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  1. #1

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    Music / Voicings (-from jottings in a mss book to the finished score)
    Lyrics
    Fragments --possible titles, good lines, licks, riffs, ideas, intros, a bridge, a good ending, and so on
    The whole shmear.

    My approach (which amounts to various bad habits developed over many years) no longer satisfies me. I wonder how those who do a better job of all this do it.

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    Unfinished pieces: in pencil, stacked by category; lyrics: saved in Word, and backups on legal pads; finished work: almost all now transcribed into Finale' by a student (to be published when finished), original manuscripts in file cabinet behind the print sheets. Then there are recordings, commercially available or on websites; plus I have masters to every recording I've made since 1991 (a good thing, since I lost the sheet on the last tune slated for inclusion in the book), and recordings of almost all the radio shows I've appeared on, many where I played my pieces.

    But I didn't back everything up---and it cost me. I started writing a book about the NY jazz scene of the '70s-'80s that I was a bit player in. Got over 100 pages in, no backup---and the computer's hard drive crashed. I can either start again from scratch, and some disorganized, scattered notes---or, way more expensive---pay a techie to fish the 2 files out.

    PhD earned from the School of Hard Knocks (and the annex, Dumb Mistakes)...

  4. #3

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  5. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmic gumbo
    That's my system! I think it needs work. ;o) I'm getting older and hate bending over to pick sh*t up off the floor.

  6. #5

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    I have the same problem. I’ve started using Notion to organize things with multiple tags etc. It’s a big job but I am finding things I didn’t know I had so maybe worth it. Figuring out a useful classification/tagging scheme is challenging too. Yet another work in progress.

  7. #6

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    Years ago I recorded my songs on a 4-track.
    Now I have a shoebox full of cassettes but no player. I'll get one eventually---I have to go back through that stuff to separate the wheat from the chaff.
    And lots of manuscript books, some with pretty much whole songs charted out and other bits titled "great groove" or "funky blues" or "nice riff" or "speed lick."
    As for lyrics, I'm not sure where the hell they all are! Perhaps in a box in storage.

    I want everything (or at least everything I still have an interest in playing or salvaging something from) where I can get at it.
    Easier said than done, esp in a small condo!
    But progress shall be made.

  8. #7

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    Cardboard boxes, mostly, full of cassette tapes (sometimes labeled, sometimes not), set lists, lyric sheets, sheet music, CDs (the stack of discs for my solo album UTONIA is a full four inches thick w/o cases) and general musical detritus. I know this because my Great Corona Virus project is creating and digitizing an archive of my oeuvre, such as it is. I'm reminded of times good and bad, flops, bombs, stinkers and sinkers; things that worked on paper but....
    It's all good. Well, pretty good. At least there will be something to play at my memorial service. And Doritos and dip for everyone!

  9. #8

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    This past week I've taken out a few much-used manuscript books for 15-20 years ago. Found bits and pieces that now inspire songs. (Which is why we're always told to Save Everything.) That's nice. Better than nice, exciting and inspiring.

    Glad this is a 3-day weekend (here in the US, anyway), and I've set aside hours of each day to decrease the clutter and at least figure out a way to organize the next batch of new material (and also charts I want for standards I play, the changes I like, voicings, etc) and also ideas gleaned from threads here about fingerings, substitutions, voicings, technical exercises. I need an office! ;o)

  10. #9

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    A new file cabinet is scheduled to arrive tomorrow. This should help.

    Still awaiting a digital audio interface ("reserved" last month at Musician's Friend---it will ship to me soon after it arrives at their warehouse) so I have gone nowhere in transferring material from cassette to mp3

    Though in the meantime I've written a couple new songs, so I'm feelin' alright.

  11. #10

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    A few hundreds of songs, scores (no pun) of them I've composed, all residing in my ears' memory over the decades.
    I guess this kind of direct method is easier for those of us who learn, compose, practice, and perform strictly by ear?

  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by pauln
    A few hundreds of songs, scores (no pun) of them I've composed, all residing in my ears' memory over the decades.
    I guess this kind of direct method is easier for those of us who learn, compose, practice, and perform strictly by ear?
    I just don't have that kind of memory, consequently it's hard for me to imagine how that could work.

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes
    A new file cabinet is scheduled to arrive tomorrow. This should help.

    Still awaiting a digital audio interface ("reserved" last month at Musician's Friend---it will ship to me soon after it arrives at their warehouse) so I have gone nowhere in transferring material from cassette to mp3

    Though in the meantime I've written a couple new songs, so I'm feelin' alright.
    Any idea how long it will take before the interface is available?
    I have a power conditioner I've ordered that is in the same status. With all these products backordered I wonder if the companies have to prioritize and tool up for each product one at a time.

