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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Richard Mellish Reading Lyrics vs Memorization (203* d) RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization 30 Dec 20

The previous post on this thread was from me, several years ago, saying Hear Hear to a post that started "I doubt whether anything written on this thread will cause anyone to change their opinion or practice; all that's likely to happen is that you'll find, whatever your viewpoint, that some will agree and others disagree."

That probably remains true, but I am prompted to revive this thread by some things that I have noticed occasionally in recent online singarounds. (No names, no pack drill, as they say.)

Some singers are not only visibly reading their words but seem to be so totally dependent on reading that they grind to a halt when they have trouble reading the next bit. Or they stumble in fitting the words to the tune. Both of these suggest that they are at the opposite extreme from learning the songs, having not got them into their heads at all.

On the other hand I have a good friend (again no names) who sang and played professionally for a short while but was stopped by a serious health issue. He still sings, but his memory is deteriorating. In one of his songs he consistently replaces the second half of one verse by the second half of the next verse, and then sings that next verse with the same second half again. That makes a mess of the story. (It is not a "big ballad" but it does tell a story.) He also sometimes gets partway through a song and then can't remember the next verse, but of course that happens to many of us even if our memory is mostly OK. I have begged him to use a crib sheet, but he refuses, even though he admits that he hates messing up a song.

So there we have what seem to me opposite extremes: some singers being totally dependent on reading the words, and one who really should at least have them available but refuses.

As for myself; there are some songs that I half know but have not managed to learn completely. I think they deserve to be sung, and I am sure some would urge me to sing them with the words in front of me, but I would feel wrong doing so, although I can't say exactly why. (One of them is The Bury New Loom, a glorious song of sexual allegory, but which is chock full of technical terms for parts of a loom that I am not yet managing to remember.)

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