MUSICAL MEMORY - online book

A System To Cultivate The Musical Memory For Musicians.

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18.  As by the aid of Verbal memory we can retain successions of words, and by Musical memory successions of notes and harmonies, so by the power of memory possessed by our Muscular sense, we are able to retain trains or successions of movements. It is a law of our Intellect that movements, like other forms of sensation, occurring in close succession, tend to bind themselves together; so that after a series has been repeated many times, the revival of one movement will probably revive, in correct order, any others which may follow. We know that the opening phrase of a melody will bring the whole strain before the mind, and that a line of poetry will often recall a stanza; and this " Law of Contiguity," as it is called by Psychologists, is not less true in connection with our Muscular sense or when applied to a series of movements.
19.   Reflex Movements.—But with movements we can proceed further than simply memorising them, so that they can be reproduced by a continuous effort of Will for that special purpose. We can by sufficient repetition gradually convert them into automatic, mechanical or, correctly speaking, reflex actions; that is, we can employ them and rely upon the accurate performance of them while other matters are engrossing our attention. An immense number of our actions, which at one time demanded special care and attention before they could be accurately performed, have by repetition been converted into unconscious-or reflex ones. An example is supplied by the movements employed in dancing. Such a complicated step as that of the Waltz, which is acquired only after much careful repetition, is eventually employed with the greatest accuracy and certainty, quite unconsciously and mechani­cally, and while the attention is devoted entirely to other matters. When for the performance of a series of movements, voluntary attention becomes absolutely unnecessary, such movements may be said to be perfectly acquired.
20.   Muscular Memory and Technique.—In learning to play upon a musical instrument like the piano, which requires rapid and accurate finger movements, the acquisition and memorization of such enters very largely into what is known as the Technical side of our studies. Our earliest efforts are directed to secure correct finger-movements for striking the keys when the hand is in an easy and natural position (five-finger exercises). From this we proceed to acquire facility in making similar movements when the hand is either extended, contracted, or in the position for passing the thumb under (broken chords, scales, etc.), and our frequent repetition of these exercises, and similar ones of a more advanced nature, is not only to ettable us to gain perfect control over the
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