The Official KSAND Kent Sandvik Web Site

Producer, guitar player, composer and maker of noise.

Memorizing Lyrics

Posted on | September 19, 2008 | No Comments

2101620015_fd1c3480e3.jpgI don’t know if you are like me, but I have a hard time memorizing lyrics, even simple ones. At the same time, the older you get, the better it is to work with this to keep the brain in shape (a form of brain exercise.)

There are many kinds of techniques how to memorize lyrics, associations, chaining of pictures in head and so forth. Here’s one technique I constructed yesterday, depending on how you are as a learner, what style, it might work or not in your case.

Many texts really either have the same patterns sprinkled out here and there, or a certain keyword. I will use two examples. To start with J.J Cale’s Cocaine, it really has three verses with a simple chorus that is easy to learn. Concerning the three verses, each has one or two important keywords, I isolate these out. Thus, “If you want to hang out, you’ve got to take her out” has the pair, “hang out, take her out.” So I just memorize this and it’s easy to remember the rest of the verse by association. Similarly the next section will be “get down“, “on the ground“. As you see the verse already has the repetition starting point “If you want” so it’s easy to just ignore that when memorizing and keeping it around.

This does not mean that you skip memorizing the whole verse, but it makes it easier to remember the verse, especially when you are in front of a mike and have to start doing something…

If we look at Neil Young’s Heart of Gold,  you could see patterns in the verse such as “live, give“,”miner“, “expressions, never give“. And again the chorus should be easy to memorize.

You could even get up one level and give each verse one single keyword a generic theme, in the case of J. J Cale’s Cocaine again, the verses could be extracted to:  “party“, “down“, “news“, “day“, “thing“, “fact.

And remember, sometimes the original artists forget lyrics and ad lib, there are few in the audience that would even catch such situations, better than look dumb-founded and not sing. Besides, there’s something charming about not just reinterpreting the music, but also the lyrics.


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