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HO W

TO

M E MO R Z E
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MU S C

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C H A !T E R I I
Music al A nalysis

C HA !T E R

The

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30

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S tudy

V III

54

HO W

TO MEMO R IS E MU S IC

H E subj ect o f memorising music i s o f paramount


importance to al l who have in view the concert
pl at form as a means o f earning a l ive l ihood ; and
even those pi anists whose ambition does not lead them
be fore the publ ic gaze cannot afford to negl ect this
branch o f their Art Most o f u s have at one t ime or
another witnessed the con fu sion o f piani sts who on

being asked to pl ay murmur gently that they h ave

l eft their music at home and on further being pressed

are obl iged to con fess that they cannot pl ay without

their notes
Coul d anything be more humil iating than
for a pi anist o f advanced technique to have to make an
excuse o f that sort ? And yet it is being done d ai ly by
thou sand s o f musicians who either wi l l not take the
troubl e to memorise a dozen pieces or d o not under
stand how to go about d oing so S ome pianists even
go so far as to con fess that they are utterl y unabl e to
.

HO W

TO

JI E JI OR I S E

M USI C

memorise anyt h ing ; in cases o f that sort we may


assume t h at they have never tried for al l intel l igent
musical peopl e have it in their power to commit a few
pieces to memory i f t h ey onl y exerci se t h e facul ties
Heaven has bestowed upon them
I remember once hearing a l ady o f t h is description
pl ay at a musical evening
S h e was a procient
pl ayer she was mistress o f an excel lent technique but
al as ! she h ad negl ected to commit any music to
memory
and then
S h e made t h e usu al excuses
bol dl y con fessed that it w as not in her power to
memorise a piece o f music o f even ord inary l ength
I n spite o f t h is however s h e was p u rs u ad e d to go to
the piano and we w ere treated to the strangest j umb le
that it has ever been my l ot to hear S h e began with
a !ol ish D ance o f S cha rwenka s after pl ay ing sixteen
bars o f w h ic h sh e tackled G o d ard s second M azurka
and nished up with the l atter part o f a Chopin
Nocturne and a l ittle thing o f my own you know
Need less to say her reputation as a serious student o f
music was destroyed from t h at d ate forth and she has
never consented since to pl ay from memory
Memori sing music d oes not cal l for any extra
ord inary t alent ; it merel y requires l ike almost every
thing el se practice and common sense
on ly
If
pianists woul d real ise this there woul d not be so much
cause for compl aint And i f a piani st in the ordinary
cours e o f his stud y is abl e to memori se hal f a d ozen
pieces how many more wil l he be abl e to master when
he has given special attention to t h e subj ect !
F i fty years ago it was quite the custom for pianists
to pl ay in publ ic from printed music
No one
t h ought o f cal l ing them sl ovenl y for doing so :it was
,

'

HO W

TO

JI E JI OR I S E

M USIC

recogni sed as being quite the proper thi n g to d o B ut


gradual ly a change took pl ace I t began to be recog
as a truth that more piani sts cou l d pl ay their
n i se d
music better when they h ad memorized it than they
coul d when pl aying from the printed sheet and then
competition set in
F irst one pi anist woul d give a
recital entirel y from memory and then another ; nal l y
i t became the general custom and those artists who
either through indolence or because they had al l owed
their facul ties to rust for too l ong a period o f time
and were consequentl y unabl e t o keep u p with their
more fortunate co n f rere s were al l owed to drop out o f
rank and the publ ic knew them no more S pe ci al is a
tion o f talent may be carri e d too far but it i s possible
for it not to be carried far enough ; and the piano
pl ay ing o f the fourth fth and sixth decades o f the
nineteenth century wou l d have been far more advanced
i f onl y the el ement o f competition had entered into it
t o the extent that it does in t h ese d ay s
!ianists o f former d ay s must necessaril y have
recognised the enormou s d ifference there i s in the
qu al ity o f t h e pl aying o f those w h o are content to
interpret their music directly from the printed sheet
and the qual ity o f t h e pl aying o f those who per form
from memory ; but their indifference with regard to
their own improvement i s hard to ex pl ain Fo r there
i s no doubt that there is a vast improvement in the
pl aying o f a piece when it has been memori sed
per fectl y I have heard persons contradict this their
argument being that having once memorised a piece
one s pl aying o f it becomes mechanical and indifferent
They aver tha
t too much famil i arity breed s contempt
o r
at al l events indifference and that the ner
.

