View Full Version : Bad Memory

05-31-2002, 06:10 AM
Seriously, this is one the biggest problems i have. I cant seem to get scales , chords etc. to my long term memory. I get them to my short term memory just perfectly but i seem to forget most of them really soon. I.e i could forget something as simple as the accidentals in the E major scale. I cant even keep some formulas in my memory. Anyone have memorizing(sp?) tricks for me use?

05-31-2002, 10:23 AM

There is a good article in this Web site for memory problems:


But it's in French!!

It's quite interesting and the guy gives you tips for memory and how to deal with stress before a concert and more.

Basically this is what he says:

_ Everyone has a good memory and it's just the strategies you use to fill it in. And some people do that intuitively and therefore the have a "good" memory. I have the same problem as you and these tricks have helped me.

_ no stress. You need a quiet atmosphere.

_ 20 minutes: Lots of studies have proved that your memory abilities decrease after 20 minutes et they are very low after 40 min so it's useless to be 3 hours trying to learn a tune. The best thing to do is you work for 20 min and then you take a break of 5-10 minutes, and you repeat the process. During that time your brain processes and files the information. Doing this process the data stays in your short memory several times and flows to the permanent memory easier.

_ Make Links: You have to create associations within the information. For example: If you are trying to memorise major scales and you know that the 3rd of C is E you can use that to learn that the 3rd for C# will be E# or F. The more links you make the better you will remember it. Watch carefully your music sheet and try to find connections.

He says he will talk about this in more articles in the future so I'll let you know if there is something more and good.

Good luck!!

All the best
:( :(

05-31-2002, 10:45 AM
Thx for the link.

Here (http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=fr&u=http://www.assocontinuum.com/pedagogie/memoire.htm&prev=/search%3Fq%3Dhttp://www.assocontinuum.com/pedagogie/memoire.htm%26hl%3Den%26lr%3Dlang_fi%26ie%3DUTF8%2 6oe%3DUTF8%26sa%3DG) is the complete article translated with google.

05-31-2002, 10:15 PM
You can learn scale forms where you only need to memorize two strings worth of patterns 3 on one and 4 on the other and vice versa. I plan to write an article on this.

Doug McMullen
06-20-2002, 04:20 PM
Seriously, this is one the biggest problems i have. I cant seem to get scales , chords etc. to my long term memory. I get them to my short term memory just perfectly but i seem to forget most of them really soon.

Man, I'm right there with you. One thing I've found that helps is ear training. I've found the better I hear things the better I remember (in a sense it's another "connection" -- another pathway to the information) ... but if anyone has first hand experience with memory-training, or memory systems, or what-not, that work... I'd appreciate hearing about it, because -- bottom line -- memory is the thing slowing down my progress. I mean playing over simple changes is one thing... but to have the level of rapid-recall knowledge necessary for even a small jazz repertoire makes a heavy-duty memory mandatory, it seems to me. I remind myself frequently that Miles Davis had a famously hideous memory and somehow he managed to do pretty well for himself.


06-20-2002, 04:39 PM
Hi Doug,

and welcome to the ibreathe-forums !

Anyway, one thing that helped me to memorize things like certain long, complex runs or certain rhythm guitar parts is:
I learn them, letīs say from a sheet, and try to remember it. The way it looks, the way it sounds, and the theoretical side ( the actual pitches involved )
Then, when not playing, letīs say when I have a few minutes for myself just to relax a bit, I go through it in my mind and try to imagine playing it... this is like an athleteīs approach...
Cuz athletes tend to go through their jump or sprint or whatever just in their head before they attempt to do it.
So I can sit there and in my mind, I watch myself playing the part, trying to slowly think through it, and it often helps me.
See, I am gonna play a show with that band on Sunday... 10 metal-style songs, some of them are like 7 minutes long.
Due to my schedule, I donīt have the time to listen to the recorded versions often enough to memorize all the changes and cues etc.
So I try to memorize as much as I can when I play through the songs ( I have lead-sheets with all the chords plus some rhythm indications etc. )... the chords, changes, cues, riffs etc.
And when Iīm done and I sit there with no guitar in my hands, I test myself and go "OK, how does the bridge of "Teardopes" go like ?"
And usually, I can remember how it goes and can walk through it slowly in my mind...

I dunno if this qualifies as some memory-technique or -exercise, it kinda worked for me though and actually did help me to learn a lot of repertoire when I did "Hired gun"-jobs

Anyway, welcome to the board
Warm regards

06-25-2002, 05:06 PM
Originally posted by TaikaJim
I cant seem to get scales , chords etc. to my long term memory.I somehow had the same problem. At Berklee we needed to know all major, minor, harmonic minor, melodic minor modes from every bloddy root out there.... it took me such a lot of work just to get that memorized. Well, and one month later all was gone.

I decided that I needed a different approach. Problem is that if you don't set scales and chords into relation to each other, ie defining the function of a scale within a musical context it is more or less useless to just memorize them.