  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by pauln
    A few hundreds of songs, scores (no pun) of them I've composed, all residing in my ears' memory over the decades.
    I guess this kind of direct method is easier for those of us who learn, compose, practice, and perform strictly by ear?
    Maybe when I was 30 but not now. A lot of things that I remember may require a "jumpstart." If I hear a familiar song on the radio I know what the first line is and can sing it at the right time. However, if a line from a familiar song pops into my song while having dinner with my wife, it may take me a while to recall where the line is from, something that was less likely to happen when I was younger.

    I don't remember all of my own songs, and they were written entirely by ear. Again, I'm older (61) so my memory isn't what it once was.

    I remember John Scofield saying in an interview that he was asked during a tour to play songs from a certain record of his, certain songs he wrote, and he said he couldn't because the band didn't bring along those charts on the tour. He needed charts for his own songs! (Or at least he knew his bandmates would.)

    A lot of singers use "stageprompters", which are teleprompters that look like speaker monitors, so that they can see the song lyrics while on stage. One company selling these cites Robert Plant as a user. I heard Steven Tyler talk about using them for old songs like "Seasons of Wither" with a lot of lyrics he could easily forget. There have been still photos circling the Internet of Katy Perry, AC/DC, and Miley Cyrus (separately) using teleprompters for their lyrics. (Often the prompters are there just-in-case and so may be running but not looked at by the singer.)

    I wonder if Dylan uses them. I have no idea. But he has lots of songs with hundreds of words in them---that's a lot to keep straight night after night (esp as his set-list varies), even though he wrote all those words. I've read that Sinatra used them late in his career, but he was singing songs he did not write (though he would have learned them by ear.) Given all the distractions that can take place during a live performance, and also the reality that some nights you're going to be worn out and worried about some off-stage matter, I'm not bothered by this.

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by fep
    Any idea how long it will take before the interface is available?
    I have a power conditioner I've ordered that is in the same status. With all these products backordered I wonder if the companies have to prioritize and tool up for each product one at a time.
    None. The order is "processing" with no timetable for shipping or delivery listed.

    UPDATE: went to the website, signed in to my account, and entered a chat with a customer service rep named Chris. He said that 6/24 is the date they expect to ship the interface to me from their warehouse. I should have it a few days after that. (UPS Ground.) So I should be in business by month's end.

  16. #15

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    File cabinet! What a great idea. Maybe start a thread in Gear and Gizmo's when you get it :)

    Funny thing about Dylan lyrics: I was interested in him for a year or two as a young teener. I learned several of his songs back then. If I hear the music I can retrieve almost all the lyrics to Subterranean Homesick even though I haven't played it myself in over 50 years. It's some sort of stream you tap into. Same goes for old TV theme-songs and jingles. Weird...

    Have you ever seen that documentary about a classical pianist that got some sort of brain infection that erased his ability to make short-term memories? He couldn't remember what happened a minute ago, couldn't remember who anybody was even though they were re-introduced a minute before, but could perform whole sonatas flawlessly from memory. Really weird...

  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by ccroft
    File cabinet! What a great idea. Maybe start a thread in Gear and Gizmo's when you get it

    Funny thing about Dylan lyrics: I was interested in him for a year or two as a young teener. I learned several of his songs back then. If I hear the music I can retrieve almost all the lyrics to Subterranean Homesick even though I haven't played it myself in over 50 years. It's some sort of stream you tap into. Same goes for old TV theme-songs and jingles. Weird...
    Memory is strange. But musical memories seem unusually strong. That is, many elderly people who rarely speak and seem to process almost no new information, can, when prompted by a recording, recall songs from their childhood.

    I can recall a lot of Dylan lyrics too. When I was 18, I used to sing in a bar and would do everything from "Blood On The Tracks" except "Meet Me In The Morning." (Ironically, the song with the fewest lyrics!) I still recall a lot of them.

    Yet I sometimes forget the words to my own songs! (I think it is because I didn't learn them through hearing them repeatedly but through writing them. #ven if I sing them several times, I'm not sure it makes the same sort of impression as hearing them on a record several times.)

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes
    Memory is strange. But musical memories seem unusually strong. That is, many elderly people who rarely speak and seem to process almost no new information, can, when prompted by a recording, recall songs from their childhood.

    I can recall a lot of Dylan lyrics too. When I was 18, I used to sing in a bar and would do everything from "Blood On The Tracks" except "Meet Me In The Morning." (Ironically, the song with the fewest lyrics!) I still recall a lot of them.

    Yet I sometimes forget the words to my own songs! (I think it is because I didn't learn them through hearing them repeatedly but through writing them. #ven if I sing them several times, I'm not sure it makes the same sort of impression as hearing them on a record several times.)
    Another memory thing, at least for me. If I learn a song off a recording I retain it better than if I learn it from sheet music.

  19. #18

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    Heard from Musician's Friend again. Now they expect to ship the digital audio interface on 14 July. Dang.

