MUSICAL MEMORY - online book

A System To Cultivate The Musical Memory For Musicians.

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8                                                       MUSICAL MEMORY.
14.   Hitherto we have considered the faculty of Musical Memory in what may be termed its purely mental manifestations, and quite apart from its employment in connection with practical execution. We shall now consider it in relation to that; and we have chosen the piano as our single representative instrument on account of its popularity, although many of the principles stated with special reference to piano-playing may be readily adapted to the requirements of the modes of execution belonging to other musical instruments.
15.   The question which now presents itself for solution is this:— Assuming a pianist to possess the necessary powers for playing a piece from memory, does he, as far as the memorization of it is
•concerned, rely entirely upon the power of pure musical memory which we have described in the previous chapter ? Does he retain each and
•every individual sound in his mind and translate them on to the key­board as he progresses ? Before we can attempt to answer this question we must glance at the operation of pianoforte playing. The playing of the piano is a most complex act. It is possible for our fingers, ears,
•eyes and intellect to be all more or less actively engaged throughout the
progress of a piece. Now, as a result of this, when we desire to play from memory, the forms of memory belonging to these various powers are all available in some degree for the purpose. Such being the case, it would be unusual to find one special form altogether relied upon, but rather two or three operating simultaneously, assisting and controlling •one another, although perhaps, to us, almost unconsciously. It is possible for pianists who possess an ear of ideal sensibility and retentive power, to retain elaborate and lengthy compositions, with all their details, entirely by their unaided musical memory ; and, provided their powers of execution and concentration are of an equally high order, their performances would probably be an instantaneous translation of the mental picture they possess on to the keyboard. But as of the many pianists who play from memoKy, a small minority possess an ear which, both by natural fineness and Subsequent training, is equal to such a task, it is evident that many cannot rely absolutely on any single form <of musical memory.
16.   Considering, however, the possibility of the employment of several widely contrasted forms of memory, it is not surprising to find that those
•who play from memory frequently possess no exact knowledge of the
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