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Music Memory - Melody And a Hidden Production

(Why are we able to remember whole songs?)


If I say to you "Think of Chop Sticks" in the context of a conversation about music; and you heard that keyboard exercise before; you will likely be able to hum and recite a few notes of it. At the very least you will accurately hum the correct sequence of notes that make up some portion or segment of the overall arrangement.

This is because of music memory. It's not ordinary memory; its memory which allows you to aurally serialize a sequence of sounds in your mind. For instance; on a very basic level; If you know where 'C' is; you can remember (in your musical citation / thought) where the note before 'C' was and you can even predict where the note after 'C' will be... (this includes naturals, sharps and flats used in a given context) Now Lets suppose I were to ask you about Marvin Gaye's version of : *" I Heard it Through The Grapevine". Listen to Marvin Gaye sing it ocapela; Here

If you had never heard this melody before...until now; all you heard was a mere melody. But, someone who knows this song by its full production will hear and grasp a more sophisticated sequential memory of the melody by virtue of identifiable, nuanced changes within the production surrounding the melody. As such, a novice listener (with few exceptions), who hasnt heard the full production of the song; will not likely be able to recite the full sequence of that melody. (How can one recite that which has not revealed an explicit foundation yet?) To Illustrate, now that you heard the melody; hear the whole production of that song and note that Marvin uses the same exact melody : I Heard it Through The Grapevine

Does the melody make much better sense now? (Im just saying)

Okay then... All this to make a point in the name of song-writing; Songwriters; being architects of melody and production understand that melody AND production together complete the significance and ultimate value of a song. In this case, Marvin Gaye didnt write this song, but instead, covered it; owned it by applying and engineering his own nuance to it. He made it a full-on classic for us to enjoy.

Take it one step further. As songwriters; we create/write the melody AND the production arrangement . Its an extraordinary feat. We all have quite the music memory skills; if I say so myself.


* "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" is a song written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong for Motown Records in 1966. The first recording of the song to be released was produced by Whitfield for Gladys Knight & the Pips and released as a single in September 1967.

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