Here's the approach that worked for me:

Example Chordprogression: II V I in C minor

Dm7b5 G7 Cm7

Theory tells us that the G7 takes Mixolydian b9 b13 as our scale of choice.

Now my thinking is that I build up a scale from a very limited choice of notes, which comes down to the chordtones, ie arpeggios.

Step 1: G7 arpeggio (g b d f)

Next, I add the available tensions to the arpeggio.

Step 2: G7 arp + b9 (g b d f ab)

Step 3: G7 arp + b13 (g b d f eb)

Step 4: G7 arp + b9 + b13 (g b d f ab eb)

I also have a look where the 11th is in relation to the arpeggio. But as the 11th (c) is considered an avoid note we should be careful when using it in a G7 situation. So, if we count that all together we get g b d f ab eb and c which rearranged is G mixo b9 b13

Now learning a scale like this has certain advantages: As I took quite some time with exploring each single step I learned how chord tones and tensions sound in relation to the chord. Furthermore, it broke up the scale and I played a lot more focussed and intentional stuff.

And the biggest advantage was that now it was very easy to construct any other dominant scale out there by changing one or to notes.

I hope that helps.



06-27-2002, 09:47 AM
TaikaJim, here's a way I have of remembering the number of accidentals in the D major scale.

I think of D as in Dos or Deux, the spanish/french versions of two. That's the number of accidentals in the scale.

If you think of F as in french, then you know the name of one of the accidentals in that scale. The other is C. See below for how I tie that one in.

So: D major
D=Dos/Deux=two (accidentals)
Spanish=Chili (as in chili today, hot tamale!)=C

Well, it works for me. :) Hope it helps you!

06-27-2002, 11:16 AM
Hi MusicMuse,

Yeah this is a cool idea. I never really learned it like this but I can see it working.

D = Dual (2 accidentals)
G = Gone (1 accidental) .... just thinking out loud here.

I learned accidentals with the Cycle of Fifths as it is a very valuable tool - not only does it give ya a clear visualisation of keys and accidentals but it also helps with transposing and other harmony related issues.

Here it is:


First, think of it as a clock. Just look at the right hand side of the circle. 1 o'clock is the key of G major (thus taking 1 #); 2 o'clock is D major (taking 2 sharps) aso.

So ya just got to learn the order of the keys, ie C G D A E B F# (same as Bb) and set it in relation to the circle.

You could just take a quarter of the pie in the beginning, eg C G D A and memorize this - repeat it over and over until ya feel confident with it, then move on to the next quarter.

Now, the left hand side is a mirror of the right hand side just that it takes flats.

This thinking does it for me.

Now the big advantage is that if ya know where all the keys are on this circle it is very easy to transpose chordprogressions.

Say, a II V I in C: Dm G7 C
As you can see this involves 3 neighbouring notes from our right hand side first quarter (2 o'clock , 1 o'clock and noon).

For transposing ya just need to move this 'pattern' within the circle.
Say, II V I in A: Bm E7 A (5 o'clock, 4 o'clock and 3 o'clock).


06-27-2002, 11:52 AM
I would commit the Scale patterns of the Modes of the Major Scale in at least 1 Key to memory, you can easily transpoese this to other keys. Then I would commit the Patterns for the Maj Min and Diminished triads ( Also Dim7 you can create Dom7 and 7b5 by changing one note) to memory. Start with Dim and change 1 note at at a time to go through Dim Min Maj.
Then really get the Cycle 5/4 thing down from a formulaic point of view learn the numbers of the notes in the patterns you are learning and learn the b7 start on 4th / sharp 4th start on 5th formula. Then learn to play any of the scale patterns and change 1 note to move up or down a fifth, or to change to Minor Melodic (b3 Ionian or #1 Dorian) or Minor Harmonic (#5 Aeolian).
To get these thing into Memory you need repition on a daily basis, there is no shortcut. Start a practice where you learn 1 thing a week work on it every day, by the end of the week you should have it if not return to in 2 weeks until you do. Worst com to worst spend 21 days on each idea if that doesn't work, you are seriously memory impaired and need to seek medical attention.

06-27-2002, 02:21 PM
Guni, hi!
I like your clock idea! I studied piano before I studied guitar and so I had to go through the circle of fifths. However, I had the piano keyboard layout to help me. With the exceptions of b/c and e/f, all other half steps are clearly marked by the black keys, something that's not available on the revolving combination lock that makes up the fretboard! :eek:

My piano teacher also gave me a little saying by which I could remember at least the first part of the circle:


Ah, the things we do to kick start the neurons... :)

Szulc, I once read that repetition is the mother of skill. I try to bring my Baby Taylor to work every day, so I can get in regular practise outside of the tiny margins of time left after I've traded the rest of my time for money. :rolleyes:

Peace ya'll.

07-28-2002, 01:26 AM
Notes from my journal. Menuhin on memory.