HO W

TO

M E JI OR I S E M USIC

shades o f ex pression and the more subtl e and el usive


thoughts al together escape the notice o f the pianist
simpl y because o f his l ong acquaintance wit h them I
can wel l bel ieve that this i s the case with pieces o f
third or fourth rate qual ity but I must con fess that I
d o not see how thi s coul d happen with the works o f the
great masters Th e y need constant study and pl ay ing
be fore the pianist may tru ly be said to have absorbed
al l that is in t h em for to him who is alway s studyin g
new thoughts wil l constantl y be revealed E special l y
is this the case i f the piani st comes to h is work wit h a
I t i s astonishing to how
cl ear and vigorous mind
great a degree the appreci ation o f good music depend s
on health A vigorous mind and a healthy body go a
very l ong way toward s success in l i fe and this i s
particul arly true with regard to the study o f musi c
and the memorising o f it
I t i s t h e ambition o f many ot h erwise estimabl e
teachers to obt ain from their pupil s wh at may seem t o
be the best resu lts in the shortest time and with thi s
end in V iew they never t ake any troubl e in attempting
to instil in their pupil s mind s the absol ute necessity
o f their l earning to pl ay from memory !upil s are le ft
very l argel y to their own resources in this matter the
consequences being that the greater proportion o f them
never attempt to d o anything at al l
I t cannot be
emp h asised too strongl y that this neglect on the part
o f teachers i s detrimental to their own interests ; for
what can we think o f a pro fessor whose pu pi l can never
pl ay the piano unless he has brought with him a
bund le o f music under hi s arm ? B ut quite apart
from the pleasure that competent pianist s can give
other people they ought to consider themsel ves as wel l
.

II O W

TO

JI E JI OR I S E

M USI C

How tru ly fortunate are those who are abl e to commune


with the master mind s o f music without having rst to
seek the paper to which their thoughts have been
transmitted ! I t seems to me the very height o f fol l y
for pianists del iberately to re fuse to store their mind s
wit h the l o fty conceptions o f our great composers when
every opportunity o f doing so is presented to them
O f course it i s not to be expected that the amateur
pi ani s t can commit to memory al l that the great
composers have wri tten that wou l d be impossibl e !
B ut it i s within the power o f al l o f u s to l earn a few o f
t h e ne works o f our piano forte l iterature and i f we
re fuse to grasp our opportunities in this d irection we
are greatl y to be bl amed And besides it i s innitel y
better to impress six or eight pieces indel ibl y on our
memory than to have an imperfect knowled ge o f four
or ve dozen ; for i f a piece be once thoroughl y
memorised by the he ar t as wel l as by the brain the
pupi l wil l nd considerabl e d ifcu lty in forgetting it
The greatest care shoul d there fore be exercised in
selecting those pieces which t h e pupi l intend s to make
his own ; and further on in thi s book wi l l be found
a chapter deal ing with the subj ect
The present work d oes not pretend to be an ex
h au s t ive one on thi s al l important subj ect o f Memorising
M usic There are many points which mu st be decided
by the individ ual and it woul d be a t ask o f super
for me to attempt to l ay down the l aw on
e ro g at io n
every hand It i s merel y my desire to point out the
chie f outl ines o f thi s department o f musical study and
to show the uninitiated pupil s the more important
po ints to be observed I have attempted no detailed
ex pl anation o f the scientic fact s which govern the
-

HO W TO

'

JI LS I (7

JI E JI OR I S E

d ifferent facul ties that are exercised when one i s


memorising mu sic :that must be le ft for other writers
I shal l rest satised i f I succee d in d irecting the
attention o f young students to thi s important subj ect
f or it is one that wi l l wel l repay any e ff orts made to
master it
There are very few pi anists who recogni se the fact
that in memorising music several total l y d i fferent
facul ties are brought into requisition and that it i s
onl y by the patient cultivation o f each o f these facu lties
ind ividual ly that mu sic m ay be memorised success fu l ly
and permanentl y
Thought l ess people among Whom
the maj ority o f amateur pianists may be cl assed
o ften arrive at resu lts without the least attempt to
d iscover how they have d one so Fo r instance I have
known piani sts and I mu st con fess they h ave been
chiey o f the fair sex who have succeeded in
committing to memory a fairly l arge number o f pieces
without knowing or caring to know how they have
done it I recol lect once remarking to a fair pi anist o f
t h is description on the fact that she had d one an
admirabl e piece o f work i n study ing B eethoven s

S onata so thoroughl y that she was


Appassion ata
abl e to pl ay it without her music

Yes
she repl ied
but it was hard work very
hard
And even now when p l aying the S onata I
sometimes come to a dead stop in the midd l e o f it
and haven t the least idea how to go on
Ah indeed ? D o you rel y on your eye ear or
sense o f touch chiey ? I asked

O h I don t know I m sure


was her answer
I
simpl y pl ayed the thing over and over again until
somehow or other I came to pl ay it quite from

'

