Any Tips on memorizing songs?

Discussion in 'Beginners/FAQ' started by Wannabe Prodigy, Jan 11, 2021.

  1. Wannabe Prodigy

    Wannabe Prodigy SS.org Regular

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    Especially for solos, it takes me an extremely long time to memorize all the notes. I feel like it shouldn't be THIS tedious.

    Rereading this it seems like a silly question, but I'm not sure what else to elaborate on.
     
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  2. High Plains Drifter

    High Plains Drifter ... drifting...

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    This prob won't help since it's so obvious but for me one of the most important things is 100% tuning out any other noise, activity, voices, etc that may be close by. I just cannot memorize anything when other distractions are present... like people talking, the television, or whatever. And my mind has to be focused in as well. If my mind is preoccupied with anything else, it becomes really difficult for me to concentrate on the task at hand. Best of luck overcoming the frustration.
     
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  3. nickgray

    nickgray SS.org Regular

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    You should learn music theory. If you don't know any, you'll simply see music as some kind of combination of random fret numbers. On the other hand, when you know even beginner music theory, you'll be able to assign meaning to those numbers.

    Take a look at this arpeggio (Dream Theater - The Glass Prison, it's in the intro section of the song)

    arp.png

    Seems like a nightmare, but if you know a little bit of music theory it's actually very simple to make sense of it. The 4/4 bars just arpeggiate triads, and the pattern is minor -> diminished -> diminished -> minor for the first 3 bars, and then minor -> diminished -> diminished -> major for the next chunk. Vastly easier to remember and make sense of rather than staring at all those numbers.
     
  4. Lorcan Ward

    Lorcan Ward 7slinger

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    I need to do a video on this someday. For memorising you need to have a grasp of theory knowledge so you know all the boxes, shapes, patterns, sequences and often you will know what comes next because most guitar music sticks to them. The same goes for other instruments but its very simple to break down guitar into CAGED, major, minor, diminished. 3 notes per string etc

    I much prefer tabbing something myself so I can get really in-depth with all the decoration and timing while also figuring out what key and chord progressions are used . Then what I do is take a mental snapshot of the notes and turn them into shapes, a bit liked the CAGED system but with way more shapes resembling something more like Tetris. I also take a note of the rhythm notation so I know how many notes I'm playing a beat or how long something rings out.

    Finger memory also comes into it where you don't have to think about that you're doing, like the way if you played something and someone asked did you down or upstroke the 7th note. You might not have any idea but your hands knew exactly what they were doing.

    Another thing is knowing a guitarists style. So for Gilbert you know he's using string skipping while someone like Becker or Yngwie is using arpeggios then each of those plays the same arpeggio in a different position on the fretboard.

    Years ago I couldn't get a solo memorised so the last thing I did before going to bed was look really hard at the tab so I was thinking about it all night. The next day I was able to play it and thats how I discovered the snapshot method.

    The most important thing is to practice and take a break. Sometimes the biggest developments you will make playing is on your off days where your brain has time to process all the information.
     
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  5. BenjaminW

    BenjaminW SS.org Regular

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    I remember being in the same/a similar position to you. I'd always been intimidated by solos because I thought I wouldn't be able to remember all the notes or thought the solo was too hard when it really wasn't.

    The only thing I do remember is just practicing it over and over until I got confident with it. Good luck with whatever solo you're working on and I'm curious to know what it is you're working on!
     
  6. budda

    budda Do not criticize as this Contributor

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    Look for patterns.
     
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  7. KnightBrolaire

    KnightBrolaire 90% GAS 10% skill

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    for rote memorization, I tend to break long solos or parts into small chunks and practice them until I have it down. Once I can do that chunk l, I move on to another chunk.
     
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  8. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    I've always been sort of "naturally" good at memorizing bits of songs, but it's not because I literally "memorize the notes", so much as I just have a good sense for how intervals work, so I remember the patterns. I don't think you need to be a theory expert in order to be able to remember how to play songs, but if you want memorization to come naturally you need to get to a point where you have a sort of intuitive sense of the theory behind it, even if you don't have the terminology to put that theory into words.

    The first example that comes to mind is one of the little bridge run bits in Master of Puppets -> You could try to literally memorize the notes (e, f#, g, a, b, c, d, e, #f, g, c - I think?) or you could intuit that this is just some kind of e-minor scale (I don't know enough theory to know its name) and a really common pattern, that ends by adding that last C to form a sort of bar chord with the higher G you ended at. So just start at your low E and work your way up the scale until you hit that G, then you're naturally lined up to just hammer the C in there to make a chord. Done. No real "memorization", you just followed a pattern.
     
