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#2551284 - 06/22/16 10:37 AM Playing from memory observation
dmd Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/15/09
Posts: 2601
Loc: Pennsylvania
For some time now, I have noticed that when I play a piece of music (jazz standard) from memory using block chords in the left hand and melody in the right hand, I remember the tune by the chord progression, mostly.

However, if I am utilizing open voicings with chord tones in both left and right hand, I find I am remembering the tune by which EXACT KEYS ON THE KEYBOARD to press. I am secondarily aware of the chords, but my memory is focusing on which keys to press down and I can lose track of the chord progression while I play.

Just curious as to whether this is a common process.

I am now trying to "think" of the chords I am playing as I play in an effort to get away from that EXACT KEY memory process.

Any thoughts on this ?
_________________________
Don

Current: ES8, Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 audio device, SennHeiser HD598 Phones, Focal CMS 40 Powered Monitors, JBL LSR305 Powered Monitors, Pianoteq 5,TruePiano,Ravenscroft275,TrueKeys American,Galaxy Vintage D,Ivory II,Alicia's Keys,CFX Concert Grand, The Grandeur

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#2551290 - 06/22/16 11:05 AM Re: Playing from memory observation [Re: dmd]
jjo Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/09/08
Posts: 808
Loc: Chicago
If I learn a very specific voicing for how I'll play the tune, you do tend to learn that voicing rather than the progression. Also, if I only play the tune with the melody, I'll tend to associate chords with melody notes, rather than as a pure chord progression.

So what I do for any tune I'm learning is just comp the chords many times through, as if a horn player was taking care of the melody. Comping the chords, without worrying about the melody is, for me, the quickest way to lock in the chord progression.

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#2551611 - 06/23/16 07:40 PM Re: Playing from memory observation [Re: dmd]
NYCDLP Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/14/16
Posts: 1
I find reciting the name of the chord out loud helps memorize the piece. In fact I'm doing that during circle of 5th rootless chord exercises, example: (first inversion) Dm7, G9, CM7 ... Cm7, F9, BbM7. (and second inversion) Dm9, G13, CM9 ... Cm9, F13, BbM9. When I started this it felt like smoke was coming out of my ears from burning brain cells, but it's getting easier and I'm becoming more comfortable grabbing chords.

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#2551695 - 06/24/16 03:34 AM Re: Playing from memory observation [Re: dmd]
Nahum Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/27/14
Posts: 1439
Loc: Israel
Maybe you are playing the other voices of chords too loud, and the melody cannot be heard ?

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#2551816 - 06/24/16 03:52 PM Re: Playing from memory observation [Re: Nahum]
dmd Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/15/09
Posts: 2601
Loc: Pennsylvania
Originally Posted By Nahum
Maybe you are playing the other voices of chords too loud, and the melody cannot be heard ?


No, that is not the issue.

I think the issue is that when I play a chord using an open voicing, I do not "See" the chord as readily as when I am playing the chord using a closed voicing. The chordal tones are spread out and I do not "see" the form of the chord as easily as when I see a chord in closed form. So, then I begin to think about which keys to press as I move through the piece ... instead of thinking of which chord comes next. So, eventually I stop thinking chords, altogether and just think which keys to press down while I move through the piece.

It is just something I will have to try overcoming by forcing myself to think "chords" instead of "keys" as I move through the piece.
_________________________
Don

Current: ES8, Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 audio device, SennHeiser HD598 Phones, Focal CMS 40 Powered Monitors, JBL LSR305 Powered Monitors, Pianoteq 5,TruePiano,Ravenscroft275,TrueKeys American,Galaxy Vintage D,Ivory II,Alicia's Keys,CFX Concert Grand, The Grandeur

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#2554783 - 07/07/16 04:54 AM Re: Playing from memory observation [Re: dmd]
Aleksiv Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/12/16
Posts: 27
Loc: Finland
Hello,
Are those chords you mean new to you? If so, i think you still may need to subconsciously get to know them. I have the same problem every time i find something new. For me, at least, it's not enough to know the right keys, i have to KNOW the chord.
After playing those chords for a while, in different situations, you will eventually come to really know them. At that point, you don't have to think of actual keys that much and can focus on something else, like the chord progression.

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#2554803 - 07/07/16 07:25 AM Re: Playing from memory observation [Re: dmd]
Greener Offline

Platinum Supporter until July 22 2014


Registered: 05/29/12
Posts: 1859
Loc: Toronto
Originally Posted By dmd
...
I think the issue is that when I play a chord using an open voicing, I do not "See" the chord as readily as when I am playing the chord using a closed voicing.


Yes, I would agree with you that this is more it.

Originally Posted By dmd

It is just something I will have to try overcoming by forcing myself to think "chords" instead of "keys" as I move through the piece.


The way I would view it is think patterns and how it should feel. Yes agree, this is easier to do with a nice tight clump of notes. You can easily picture a Gm7 in all it's inversions. Not so easy though when all the notes are spread out.

Early on in memorizing a piece, I think anyone would memorize a piece just as you've described it at the top of this thread. However, trying to memorize individual notes is going to become problematic. Even trying to remember all the chords will become too cumbersome.

As everything begins to get and feel more and more familiar, try to now begin replacing thinking in terms of chords and notes with patterns and shapes, sound and feel. It may sound abstract, but it's not really.

Try also, to avoid forcing anything.

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#2554804 - 07/07/16 07:39 AM Re: Playing from memory observation [Re: dmd]
Groove On Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/20/15
Posts: 514
I've also been flip-flopping on how I "see" chords in different inversions and voicings on the keyboard. Sometimes my brain manages to connect the different inversions or voicings together as part of the same chord pattern. But then other times my brain just considers the inversions or voicing as completely unique and separate chord shapes.

It gets funkier when I'm reading chords in the notation. Sometimes I recognize the full chord shape in the notation as a single character i.e. D7 or C6 or something like that. And then other times my brain will latch on to the root note in the chord and read the intervals to play for the other notes in the chord - only after the fact, as my fingers are playing the chord, will I realize which chord I'm playing and in what inversion.

I guess it's all part of the process as the brain comes to grips with all the different patterns and tries to makes sense of it all. It is funny to watch yourself do these things, always makes me wonder what else I could do to help it out.
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The question is, am I making music or just playing a bunch of notes?

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