How many songs do you know?


by Ivan Seeking
Tags: songs
SpaceTiger
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#19
Apr18-06, 05:52 PM
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I'm sure it's over 1000. Beatles songs alone is up to ~250 and I've written almost 100. 2000 or 3000 total is more likely.

Of course, it depends on how strict you are. I very often forget verse order and song lyrics are sometimes unintelligible. I don't usually bother to remember them from the CD inserts. On a lot of songs (especially grunge era music), I just mumble something that sounds like what they're saying. Melodies are easy, though. It only takes one or two listenings to be able to remember a melody. Singing along requires that I memorize the lyrics, so I'm guessing it takes something like 5 - 10 listenings, depending on how catchy it is and how many times it repeats in my head.

Then there are the chord sequences. I probably remember a few hundred of those (for playing on guitar) and some are simple enough that I find I've subconsciously memorized them along with the lyrics and melody, even if I've never played them before.

Yeah, I know this isn't the best use of my brain space, but it makes me happy, so .
Chi Meson
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Apr18-06, 08:51 PM
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Quote Quote by SpaceTiger
I'm sure it's over 1000. Beatles songs alone is up to ~250 and I've written almost 100. 2000 or 3000 total is more likely.
I would be totally surprised if it were any less than 3000 songs. I am constantly surprised when I'm getting a haircut (for example) and a satellite station is playing 70s music and I hear a song that hasn't been heard since August 1978 and I know every single word (despite the fact that I hated the song).

I know at least 500 children's song. Heck, what's Raffi's discography alone? I've got 250 LP's downstairs, and those are the ones I can't throw away because they "mean so much." That's at least 3000 songs right there.

I'm upping the number: If I don't know at least 10,000 songs, then I'm dead. And no, I don't think I'm special.
blimkie
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#21
Apr18-06, 08:55 PM
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i know the words to somewhere in the promximity of 1000 songs
blimkie
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#22
Apr18-06, 08:56 PM
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i think
ok i lied 500
but i have 2000 on the pc and i know most of them
honestrosewater
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#23
Apr18-06, 11:27 PM
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Well, I just thought of this, but if you consider three features of language, discreteness, semanticity (linguistic units map to other 'real world' objects), and arbitrariness, you can draw an analogy between language and Analog-to-Digital/Digital-to-Analog Converters. I won't ramble on about everything that falls out of that analogy, but a lot of stuff does!

I did a little test-run with a few songs and noticed that I don't really remember the music -- I remember the lyrics -- and I remember them in stanzas, with the intervening music not really stored -- (so) I recalled some stanzas out of order -- and I seem to rely heavily on the pitch information, intonational melody, and such that is stored in the lyrics in order to recall and reconstruct the music. There's also a definite difference between recalling lyrics to music and recalling literary works like poetry and plays. For example, I can recall Shakespeare faster than I can speak it -- and with very little effort -- but it's almost like I need to build the whole song in order to recall just the lyrics. (I'm just learning an audio editing program, and I think this is how they store files -- instead of storing the original song and rewriting each change, they store only the changes that you make, which are kind of layed over top of the originial and need it in order to play -- and note how much easier you can recall a song that you are listening to at that moment. Anywho.)

This doesn't surprise me because I'm a language person and don't know enough music notation and terminology to have built an efficient ADC, if you will. But I wonder what information someone like ST, who 'speaks music fluently', has stored and in what form. Does he remember, e.g., the actual notes (i.e., he recalls auditory signals and hears them 'in his head') or linguistic information like the letters that are assigned to the notes (which he can then convert to sound signals).