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by fep View Post
    Another memory thing, at least for me. If I learn a song off a recording I retain it better than if I learn it from sheet music.
    That is what I was calling the similarity between learning by ear and composing.

    A distinctive difference in memory depends on whether the objects and interactions are sourced as internal vs external. Learning a tune by sheet music is an external representation that you attempt to internalize. Learning a tune by ear, the objects and interactions of your internal representations are already internal in the sense that you are forming an organization from elements that are already part of yourself, very much like when composing.

    It it much easier, natural, and familiar to recall organization you have constructed from elements already of your own mind.

  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by pauln View Post
    It it much easier, natural, and familiar to recall organization you have constructed from elements already of your own mind.
    Is there any evidence for this? Aside from your own reported case, which I do not doubt but nonetheless must regard as anecdotal.

    Do actors find it easier to memorize their own memoirs and correspondence than the dialogue of Shakespeare or Tennessee Williams or Quentin Tarrantino?

    I should think the latter would be easier to memorize, though I am not an actor and have not memorized lines to perform a play. Though I did once forget the words to a song I wrote during a live performance; I recovered so well that some in the audience thought I faked forgetting them but no, I did not. Apparently I am not alone: here is a list of 25 singers who forgot the words to their own songs during a live performance: Singers Who Forgot Their Own Lyrics on Stage So at least it seems demonstrated that composing something is no guarantee of remembering it.

    I don't think anything you or I or anyone else alive will write would be easier for us to remember than the melody of "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star." How could it?

    Composing is a slippery business. It is not, at least not always, like learning by ear. Sometimes you DON'T hear it in advance and you're just tinkering on the guitar or piano. You take stabs at it. And some melodies---even Irving Berlin was known to do this---change a bit in the writing. One's first draft is not necessarily the final one. (In cases like this it would be distracting to recall the false starts, wrong turns, and subtle dynamic changes in between the original impulse and the final result----a memory that kept all that present in one's mind would be a perverse burden.)

    Sometimes you don't even know you're composing. You're playing and hit an unusual chord voicing (-Duke Ellington said this often happened to him as he passed the piano on his way to bed after a performance; next thing he knew, the sun was coming up and he had a new song in the works) or are taking a solo on a 12-bar blues and are struck by the strength of a phrase, or---and this is common for me but may not be for others---hitting something that is NOT quite right but rather, suggestive that something near at hand might sound really good and fumbling around until that is found, and voila, you have a bit of something that could be part of something bigger (Intro? Main riff? Countermelody? Bass line? Verse? Chorus? Bridge? Too early to tell...)

    We know from composers who have written about their work that it sometimes takes a long time to finish piece. Some composers never finish certain pieces. (Others talk about the importance of developing the habit of finishing pieces and moving along to the next one.) This is not at all like learning by ear. In learning by ear, the piece is done when you start to work on it. In composing, there is no piece to remember yet, there is no final form, there is no "naming of parts" (-from a poem by Henry Reed that I recall learning in high school 45 years ago)

    Curiously, some classical musicians say the best (and fastest) way to memorize music is to learn it backwards. (This applies to learning from a score, though the method can also be used with etudes and technical exercises as well.) The opposite of the way one normally hears the piece.
    How to Memorize Music Fast by Practicing Songs Backwards | StringKick

  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes View Post
    Is there any evidence for this? Aside from your own reported case, which I do not doubt but nonetheless must regard as anecdotal.
    Who knows how anyone does it except ourselves, and usually not that either.

    "In learning by ear, the piece is done when you start to work on it."

    When I start, the external representation of the piece is "done", but the process of internalizing it is a construction of an internal representation yet to be done.

    It comes down to the method; when I learn from sheet music or charts (on other instruments), those external representations have to be converted into something internal, the process tending to be "additive" in a oversimplified sense of adding that instance of musical organisation to memory.

    Learning by ear for me is much less of a conversion, a more direct process of recognizing and mapping the external representation (heard) to the elements of my accumulated stores of internal representation (mind's ear). These mappings are generally immediate because the internal representations are of the same kind as the external - how they sound. To me, it feels like I use the same mental functions to listen to music, play music, and compose music.

    It is fast for me, but that comes from time doing it. Your description of composing as including trial stabs, false starts, ongoing editing, etc. is part of the learning by ear process in the beginning and continues to occur later when encountering novel things for which one's mapping attempts fail because there is no internal representation with which to connect very well - that calls for the "additive" process of constructing memory of new experience to provide a target for the mapping connection. So with time, the learning by ear process becomes increasingly more associative and distributive of existing internal elements. In time, I find that composing is similar.

    The backwards learning is nice for performers, especially for technical or otherwise difficult passages. The primary effect of learning something backwards is that "you have practiced the upcoming measure more than the present one" - at any point in the passage the music ahead has been subject to more practice and work, so you enjoy the confidence of playing into a gradient of music you know increasing better (rather than the usual feeling of playing into increasing less confidence).