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Help: Learning songs

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GUEST,Ranjit Jose 03 Feb 00 - 11:43 PM
Sorcha 03 Feb 00 - 11:50 PM
JamesJim 03 Feb 00 - 11:55 PM
catspaw49 04 Feb 00 - 12:00 AM
Amos 04 Feb 00 - 12:15 AM
GUEST,Neil Lowe 04 Feb 00 - 07:51 AM
Grab 04 Feb 00 - 08:49 AM
MMario 04 Feb 00 - 09:14 AM
Linda Kelly 04 Feb 00 - 05:50 PM
Alice 04 Feb 00 - 07:22 PM
Alice 04 Feb 00 - 07:25 PM
sophocleese 04 Feb 00 - 08:14 PM
Pelrad 04 Feb 00 - 09:49 PM
pastorpest 04 Feb 00 - 10:39 PM
Night Owl 04 Feb 00 - 11:36 PM
Liz the Squeak 05 Feb 00 - 03:03 AM
GUEST,Neil Lowe 05 Feb 00 - 10:17 AM
wysiwyg 05 Feb 00 - 10:44 AM
Joe Offer 09 Feb 00 - 04:11 AM
Callie 09 Feb 00 - 06:57 AM
wysiwyg 09 Feb 00 - 10:18 AM
black walnut 10 Feb 00 - 09:17 AM
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Subject: Learning songs
From: GUEST,Ranjit Jose
Date: 03 Feb 00 - 11:43 PM

What are some effective ways, people on this list go about building up repertoires. How do you go about learning songs, and after learning them, keeping them in your head, even if you don't play them for a while. Thanks Ranjit


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Subject: RE: Help: Learning songs
From: Sorcha
Date: 03 Feb 00 - 11:50 PM

The key, to me, is not MEMORIZATION, but "Dum-ditty"---that is, get it in your head so you can dum-ditty it while you're doing something else. Listen to it over and over and over, until you're almost sick of it. For me, memorize does not necessarily mean learn. I can memorize a concerto, but not a "tune". I even managed to forget 2 bars of "Redwing" and HAD to go back to the paper to re-learn it! I use a combo of both paper and ear, but ear is better for really learning a tune.


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Subject: RE: Help: Learning songs
From: JamesJim
Date: 03 Feb 00 - 11:55 PM

First, I look for songs that have a strong appeal to me. That makes it pretty easy to learn a song. In fact, when I like something, I can't rest until I have either found it somewhere, or by just listening, constructing the chords. That's a fun process. I think you have to play music periodically, or you will "lose" the words. However, there are a few tunes I sing only about one or two times a year and I find I remember them well (I've played and sung them over the years and they are pretty automatic). I normally have to play through them at least once before I can perform them, but I have been known to pull one out of my memory bank, from long, long ago. Regards, Jim


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Subject: RE: Help: Learning songs
From: catspaw49
Date: 04 Feb 00 - 12:00 AM

There's an old thread you might enjoy on this subject Read it all if you like) and by far the most interesting response is:

Alice Learns Them In The Nude

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Help: Learning songs
From: Amos
Date: 04 Feb 00 - 12:15 AM

One aspect I didn't see in the earlier learning thread is immersion in the reality. A song is a slice of experience -- doesn't matter if it is real or imagined although real ones have more power, I think. You anchor yourself in the story and the song becomes second nature, like knowing your own phone number. I don't know if this makes much sense or not; but it works for me.

Instead of using a osng's words to evoke a copy of an experience in others, I try and recreate a chunk of the experience, and find that much easier to recall. When I have such a chunk, the song is just what I would feel like saying anyway.

A


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Subject: RE: Help: Learning songs
From: GUEST,Neil Lowe
Date: 04 Feb 00 - 07:51 AM

Practically speaking, I record the song I want to learn on tape if it's not already.....then I move to the kitchen table with my 20yr old boom box, a guitar, and a little technical device that slows the music down to 1/3 its original speed, if need be. Connect it all up and start working out the chords, first trying to determine what key the song is in. As I work out a chord, I write it down. The finished song is then rewritten with the words and chord changes above the words for a reference.

I'm from the old school, doing all this in analog. Most people use a computer for this.

Neil


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Subject: RE: Help: Learning songs
From: Grab
Date: 04 Feb 00 - 08:49 AM

Just keep playing it. Remember school exams - if you swotted for a week b4 the exam, you'd absorb enough to get you through, but the week after you'd have forgotten it again.

So sing it from the sheet until you can remember it, then start doing from memory, using the sheet as reference, and once you can remember it, keep playing it every day for a month or so. By then it's unlikely to slip. It also has the advantage that when you no longer have to really think about where your fingers are going, you can think about _how_ they go, and get the dynamics and emotion sorted.