Oh, and if you add in a writing system, you can switch to the visual channel, so you're not stuck with temporal ordering and can make better use of matrices and such. Anywho, did I say I wasn't going to ramble? Woops.
SpaceTiger
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#24
Apr19-06, 02:03 AM
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Quote Quote by Chi Meson
I'm upping the number: If I don't know at least 10,000 songs, then I'm dead. And no, I don't think I'm special.
Wow! So you think most people know that many by your age and just don't realize it?
-Job-
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#25
Apr19-06, 03:15 AM
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10,000 sounds like a bit much. I only have about 8,000 songs in my computer. I can't imagine knowing the lyrics to every single one of them. Most of the time i know exactly how the song goes but i have trouble understanding what the vocalist is actually saying. This is why one of the projects i'm thinking of doing is a music player that actually shows the song's lyrics as the song is playing. I think this would make listening to a song a much more complete experience.
SpaceTiger
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Apr19-06, 04:22 AM
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Quote Quote by honestrosewater
This doesn't surprise me because I'm a language person and don't know enough music notation and terminology to have built an efficient ADC, if you will. But I wonder what information someone like ST, who 'speaks music fluently', has stored and in what form. Does he remember, e.g., the actual notes (i.e., he recalls auditory signals and hears them 'in his head') or linguistic information like the letters that are assigned to the notes (which he can then convert to sound signals).
I'm more of an enthusiast than anything, so I don't know if it's true that I speak music fluently. I think I would need more formal training. One thing I will say, though, is that, unlike numbers, songs carry emotion. I'm sure the fact that I dwell on my emotional response to a melody or lyric makes it easier to remember it down the line.

On the other hand, I know there are a lot of gifted musicians who remember and play music more mechanically -- like a scientist remembers numbers and facts. I wouldn't be at all surprised if they're using an entirely different part of the brain.
Chi Meson
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Apr19-06, 03:20 PM
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Quote Quote by SpaceTiger
Wow! So you think most people know that many by your age and just don't realize it?
I don't have the time to check to make sure I know all the lyrics, but I am fairly certain I know most of the lyrics to easily more than 8000. This includes folk songs/pub songs, children's songs, TV and Movie themes, pop songs, anti-establishment songs (From early Bob Dylan, through MC5 & Stooges, past Sex Pistols & Clash, to Minor Threat and Black Flag, I know all those songs and that's a couple thousand right there).

I have a good recollection for sound; I can "hear" a song playing in my head quite distinctly. Pehaps better than some, but by no means phenomenal. I do think most people know far more than they first estimate.
BobG
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Apr19-06, 03:56 PM
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I think the more pathways you have to piece of information within your brain, the better the chances of recalling it when you need it. If you involve different parts of your brain in a task, you'll increase the number of pathways.
turbo
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Apr19-06, 04:50 PM
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Quote Quote by Chi Meson
I have a good recollection for sound; I can "hear" a song playing in my head quite distinctly. Pehaps better than some, but by no means phenomenal. I do think most people know far more than they first estimate.
I have a friend who can do wonders. I was driving around (WAY around) Boston on my way to a job in Western Mass and I was listening to a station that had a tag line "the mix is the music" - they played a huge variety of music. I heard a wonderful version of "I Say a Little Prayer for You" and it stayed fresh in my head for days. When I got back from my trip, I stopped at the local record shop and described the song to the owner. The lilt in the singer's voice, the instrumentation (including an accordian of some sort) minimal (but nice) percussion, etc. He thought for a minute and said "that sounds like Mary Black" - Irish folk/pop singer. He ordered her latest CD, and it was her. Her work is fantastic. Having composed and performed for 40+ years, I have a good ear for instrumentation, arrangement, etc, and Bob and I were "on the same page" enough so that he could "hear" the song as I described it to him and figure out who performed it. Pretty amazing.
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#30
Apr19-06, 05:08 PM
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Are we talking about remembering the lyrics of a song while it is playing, or at any time, even when it's not? Without hearing the song i probably incompletely remember about 100 if i'm lucky. I can't remember the names of 8,000 songs while not listening to them, let alone the lyrics. For example if someone were to ask me right now to name all the Beatle's songs i would probably get about 40-50% of them. If i got to hear the first 5 seconds of each song and then name them i could probably get about 80% (there's some Beatles songs i just don't know). There's a big difference though.
Ivan Seeking
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#31
Apr19-06, 05:13 PM
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I was just noticing that if I try to recall a song that I haven't heard in a long time, I do think of the music first; run through it in my mind, and that helps me to remember the words.
honestrosewater
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#32
Apr20-06, 12:28 AM
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Hey, what about noise? Just brainstorming a little... if NONE of the music (music = the non-speech sounds) was being stored, which do you think would be the more likely reason: the music is too complex or the music is too simple? I vote too simple. More realistically then, say that the musical patterns are simple enough that very little about them needs to be stored because they can be easily reconstructed/generated, perhaps with a prompt (e.g., hearing a few seconds or a few fractions of a second of the music, perhaps kinda like having the rule to generate a sequence if given the first term(s) or somesuch bit of variable info).

