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#1 2012-02-04 16:19:19

Sonnya
Member
From: Florida
Registered: 2011-12-25
Posts: 26

Remembering Chords

It seems I can't remember the chords of a song for the life of me, I need a song with me in order to play a song, Need Help.


! Corinthians 15:1-4

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#2 2012-02-04 16:47:59

bensonp
Honoured Member
From: Tooele Ut
Registered: 2006-03-04
Posts: 3785

Re: Remembering Chords

Everyone here will tell you it is much better to memorize chords and lyrics.  That said, I have been playing for a long time now and I also can not remember them for most songs.  I don't sweat it any more.  I just take my music with me and leave it at that.  It used to bother me, but not any more.  I even meorized a couple of songs, finally and did really well with them.  Then I didn't play them for quite awhile and guess what.  I can't remember the chord patterns any more. I do know that I've played so long with music in front of me that this is waht makes it difficult for me to learn.  If you don't get into the habit, it is much easier to learn.  Good luck, whichever path you choose.  There are no absolutes in music playing.  Everyone plays chords differently, strums differently, uses different fingerings for the same effects, sings differently and there is no one right way to do any of these.  The right way is what becomes comfortable for you.  Be happy the way you do it.


You can see all my video covers on http://www.youtube.com/bensonp1000
I have finally found happiness in my life.  Guitars, singing, beer and camping.  And they all intertwine wonderfully.

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#3 2012-02-04 18:21:24

zguitar
Don't call me Sir
From: Mentone, Ca
Registered: 2009-01-10
Posts: 1335

Re: Remembering Chords

I second what Pete said. If you have to have a sheet in front of you then that's what you do. Don't get hung up on it. It will take away from you focusing on playing. That said, I think repetition is key. The more you play a song the more you will remember. Typically most songs follow a pattern anyway so you only have to remember half of it. I also think that it is a good thing to know so many songs that you will forget some.

Do what you do.


Keep Rockin!!!!!!!!!!!

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#4 2012-02-04 22:42:35

faing
Junior Member
From: West of Ireland
Registered: 2011-12-07
Posts: 16

Re: Remembering Chords

I'll third that :-) and also like to add that playing solo and forgetting chord patterns is most common. Yet if you play as part of a group it seems a lot easier owing to the fact that everyone is forgetting  and remembering, only at different times (does that make sense?) so yuo end up feeding off of each other kinda thing. Manys a time in a trad sesiun I end up playing a different set of reels or jigs for a couple of seconds. Having sheets in front of you is no disgrace, most of us try to disguise the fact that we errrrr forget  by putting a Pint Glass holder on the music stand and pretending that that is its primary function....lol

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#5 2012-02-05 00:35:05

joeyjoeyjoey
Honoured Member
From: massachusetts
Registered: 2010-10-18
Posts: 1115

Re: Remembering Chords

i`ll fourth that: Wait a minute.What were we talking about. Seriously, I have to keep music with me also. Some I remember from playing them so long.

Last edited by joeyjoeyjoey (2012-02-05 00:35:35)


Enjoy Every Sandwich - Dr. Lee Lipsenthal

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#6 2012-02-05 00:45:52

TwangTown
Senior Member
From: Dunedin, New Zealand
Registered: 2007-01-01
Posts: 187

Re: Remembering Chords

I have no trouble remembering chords, and can usually fit chords to songs I havent played before, but i am absolutely useless at remembering lyrics of songs, so i always need to print them off to play a song - thanks Chordie! The ideal situation is for someone else to sing that knows all the words, and I will play along with them.


"War never determines who is right , only who is left"
"Democracy is the right to protest about  the lack of it!"

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#7 2012-02-05 15:43:25

deadstring
Senior Member
From: Louisiana
Registered: 2008-11-06
Posts: 840
Website

Re: Remembering Chords

I have 2 song books, at least 300 songs that I play well enough to not be afraid to do in public.Not a note of music in either book, but take my words and chords away and I could probably do you 3 songs at the most.Oh! I still mess up sometimes with the book.


When the Power of Love overcomes The Love of Power the world will be a better place.

