Anyone else ever forget how to play one of your own songs?

Skip to the bottom

  • @ballyhoot  Mar 10

    This happens to me more than I'd like to admit. I usually try to write down what chords I'm playing but some times the chords for a particular section of a song are made up on the fly during a recording session and I forget to write it down; or I've written one set of chords but I modify the progression while recording and forget to write down the changes. Then later, I decide I want to play such and such song and can't find the chords or I can only find the wrong ones.... this wouldn't be such a problem if I had a good ear and could easily reconstruct a song by listening to it, but alas I don't.

    Anyone else? Or am I on my own with this one?

  • @steviez  Mar 10

    All. The. Time. 😀 I consider myself to have a good ear for picking stuff back up again, but there is a reason I sing or play EVERYTHING into whatever recorder is handy instead of writing it down - and I have to call out the chord changes out loud when I record them as well. And if I modify while I'm recording scratch tracks I'll stop and then jot down the changes and then pick it up from there. If I'm actually tracking the song I'll have to pray I remember the changes and note them afterwords, or if I'm recording direct in on electric guitar, for example, I always have a live mic going for making audible notes for future reference.

  • @metalfoot  Mar 10

    You mean we're supposed to remember the song we just made? Oh. 😉

    Joking aside, generally I remember the chord structures of most of my songs (simple chords for the win!) but it's the words I can't remember... one of the biggest barriers to me ever doing a live show is that I'd need all the words in front of me, which looks less than professional, somehow.

  • @dasbinky  Mar 10

    I tend to forget them while performing them on stage. If you're gonna screw up, go big or go home.

    But during the recording processing I try to take detailed chord notes. I've had a few where I have to go back and reverse-engineer a part (wait, what's an Abm7add+5?) , but my day job requires a lot of documentation and I try to apply that to my writing. Sometimes. Except when I forget. 😉

  • @tcelliott  Mar 10

    All the time. What I really hate is when I use some strange fingering and then I wanna go back and figure out what it is.

  • @vomvorton  Mar 10

    If I want to play any of my songs again, I have to go back and figure them out from the recordings. I should really start writing this stuff down, but when you're on a tight time schedule AND pretty lazy, something has to give...

  • @darcistrutt  Mar 10

    I remember thinking my son was crazy to not remember how to play a song when he WROTE it! I mean come on! Ha!!! I have the chords above my lyric, and need to listen to my demo multiple times before I can play my creations. Of course right now I'm listening to this FAWM's babies over and over so have those still... 😀

  • @kevinemmrich  Mar 10

    In fawm, I never really "learn" the songs to begin with. It is just a general idea so I can get through it (with chords and lyrics in front of me) without making any disastrous mistakes. Therefore I declare that I never forget anything that I didn't actually know!

  • @lemonstar Mar 10

    A song I did for FAWM 2008 used an alternative tuning (something I'd never attempted to use before) - over the years I had a few attempts to work it out and didn't get anywhere - I finally managed to crack it over xmas 2016! The problem is that you have to move so fast from one song to another and having an alternative tuning does lock you into working with that tuning until you either abandon the notion or finish something - I don't have another guitar (left in standard tuning) I can pick up and use to dabble with ideas for other songs - this year I tried a series of different tunings and while I got some words I might be able to use I didn't get anything else finished - really, if I'm going to work with alternative tunings I need another guitar which I can leave in standard tuning (actually my guitar is always a semitone down FWIW).

  • @spinhead  Mar 10

    I make demos so I can remember the songs at all. Otherwise I'd be writing whole new songs because I wouldn't remember how they went. No way to remember 14 (or 30) songs in 28 days.

    Unless you know how to write musical notation or record a demo, I can't imagine remembering how a song you wrote back on the 3rd goes.

    When I perform it's a standing joke that I'm going to vamp before the last verse while I remember the words. About 3 times a show. New stuff, old familiars, doesn't matter, I forget something, total blank.

  • @jamkar  Mar 10

    Why in the world would I want to play them again? But seriously,
    I have, and I can, somehow read my own scribbles, and I have the time to try the fingerings. Why in the world would I want to though?