Now, when we heard the speech, it was mixed in with the music. As far as the 'speech processors' are concerned, wouldn't the music be kinda like noise? (Perhaps I'm stretching the notion of noise, but eh.) The idea is that there's a pattern to the noise, which, once we have it, would allow us to extract the speech message from the signal... which would be much more difficult without knowing that pattern. Does that make any sense?

Okay, assuming that, what does it say about how the signal might be stored? First problem I see: Why can't we recognize the musical pattern in the signal now, as we have it stored? Presumably, we could do so if we heard the signal. So perhaps the signal is stored in such a way that we need the pattern to put the pieces in the correct order. That is, we've stored the signal in bits and pieces here and there, so it's difficult to recall the signal without some key from the music.

So the picture: We don't store the music. We store the speech. But the speech has music as noise mixed in, and it's stored in pieces that need help from some info in the music in order to be reassembled into larger pieces of the original signal.
fuzzyfelt
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#33
Apr20-06, 04:54 AM
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Hi hrw, I'm not quite sure what you are saying, but i had some thoughts that may help or hinder, things like how the one note of a vespar driving past my house will remind me of the opening guitar note of 'Satisfaction', how a bird in the garden has got a few notes of the Pastoral going (from 'By the Brook', but not intended birdcalls), another type of bird always sings a few notes from Don Giovanni, when I replace the phone reciever it chirps the opening notes of a Devo song (She's Just a Girl) that I really don't particular want to remember every time I hang up, but do.
Also, I can recall the German lyrics of an aria, say,without understanding any of them, likewise I love hearing my non english speaking friends sing an english pop song verbatim and then ask what they've sung. Perhaps these support your notion of noise?
nazgjunk
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#34
Apr20-06, 05:28 AM
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I'm in a choir, and a music freak so I think I know quite a lot of songs, including many that you wouldn't expect a 17-year old to listen to.
turbo
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#35
Apr20-06, 04:02 PM
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Honestrosewater, do you know about compression algorithms for digital information? Many work by not sampling EVERY bit of information, but by sampling some and recording the differences between that information and subsequent (or adjoining in the case of images) information. I think that this is how I remember music. I don't have perfect pitch, so I can't always grab the barre chord that I want to play on the guitar, but once I've got one right, I can accurately judge the interval that I need and get to the next barre chord pretty reliably. I ran open-mike blues/rock jams at a local tavern for a few years, and played in a lot of pick-up bands for parties, etc, and I can tell you that if you can't "hear" the intervals that the chords run in, you might as well hang it up and join a band with steady membership and a set repertoire so you can memorize the songs. I think most everybody has at least a bit of this talent, ranging from "tone deaf" to "perfect pitch".
honestrosewater
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#36
Apr21-06, 04:01 PM
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fi,
Thanks, those are interesting examples. The way I mean noise is a little different; I mean it to be understood in the context of a communicaiton system. A simple model starts with a sender who has a message to send (e.g., a person wants to tell you something).

[sender's message]

[encoding]

[transmitted signal]

[channel] ← (noise)

[received signal]

[decoding]

[receiver's message]

Noise is everything in the channel (e.g., other signals, friction) that can make the transmitted signal differ from the received signal. So what counts as noise depends on what is being counted as the message (and as the channel, when there are options).

turbo-1,
Yeah, languages use relative changes in pitch for lots of things, so competent speakers are able to recognize and produce them (subconsciously, at least). I don't know how fine we're talking though. And I'm not really trying to guess at how our brains store songs. I was just trying to think of a faster, easier way to recall the songs that I have stored.


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