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#8 2012-02-05 16:00:38

joeyjoeyjoey
Honoured Member
From: massachusetts
Registered: 2010-10-18
Posts: 1115

Re: Remembering Chords

5 big three ring binders full of printed tabs. A whole bunch of books from the 80s and some memory. I guess it happens to the best of us


Enjoy Every Sandwich - Dr. Lee Lipsenthal

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#9 2012-02-05 16:17:07

bluejeep
Senior Member
From: Scott County, Virginia, U.S.A.
Registered: 2008-03-19
Posts: 407

Re: Remembering Chords

Don't worry about having to look at a song in order to play it. You will eventually be able to remember the lyrics and chord placement to a few of your favorite songs. If I don't play a certain song for a while I tend to forget and need to have the song in front of me so I can play it. As I get older I find it more difficult to remember complete song lyrics and chord placement. I also keep a chord chart as a reminder of chord shapes for unusual and seldom used chords. Play on Sonnya and have fun.


Sometimes dreams should just remain dreams - once attained whats next?  Live in the "now" - a contentment of the moment - the past is gone - the future doesn't exist - all we ever really have is "now" and it's always now.

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#10 2012-02-05 16:45:36

bensonp
Honoured Member
From: Tooele Ut
Registered: 2006-03-04
Posts: 3785

Re: Remembering Chords

So you see, Sonnya, we are all quite normal having a sheet of music in front of us.  I have always envied bands that can play all through the night without music.


You can see all my video covers on http://www.youtube.com/bensonp1000
I have finally found happiness in my life.  Guitars, singing, beer and camping.  And they all intertwine wonderfully.

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#11 2012-02-05 16:50:30

thistles
Member
Registered: 2006-10-31
Posts: 50

Re: Remembering Chords

I manage to play ONE song from memory... and that is Johnny Jump Up... yep... two chords...
For everything else I need paper or screen...

Cheers, Tom

P.S.: the same is true for my own songs...

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#12 2012-02-05 21:28:13

alanmac872
Junior Member
From: Rep of Ireland
Registered: 2009-01-03
Posts: 11

Re: Remembering Chords

i just logged on to chordie with this exact issue , i ve been asked to play at a party  with bout 40 to 50 people there , im playing with few years but apart from playing to friends and family (people i know) i ve never gigged to strangers , while i can sing and play i need that bloody book right there on the music stand in front of me and i think it just looks awful , its almost like a crutch and a habit i ve gotten into thats very difficult to break ,
The freedom some musicians have of just standing up there and belting out their songs un aided is a great ability to have , and it has been mentioned to me a few times as in " so you still need the book" , i always feel silly then , i dunno , i am reluctant to do this gig but then will feel like a coward if i dont ,,,HELP

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#13 2012-02-05 21:51:34

alvee33
Honoured Member
From: Renfrewshire, Scotland
Registered: 2006-03-04
Posts: 1355
Website

Re: Remembering Chords

I have this very problem. Now there are probably half a dozen songs I can play and sing without needing the song sheet.

I decided a long time ago try to find a way to get better at it. So I decided I was going to do a few songs on video for youtube. The thinking was that I'd need to get them right and do them in one take which would help me to learn them properly. Yes it worked to a certain extent and the half dozen songs that I remember are ones I recorded. My problem now is getting time to try and do some more.


Is anything really made up of zeros and ones??

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#14 2012-02-05 22:03:31

bluejeep
Senior Member
From: Scott County, Virginia, U.S.A.
Registered: 2008-03-19
Posts: 407

Re: Remembering Chords

Hey alanmac, if wi-fi is available stick your laptop on a stand near ya and use Chordies auto scroll feature. That way if anyone says "so you still need the book" you can just say, no - they won't know you've gone hi -tech on em. Go ahead and do the gig and have fun, most people are envious that you can get up and perform for them and will overlook or not even notice the laptop you glance at from time to time. Keep us posted.


Sometimes dreams should just remain dreams - once attained whats next?  Live in the "now" - a contentment of the moment - the past is gone - the future doesn't exist - all we ever really have is "now" and it's always now.

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#15 2012-02-05 22:13:39

tubatooter1940
Retired Beach Bar Entertainer
From: Alabama Gulf Coast
Registered: 2008-06-24
Posts: 1816
Website

Re: Remembering Chords

I remember in 1989 I was playing a single song guy gig at a neighborhood bar. I had my fat book on a sturdy steel music stand with a light. I had only been working alone for a month or so. I wore clear bottom tinted top sunglasses to hide the fact that I was reading.
Two bar customers walked around behind me and remarked, " Yeah, he's reading everything." I was mortified.
Started playing tuba with John Reno who never used a stand or read anything onstage. He said, " If you don't know it, don't play it." Besides wind, darkness and wet weather can take you out of your gig if you must read. The few guitar gigs I play these days, I bring my fat book but try to go as long as possible without it. I know four hours of music but not all my memorized material is appropriate. The book's handy for requests and associated songs because it has 400 plus tunes in it.
toots


We pronounce it "Guf Coast".
Ya'll wanna go down to the Guf?