H O W TO

M E M ORISE M USIC

memory B ut it took me a tremendou s time several

months o f constant study


Thi s seemingl y extraord inary con fession i s quite
a common one on the part o f those who have never
I f this
g iven any original thought to their stud ies
particul ar pupi l had onl y l earned from a competen t
teacher she wou l d have d iscovered the f act that in

pl aying a piece o f mu sic over and over again in


order to memorise it s h e was merel y wasting val uabl e
time which might have been put to better use by the
exercise o f a l ittl e common sense S h e had it i s true
memorised her music fairl y adequate l y but she had
d one so in a very roundabout manner and on her
own con fession with very unrel iabl e resu l ts
Mere
mec h anical work however i s by itsel f worse than
u seless : it is o ften d isastrous
pi ano forte
G ood
pl ay ing requires the exercise o f independent thought
on the part o f the pupi l as much as the study o f E ucl id
d oes and unl ess the student i s determined to think
out things for himsel f it is better for him not to
attempt to pl ay the piano at al l To commit a piece
o f music to memory simpl y by constantl y pl aying it
over and over again means as a result a mechanical
sty le o f p l aying which to say the l east i s not in an y
way p leasing
No ! Memorising music is not mere chil d s pl ay
O n the other hand it is not a matter o f extraord inary
d ifficul ty I t i s simpl y necessary for the pupi l to

know how i t s done and the rest i s pat ience and


d il igent study B ut I mu st insist on the necessity for
every pupil to think for himsel f D o not be satised
that a thin g i s so j ust because your teacher says it i s
C onrm hi s word s by thought and observation o f
.

'

HO W

TO M E M ORISE M USIC

your own ; i f you nd that your teacher has made a


mistake tel l him s o you wil l most l ikel y d iscover that
t h e mistake i s yours but no harm wil l be d one you
Wi l l at least know that you have had the courage o f
your own opinions
There are ve d i fferent facu l ties which to a greater
or less degree are brought into requisition by the
student who attempts to memorise mu sic in the right
way These facul ties wi l l each be deal t with separatel y
in succeeding articles but it wil l be wel l rst o f al l to
tabul ate them here The beginner must not be al armed
at thi s array o f work to be accompl ished ; one facu l ty
only i s to be developed at a t ime and I can at l east
promise him that he wi l l nd the work interesting
,

T O U CH
This i s the facul ty which the i gnorant pi anist
uses unconsciously when attempting to memorise :
it is almost entirel y a mechanical facu lty

T HE F ACU LT Y o r

T HE FACU LT Y

HE AR IN G
The ear i s an important factor in every branch
o f music but p articul arly so in this branch The
ear i s capabl e o f being trained to a high state o f
perfection even when the training i s begun com
p arat iv e l y l ate in l i fe
OF

T HE F ACU LT Y o r S I G HT

By this I d o not mean to convey the impression


that by l ooking at one s ngers whi l st they are
pl aying music one may assi st the memory ; but
that by observation and practice one can see i n t h e
m i n d s e y e a representation o f the piece o f music
one i s engaged in pl ay ing

HO W

TO

M USIC

J I E JI OR I S E

AN ALY S I S
We are al l abl e to pul l things to pieces more or
l ess easil y but it is a somewhat d i fferent m atter
putting them together again
I n this case the
facul ty o f synthesi s is al most as important
as that o f analy si s
I n order to benet to the
fu l l by the exercise o f this facul ty it i s necessary
to h ave at l east an elementary knowl ed ge o f
harmony
T HE FACU LTY o r

ME M OR I S IN G O NE S E M O TI O N S
Thi s facul ty i s very o ften exercised quite u n co n
and in cases o f that sort it i s
s cio u s l y by pi anists
und oubted l y a great hel p ; but when the subj ect
i s stud ied thoug h t fu l ly the hel p it afford s is in
creased wonder ful l y
FACU LT Y

T HE

OF

Now it i s advisab le for the student at rst to study


each o f these branches o f the subj ect separatel y ; when
he i s thoroughl y grounded in them al l they may be
combined quite n atural l y and without any d i fcul ty
Met h od s
Later on wi l l be printed a c h apter devoted to
o f S tudy and in this I have attempted to show how
far it i s advisable to cultivate each o f these facu l ties
I t may be as wel l to mention here that the above
facu lties are u sed in piano forte pl ay ing though o f
course the greater portion o f what i s here written
woul d appl y equal l y wel l to the or gan harmon ium
viol in ute etc
,

