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Best way to memorize classical music song titles and artists in a few days


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#1 dallascowboys

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Posted 18 May 2009 - 12:21 AM

As part of one of my finals, I am required to memorize the titles and composers of 24 classical songs. The format will be that my teacher will play a portion of each song and I'll have to identify each one from there. Does anyone have any tips for learning the songs?

#2 daflubby

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Posted 18 May 2009 - 12:29 AM

Make a CD of all the songs, and put the answers in order on flash cards. Cliche, but cliche for a reason.

#3 dallascowboys

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Posted 18 May 2009 - 01:35 AM

Make a CD of all the songs, and put the answers in order on flash cards. Cliche, but cliche for a reason.


I do already have a cd and a list of the songs. Also, the songs will be in a random order on the test, so I can't just memorize them in order.

#4 Final Starman

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Posted 18 May 2009 - 01:50 AM

Play them on your computer with a playlist set to shuffle.
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#5 AceSXE

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Posted 18 May 2009 - 01:57 AM

Starmans idea sounds like it would work very well. I wish I had something to add but that really sounds like a good idea lol. And just listen to them over and over the next few days.
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#6 JolietJake

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Posted 18 May 2009 - 02:04 AM

Music appreciation? Hope you have a decent memory.

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#7 hopeunknown

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Posted 18 May 2009 - 03:27 AM

I had a similar class. Best bet is to just do what Starman said. Or make up words to the song that make you remember it. haha

#8 180husher

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Posted 18 May 2009 - 03:51 AM

Music appreciation class...god did that class suck. " Easy A " my a$$. I remember the instructor pointing out specific things about each composition that were unique...and those were usually the sections they played for the tests. They won't try to trick you with similar sounding samples, so focus on the primary themes of each piece.

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#9 dafunkk12

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Posted 18 May 2009 - 05:40 AM

Did you grow up on Looney Toons and/or Silly Symphonies? I don't think I'd have been exposed to much classical music if it weren't for them. Maybe find the old cartoons and figure out some sort of mnemonic based on the plot of that particular short.
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#10 Darthjer

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Posted 18 May 2009 - 06:59 AM

I would check online, because I had a thing like that in 6th grade. Maybe somebody has put some of the study charts that we had, for instance, one of the pieces was Bolero and we had a mountain looking thing with some other stuff on it, representing how the piece built up.

Are they famous pieces, like Beethoven's 5th (Dun Dun Dun Dunn) or Copland's Rodeo: Hoedown (Beef, it's what's for dinner) or are they more obscure pieces? Maybe a list for us might help you remember a little, and some folks may have some tips on specifics?

#11 dallascowboys

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Posted 19 May 2009 - 03:05 AM

I'm not going to list all of the songs, but some examples are Beethoven's Allegro con brio: Symphony no. 5 in C minor, Tchaikovsky's Finale: 1812 Overture, Chopin's Waltz no. 6 in D minor "Minute," etc. Most of the songs sound familiar to me, but my problem is memorizing all of the names and being able to associate the song with a 20 or 30 second clip.

#12 Strell

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Posted 19 May 2009 - 03:15 AM

Did you grow up on Looney Toons and/or Silly Symphonies? I don't think I'd have been exposed to much classical music if it weren't for them. Maybe find the old cartoons and figure out some sort of mnemonic based on the plot of that particular short.


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#13 Kapwanil

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Posted 19 May 2009 - 03:58 AM

I'm not going to list all of the songs, but some examples are Beethoven's Allegro con brio: Symphony no. 5 in C minor, Tchaikovsky's Finale: 1812 Overture, Chopin's Waltz no. 6 in D minor "Minute," etc. Most of the songs sound familiar to me, but my problem is memorizing all of the names and being able to associate the song with a 20 or 30 second clip.


I had to do things like these for my undergrad and grad music classes. The most harrowing would be in Romantic Music History at IU, where we had to memorize 120 different pieces across 50 or so composers with full titles in foreign languages, movements, with perfect spelling [read: OH GOD, OH GOD, OH GOD]. Also, dates, random starting points, and only one listen per example!

(1) Grab a set of index cards and write down the full name of every example along with year and composer. Set each index card in chronological order to start.

(2) Make a playlist/setlist/CD that plays all of the selections in chronological order.

(3) Listen to each example without any other outside distractions. Turn off the TV, unplug the ethernet cable/phone line, close your books. It's just you and your index cards. Just relax, listen to each piece, and consult each card and try and memorize a name, composer, or date on each pass.

(4) CRITICAL STEP: Write down something UNIQUE about each song on the index cards as you listen. This is the greatest thing you can do. For example, say you have Movement 5 of Berlioz's symphonie fantastique. Say it is the only piece you have on the test that involve the high-ranged Eb clarinets (and, moreso, in a solo).

By doing Step 4 you will be able to more readily identify specific songs, god forbid, if you freak out during the test. Feel free to write down where you have heard familiar songs before, since the more ways you can place the song the easier the recognition will be during the test.

(5) Once you get everything under control chronologically, try doing the examples randomly and see how you hold up. Do it akin to the test format. If you can only hear the example once for 30 seconds, do it just like that. If you have to do 15 out of 25 examples, do exactly that. Keep practicing until you get better. Don't be afraid to go back and re-listen to songs you just aren't getting. There has to be something unique about them that you can use in order to facilitate your memorizing skills.

(6) Repeat EVERY DAY UNTIL THE TEST. I CANNOT stress that enough. You can't cram for music or the arts as well as you can other subjects since these aren't standard tests. Listening tests take patience, time, and effort in order to do well. There aren't any shortcuts here. Even if you can study for only 60 minutes per day on this until the test it's a far better approach than trying to cram at the last minute for several hours. Unless you have been doing this for years it's rare that that method will work for you.


Also, do what's best for you. I work best by pacing around my room, speaking the titles, composers, dates, and other things aloud. It's just my thing. If this method is not working for you, feel free to vary it to whatever floats your boat. It's not ~guaranteed~ to work, but this approach pretty much assured that around 60 students in my class got at least a B+ on this type of crushing exam, which isn't bad out of 70 or so people.

#14 Darthjer

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Posted 19 May 2009 - 04:29 AM

I would hope that your teacher will play the more popular parts and not some obscure part of the piece. If they try to mess you up by playing before or after the known part, then feel free to call them a douche.

An example: If your teacher is not a douche, then I would expect the 1812 overture to be the part from the Subway commercial (search "Subway Commercial 1812 Overture" on Youtube, cause every time I tried to give the link, it would embed the video and I don't want cranky people typing caps at me). Then maybe try to imagine "Tchaikovsky ate at Subway in 1812". Then maybe you'll remember your index card that said "Tchaikovsky: 1812 Overture, Finale".

If you can associate a visual image (from the commercial or the "mnemonic" like connection), then you are more likely to remember the piece. From there, you just have to remember the exact "C Minor" "Fugue" "Finale" specifics from your index cards...

For a second recommendation, seek out the mash-up on youtube of "Beethoven's 5th Goldigger". Even if you hate it, you will still probably remember it after that.

Since this is coming soon, I'd make sure to start on whatever method you are using ASAP.