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#16 2012-02-05 22:17:46

alanmac872
Junior Member
From: Rep of Ireland
Registered: 2009-01-03
Posts: 11

Re: Remembering Chords

ha ha great idea , i might just do that .  isnt it amazing how  our brains can second guess ourselves and create doubt , was just looking at my song list and started thinking it could be better and is it good enough and comparing myself to better more seasoned performers . im under no illusions as to my average ability but still keen to impress , anyway i will soldier on !!

Last edited by alanmac872 (2012-02-05 22:29:06)

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#17 2012-02-05 22:54:03

topdown
Margarator
From: Madeira Beach, Florida
Registered: 2007-12-06
Posts: 2788

Re: Remembering Chords

While I admire guys like toots who can memorize literally hundreds of songs, I am a believer of the Albert Einstein quote "I never commit to memory anything that can easily be looked up in a book." Only so many brain cells survived my youth and I care to use them for more important purposes.

Many musicians use a song book - most pros actually use a teleprompter. You think those stage monitors are all speakers? think again. Look to Elton's right from about :25 to :35 on the below vid. Yup, a teleprompter (and even I could sing most of Elton's tunes by heart). If it's good enough for Sir Elton, it's good enough for me.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qR3SOnMRfXo


Rule No. 1 - If it sounds good - it is good!

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#18 2012-02-06 13:26:15

tubatooter1940
Retired Beach Bar Entertainer
From: Alabama Gulf Coast
Registered: 2008-06-24
Posts: 1816
Website

Re: Remembering Chords

Use it or lose it philosophy comes in to play here.
Music is a language. if you play often you reinforce the tunes you know by heart and acquire more. If you almost never play to an audience, then you stay shaky with your lyrics and chords.
My brother-in-law was a native German. After four years in the U.S. speaking English only, he began to think in English and had a hard time finding German words to make conversation with a German tourist.


We pronounce it "Guf Coast".
Ya'll wanna go down to the Guf?

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#19 2012-02-07 05:03:00

bobwill
Senior Member
From: Western Kentucky
Registered: 2010-03-05
Posts: 135

Re: Remembering Chords

Alanmac, just do it and have fun. I started learning just over three years ago, I love to practice and I've learned a lot but, I too can not yet memorize chords and lyrics to songs, I can do a few but not many. I've played out in public and used my book of songs I put on list for the night. I feel guilty doing it and, I've been told to stop using a book. I wish I could.  Like Pete said I envi those that can play all night without  a sheet in front of them.     b

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#20 2012-02-09 19:19:11

papaguitar
Senior Member
From: carson,washington
Registered: 2009-09-22
Posts: 350

Re: Remembering Chords

Read this thread the other day and have been wondering myself how or why I remember chords to songs
  fairly well except for a glitch here and there. Lyrics is a whole new monster as Sonnya was threading
  about chord structure of a songs. When it comes to lyrics I think toots hit it referring to singing them aloud
  as to an audience and doing it often. No audience is needed, but I think one might try harder knowing an
  audience is in their future. Repetition!

For the chord structure of a song repetition is also the key to remembering. There are other "things" that
  help me personally along the way. Knowing the relative chords to each key is vital. Most songs will follow
  a path utilizing only the chords that fit that key. This eliminates the chords that do not and therefore they
  will not be even considered as choices for a song you want to remember. However if a chord is used in a
  song that is "awkward" to the key it should stand out in your memory as a weird chord. Most people
  remember weird stuff easier so prior to playing the song you can tell yourself "oh-I remember this song
  has that awkward Eb! Now remember the KEY of the song which should conjure up the rest of the chords.
  You must be familiar with the song. By that I mean you have to be able to sing or hum the song well.
  This reinforces where the chords change. If you can hear and feel the song leaving a major chord and
  changing to a minor helps much, and since the song is in the key of G for example we know that E minor
  is most likely the minor to be played, but you also have two other choices of minors, Am and Bm. I
  consider these to be "awkward" or weird and try to remember that prior to playing the song. Studying
  basic music theory can only help. I hope not to confuse anyone. This is just how my "pea brain" works and
  tho not a cream of the crop musician, I do ok.      Mike


