or something. If someone sings a chorus song that I've never heard before, I try to hum along with the chorus the first time, while my conscious brain is listening to the words. Then (with any luck) I'm ready to start putting them together next time round. I seem to learn the tune more intuitively and the words more analytically.

If I want to learn a new song, I may get it from a recording in the first place, but I like to get away from the recording as soon as I know the melody, and learn to make the song my own, rather than absorb or copy the style and mannerisms of a particular singer. In many cases, I have no recording and have simply heard the song somewhere. This is where Mudcat is such a help, as I often find the words here and can print them off to learn them.

I learned two songs off the page on a recent car journey (but I wasn't driving, I was a passenger!) As usual, I got the melody in my head first and then sang the words, looking at the page only if I got stuck. I also learned a new session tune that way, reading the dots and humming it through until I could remember it. I find I have to do that before I can play it. Anyway, it certainly helps pass the time on car journeys.

Marje


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn songs?
From: Ebbie
Date: 29 Dec 08 - 01:16 PM

I have a good memory for songs- it can lie dormant in my mind for decades and then when the trigger is pressed it comes back pretty much in its entirety. That is especially true of songs that I learned in my youth; my brothers and I sang wherever we went, practically.

It is much harder for me to bring a tune to mind. I like instrumentals and played for dances for years but a title does not bring back a tune. The first few notes will do it but often I can't recall thsoe first few notes. Words are an essential component to me.

Sometimes the only way I can bring up a tune at will is by assigning syllables to the first few notes. For instance, 'Mandolin Chimes' begins dut dut dut. lol


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn songs?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 29 Dec 08 - 02:43 PM

I still learn most of my stuff from records, usually in three stages:

Stage 1:
Listen to record
[repeat until it feels like it's gone in]

Stage 2:
Sing
Listen to record
[repeat until it actually has gone in]

Stage 3:
Sing
[repeat until performance is satisfactory]

If I'm pressed for time I'll learn words from a sheet, but I find learning by ear much more satisfactory.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: memorizing songs?
From: Deckman
Date: 31 Dec 08 - 08:41 PM

So ... just how do YOU go about memorizing a song? Bob(deckman)Nelson


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: memorizing songs?
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 31 Dec 08 - 08:47 PM

Hard work mostly....
Quack!
GtD.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn/memorize songs?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 31 Dec 08 - 08:51 PM

Hi, Bob - I moved you over to this thread, which was open just the other day.

I learn a song most easily if I sing it in front of other people, using a cheatsheet until I have it down cold. There's something about the interaction of singing with or for others, that helps me memorize a song much more quickly.

Singing to a mirror or in the car, just doesn't work for me. I have to see printed words and have somebody to sing with.

-Joe-


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn/memorize songs?
From: Stewart
Date: 31 Dec 08 - 09:04 PM

Very good question Bob.

Well, a couple of years ago I wrote about this in the Victory Review.

Here's the article (Feb. 2007). I'm not sure that's the whole story, but it sort of works for me. The biggest thing is not to give up. It's always possible - sometimes it takes longer.

Cheers, S. in Seattle


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn/memorize songs?
From: Deckman
Date: 31 Dec 08 - 09:49 PM

Joe ... you caught me with my lack of research showing! I was just following through with a suggestion from Don Firth. As for just how do I memorize songs? ...

Over the years I suppose I've tried most of the methods: posting the lyrics EVERYWHERE ... bathroom mirror, rear view mirror of the truck, kitchen walls, etc. Shutting off ALL outside communications such as radio, TV, etc. I also sometimes force myself to grab blank paper, several times a day, and write the words from memory. Above all, the method for me is to sing it and sing it and sing it again until it's drilled into my brain forever.

