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Strong Memory = Increased Talent. Ever Considered?


Just something I start thinking about several years back.

First off, let me say that I realize that there are a lot of factors that make a musician "talented". I understand things like proper practice, time spent, etc etc. And at the end of the day I believe we must be aware of our weaknesses and figure out how to overcome...

So, several years back I was responsible for the music at a church. I played with quite a few drummers during that time. It went something like this:

John = Serious chops and groove. Terrible memory.
Mike = Good chops and groove (slightly less than John). Amazing memory.
Richard = Great drummer, but compared to the other two less raw chops. But practiced as long as it took to get the part down. Very Solid memory.

Hopefully this makes sense.

My favorite drummer to play with by far was Mike. His memory was sharp as a razor. Truth be told he NEVER practiced. He was also my friend so I know this to be a fact. I would have to ask him to not tell him other musicians that he didn't practice. When he played drums I never ever ever had to worry about the band missing a cue.

My 2nd favorite drummer was Richard. He was an extremely hard worker, but was also flexible. Had a good memory and again I never had to worry about missed cues. He was also a pleasure to work with.

My least favorite of the 3 was John. If I was just having an improv or a vamp, John was fantastic. Actually wonderful. But he had a terrible memory for music, and just life in general. I always had to worry if he was going to remember parts. Sometimes he did and sometimes he didn't.

After observing this and watching Mike get a gig with a fairly well known local act I started thinking about how memory increases talent. Or maybe it's just perceived talent. Either way, it makes someone much more valuable in my opinion.

Then I began to think about myself. I have always struggled with things like facial recognition and even the kids memory game. My young boys beat me most of the time. Ha ha. And realized that some of my weakness in memory ties over into music. Like, trying to recall licks and riffs that I've practiced over and over.... that just elude me when I want them.

So, I've learned where someone might need 50 reps to get it down, I might need 200. Or whatever.

Anyway this is just an observation and wondered if anyone else has pondered that.

That's all. And all names were changed to protect the innocent.


I've long thought similar. In no small part due to my own sometimes poor memory :p That said, I know folks with great recall ability who can make a guitar sound like a wounded cat with no problem.

I think it takes on different forms though. It would be interesting to see, if possible, how abstract the process of memorization and recall is for musicians, as opposed to say, how people remember a piece of text or an incident from a long time ago. Some memorization techniques are almost synesthesic, like association with images or cues, and so on.

Quite a deep subject below the surface.


I've long thought similar. In no small part due to my own sometimes poor memory :p That said, I know folks with great recall ability who can make a guitar sound like a wounded cat with no problem.
Ha ha. No kidding. That's why I wanted to be clear it obviously is just one part of the equation.


Gold Supporting Member
I think in a working band context, working with anyone like Mike or Richard is going to be a better experience. The group is only as good as it's weakest link, or was that their sum is greater then their individual talents.

Sounds to me more like work ethic, then it is memory or talent. Perhaps some people with strong memories can get by with less work, but they would be even better if they put in the time.


david torn / splattercell
Platinum Supporting Member

What was the question again?
there was a question?
i don't think so, jim!

has anyone seen my passport?

thanks so much, i think.
898 9276-5213


Splatt commented on my post!!!

Wait...I'm not sure if that's a good thing or bad thing. Ha ha.


I have a very good muscle memory but terrible memory when I need to recall words to a song. I even forget my own songs, which is disheartening to me. So instead, I've been using logic to help me recall things. If I can see a logic in it then I don't need to memorize as much. I think this makes you smarter as you are forced to think about things rather than recall them from memory and don't know why or how they work.

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