HO W TO M E M ORISE M USI C

10

II

M U S I CA L A N A LY S IS

G RE AT

deal i s incl uded in these two word s


they embrace the whole vast subj ect o f H armony
wit h its many compl icated ru les and O bservances B ut
for the purpose o f memorising I have never found it
necessary to go into the subj ect o f H armony in d etail
The broad outl ines shoul d be l earned and l earned
t h oroughl y but matters connected with obscure points
rarel y met with may wel l be le ft al one
I t i s not my intention here to give a d isqui sition on
H armony ; I am taking it for granted that al l who read
these p ages have at least a rud imentary knowl edge o f
the subj ect and that many wi l l have advanced far into
t h e science
B ut be fore I proceed to deal with it in its
rel ationship to the subj ect o f Memori sing M usic I
shoul d l ike to say something o f the absol ute necessity
for al l students o f the pi ano forte to study it I t i s a
risky thing when a young student l imi ts the el d o f his
study to such an extent that he excl udes everything
from hi s programme save one particul ar branch o f t h e
,

HOW

12

d iv erse

TO

M USI C

M E JI OR I S E

statement It i s very clear then that it is an


exceedingly fool i sh practice to attempt to l earn by
heart that which one d oes not properl y understand
and every student who wishes to commit a smal l
repertory to memory is in that position i f he has no
knowledge o f harmony
\Nhen a scienti st wishes to understand the structure
of an animal he d issects it
With scissors kni fe an d
scal pel he removes al l su peruou s esh and l ays bare
the veins arteries and nerves
He notices careful ly
how the muscl es are pl aced how they are connected
W i t h the nerves ; he notices the manner o f the beating
o f the heart an d the circul ation o f the b lood ; and
from al l this knowl ed ge he i s abl e to form a very fair
idea o f how the body i s constructed as a l iving unit
how one part acts in conj unction with another ; and
n al l v the reason why this particul ar animal exist s
the reaso n for its creation And so i t is with music
I t must be d i ssected anal y sed E ach p aragraph must
be separated from those which surround it ; each thought
must be studied al one each bar each chord each
note
S entence must be connected with sentence
paragraph with paragraph complete thought with
complete thought until at l ength the work o f art i s
completely constructed and its ful l meaning under

I t may be asked
stood
B ut does not al l thi s
fussy peering into the nooks and crannies o f a piece
make one obl iviou s o f its grandeur ? I f I want to
admire a ruined cast le I don t go right u p to it
and ex amine each separate stone Why then must I
d o thi s in music ? No you don t l ook at each sep arate
stone that hel ps to make an ol d castl e I know ; but a
ruine d castl e and a grand p iece o f mu sic are not by any
,

HO W

TO M E M 0R 1 SE M USIC

13

mean s synonymous You have no d oubt at one time


or another tried to read B rowning ; if he has appealed
to your particul ar ind ividu al ity you have gone on
read ing him nd ing much to attract and perhaps a
l ittl e to repel
H owever he has proved f ascinating
and yet in your read ing you stumbl ed across passages
which you d i dn t qu ite understand
Their meaning
el uded the vigi l ance o f your intel lect You read and
re read and read yet again but stil l you d o not under
stand Wel l the end of it al l was that you had to analyse
the passages in col d bl ood you had to d issect them
pick out the subj ect search for the obj ect and d i scover
the pred icate And the resu l t ? C omplete understand
ing o f course And so it i s with music Train your
min d to dissect particul arl y p assages that d o not seem
quite cl ear
I have heard ex pressed by students another obj ection
to thi s mode o f procedure in util ising mu sical analysi s
as an aid to m e m o risn g
They say that too much
famil iarity breed s contempt and that too cl ose an
acqu aintance with the structure o f a piece wil l destroy

4
much o f its poetry that as soon as we d i scover how

its done we shal l cease to have any respect for the


wor k itsel f
This may be true enough with regard
to the work o f the lesser men but I d oubt very
much i f it wou l d hol d water when appl ied to the
greater masters o f mu sic their beauties are real
not sham and j ust as a preciou s stone becomes more
beauti fu l the more cl osel y it is ex amined so d o the
works o f Beethoven Mozart S chubert Chopin and
al l the other gl oriou s immortal s who have given Us
o f their best appear more G o d l ike the more they are
studied
B ut it s h oul d not be overl ooked that in
,