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Subject: RE: Help: Learning songs
From: MMario
Date: 04 Feb 00 - 09:14 AM

I like the osmosis method. I put the song sheet in my pocket, and by the time it's worn out, I have usually absorbed it.

Seriously, I do take the "current" ones I am learning with me at all times so if I get a moment I can b=pukk them out and review them. And EVERY day to and from work is rehearsal in the car.


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Subject: RE: Help: Learning songs
From: Linda Kelly
Date: 04 Feb 00 - 05:50 PM

I have very proudly been able to memorise an entire song from my repetoire -it has taken me about three month's. not bad going since I wrote the bloody thing! I wish I knew the trick to memorising songs because I am paranoid about song sheets.


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Subject: RE: Help: Learning songs
From: Alice
Date: 04 Feb 00 - 07:22 PM

Gee, Spaw, you beat me to adding that link here, but you could have given them the real name of the thread! How Do You Learn Songs? (click here) Seriously, folks, it is a good thread with lots of feedback on this subject.
(And my method works well.)

Alice Flynn


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Subject: RE: Help: Learning songs
From: Alice
Date: 04 Feb 00 - 07:25 PM

Amos, I use what you describe as the "experience", too. I often visualize the story of the song going on in my head while I sing or remember the lyrics, and the "plot" images help me to anchor certain words or phrases that are not so easy to remember at first. If you can picture the action and the characters, they can key you into what the lyrics are describing.

Alice


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Subject: RE: Help: Learning songs
From: sophocleese
Date: 04 Feb 00 - 08:14 PM

When I'm memorizing a new song, I do it in small chunks. First verse, get that completely memorized, by that time the tune is securely in my head. Then learn the second verse, sing first and second through without a mistake or hesitation in the words. Then learn the third verse, sing second, third, first, second,and third. I keep doing it this way while washing dishes, folding laundry and generally tidying up the house. Keeps me doing some boring work. I don't try and memorize more than one song a day but will work intensively on that one through the day. I also practice other songs to give my voice a break, it tends to work too hard while I'm learning a song until I know it well enough to relax into it.


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Subject: RE: Help: Learning songs
From: Pelrad
Date: 04 Feb 00 - 09:49 PM

If I have a recording of the song, I play it over and over and over and over, until my husband (who is tone deaf) can recognize the opening notes of the song and threatens divorce if I don't stop tormenting him. Thereafter I play it only in the car, since he's not there to complain, until my toddler begins to squirm and protest whenever he hears the song. By then I've usually memorized both tune and words, figured out what key I like it in, etc. Then I tend to sing it in the shower, where I have access to neither the recording nor the written lyric sheet, so I have to rely on my own memory and can see just how well I have learned it. If I like it in the shower, then I add it to my formal repertoire. If I don't feel it showcases my voice enough or my voice cannot do the song justice, then I relegate it to the "just for fun" collection in my head.

Back in school, a friend taught me a cool trick. To find out if you really know a piece, sing it with the radio or tv on at a volume to compete with your voice. If you can get through the whole thing undistracted, with timing and key and all correct, then you know it cold and can perform it anywhere.


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Subject: RE: Help: Learning songs
From: pastorpest
Date: 04 Feb 00 - 10:39 PM

As I am driving(when alone in the car!)in boring commutes etc, I sing songs to myself. While waiting at red lights I learn tunes on a tin whistle that does not mind staying in the car, cold or hot, humid or dry. The red lights never last as long any more. Please do not play a whistle while the car is moving!


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Subject: RE: Help: Learning songs
From: Night Owl
Date: 04 Feb 00 - 11:36 PM

Neil....and the "little technical device that slows the music down" would be called a ???????? and can be purchased at ???????????


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Subject: RE: Help: Learning songs
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 05 Feb 00 - 03:03 AM

I write them out several times, so that I get a picture of the words in my head. When I sing, I still have my notebook open though, as I'm paranoid about doing a Carthy, and forgetting the words in the middle of a song. Besides, with my notebook there, I can sing whatever is in it, and change my mind if someone else does one of mine (see the Murphy's Law for folkies thread), before I can.

LTS


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Subject: RE: Help: Learning songs
From: GUEST,Neil Lowe
Date: 05 Feb 00 - 10:17 AM

Hi Night Owl......it's called a "Riff-O-Matic" (corny, huh) made by Akai and sells for about $149 U.S. I got mine through an on-line music equipment company called Musicians Friend or http://www.musiciansfriend.com.