Our intuitions serve us well

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#21 2012-02-09 19:42:00

bensonp
Honoured Member
From: Tooele Ut
Registered: 2006-03-04
Posts: 3785

Re: Remembering Chords

I have always wondered why some can and some can't remember lyrics and chords.  As you know some can seem to do it effortlessly and some of us take a lot of time and energy just to rmemeber one song.  I am convinced it has a lot to do with our individual brain workings.  I think those of us who find it hard, can certainly push ourselves to learn, but only to a certain level.  I am convinced that you either have it or you don't.  Just as some can pick up a guitar and learn more quickly than others.  For me, it is a constant learning process and I have to keep on top of it.  I think this is a much deeper subject than we expect it do be.  Well, I don't have it for some reason and therefore have resolved that I am happy enough putting a sheet of paper in front of me and enjoying playing and singing with the crutch.  People hardly ever say to me, "Can't you play without the music in front of you"?  I guess my point is, keep trying, but if you find it frustrating, why worry about it.


You can see all my video covers on http://www.youtube.com/bensonp1000
I have finally found happiness in my life.  Guitars, singing, beer and camping.  And they all intertwine wonderfully.

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#22 2012-02-09 20:45:19

vxn911
Member
From: New Brunswick, Canada :)
Registered: 2007-03-20
Posts: 34

Re: Remembering Chords

Hummmm I have been playing for about 6 years....I had the same problem, i just kept practicing. I can now play around 20-30 songs off the top of my head without my large binder! However, by the time you can do the song without thinking about it....you are really sick of the song....So if you are not too sick of the song, you have not practiced it enough....lol works for me. I found at first I had to stick to just a few and do them over and over, even if I did not want to....if you keep jumping from song to song, you won't remember them. So, if you do the same 5 over a few times each practice....then move on to other songs so you don't die of boredom....then the next practice...do the same 5 songs a few times, then move to the other songs....keep this up for awhile and soon you will know the 5 you always play. However if I don't play a certain song for a long time, I will sometimes forget it and need to refresh my memory!... goodluck!


Life isn't about how to survive the storm, But how to dance in the rain... smile

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#23 2012-02-10 18:34:52

dguyton
Senior Member
From: Central Flatland
Registered: 2007-05-30
Posts: 223

Re: Remembering Chords

I guess I'm the weirdo; I've always had a trick memory for things like song lyrics, and the chords just go along with that.  My own criteria for "knowing a song" includes the lyrics, chords and rhythm, plus not having to look at the guitar.  The few occasions that I've played in public, I've made a point of making eye contact with audience members while I play.

As far as most pros using a teleprompter, I've NEVER been to a live show in which there was a telprompter in sight.  Maybe it's just the shows that I go to, but even the local bands seem to get along with a setlist taped to the monitors.


"There's such a fine line between genius and stupidity."
                              --David St. Hubbins

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#24 2012-02-11 16:14:29

AccoustikNoyz
Senior Member
From: Chesapeake,VA
Registered: 2008-11-12
Posts: 332
Website

Re: Remembering Chords

For a simple trick, use words in the song lyrics to associate with chords.  You can remember most chords just by repitition.  For example, in The Eagles' "Take it Easy", when the chorus goes to "Come on Baby" there is a D chord that doesn't appear in the other chorus.  Same trick works in most song.  Just think of the word in the lyrics where the turns are made one at a time they'll become familiar.  I agree with Dguyton you want to make eye contact when you are able.  It's pretty gratifying for you and the audience as well to see someone singing the words along with you hitting the chords.

Em    C    G
Take it easy...
Am    C    Em
C    G    C    G
Am    C    G


Em          D    C    G
Come on 'baby'.........
Am    C    Em
C    G    C    G
Am    C    G

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#25 2012-02-16 00:11:51

tfsails
Junior Member
Registered: 2010-10-11
Posts: 19

Re: Remembering Chords

I cut my performing teeth with the belief that if you don't have the song memorized you shouldn't play it.  I've cheated on that many, many times.  I'd rather have it all memorized but I don't.  I can play a helluva lot more songs than I have the words memorized to, so I'll make a sheet with the words.  Only problem is, I don't own a music stand.   That's ok--I'm not gigging regularly, just a weekly open mic night.

Being the dirty old man I am, I try to find a really cute chick in the audience and sing to her.   This gigging thing is really fun and really easy when you have the audience engaged.  When the audience is ignoring you, as happens regularly in a bar setting, you just have to suck it up and bust your way through it.   That's when gigging is hard--very hard.

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