  9. mmr007

    mmr007 SS.org Regular

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    Just play Rammstein songs. Problem solved.

    In all seriousness though I believe some people are just plain better at this than others. I have had numerous friends who knew nothing about any music theory but could remember long solos (like Yngwie whole songs) note for note after minimum work throughs. I am definitely not one of those lucky people.

    For me my only option is learning a 1/4 of the solo and that is it until it is muscle memory. Then later adding the next 1/4 until eventually I get the whole solo ...a tedious process guaranteeing I will never be a session musician.
     
  10. jaxadam

    jaxadam SS.org Regular

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    This. Another thing is a lot of solos may be some kind of pattern I already know, or a small variation of it. Then I’m just remembering these patterns, “licks”, or other structures from something else I can relate it to.
     
  11. GÜMERSINDO

    GÜMERSINDO SS.org Regular

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    I had the same problem and solved it playing along backing tracks. Improvising through aeolian, phrygian modes made me understand music better at the point I can learn anything nowadays.
     
  12. CerealKiller

    CerealKiller SS.org Regular

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    For me the single most effective thing is to learn the solos by ear. Granted, this is much easier if you know music theory, recognize shapes etc. - but putting in the time to listen and figure out yourself where each note is really works. It forces you to do the solo note by note, start over, make sure the positioning makes sense, etc.
    It's hard work and it sucks in the beginning, but it becomes easier and is great ear training.
     
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  13. Gtan7

    Gtan7 SS.org Regular

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  14. possumkiller

    possumkiller Square Dance Caller

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    I remember when I was first learning and had the tab books for the first four metallica albums. That shit looked like a fucking nightmare. What I found that helped me to remember a song was to just go through and learn every note one at a time and play it back over and over again until I could do it from memory. It works. I still remember a lot of those songs today even though I haven't played a lot of them in years and haven't had the tab books for 20 years now.
     
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  15. Gmork

    Gmork SS.org Regular

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    Break it down into smaller chunks, and just focus on one chunk at a time until you've got it. When you've got 2 chunks down and pretty much memorized then try to combine those into a super chunk.
    Just don't try to take it all on at once. Ymmv.

    And just always go slowly.
    Maybe record yourself playing a chunk and loop that and just play along over and over until you HATE it. Then move on to next chunk and repeat
     
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  16. NoodleFace

    NoodleFace Delicious Noodles

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    I tend to memorize patterns. I don't necessarily think about theory
     
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  17. ElRay

    ElRay Mostly Harmless

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    One variation on this is to start with the last chunk, then the chunk before it, etc. This way, the ending get the most practice and you end strong. It helps to take part of the frustration edge off.

    The other bit is to make your chunks complete phrases (when possible). It's easier to remember "Four score and seven years ago" than "score and seven years ago, our".
     
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  18. Guitar Grind

    Guitar Grind SS.org Regular

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    Something good to do is to sing each idea you are learning, so yo can compare it with what you hear in the original solo you are trying to learn, you shouldn't just memorize the numbers in the tab, that won't help you in any way.

    Try to make sure that you can check each note with your ear, otherwise you won't even know when to play it.
     
  19. John

    John New album out now: https://goo.gl/PdPVYh

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    Late post, but one way that has helped me is to break it up into chunks- learn a section at a time, or even a few measures at a time. Get that much down to a good standard, then move on to the next bit.
    I found that was efficient for covering some classical guitar pieces as opposed to just trying to cover everything in one sitting and hoping for the best.

    As tedious as it sounds, slowing things down significantly during practice also helps. I also have a metronome in hand (or more accurately on my phone, laptop, etc) for this. ie- I'll cover those parts in half time and even slow it down from there if I feel the need to.
     
  20. Ordacleaphobia

    Ordacleaphobia Shameless Contrarian

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    Literally just this.
    I tend to tackle a song one riff at a time- and once I get about halfway through, I'll look at the overall structure of the song and identify the pattern for when the riffs repeat. Then I'll try a full-speed playthrough, and fill in the parts I learned so far as I go. Most of the time, this identifies only one or two additional sections that I need to learn, so once I tackle those, the whole song comes pretty easy.

    Of course, I only try to learn songs that I like. I've never tried just picking a song that I haven't actively listened to and learn it- I would imagine that'd be much harder going into it without it already being etched into your brain on some level; but that's where the theory that the posters here who actually know what they're doing comes in.
     

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