MUSICAL MEMORY - online book

A System To Cultivate The Musical Memory For Musicians.

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36
MUSICAL MEMORY.
67.   The pursuits of individuals, when not influenced by outward circumstances or necessity, tend in the direction of their natural aptitudes and abilities. We prefer to do what we can do well, with the least amount of trouble—or what we think we can do well, for a "good performance " is but a relative term. It is only matured judgment, or necessity, which induces, us to devote ourselves to what is not only not pleasant, but may be repugnant—often not to what we can do well, but to what pays well. Thus, as a rule, our interests follow the bent of our superior faculties, or our special local endowments. The superiority of any organ of sense, either in its natural condition, or because education and opportunities have given it a more complete development than the others, inevitably carries with it a special interest in the class of sensation with which it is associated, and the development of a memory for corresponding impressions invariably follows. This is a rough and general idea of our intellectual tendencies when left to take their own course. The powers which we possess in a superior degree, unconsciously direct our attention in special directions, and force us to view what is presented to us in a particular light, and therefore to remember it most easily in that aspect Is it unreasonable to suggest that this kind of natural law supplies the most probable and satisfactory basis for an ultimate principle of selection with regard to the various forms of memory which may be employed upon a passage of piano music ?
68.  To calculate to any definite extent the amount of assistance supplied by the various forms of memory is quite impossible, yet, after making due allowance for the special nature of music, the requirements of musical performance, the inequalities of the retentive capacities of the powers employed, and the various accidental circumstances which may influence the result, we think the statement of this principle in the following general terms supplies no unsatisfactory solution to the problem under discussion, thus :—In memorizing piano music we shall employ and rely upon the several forms of memory possible, in a greater or less degree according to the relative superiority of them in us {both natural and acquired), and according as we find the employment of one form easier and more reliable than another. A kind of instinctive feeling induces us to unconsciously select some forms in preference to others, and we employ that which most readily appears on the scene to help us whenever anything is presented for memorization.
69.  The relative superiority of our faculties, to which this principle of selection conforms, will influence us in our manner of regarding passages, and cause individuals to look at the same passage from quite different standpoints. Thus one who has dived deeply into the Theory of Music may view passages in quite another light to one who has but a super­ficial knowledge of it; and while one with a fine and retentive ear may rely chiefly on musical memory, another who possesses a dull and imperfectly trained ear, although able to say within reasonable limits-what a passage is not, may by this faculty be unable to supply any further information as to what it is. But whichever form of memory we seem to rely most upon, the instances where such was working, entirely alone and without assistance from other forms, would be rare and, in many instances, unsafe.
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