Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
Teasing the Korean

Question about Ear and Muscle Memory

11 posts in this topic

About 25-30 years ago, I was very serious about piano and arranging, and I spent a lot of time writing arrangements of standards that I like.  I say "writing," but I got around to transcribing only about half of them.  The rest I have periodically had to dust off and play from memory.  

After stretches of not playing, which is more and more common these days, I spend time at the piano going through all of them to make sure I don't forget.  Some of these have some very complex chords and complex passing chords, in which the number of voices in each hand will switch based on a variety of factors.  

A lot of times, if I decide to simply play the bridge, or start at the second chorus, I'll get a few bars in and I will forget some detail, and I'll have to go over that part.  Sometimes I will get it right, but other times, I keep getting it wrong.

But then I will start playing the arrangement from the beginning, arrive at that section, and play it perfectly.

My question is: Is this normal, and do other players experience this?  I don't understand why I have to play a passage in the context of the whole piece rather than just randomly dive into a particular section.

Thoughts?  Is this a weird quirk of TTK, or is this a thing among musicians?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I understand what you mean.  Doesn't seem weird to me.  I reckon your there are stronger connections to the changes, mapped in the brain, when starting from the beginning of the tune.

But I'm not a neuroscientist, I just play one on the interwebs.

Edited by Michael

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think it’s probably similar to when you try and remember something, and can’t — but later (sometimes at little as 10-20 minutes later, but after you’ve activity stopped trying to think of it)… …suddenly it can occur to you, almost out of nowhere.

It’s like the brain doesn’t really stop thinking about it, even if you’ve stopped actively trying to remember it.

In other words, it’s a slightly different area of the brain at work, even if it’s accessing the same information — just in a different way.

All of that’s totally conjecture on my part, but I’ve had that happen a hundred times over the years (not with music, but the example I just gave).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Michael said:

I understand what you mean...

 

3 hours ago, Rooster_Ties said:

I think it’s probably similar to when you try and remember something, and can’t — but later (sometimes at little as 10-20 minutes later, but after you’ve activity stopped trying to think of it)…

Thank you both.  I guess it's not really that strange after all!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Remember in school when you had to memorize shit like Gettysburg, Hamlet, Preamble and stuff? Did you memorize separate sections, or one continuous thing starting from the beginning and adding on as you went? You knew you had it good enough for class when you could get all the way through, period. 

I figure that being able to start anywhere and go on is about the very highest level of learning/internalization. And good luck on that, right? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, JSngry said:

Remember in school when you had to memorize shit like Gettysburg, Hamlet, Preamble and stuff? Did you memorize separate sections, or one continuous thing starting from the beginning and adding on as you went? You knew you had it good enough for class when you could get all the way through, period. 

I figure that being able to start anywhere and go on is about the very highest level of learning/internalization. And good luck on that, right? 

Agreed.  Just making sure that I wasn't any more musically deficient than I already am.  :lol:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I also think it´s normal. But I´m often forced to play a tune and think oh shit I never played that and I´m not sure I know the changes, especially in the bridge but recover quickly by listening very intense to what´s happening and pick it up. Sometimes you hear the melody and anyway can imagine how the chords go. 
But sometimes I´ll sit down at home and try to play let´s say a ballad and start and I´m pleased what I hear in the A sections and the first four bars of the bridge and then.......don´t remember the following 4 bars . It just happens. 
It´s much easier on stage, you pick it up and that´s it. Strange.....but sometimes I get the best out of a tune I never had played before. It´s much harder if I have to play trio in a jam session on a day like Wendsday this week when the bass player suggests a tune I never had played and remember only the first bars. But it´s the same vice versa. To my astonishment he didn´t know the changes of Round Midnight, and suggested "Beautiful Love" ..... uh uh. If it would have been a hornplayer leading the stuff, I could have to follow and pick it up, but trio, nope. But shit like this happens......

About writing myself......If I compose a thing I have to asked somebody else to write it down, writing is not my strongest point. I read chords and can read a lead sheet if I somehow know how the song goes, but I can´t read completly written piano scores with all the chords written out and with bass clef and stuff. Even when I played bass fiddle in my youth I couldn´t read a bass clef, but playing piano anyway helped me to have the changes in my mind just to walk or to play solo......

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Gheorghe said:

About writing myself......If I compose a thing I have to asked somebody else to write it down, writing is not my strongest point. I read chords and can read a lead sheet if I somehow know how the song goes, but I can´t read completly written piano scores with all the chords written out and with bass clef and stuff. 

I am a lousy reader if you put an unknown piece of music in front of me, but if I know how something goes, I can write it down very quickly.  So I can write out complex arrangements that I wouldn't be able to read if they weren't already in my head.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
42 minutes ago, Teasing the Korean said:

I am a lousy reader if you put an unknown piece of music in front of me, but if I know how something goes, I can write it down very quickly.  So I can write out complex arrangements that I wouldn't be able to read if they weren't already in my head.

I´m glad I´m not the only lousy reader, but as a piano player I didn´t really have occasions where I might read. I never wrote an arrangement, usually I play with two horns and maybe suggest some voicings here and there, but very rare since they know their stuff. I have a tune in mind, an original, not typical for me it´s a simple slow waltz I want to dedicate to a person, and I have the voicings in mind, but for writing I´ll ask my trumpet player who is a trumpet teacher on some jazz conservatory, he knows it better than me. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Reminds me of the old joke, "How do you get a guitarist to stop playing? Put sheet music in front of him."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, sonnymax said:

Reminds me of the old joke, "How do you get a guitarist to stop playing? Put sheet music in front of him."

Well this is true mostly for amateur guitarists, if they appear at jam sessions. It may happen that no horn player is in the houses and you get two or even three guitarist on stage who just take over the things. 
I´ll never again "work" in a club where after your own set you have to deal with some of those. 

But I have the highest praise for guitarists with whom I jammed in the last month, that´s a good place to play, no non-musician would dare to get up on stage, it is only advanced jazz students and professional musicians, so the quality of the music is safe. 

And a wonderful guitarist is like a wonderful horn player and I if it´s a quartet with him and a rhythm section I love to let him play the themes and first solos and do four´s with him and the drummer, just wonderful. 
I think I learned much by listening to Wynton Kelly working with guitar players, with Kenny Burrell and with Wes Montgomery, with Grant Green and so on, that´s how you learn to play with guitarists and enjoy it, it´s just wonderful......

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.