HO W TO

14

M E M ORISE M USIC

studying cl osel y the works o f these men one s mental


attitude shoul d be one o f l owl y admiration and respect
To me there is nothing more annoying than to h ear
a student stil l in his teens critici sing adversely some
o f the masterpieces o f the pi ano forte
R espect
that which you study and your respect wil l not go
unrewarded
!erhaps the most u se fu l way to put thi s f acu lty
o f musical anal ysis to the best advantage is to pl ay
the piece over in one s mind when one i s away from
t h e pi ano out walking in the country for instance
or sitting in t h e quiet o f one s stu d y
To g o
t h rough a piece mental l y is not onl y good training
for the memory but for the brain itsel f E ach chord
s h oul d be recogni sed and named each arpeggi o
d issected note by note and each rapi d run pl ayed
(in the mind o f course ) sl owl y and del iberately
B y mental pl aying o f this description one h as to rely
solel y on the f acul ty o f musical analys is and i f it d oes
not desert one when tested it may be t aken for gr a
nted
that it is devel oped wel l and tru ly
H owever important in their variou s way s the other
f acu l ties may be there is no doubt in my mind that
t h is particul ar f acul ty o f musical analy sis is the back
bone o f t h em al l I t i s the trunk o f t h e tree o f which
t h e other faculties are but t h e branches
I t may be
seen at a gl ance why this is so M usical anal y sis is a
mental exercise pure and simpl e t h e emotions have
not h ing whatever to d o with it o f course E ven the
intel l ect i s l iabl e from one cause or another to de crease
or i ncrease in its power from time to time and it i s
quite possibl e for it to desert one s memory at a critical
moment ; but the emotions themsel ves simp ly becau se
,

TO M E M ORISE M USI C

1 1 0 il
l

15

they are emotions are stil l less rel iable and even more
changeabl e
O ne s intel lect shou l d alway s be the
rul ing factor in one s pl aying the emotions shou l d come
a good second for though i t i s a matter o f the utmost
importance that one s h oul d be abl e to feel yet it is sti l l
as important that one shoul d al so think and reason
When the facul ty i s devel oped the student shoul d
learn to write out al l h is memorised pieces entirel y from
memory This o f course is not absol utely essenti al ;
but he who desire s to study the subj ect thoroughl y
cannot d o better than m ake an attempt at thi s I t is
no d oubt weari some work copying out from memory a
l ong B ach F ugue or Beethoven S onata but a moment s
thought wil l serve to demonstrate how excel lent a
method thi s is both for testing one s progress and al so
for impressing more rm l y on the mind what one has
already memorised
I give one ex ampl e here to show the student what I
mean by this facu l ty o f musical an al ysis and how it
may assist one s memory :
Ex

Be

e rh o v n x .

M are zaj
an core
'

The l ast bar in the above ex ampl e i s not by any


means an easy one to memorise ; it is not an easy one
to pl ay even at rst sight B ut anal yse it What i s
,

H O W TO M E M ORISE M USI C

16

name o f the chord ? Wel l in thi s particul ar case


i t d oesn t very much matter for it is) certain that it
wil l not be memori sed by that means And the eye
wil l not assist to any appreci abl e extent for the chord
in col d print l ook s anything but attractive and easy to
remember
No ; the ear the facul ty o f touch an d
musical analy sis wil l be our hel p in memori sin g this
p articul ar bar Wel l suppose we pl ay it What does
it al l come to ?
Then notes correspond to the notes
o f the common ch o rd o f A maj or F ancy t h at com plex
d i fficul t l ooking chord i s nothing more or less than
an ol d f amil iar friend I t isn t the chord o f A maj or
o f course ; but for practical purposes we may consider
i t i s S o in pl ay ing the F uneral M arch o f B eethoven
from memory when we come to this bar we shoul d
never be at a l oss what to pl ay the word s A maj or
wil l at once come to our mind s and our ngers wi l l
read il y pl ay the correct notes
I have purposely chosen an extreme ex ampl e in
order to show the method which the student may ad opt
when studying th is branch o f the art O ften enoug h
t h e most formid able l ooking chord s are w h en pl ayed
on the piano ol d famil iar friend s o f m any ye ar s stand
ing I remember once seeing an autograp h o f R ubinstein s
I t was this :
th e

'

Ex

0
.

ery important l ooking i s it not and yet on ly C


maj or a fter al l And so i t with much o f the most d if
cu l t music i f analysed it wil l l ose much o f it s dread
compl exity
-

HO W TO ME M ORISE M USIC

II I

17

Th e F acu l t y

f T o u ch

woul d be a matter o f considerable d i fcu l ty


adequatel y to dene the F acu lty o f Touch It con
si sts in the pl aying o f notes in a denite succession or
order without the ai d o f any consciou s facu lty But
t h e ful l ment o f this denition is never met with in
practice for it i s impossibl e to pl ay entirel y by thi s
facul ty al one :one other hearing sight or anal ysi s i s
bound to give more or less assistance B ut for the
purpose o f ex pl anation this denition wil l perhaps
serve
By its means the ngers perform their duty
from m ere habit Accustomed as they are to putting
forth a certain but constantly varying amount o f force
in a d u ly regul ated manner they may be rel ied u pon
by t h e exercise o f this facul ty o f touch to interpret the
music with a certain amount o f regard to ex pression
that i s the e n s an d 77 s will in al l probabi l ity be dul y
em p hasised but the more del icate and subtle nuances
w il l
in most cases be ent irel y negl ected B ut the d ue
interpretation o f these less evident shades o f ex press io n
.