  • @brrrse  Mar 10

    And in the Filk music community - there's a name for it - it's known as Frank Hayes disease, because Frank Hayes is well known for forgetting his own song in the middle of performing it. He's also a very talented writer and performer. 😀

  • @boyatheart  Mar 10

    All of them. Almost immediately! Well, not quite, but pretty much.
    They all need to be relearned and adapted for less instruments if I want to play them live too.

  • @michaelepic Mar 10

    Since I've been stuck with only lyrics for years, sometimes I forget how to sing them. A lot of times I'll forget about a song I wrote because it didn't have the same ZING to it as the best I've written, and then I'll find it and go WOW! This was a great song idea! Then I forget how I would have sang it and how I wrote it lol

    So then I rewrite it, update it and move on. I promise you I have songs I've rewritten 2-3 times haha

  • @ustaknow Mar 10

    Yes, well sort of... especially when I am trying to change the box I am in.

    It's why I have all the "performance notes" on/with the lyrics, even as posted here, -- I don't clean it up, I post it all. ( -Someone said they liked it, so started to leave it all in raw)

    I developed my own shorthand, so to speak, that others say they "get" (?). Being a "drummer", I've marked up songs in a combination of Lead-sheet tab-ish markers (still easier than Standard Notation).

    There were songs, not played for a year-ish, and so glad I had handwritten on the paper, how played, Note to start on, which Note in the Triad, in that Rhythm I was singing. Then it all comes back.

    I had a few riffy, rhythms as backing, double stops-ish I even Neck-Noted out... saved me a few times. I had no idea "how" I did it... then did.

    Moreover, when "writing" new... I make sure now, that I have the Phone handy. The voice, feel, syncopation... gets vaporized fast. And, I am not the only one.

    So, derUgo 😀

  • @chipwithrow  Mar 10

    Almost every one of you mentioned something that has happened to me! And just this morning, I wrote a song for the skirmish group - about 5 minutes to come up with words and music. I played it through a couple of times but didn't record it, and then I had to leave for a couple hours.
    As I drove, I had the melody in my head. But by the time I got home, I couldn't remember it. Fortunately a look at the lyric sheet, and only having 3 chords to remember, jogged my poor short-term memory.

  • @roddy  Mar 10

    I have forgotten lots of songs. The problem is worse with FAWM or 50/90 when I'll finish a piece quickly and then move on to the next before I've learned it properly. GarageBand will print out notation for a MIDI keyboard track but can't do guitar chords. I wish I could write music notation but for the moment I'm making short videos on my phone to record what I'm doing on a guitar.

  • @ballyhoot  Mar 10

    Thanks for sharing everyone. It's nice to know that it's not just me. 😀

  • @zecoop  Mar 10

    All the time... My issue is that I play by ear a lot and make up chords... If I don't write down where my fingers are I won't remember later. Don't feel like you are alone, lol

  • @radicalmguy  Mar 10

    I can't play any of my songs at all, even right when I write them. Checkmate! haha

  • @metalfoot  Mar 10

    *throws away his plan to ask @zecoop for the chords to Northern Lights*

  • @izaakalexander  Mar 10

    Yes! Last year, when I lived overseas with nothing but a mandolin I realized I wanted to play all these mandolin songs that I wrote while traveling during 50/90 challenges, but I didn't know a single one of them! I had to listen closely to the demos, most often poorly recorded phone demos, and learn all my own songs. Learning them took far longer than writing them did... the good thing is that the work paid off and I know have a mandolin set of songs that near memorized and performance ready. I've only played the set at one show so far though. Newer songs remain riskier that older ones somehow.

  • @iveg Mar 10

    I tried to figure out one of my songs from last year. I got the verse and prechorus, but not the chorus. It's a song I recorded, and I've listened to it a LOT in the past month. Fortunately I did have the chords written down. Other songs I'm going to have to slog through note by note, esp for riffs and solos. I thought I couldn't remember my lyrics, but I've been practicing some of my favorites. I might have enough for a set, now.

  • @johnstaples  Mar 10

    I came up with a great plan to finally fix this problem. I'd set up a video and record my playing while also recording my singing. I'd have it all...instrument...capo position if

    Yeah, but I never do that!

    I do record everything and often will speak the chords and key if I remember. And I have lyrics in the computer.

  • @zecoop  Mar 10

    Same here @johnstaples !! Maybe someday I will actually video them. Lol

    @metalfoot - I wrote that one down! When I get home I'll send it. It uses a partial capo which you should get because they are awesome.