There was a thread called "Software To Slow Down Music" back in July of last year that talked about some stuff you might be interested in. That thread was where I initially posted the info about the Riff-O-Matic....or http://www.mudcat.org/Detail.CFM?messages_Message_ID=94357

The thread is here or http://www.mudcat.org/thread.CFM?threadID=12173

Regards, Neil


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Subject: RE: Help: Learning songs
From: wysiwyg
Date: 05 Feb 00 - 10:44 AM

Sometimes once I think I've "got it" I will play the recording more and more softly as I sing with it. At first I am following the vocalist on the recording, but as it gets softer and I can barely hear the words to it--I find I am leading and then making it my own. That works well for words and melody. You can also whistle, the brain seems to like it and recall it well.

Sometimes it helps to see the printed music and see how the tune is constructed rhythmically, or see what melody phrases repeat. Once you see how it's built, it's easier tor recognize the sections and instinctively feel the transitions. It's like going for the same walk every day, turing the corner to see a familiar sight.

Then, once you've lived in the neighborhood awhile, you just go, without even thinking where or how. In the song, you stop being so conscious of the "bricks" it's made of and you can focus on the unique features of the day. Like when you turn the corner and someone has just painted their front door bright red since you last passed. I might be singing "Swing Low Sweet Chariot" three days in a row but on Monday I am in my car thinking about a sick friend who wants angels to take her away. On Tuesday I am in the kitchen doing dishes and I might be thinking about something else and spontaneously come up with whole new verses. On Wednesday in the shower I might find I'm in some kind of silly mood and the melody and rhythm might start sliding into a jazz/blues/swingy thing.

Which one will I do Saturday night in our church service? I don't always know. The versions will have added up to something fresh for that night, probably. I just let the song go ahead and be the song.

I think when people worry about learning a song they are worrying sometimes about doing the song RIGHT. That means doing it the way you haeard it or think it's supposed to be done. You think it can be perfect. It doesn't work that way. The song is the song and it becomes yours, and how you do it is how it should be done, that particular time. You only need to learn it well enough to let your mind and heart take it and keep it and share it. If you do that it will be different every time.

When you don't know a song, try doing it anyway. You might find your mind fills in a whole new melody, and if you can capture it you have just written your own new song. Sometimes my head will take off from Song A to somewhere else completely--- go into a nonexistient melody for awhile-- then end up in Song B. This is much more fun than learning how Doc Watson sings each note on his record. And the truth is, Doc only sang it that way once, it's never the same on the live album or in concert.


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Subject: RE: Help: Learning songs
From: Joe Offer
Date: 09 Feb 00 - 04:11 AM

I find that I learn songs best if I sing them for other people. Singing to myself doesn't get me to the point where I've really got the song down. For that, I have to have an audience. For that reason, I refrain from Alice's barenaked songlearning methods...
I apologize to the people who have to hear the song before I've got it completely worked out - I hope it isn't too painful. I've been going to a Wednesday-night sing where you're expected to have songs on a given topic prepared, and usually sing them yourself. This happens every two weeks, so I quickly ran through my repertoire and now I'm forced to learn new stuff. Oftentimes, the circle gathering is the first time I've had a chance to sing some songs for other human beings. Once I've performed it, then a song is much easier to learn.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Help: Learning songs
From: Callie
Date: 09 Feb 00 - 06:57 AM

I make audio tapes of 90 minutes of songs I really like, and listen to them continuously in the car. Eventually, I know them all really well, including beginning to see little guitar riffs I could play. I wish I could say that I then get the guitar and rehearse til my fingers bleed, but I must admit I sing most songs at folk sessions without rehearsing them and having learnt them from the car. Slack but true. On long car trips, Chickenman and I teach songs to one another. I learnt "Rocky Road to Dublin" that way, and he learnt a harmony to "Catch the Wind". Callie


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Subject: RE: Help: Learning songs
From: wysiwyg
Date: 09 Feb 00 - 10:18 AM

Is everyone also visiting the Singing Songs thread? Can they combine?


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Subject: RE: Help: Learning songs
From: black walnut
Date: 10 Feb 00 - 09:17 AM

why do some people find it so much easier than others to remember words? i don't know...i have to work so hard at it. perhaps that's why i think i might have something helpful to contribute to this thread. one of my methods is to write out lyrics of a song using 2 columns, side by side. you basically split the song in half. i don't know how to show you here, but i'll try to explain it. example: 'Another Train' by Pete Morton

I is written under column I. II is written under column II.

I The beginning is now II And will always be. I You say you lost your chance, II That fate brought you defeat, I But that means nothing, II You look so sad......

and so on and so on....

then, you fold the paper in half so as to hide half of the song. you sing the song looking at half of the words, and trying to remember what follows next, until it becomes automatic. and of course, you spend equal time learning it with the other half hidden. this method works for me because i find the thing that screws me up the most when i'm performing is connecting the parts i know to one another, with ease.

reviewing memorized songs while driving is also a big help to me. but nothing beats getting it out in front of a friend or friends for the very first time. scarey, but then you 'own' the song.

~black walnut


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