6 Days In / What do you do to memorize lyrics and vocal phrasing?

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by Funky54, Aug 8, 2019.

  1. Funky54

    Funky54 Member

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    I have always been weak at memorizing correct lyrics. Usually there is a spot somewhere that my timing gets jacked up because of a small vocal phrasing that I’ll have off. Generally it takes a band rehearsal or two for it to be identified and then a lot of practice to fix it.

    I need to learn about 20 new songs in about 4-5 weeks. They aren’t my style or simple. I have a full time and a part time job. So about 1 hour a day with maybe a 3-4 hour woodshed session on the weekends to work with.

    I could use suggestions on what helps you?

    So far I’ve tried listening and writing the lyrics myself, without looking on line, then I’ve re-written them a few times to try to make them stick.
     
  2. ahhlou

    ahhlou Member

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    Think of each song as a story. For me, if I can remember how each verse starts, I remember the rest of it quite easily.

    So I think of it as a short sequence of events... (Of course Dylan is another thing altogether...)
     
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  3. TonePilot

    TonePilot Supporting Member

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    I just sing it whenever I can. In the car, to myself in meetings, at home. Eventually it just sticks. I always bring the songsheets as a backup anyway. I clip my iPad or iPhone to the microphone stand and can refer to the lyrics and chord changes there.
     
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  4. Jimmy Dean

    Jimmy Dean Member

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    Practice. I won't use cheat sheets or music stands on stage.
     
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  5. jkendrick

    jkendrick Member

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    Take it verse by verse or even line by line. For me, if I try to remember a whole song, I’ll start mixing verses together. If I just play the first verse over and over until it’s ingrained, I can then move on to the next verse without issue.
     
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  6. derekd

    derekd Member

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    I sing along as much as I possibly can until they get burned into my long-term memory.

    I can recall lyrics from tunes from decades ago once the music starts. The tune provides a cue for my long-term storage, and it doesn't seem to matter much how long it has been. I just wish I was that good at remembering our anniversary.

    The auditory processing center of our brains (temporal lobe, runs along the side of the head behind the ears) is one of the most complex parts of our neurology. Our processing of language and music are really pretty different and light up different parts of the temporal lobe. When we can combine these two, it appears we are processing at a deeper level and I would guess this aids our memory.

    Good luck!
     
  7. Funky54

    Funky54 Member

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    I’ve learned that if I sing with an original recording it helps, but it also keeps me from truly remembering and it jacks with my phrasing. If I do it a few times without, on my own and go back and forth it helps some. I wish someone had a suggestion on how I can stop doing that. I think the original becomes a subconscious crutch and I fool myself that I have the phrasing down. The strumming gets in the way and messes with the phrasing unless I make myself do it on my own.

    Its probably just me and my weirdness.
     
  8. Motterpaul

    Motterpaul Tone is in the Ears

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    Maybe try only thinking about the vocal phrasing for awhile and don't worry about the strumming. Once the vocals are more ingrained in your brain, the strumming should get easier. Some things just require repetition.
     
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  9. jkendrick

    jkendrick Member

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    Also learning the vocal melody and playing it on your guitar (or a piano) while you sing with no other accompaniment. That really helps me to get the right pitch and phrasing into my head so that strumming chords doesn’t throw me off.
     
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  10. Tone Loco

    Tone Loco Silver Supporting Member

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    Personally 20 songs in 5 weeeks with just an hour a day seems like a huge undertaking. Four or five songs a week? Whew

    I guess if you’ve been singing for decades, constantly adding songs, it might get easier. Not sure. But it can take me weeks/months to really feel comfortable with songs I’ve never heard.

    FWIW I do basically what people here suggest- constant listening and looping, testing myself without the record, reciting lyrics w/no melody like a poem, in time. Writing out the lyrics from memory. Printing out lyrics and notating them with cues to remind me of phrasing, even little cartoon drawings, anything to try to make it stick.

    I wish I knew any “shortcuts” that actually worked. Then again I often forget people’s names that I’m introduced to. Within minutes :-\

    Good luck!
     
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  11. DGA

    DGA Member

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    Make a playlist and listen/sing in your car.
     
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  12. Dickie Fredericks

    Dickie Fredericks Supporting Member

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    For lyrics, I write them down and then throw the paper away. It has always worked for me. I have a pretty good memory though.
     
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  13. p.j.

    p.j. Member

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    I have found that if I write lyrics out long-hand I remember them pretty well. This, unfortunately, is very time-consuming. YMMV.
     
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  14. TonePilot

    TonePilot Supporting Member

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    I talked to an accomplished singer/songwriter about this and he told me that one or the other (singing or playing) has to be automatic. You can't be concentrating on both at the same time.
     
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  15. MikeMcK

    MikeMcK Supporting Member

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    Not just for lyrics, but this helps a lot in getting the "feel" of song structure: when I have an upcoming gig with a lot of unfamiliar material I put the MP3s (assuming you can get them) on a thumb drive and make sure it's playing every minute I spend in the car. I'll sing along to every part I have to sing and mentally "play" guitar parts.

    Doesn't eliminate shedding (especially on parts where the vocal and guitar part are pretty independent, but it does help a lot in being to ready to shed when you get the time.
     
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  16. Funky54

    Funky54 Member

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    Thanks. I was able to burn most to Thumb. I am using them in my truck and at home. The trouble is the vocal and guitar parts really are independent of one another on almost every song. Nothing is easy... I chose one of the hardest and 10 of what I think are the easiest to concentrate on. the last 9 I’m shelving for 2 weeks before even trying them. I’d rather have half perfect than all of them sketchy.
     
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  17. Wag

    Wag Member

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    15 unique replies that all confirm the same thing.....

    .... there is no substitute for repetition.

    And yeah....20 songs in 5 weeks? Your bandmates dump that load on you or are you all under the same pressure?
     
  18. mikeymoves

    mikeymoves Member

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    OH GOD This...
     
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  19. JosephZdyrski

    JosephZdyrski Member

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    That’s the great thing about singing originals is it gives the creator a bit of vocal leeway and you can edit as you go and the good lyrics become easy to remember so it’s a good way to know you’re on to something catchy.
     
  20. ripgtr

    ripgtr Member

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    ^^^ This

    Last band I used an ipad for a while. Lots of new songs, and all you have to do is forget one line and you are lost. Some people don't like them. I don't care, I think forgetting the words is a lot more obvious to an audiance than an ipad on a stand. Don't read from it, but it is a nice support if you need it. Last couple months I stopped using it but still had it handy. I had a TON of songs on it and we could do requests, since remembering a song is a LOT easier than remembering the words.

    The repetition thing - have the words handy if you forget, like on a phone or something, but don't look at them. Sing the song when you are driving, in your head while you are walking around, fixing dinner or in line at the store, any time you can. Heck, I'd sing under my breath at the grocery store and would sometimes get weird looks. I don't care. Then go back to the recording and sing along with it when you have that time, if you are trying to get someone else's phrasing. Just doing it over and over and over is really the only solution. It does get easier, but it never really gets easy, at least not for me. Still have to work on them, a lot.
     

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