  • @lemonstar Mar 10

    @johnstaples I've also done that quite frequently - record video or just audio on my camera and play the chords either naming them or spelling out the fret numbers for each string.

  • @steviez  Mar 10

    @spinhead I hear you loud and clear RE forgetting your song WHILE you're playing it. My biggest stumbling block on almost every song I perform live is the first line. I've found I actually need to say the first line out loud to myself before I even start playing or risk having to run through the intro 2-3-4 times before it comes back. Also any verse that comes after a chorus as well can sometimes disappear from the screen in my head. Whenever I used to vamp mid-song I'd always yell "dance remix" - to the point that when someone that knows my work will now yell that out if they realize that's what happened. Keeps it fun an interesting though 😀

  • @musicsongwriter Mar 10

    Every time I play any piece I composed I play it in a different way. When my dad was alive he would keep asking me to write my music down as he was noticing my music never sounded the same way. Under his influence I wrote a few pieces. Sorry dad, not often writing my music these days... I find it takes me a long while to work out what I hear in my head and during fawm I can record a composition in about an hour or so. But of course if the music is written or printed I could always look at it while playing. Having said that, I often find myself wanting to change what was written so I think there is no perfect way on how to go about it. Memorizing everything is impossible though. Maybe just some songs? Also I find an atmosphere in the song depends on where it's played/performed. Sometimes I try to shorten it as I feel the listeners might get bored with my romantic pieces lol.

  • @timfatchen  Mar 11

    I have difficulty playing the same song once.

  • @mikeskliar  Mar 11

    lol @timfatchen .. and yeah, i have a horrible memory for my own lyric! (partially as i write alot of words sometimes, with phrasing as such that if i hesitate more then a half second, the timing is thrown off! not always, but....) as for songs with basic chords, i usually can listen to a recording and figure it out, but those few alternate or open tuning things? yeah, some are lost forever! I had a really interesting musical accompaniment in open tuning to a song from 15 years ago, i listened recently and have no idea even where to start to re-learn it, i think I tuned the low E string all the way to C, but who knows the rest!

  • @sherrycanary  Mar 11

    I don't learn half of them. I keep lyrics and chord changes.

  • @mrblitz000 Mar 12

    it seems i often take the 'jimmy page approach' and re-learn while doing a take or playing live... 'oh, it doesn't sound right... well hang around for the 2nd or 3rd stanza and it should be like a well-oiled machine...'

  • @chrishope  Mar 12

    much of the above, and after many lost melodies , the other day i found the sung melody on the piano and wrote it down . 2 days later played it but it wasn't quite the same as i remembered.. some nuance was gone!? if if dont play it and play it into my memory immediately (and write the chords down) i lose it . But i think they flow back later if the muse decrees ?

  • @w1n Mar 12

    I have problems remembering lyrics, so always have to relearn them before a concert, and have more than once ended up having to sing the same verse or lines twice or thrice in a song. Not as bad at remembering chords and melodies, but still I often have to listen to parts in solo on recordings to remember what I played.
    So last years FAWM and 50/90 I was really structured, wrote down the chords with tabs for odd tunings, after spending to much time reverse engineering old demo songs for recording or live performance. But this year I've been to busy and lazy to bother so guess I would need to spend some time to relearn them if I want to play them.

  • @andygetch  Mar 13

    Very often I look at the lead sheet of a FAWM or 5090 song and draw a blank on the melody, tempo, etc. If I am at home I can listen to the recording. If I am at a gig or the singer-songerwriter circle, I move ono to another song. For memorized songs, yes I also occasionally forget a chunk of a song I have played many times.

  • @radioovermoscow Mar 13

    I literally couldn't tell you how to play any of my songs... Hence why I like to add a fair chunk of programming in the demo stage - bass usually - as it helps a lot years down the track when I get around to recording it properly.

  • @jamesstaubes  Mar 13

    Oh definitely. The thing is with the FAWM songs I never play them all the way through. I record each section of a song, get it good enough and move on. So outside of the acoustic one takes I don't play a song all the way through. This makes it hard to know how to play the song. But I am playing at a FAWM over party this weekend and I had to learn 4 songs. It was harder than one would think.

Leave a Message. Log in to FAWM or sign up first...