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I would just like to know how one would go about memorizing long song lyrics. 10 minute + epics for example.

More specifically something like this: (Crystallised)

http://www.darklyrics.com/lyrics/haken/restoration.html#3

This song is about 18 minutes and the lyrics dont really repeat. There are some motifs here and there that repeat. But the song just keeps progressing throughout.

The longest songs I have ever memorized were like 2 mins short songs. Lyrics don't stick to me like music. I have a sister who can memorize lyrics after listening to songs only a few times.

That's how it is for me when it comes to melodies/rhythms/music.

  • not an answer... but I'd google for how actors do it. There are several techniques. – Tetsujin Mar 8 '15 at 18:59
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Wow - that song has a ton of words! And as you said, there is not really a chorus that repeats over and over. This one would be a challenge for anyone and it will take some persistent practice. Storing these lyrics into long term memory will best be accomplished by spacing the learning process over a longer period of time rather than cramming it in in a short period of time.

It has long been thought by many educators that different people learn best in different ways. Some people are visual learners (learn by seeing), others are aural learners (learn by hearing/listening) while others are kinesthetic learners (learn by touching or doing).

This theory of different learning styles has been challenged in recent times and it's likely that we all learn in more than one way so it won't hurt to use all methods to help you. Perhaps you may find the one that seems to work better for you personally - but to be safe - try a combination of all. The methods detailed below employ all three of the learning styles mentioned above so you can't miss and are likely to learn in all three ways to some extent.

One thing you can start with is hand writing the lyrics on a piece of paper. This will take a little time, but the process of connecting your brain to your hand to write the words may help with memorization. This will help more if you are a kinesthetic learner but won't hurt either way.

The next exercise I will suggest has a dual purpose and accomplishes two things. Print the lyrics out so you can read them and place them in front of you. Prepare to make a recording of yourself with a recording device such as your phone, a digital recorder, or the sound recorder on your computer, or a web cam (or whatever you have available). Play the song in the background while singing it into your recorder so that your vocal is louder than the music in the background.

Concentrate on clear diction so that you can clearly understand the words. This is not a demo of your ability to perform the song. You are going to use this recording to help memorize the lyrics (words). So don't worry about being perfectly in key. Focus more on saying the right words - but sing in key to the extent you can.

The act of making the recording while reading the lyrics will advance the memorization process to some extent - just from the act of singing the lyrics. This will work for both kinesthetic and visual learners because you are reading (visual) while singing (doing). You might end up messing up on a few takes so this process will involve some repetition to get a good clean error free take. Remember - you will have the lyrics in front of you so it should not take too many takes to get them all correct.

Once you have your recording that features a clear, understandable lead vocal of you singing the song, use an ap or a program such as Audacity Audacity free download to convert your file to an MP3 for playback from any device that will play MP3 files. If you have a CD player, you can burn a CD and use the same recording as track 1, track 2, track 3, etc. for as many repeats as you can fit on your CD.

There are a number of different music player programs including i-Tunes Free i-Tunes download that will allow you to play back your recording in a loop mode that will repeat over and over. What you want to do with the CD or MP3 is play it over and over and over. Spend some time actively listening to your recording a few times, then practice singing along with your recording without looking at the lyrics. This repetition process will help tremendously if you are an aural learner (and will help some no matter what learning style you respond best to). The act of singing and listening will also help if you are a kinesthetic learner (singing).

Also, when you are driving around running errands or driving to and from work or school, you can play this over your car radio with either a CD or MP3. Play it at home when you are cooking or washing dishes or getting dressed. The more you hear it, the more of it will sink in.

Listen (aural) to your recording while reading (visual) and singing along (kinesthetic) every night right before you go to sleep. This will program the lyrics into your subconscious where it will be processed by your brain during sleep. Sleep is when the brain fortifies the link between the neurons which is why sleep is so important. Read more about how your memory is improved during sleep here: Wikipedia - Sleep and Memory

After a few days of listening while doing other tasks, listening and singing along, and listening while reading the lyrics right before sleep, try to sing as much of the song as you can from memory and make a note of the parts that give you trouble. Then you can use a free audio cutter program like the ones recommended here: Best Free Audio Trimming Programs or Audacity to cut out the part or parts you are having the most trouble with into short tracks - so you can focus strictly on those parts without having to listen to the entire song.

You can also create your own Mnemonic association devices by linking words from one verse to words from another to remember which verse comes next. For example you might use a phrase such as: "The crystallizing snow is reminiscent of a splintered crystal bell" - to help you remember the order of the four verses that start with derivations of the words used in that made up sentence.

Remember, you are not likely to convert something like this into long term memory in just a day or two. You will need to practice through repetition at various times during the day over a period of many days or even weeks before you can expect this to really sink in. But once you have it as part of long term memory, you will never forget it.

You can do it! Good luck.

  • 1
    Some great info there. One small thing - although there are different ways of learning (visual, aural, etc.) and people may have their preferences, the idea that people learn better with a technique that's meshed to them (such that you can characterize an individual person as e.g. kinaesthetic) seems to have fallen out of favour a bit at the moment (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Learning_styles reflects this.) Of course you may not agree! – topo morto Mar 8 '15 at 23:03
  • @topomorto Yep - I agree that most people learn in more than one way which is why I suggested that all methods should be employed and that to some extent, all would be effective. But thanks for the link. I think my answer can be improved thanks to your suggestion - will edit now. Thanks. – Rockin Cowboy Mar 9 '15 at 1:11
  • Theories come and go and who knows, maybe the 'different style learners' (as opposed to learning) thing will come back into fashion. It's for sure that different methods will reinforce each other to an extent. I've heard that taste and smell are the two senses that most directly trigger associations - I should try to come up with a way of learning based on those! – topo morto Mar 9 '15 at 8:04
  • What seems to work well for me and most people I know is to remember the lyrics in at least two ways: for me, I have a fairly good audio memory so I use that, and I remember the gist (meaning) of the lyrics as well - ie the storyline of a song, whcih gives it another dimension. Using two pointers to the lyrics seems to give more than twice the chance of remembering them. If they're written out, the sight of them on a page helps too- which lends weight to your note that a mash of methods is going to work well. – user2808054 Mar 10 '15 at 13:52
  • I've also found writing just the start of each verse in large letters is a visual cue (easy to remmember the visual topology of the page) and is enouigh to work out which section comes when. – user2808054 Mar 10 '15 at 13:53
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Just to add to the great post from RC - there's lots of imagery in that song. In cases like that, one thing I sometimes do is visualise the scene that the song is describing. Then when singing the song, all I have to do is get the picture in my head again, say what's going on in the scene, and out come the lyrics (hopefully!)

  • 1
    Glad you added that - excellent point! Some lyrics lend themselves well to the scene construction. – Rockin Cowboy Mar 9 '15 at 1:13
  • If they don't lend themselves to that it can be a bit disappointing lol – user2808054 Mar 10 '15 at 13:55

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