H O W TO M E M ORISE M USI C

18

may be sa fel y l e ft to the other facul ties though the


facul ty o f touch i s no me an ai d to the memory in paying
d u e reg ard to the more exaggerated increase s and
d ecreases in the vol ume o f sound
Though this facu lty o f touch occu pies so important a
p l ace in hel ping one to memori se even the most d iffi cul t
music yet because it i s so entirel y mechanical it is very
\untrustworthy I t proves in practice an excel lent
servant but a hopelessl y tyr an nous master
I t can
never be rel ied u pon by itsel f ; it need s other wel l
d evel ope d facu l ties to su pport it when it is l ikely to fail
I t i s true many pi anists l earn quite a number o f pieces
al most solel y by means o f thi s facu lty o f touch and they
are very o ften abl e to pl ay them absol utel y correctly
in every respect B ut a t ime comes in every case when
t his f aculty fail s them and they break d own hopelessl y
o ften enough in publ ic
and their con fu sion and
The
d isgrace are remembered for many a l ong d ay
f ai l ure o f
r e as o n o f thi s sud den and quite unexpected
the sense o f touch to do its work i s that i t is as it were
based on a del icate chain o f mechanism which connects
one b ar with the preced ing and succeed ing bars and this
chain i s l iabl e to be broken by the sl ightest untoward
e vent
The creaking o f a chair the o pening o f a d oor
the rustl ing o f a programme are o ften quite su fcient to
bre ak the chain and the resul t is con fusion I f the
sense o f touch were d irectl y under the control o f one s
w il l
one might hope to overcome this tendency to
s udden breakd own
but as it i s al most purel y mechanical
it i s utterl y impossible to accompl ish thi s

The question may be asked : I f the faculty o f


touch i s so v ery unrel i abl e and as it is a matter o f t h e
ut m ost im port ance that one s mu sic shou l d be m e m o r
,

H O W TO M E M ORISE M USIC

20

nowad ays been reduced to al most an ex act science and


i f its l aws are obeyed consequent success wil l be the
resul t
Another matter which requires attention i s the way
one sits at the pi ano O f course no p ianist worthy o f
the name ever dreams o f l ol l ing against the b ack o f hi s
chair when he i s pl aying ; that i s the resul t o f mere
idleness and ind i fference I take it for granted that al l
students who read these chapters wil l know how to sit
al w ay s
at a pi ano ; but what I wish to emphasi se i s thi s :
H ave your seat raised to
s it i n e x act l y t h e s am e at t i t u d e
precisely the s ame height whenever you pl ay and hol d
your body in ex actl y the same position that you are ac
customed to As I have said be fore the least thing
o ften throws one o ff the track when one i s rel ying to
any extent on the sense o f touch and it i s onl y by sa fe
gu ard ing one s sel f against al l contingencies o f that
descri ption that one can hope to make thi s facu lty
more rel i abl e and trustwor t hy
I t has o ften been said th at al l true artists are more or
l ess nervous when they pl ay in publ ic and that they
pl ay a l ittl e better for being so ; what truth there may
be in this I d o not know but I d o know that nervous
n ess concerning the rel iabi l ity o f the facul ty o f touch i s
very apt to destroy the facu lty as l ong as the nervousness
l asts
When pl aying from memory it i s d isastrous to
troubl e yoursel f with what i s coming next
Anxiou s
t hought concerning the next bar has no other e ffect on
the next bar except annihi l ating it al together Above
al l things don t worry
R emember that you have other
f acul ties to support you besides the facul ty o f touch
Try to concentrate your thoughts on that part o f your
m usic which is at the moment being interpreted an d
.

H O W TO M E M ORISE M USIC

21

rest assured that the remainder wi l l come al l right o f its


own accord
I t wil l be seen then that though this particul ar sense
i s al together outsi de one s power o f wil l and i s apt
to prove a deserter when its presence i s most urgentl y
required yet it i s by no means to be despised as an aid
in memorising m Us ic
As a rul e it i s devel oped unconsciousl y and the pity
i s that thi s is so ; the more unconsciousl y it i s devel oped
the less u sefu l wil l it b e found when cal led into requisi
t ion
To make it l ess o f a purel y mechanical and
arti ci al ai d to t h e memory and more o f a practical
hel p i s my aim in giving the fol l owing ex amples I n
pl aying them the student shou l d t ake d ue note o f the
f act that it is the purel y ph y s i cal sensations o f hi s
ngers and hand that have to be taken into account
and that everything el se shoul d for the time being
be entirel y forgotten
In E x ampl es 3 4 and 5
.

