Could a Memory System Be Built on Music?
Most memory techniques are based on the idea that visual images are easier to remember than abstract data.
Most memory books that I’ve read also say to use all of your senses, though they generally focus on the visual aspect because visual memory is strongest.
As I practice memory techniques I try to pay attention to why I remember certain things and forget others.
I’m a musician and music is running through my head almost constantly. I often suddenly notice the melody that is playing in my head and realize that it must have been playing in store or cafe I left 5 or 10 minutes ago. Simple unconscious repetition of sounds never heard before can be retained for a significant amount of time.
Music has several elements that make it highly memorable:
- Rhythm and meter
- Melody and harmony
- Rhyme (if there are words)
Melody and rhythm can contain data. Intervals between notes have numbers, and Western music theory has comprehensive rules about how chords are used. Much popular music is written according to formulas to make it as memorable as possible.
One only has to hear a catchy melodic phrase once or twice before it is memorized. That phrase could then be dissected. This has gotten me thinking about whether a mnemonic system could be built on music.
It would require a very good knowledge of music theory and a well-trained ear. I’m not sure what the applications would be, but it seems like there could be a way to encode information into music.
I have some ideas about this, especially with memorizing words or learning languages. At the moment, I’m just thinking out loud. I will write more about it if I’m able to come up with anything useful. 🙂
I also wrote some thoughts about memorizing music on JoshNotes.com, though I haven’t had time to experiment with it.
Image of BACH Motif © Bastique under Creative Commons license.