Yehudi Menuhin; The Story of the Man and the Musician, by Robert Magidoff
on musical memory:
"Yes, my memory has served me quite well, but it is in no way remarkable, if measured by the standards of such giants of retentiveness as Georges Enesco, Arturo Toscanini, Dimitri Mitropoulos, Antal Dorati, George Szell, or Louis Kentner, any one of whom can indelibly imprint upon his memory a complete symphony at a single reading.
Musical memory consists of several distinct kinds of retentiveness, not one of which is in itself miraculous but does become so when strongly reinforced by the other kinds. They are the memory of the mind, the eye, the ear, and the fingers.
I am particularly fascinated by the workings of the memory of the mind. It is complex and subtle, one part conscious of itself - it knows, and knows that it knows; while another part is latent memory - it exists but is inactive and has to be prodded along. When it is awakened, which usually happens during an emergency, it can be a veritable lifesaver. During a visit to London in 1953, I had to play Saint-Saens' B-minor violin concer-to from memory with only four days in which to prepare it, and with many other obligations crowding my schedule. I had not heard, read, nor played the concerto for about twenty-eight years, and was convinced that it had completely escaped my memo-ry, on the other hand, has nothing automatic about it, and is most vital to the musician because it is analytical, helping to juxtapose and correlate themes, to illumine the path among the mosaic of notes - in a word, to fathom and interpret musical compositions.
The three other types of memory are more obvious, especially the aural, which is automatic, s all our senses are.
Visual or photographic memory has nothing whatsoever to do with music, but is amazingly helpful, especially to me, as I have discovered that I am able to find without difficulty a desired passage or even a single note, for I see clearly before me the page on which to look for it in practically all the compositions I have ever played. I became aware in life and have learned to take advantage of it, but I have trained myself to think of it as an adjunct rather than an essential, preferring to rely on my aural memory. My ear, I have discovered, records and recollects more quickly and faithfully than does my eye not only the music which I play, but also an orchestral tutti and accompaniment, as well as the piano parts of sonatas.
The tactile or finger memory is purely and simply the result of long training; it belongs to the craftsman, the professional. Because it cannot be depended on to carry the weight of a complete piece its one great service is confined to bridging a momentary gap. Tactile memory functions as does a splice to a break on the `tape' of the other types of retentiveness. When one forgets, or is tired or distracted to the point of complete inability to summon the other types of memory, the thing to do is to close the eyes and shut off the mind, leading the field to the fingers. More often than not, they will come to the rescue. They failed me miserable during my first performance of the Brahms, but I was not yet a professional...." p. 128f

VAPORIZER VOLCANO (http://volcanovaporizer.net/)

08-03-2002, 01:52 AM
Did I scare people with the Menuhin post?

This is a really important topic, but the thread has ceased being active. Let's bring it back.

WIKI VAPORIZER (http://vaporizerwiki.com)

The Bash
08-03-2002, 11:11 PM
Nah, were just in awe.
Least I am :)
But this is a great (an highly ovelooked subject). And oddly enough one most people find boring. Discussing theses kinna things is where a majority of students tend to drift off.
When I speak of Visualization they seemed to think I've lost it.
For myself I find If I blow something or have blind spots its a direct result of not seeing it clearly in my head.
I studied classical guitar for I believe 4 semesters. Now starting off at ground zero and 2 years of study hardly makes me fit to dust Manuel Barracou's guitar case. But it was a life changing experience never the less. I was introduced (through Leo Ryan's "The Natural classical Guitarist and Barry Green's "The Inner Game of Music") to remote concepts not directly related to the act of playing. Things such as Visualization, relaxation and other mental techs.
I know without visualization I'd never had been able to get past the first couple measures of something like Sor's Estudio 9 where there like a chord change on every beat. (Maybe it wasn't that bad but it seemed like it.) Now I know a real classical guitarist could pull that piece off while talking on the phone but for myself at the time it was very, very difficult to not only play but play from memory. Catch-22 was that kinna stuff has to be played by memory cause its too hard to read and play it at the same time.
To this day if I learn a new tune I use my guitar to help pull the song of the C.D. then put it down and practice short parts of it in my head be it Licks, Riffs, Chord Changes or just Form.
Same is true practicing any exercise, learning any new chord forms or practicing changes or learning scales or patterns.
Not only to I find its easier to remember but It also avoids fingers getting in the way (making innocent mistakes etc.)
Anyway there's a great deal to be said regarding muscle memory verse deep learning, Various Visualization Techs and even Mental things (cleaning mental chatter etc.)
I'm kinna throwing those last things out there hoping maybe somebody more qualified than me can elaborate upon them or open myself up for new perspectives.

12-22-2004, 01:10 AM
Say, a II V I in C: Dm G7 C
As you can see this involves 3 neighbouring notes from our right hand side first quarter (2 o'clock , 1 o'clock and noon).

For transposing ya just need to move this 'pattern' within the circle.
Say, II V I in A: Bm E7 A (5 o'clock, 4 o'clock and 3 o'clock).

all i can say is... wow :eek:
i never thought of doing it like that...

12-22-2004, 01:11 AM
ok, sorry, i didn't realise this was such an old thread! i followed it from somewhere else (another topic i think)! sorry to drag it up...