Having just gotten back into performing over the last three years, since I've retired, I'm finding an interesting thing. The more I practice new/old material, the more the old songs are springing back to my memory. Now days, I surprise Bride Judy, as well as myself, several times a week as new/old songs jump forth from my memory bank. My only frustrations seems to be that I can't really seem to controll the process. Try as I wish, I still have to make last moment decisions to NOT sing a particuliar song at my next concert because I just can't get the words right. bob


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn/memorize songs?
From: Barry Finn
Date: 31 Dec 08 - 11:05 PM

Well I don't drive near as much as I did when I made my last post to this thread 10 yrs ago but I still love to learn songs while I'm driving.
Stewart, thanks for the link, interesting & helpful article.
Frank, I'm gonna try your 20 X theory, see if my lax muscle can't be put to some good use.
I usually, like I said above I will have to write out the song while listening to it in free hand, over & over until I get all the words right & written out. This helps not only with my learning process of the song but also with the tune. I don't play anything besides a bodhran so I don't have the problems that's brought up by having to learn to play it out on an instrument. I learn one verse at a time & as I learn I add on the next verse till I have the whole song. Then I keep going over the song, repeating untill (Frank, I guess I do the 20 X thing anyway) the words & phrasing feel comfortable. I then try singing it in different keys & then try changing where the emphasis lays, then I play with the phrazing & the tonal quality. Then I'll play with the mood, by the time I'm done playing it's nearly commited to memory. The only thing left is to sing it in front of someone & then to sing it out in the open, like in a session or a party. I'll still play with it until I feel I've nailed it, sometimes that takes forever but once I get that far it's hard to forget, after that I'll usually feel as if I've made the song mine, though that may take a lot longer too.
Above, Stewart in his article mentioned liking the song & choosing the ones to learn. There are songs that have choosen me. I'll hear a friend sing a song & say, Whoa, I like that but they sing it & I'm not gonna learn it becasue I'll hear them sing it again & I don't want to sing a song that someone else's has as their's. But damn if the song just doesn't keep at me untill I surrender & learn it & I'll tell the person I learnd it from them that I stole their stong but I won't ever do it in their presence or among their same crowd unless they've requested it of me, usually. I also have to make sure first that the song is one that fits me, my mood, my style, my vocal range & my taste, of course if the song choose me, like I mentioned above, it's settled. Do I like the story, do I enjoy the melody, can I relate, do I feel any emotional attachment to the song, is it interesting to me, is it interesting to others. I don't need a yes to each but each time I answer yes it helps with weither I'll pick that song or not to learn. My hardest songs are the ones I don't care for but my singing partner loves & wants to perform. I usually will only go so far, like learning the back up or the refrains or choruses or certain parts or some of the harmony but never the whole song, it just won't stay & there's no reason for me to go through the bother if that's gonna be the out come. Luckly our tastes are usually pretty similar but when they're not we usually figure out a way that makes my part in it more exciting & more interesting. If he's written it that's a really hard one.

Barry


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn/memorize songs?
From: GUEST,Freddy Heady (7 Jan 2015)
Date: 21 Feb 15 - 09:50 PM

Stewart's link (Date: 31 Dec 08 - 09:04 PM) is interesting.
And Frank's 20 x 20 x.... higher up, too
but I'd be frightened to count how many repeats I need.

LEARN IT BACKWARDS...
Apart from listening lots and reading it several times, when I decide to learn a song/poem I can't do it all at once.
I start with the last few lines(2 or 3) then, when I think I've got them, work back towards the beginning just 1 or 2 or 3 lines at a time.
If I find I stick at the start of a particular line I'll repeat the the last couple of words of the previous line plus the first couple of words of the sticking line, over and over, till my mouth muscles just do it automaticly.
Once I've got the whole thing it's lots of singing in the shower.
(Oh, the joy of living alone.)

The biggest advantage, to me, of working backwards is that I should know the words at the end better than the ones at the start.
So when performing it I'm pretty happy that the further I get, the better the chances are of actually getting to the end.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How do you learn/memorize songs?
From: GUEST,Jim Bainbridge (7 Jan 2015)
Date: 21 Feb 15 - 09:51 PM

Have a quick glance at the whole song, and aim at a verse at a time. If your wife will let you do the washing up (mine is generous in that respect) sing it to yourself till you know it- when you've got one verse, start on the next.
If you are really ambitious, you can try TWO verses in one washup. Mind you, you may have to wait for a day when there's a burnt porridge pot AND a scrambled eggs pot to deal with.
After a few days, you should be well on the way to the last day- putting it all together- good luck


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: 23 June 11:33 PM 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.