Ex

Ex

:
pg

23

it wi l l be observed that the in g e rs occupy d ifferent


positions respectively and that in pl aying the inversions
o f the common chord they experience physical sensa
t rons simil ar in kind but d ifferent in degree
And not
onl y this the common Chord o f C maj or wi l l create a
physical sensation o f its own and this is true o f the
common chord s o f each o f the d ifferent key s That is
j to say the further one s hand moves u p the keyboard
,

H O W TO M E M ORISE M USIC

22

greater
wil
l
be
the
strain
on
the
muscl
es
not only
the
o f the hand al one but al so o f the arm A practical
i l l ustration o f this is given in the next ex ampl e
.

where the tension on the muscles o f the ngers and arm


increases and decreases in pr e portion as the notes go
u p or down the stave Thi s o f course appl ies to the
l eft hand as wel l as the rig h t though in t h is case it wil l
be seen that the greater tension i s ex perienced as the
hand progresses cl o w n the key board A l l the arpeggios
with their various inversions shoul d b e practised
thoroughl y (no matter how wel l the student may pl ay
them al read y ) and his attention shou l d be concentrated
entirel y on the phy sical side o f the question I n thi s
connection I know o f no better exercises than the

hackneyed O ne H undred and O ne o f C arl Czerny ;


but I d o not advise the student to study these unti l he
has rml y grasped the variou s physical sensations he
ex periences in p l aying the scales and arpeggios
I d o not wish it to be understood that the obj ect o f
this carefu l observation and study is that the piano forte
pl ayer may when performing a piece cal l to mind in
turn the d i fferent degree s o f strain th at are put u pon
ngers and so ai d his memory ; that method o f
memorising woul d not onl y be excessivel y cl umsy
but woul d in most cases tend to destroy al l that re n e
ment and del icacy whic h are so necessary to an artistic
rendering o f real music My desire i s that the per
,

'

HO W TO M E M ORISE M USI C

23

former shoul d t ake d ue note o f his physical sensation s


in order that his u n co n s ci o u s sense o f touch may be
thought ful l y devel oped and thu s made a more rel iabl e
guid e in assisting the memory A lthough so much
conscious thought must necessari l y be ex pended on the
right devel opment o f the sense o f touch yet it shoul d
be kept in mind that when u sed as an aid to memory
it shou l d be used as sub consciousl y as possibl e ; in
other word s when per for m ing a piece from memory
take care o f the e x pre ss io n t h e sou l and the notes/
wi l l take care o f themselve s; but when committing
mu sic t o memory too great an amount o f appl ication
and study cannot be ex pended on this particul ar

subj ect The student may ask


How i s it possible for
thi s sense o f touch you speak o f to hel p me when I am

pl aying from memory i f I am to forget al l about it ?


Thi s is a sensibl e question and it deserves a sensible
answer for it does indeed seem strange that one can
derive material assistance from a care ful ly devel oped
facul ty merel y by forgetting it The reason is this As
I have already stated t o uch i s in the very nature

o f things a purely un co ns ciou s jacult y ; it act s free


from the wi l l and quite apart from the mind B ut i t is
,

n ot

cu l t i v at e d

u n co n s ci o us l y

U p

e x ce

pt

t o a ce rt ai n

d e g re e

to a certain point the sense o f touch may be developed


without consciou s study ; but to be o f any permanent
and real value care fu l thought must be bestowed upon it
Just as a man a fter having rst l earned his steps in
val se must accustom himsel f to the ind ivid ual pecul iari
ties o f the particul ar partner with whom he i s d ancing
be fore he i s ab le to move about easil y and grace ful l y
without any conscious effort so must the pianist pay
d ue regard to the exerci ses o f his ngers in order that
,

HO W

2t

TO

M E M ORISE M USI C

when cal led upon to d o so t h e sensations he has


observed and memorised when studying a particu l ar
piece may quite u n co n s ci o u s l y suggest the notes that
require to be pl ayed
In order that I may ex pl ain mysel f more clearl y I
wi l l instance the opening bars o f B eethoven s S onata
O p 2 No I
Ex 7
,

BEE

!
HO V

'

N.

