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firecat's music memory

By request of a couple of people, I'm writing about how my memory stores musical information.

I'm very good at picking up and following a rhythm or tune after only one or two repetitions. And once I've heard a piece of music a few times I never forget it - that is, if I hear part of it again, I'll recognize that I've heard it before and often if it's simple enough for me to reproduce by singing or tapping the rhythm, I'll be able to reproduce some or all of the rest of it.

Part of the weirdness is in retrieval of music that I've heard enough times to store permanently but not enough times to know extremely well. This music gets stored as a linear stream of information, as if it were on a tape. It's not random access. So if someone asks me to sing them the chorus of a song that's stored this way, my brain has to start at the beginning and play through to the chorus. I can't go directly to the chorus.

The other weirdness is that words associated with the music often don't get stored with the music itself.. So if I'm playing "name that tune," I will recognize that I heard a piece of music much more often than I'll be able to give the song title or recite any of the lyrics. I have a chance of remembering some of the lyrics if I play the song in my head until I get to a part that has words, but in "name that tune," that tends to take too long...


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 27th, 2004 04:35 pm (UTC)
Very, very familiar. :-)

Dec. 27th, 2004 11:20 pm (UTC)
I tend to store musical memory as "linear stream" as well; one of the things I've been able to train myself to do, however, is to add the capability to "fast-forward" to a specific spot in the song (especially if I'm trying to remember/reproduce both music and lyric in my head). It's a very weird mental image...like a time-compressed track that plays at 10x standard speed, but without any distortion in music or lyric.

Lyrics seem to have a separate memory, but I tend to be able to associate them to the music quickly (hyperlinks, perhaps).
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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