Anyone memorized music notation?

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#1 21 September, 2017 - 13:57
Joined: 3 months 4 weeks ago

Anyone memorized music notation?

Just wondering who has applied the memory techniques to musical notation and if that seemed to speed up your progress?

25 October, 2017 - 02:54
Joined: 1 month 3 weeks ago

Hi Mnemon, this is my first post so do bear with me. I’m new to this.

I live in Scotland, I am a musician.

I've been involved with applying memory systems within the context of music for the last four years. I am, admittedly, as I say a musician and have developed and actively use and constantly modify literally dozens of different systems and mnemonics in both playing and reading music. A lot of trial and error has been involved. But the results have been encouraging. With absolute beginners to fairly famous musicians I have worked with.

I have a fully developed PAO system for musical notation, relative pitch and actual pitch, the piano keyboard and guitar fretboard, all modes, all intervals diads, triads seventh chords etc. And systems for memorising passages and songs.. solos … licks riffs etc… I’ve done a fair amount of work on this. That’s not true. I’ve done loads of work on this.

You mention "notation", well ... that's a broad thing covering rhythm, pitch, duration, dynamics, voices, timbre, all these are notated in musical “notation”. But I guess you mean "pitch" and how the little dots and squiggles relate to sounds and how they can be read, then played on an instrument or sung so that others can hear them? And vice versa of course. You can write down music too you know. From stuff you hear people whistling to songs on the radio...

Where on the music paper the dot or squiggle is tells the reader how high or low the sound is (that’s pitch), what the dot or squiggle looks like tells the reader for how long or short they should play that sound for. That’s it. Pitch is where, duration is how long for.

“Lah” sung by a small child is usually higher in pitch than a “Lah” sung by a huge man with a deep voice. If the duration of the Lah is the same it will look the same on paper, but the child’s Lah will be higher up on the music paper than the man’s Lah. Pitch is where from high to low on the grid or musical stave, and duration is what it looks like. Whether it is a round circle with no tail, a filled in dot with a tail or multiple tails…there are a number of different symbols used and they are easy to learn. The look or shape of the note tells you the length of time you make that noise and where it is tells you the pitch or how high or low the sound should be.

As far as musical notation for pitch is concerned, talking about the one element - pitch - (how high or low a sound sounds) rather than another notation –

Memory System for Pitch
I have a fully formed memory system for that which I use both for myself to memorise music and to teach others about how music theory works. (Music theory is how to write music down and how to get it up again... using an instrument - the encoding. Others think it also encompasses rules of composition but that's not music theory really, that's 'form', for example Classical form or Jazz form or Pop form - some rules, shared characteristics and conventions that can be learned or adhered to while producing music in style X.... that's not music theory music as I am speaking about it hear, Music theory is how to notate the sounds of music... so they can be played by others who have never heard the music before. )

For pitch, each pitch has a name. In English speaking countries the pitches are named with letters from A to G. That's seven different letters, but as there are more than seven possible 'pitches' in addition you can have A sharp (slightly higher than A but lower in pitch than B) or A flat (lower in pitch than A but higher than G).

The pitches go around and around. ABCDEFG is followed again by another higher sounding ABCDEFG etc
On a piano and in written down music each set of ABCDEFG has a designation or number.
This is where it gets a little stupid at first glance but makes great sense when you get the whole picture.

Middle C is called C4, and it is the fourth C on the piano. It is used for navigating both the piano and written music.
C4. Because there are three other Cs lower (to the left) on a piano. There are another four to the right, and the highest note on a piano is C8. (the extreme right-hand note). At that stage when I am teaching people. they do not need to know anything else. One step at a time. Middle C is C4. We can find the other C's step by step. And all A's B's D's E's F's and G's both natural and sharp and flat from knowing where middle C is.... and very quickly indeed because is a recurring pattern both in vision on the keyboard and on music paper....

When you know that each note has a letter and an Octave number. C1 C2 C3 D5 G6 B2 A3 C4 (there's middle C!) it is then possible to encode each pitch and its corresponding place on the music stave (or staff).

Piano music is written on a template of two sets of five lines. The space between them has no line but when drawn in - that's Middle C. C4. Now you can navigate... or at least start learning to. And once you do that you can encode and memorise any combination of pitches....

I used a 12 stage journey times ten (same journey - based on streets in my home city - but in assorted colours - and I envisioned this as a sort of Penrose stair - you keep on going around and round the same route, each corresponding to an Octave on the Piano or Grand Staff .... I used standard Piano note names as my starting point and Middle C (C4) as the start. That was designated as number 40. For very good reason. Middle C (C4) is the fortieth key on a piano counting from the left-hand side. So, I encoded Middle C as 40 and each semitone heading above and going below was in increments of 1. There are 88 keys on a Piano these correspond to positions on the Grand Staff.

I have done a lot of travelling in my time and I’m old enough to know abot using international dialing codes. 40 (or +40) is the dialing code of Romania. I chose a famous character from Romania to encode this ‘pitch’ / note of C4 (the fortieth note on the piano). I chose Dracula.


I did the same for a lot of other notes. F3 for example is the 33rd piano Key, +33 is the code for France – I chose Napoleon. A4 is 49, +49 is Germany… C5 is 52, +52 is Mexico… E4 is 44 +44 is the UK, and many others. I did not use exclusively International dialing codes, I also used famous objects G4 for example is the 47th key on a piano counting from the left and seven above middle C. 47 I encoded as Mikhail Khalishnikov because he invented a certain rifle…. And AK47… but if you are familiar with PAO systems you’ll get the idea dn know that you can encode numbers as anything you wish.

I also added a symbol to each Person Action Object for each piano key and corresponding position on music paper. I had my reasons. For example fangs for C4, a sombrebro for C5, the Eiffel Tower for F3 etc… all in all (at first) I used 88 of them corresponding to the 88 keys of the piano.

The PAOS (Person Action Object Symbol) was easy to develop but definitions and explaining them to others can be difficult and confusing at times.

For example: People get really confused about “Octaves”.
It is confusing because it is based on music scales and a piano is not set out in scales. You can play scales on a piano. There are 12 keys (or different sounds or as they are called semitones… all of which are progressively higher in pitch by the same amount - take Middle C (key number 40) and play twelve piano keys both white and black and you come to key number 52 - that's called C5 (Mexico – 52!). It sounds like Middle C but is an octave 'higher' in pitch. It's an octave above. But doesn't octave mean 'eight??'

Well yes it does mean eight, but eight LETTER names not keys. That name octave is nothing to do with semitones, only how many notes there are in a scale and a scale is just a little collection similar to a tune, seven different ones in each 'octave' and it is called an octave because there are seven (one example is Doh Ray Me Fah Soh la Te - that's seven and the eight one is Back to Doh - th3e eighth one so that's an octave or the eighth note of the scale...), all that that can be confusing for beginners until they develop a mental representation that only certain semitones in certain patterns are used to make up 'ladder' scales up or down to reach the same named note, or 'pitch' as they say in America. I am from the UK so I use 'note'.

This might point you in the right direction, if you want to know any more... just ask.

MM Scot of Glasgow

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