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When memorizing music, I typically use existing patterns. These are often a scale (sequence of notes) or a chord sequence (sequence of finger positions, giving 3 or 4 notes at a time). It's probably a good idea to use these patterns, because music theory requires that they appear.

However, I have trouble memorizing the Carcassi Op. 60 no. 7 study (tab, sheet). I can mostly memorize everything except bars 13-15 and 25-27 (or 24-26, if you look at the tab). The problematic bars contain a sequence of 2 notes at a time, which don't seem to be parts of either a chord or a scale. I suspect that music theory has something to say about why these notes are there, and I can use it to memorize them.

Here are bars 13-15 for reference:

E|-------------------------------|------------------0-0-0--------|
B|----------2-2-2---3-3-3--------|--0-0-0---4-4-4-----------3-3-3|
G|--2-2-2-------------------5-5-5|------------------------1------|
D|3-------2-------0-------4------|5-------3-------2--------------|
A|-------------------------------|-------------------------------|
E|-------------------------------|-------------------------------|

E|-------------------------------
B|--1-1-1---1-1-1---0-0-0--------
G|2-------------------------2-2-2
D|----------------0-------1------
A|--------0----------------------
E|-------------------------------

So, how can I make reason of notes that appear in pairs? Or, if there is no way to do so, how can I memorize such a sequence effectively?

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There is a distinct pattern going on in this (known as a sequence) which is actually easier to see in the sheet music for it. I'll include it so it can easily be referenced.

enter image description here

Let's look at the bass note in the first measure. The first three notes are just descending in the key (A minor) then jumps up a major 3rd to "lead" to the next note. The upper part stats a major third apart from the bass note and goes up a major third, then up a minor second to make an octave with the bass then down a major second. This pattern repeats a note higher in the key for the second measure.

The last measure starts as the other did, but quickly deviates by jumping down an octave. During the jump the upper note stays the same. The bass then jumps up a fourth and the higher part descends by one note in the key. For the last note the bass again is leading you to the next note this time chromatically though and the upper part descends by one note in the key.

Bars 25 to 27 can be look at as an arpeggiated chord progression. Again I will include the section so it is easy to see.

enter image description here

The first half of bar 25 can be looked at as an D#dim/F# going to an E7 with no 5th. Bar 26 can be split into 4 different chords the first chord being a Am with no 5th going to a E5 (an E power chord) going to an F with no 5th then going to an Am/C. Bar 27 can also be looked at by the progression Bm7/D with no 5th to B7/D# with no fifth to Am/E to E.

Also since this song has a lower part and a higher part, you should probably try to focus on learning the bass first and then the upper voice so the notes don't seems as random.

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  • 3
    All your points are good, but the last point of all is (to my eyes) the key one: look at the two lines separately. First the lower part — a straightforward classical harmonic bassline, with a very nice natural movement, which should be reasonably tractable to memorise on its own. And then the upper voice, while slightly less melodic in itself, makes sense as filling in a harmony over the bass. – PLL Nov 3 '14 at 21:28
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Having looked through my archives (I bought the studies in 1978), the bits are typical Carcassi studies, using 4 chords- or part chords - per bar. Going purely from the dots rather than tab, : Bar 13 - F, A, D, D7. Bar 14 - G, F7, E, E7 are chord shapes which will give you the appropriate notes. The iffy one for me is the F7, which is denoted with an F natural then 3 D#s. F7 should contain Eb, but in tab form who cares ? The tune is in A minor, so all of those chords fit to theory.

As a matter that may interest you, it was down as a Grade IV exam piece.

There may well be other chord shapes which contain the notes, so experiment to find some that you are familiar with.

Bar 25 goes - B7 (2nd fret barre) fist 8 semis, then E7 open for last 8.

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I'm not convinced you're asking the proper question. Presumably what you want to achieve is the ability to memorize music -- period. Here's a summary of many discussions I've had with my teachers.

There are several "ways" or stages (not necessarily in any order) a piece can be memorized.

1) follow the sequence purely from the musical sound progression in your head

2) follow the sequence by viewing your "mind's eye" retrieval of the sheet music

3) memorize the interval/chord/timing sequence

4) memorize the physical actions of your body (hands, fingers, or for other instruments, breathing etc).

Then integrate these approaches as best you can.

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  • I don't need general guidance; it's only this specific situation I would like to resolve. Using your designations, I want to develop stage 3 on my example. I understand (more or less) how to do it in more obvious situations (e.g. chord sequence), but my example seems different; chords don't exist or maybe I'm just unable to identify them. – anatolyg Nov 3 '14 at 16:44

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