Throughout the rst movement o f thi s S onata the


phrases found in bars 3 5 6 and 7 recur over and over
again and nearl y al way s with the same ngering
Technical l y the phrase i s not di fcu l t ; even i l l trained
ngers wil l not stumble over it ; and yet it i s not
commonpl ace
Now in order to study these few
notes with regard to the sense o f touch it wi l l be
necessary to take each note in turn and observe by
which nger i t i s to be pl ayed Le t u s take the third
bar I t wi l l be observed that the fourth nger pl ays A
at s t accat o and that the note is dotted ; the second
third and rst ngers are ready in position above their
respective notes so that the tripl et is pl ayed easil y an d
grace fu l l y and the n al note o f the second bar i s struck
by the second nger \Nh il s t the whol e bar shoul d be
,

H O W TO M E M ORISE M USI C

25

pl ayed l ightl y and with a certain amount o f del icacy


it shou l d be noted that the rst and l ast note s only are
marked s t accat o Now pl ay the bar over to yo ursel f
several times and you wi l l notice that the most
prominent ph y s cal sensation i s that o f l i gh t n e s s ; in
order to obtain this an add itional strain is put upon
t h e arm and the hand itsel f has a feel ing o f reserve
force whil st the ngers by their actual position above
the notes give a sensation o f compactness I f these
sensations are d u ly noted and remembered they wil l
suggest the actual notes whenever t h e phrase is met
wi t h The whole p assage demand s nish and clear
ness and in order to obtain t h ese qual ications the
ngers must assume a certain amount o f rigidity which
t hey woul d entirel y l ack in pl aying a l e at o movement
g
Again I repeat d o not co n s ci o u s l y think o f these things
w h en you have once memorised the piece and are
about to p l ay it over ; they wi l l come t o y ou quite
n atural ly i f when memor i sing the music you have paid
su fcient attention to them
And now on this part o f my subj ect onl y one thing
remains to be sai d and it i s this :D o not attempt to
of
s i c by pl aying it over and over
memorise
a
piece

mu
a
physical sensations which
naTri wifc
:
its execution entai l s That way l ies rum It i s not
a
ml ay s n e ce ssai y to hb se rve each bar separately for it
very o ften h appens that many successive bars wil l
dem and precisel y the same kind and degree o f effort to
pl ay them ; but where the character o f the music
ch anges eit h er in rhythm qual ity or quantity o f sound
or technical d i fcul ty then it is o f the utmost import
ance to d iscern the d ifference in physical sensation
which these changes wil l bring about

'

__

.g

nv

'

HO W TO M E M ORISE M USIC

26

Be fore cl osing this chapter I shou l d l ike to point


out that in many short pieces (such as Mendel ssohn s

S ongs Without Word s


and Chopin s
E tudes
i s v er
e tc
e
m
f
t
h
o
o g e n eit
o
e
n
a
h
l
) t er
ga
y
y o f t ec
which brings into pl ay one particu l ar kind o f touch
fi o m th e beginning o f a piece to its cl ose S ii ch a piece
S tudy in E at (B ook
I I
)
,

x.

FR

C HO !I N

e t c.

Al l the way through this study requires an extension


o f the ngers quite unusual ; but though this i s the
main point to be noted it shoul d not be overlooked
that there are other features o f l ess signicance but
t
e
important D o not overl ook essential s ; on the
y
other hand beware o f wearying yoursel f with useless and
obscure points Work thoroughly but d o not become a
ped ant Ind ivi dual thought wi l l be necessary on the part
o f every student when he begins to memorise a piece o f
:
music but he wi l l not go far wrong i f he wi l l only u se
hi s powers o f observation ; that i s al l that is necessary !
The fol l owing ex ampl es wi l l ind icate the method by
means o f which this may be accomp l ished
,

x.

HO W TO M E M ORISE M USI C

28

This i s a mel ody o f much greater d ifcu l ty than


E x ampl e 9
The key is Un famil iar the rhythm is
awkward the interval s uncommon
Now i f the
stu d ent nd s he i s abl e to understand the mel ody
o f this example by hi s mind al one he may rest sati sed
t hat he i s fairl y wel l advanced and may commence t h e
o f the next chapter ; but i f perchance he i s
s tudy
u nabl e to see any mel ody at al l in the ex ampl e except
b y the aid o f the piano forte he shoul d study m any simpl e
t unes in thi s way gradu al ly sel ecting more and more d itfi
:
cul t ones unti l his mind i s abl e to grasp the ful l meaning
o f any mel ody merel y by reading the printed notes
The method o f studying the sound s o f ch ord s has
,

more or less accurate conception o f the sound o f say


the common chord o f C maj or ; i f the reader d oubts
accuracy o f hi s conception let him test i t by
t he
pl aying the c h ord on the piano forte and noting where
This principl e shoul d be app l ied
an d why he i s wrong
to al l the simpl er and
o f the m o f e o rh f51 x
chor ds m aj or an d m in o r
It is o nly by persi stent
Te St in g o f t h is d e s Cr i p t io n t h at the ear can be properl y
t rained
and it i s not too much to say that when
the student i s studying this branch o f the subj ect
o f music he s h oul d bestow at least one hour per d ay on
i t And as his ear and his intel lect become more
cl osel y al l ied he wil l nd more and more meaning even
i n l ong famil i ar mel odies
Al l mu sician s and par
t icu l ar l y
al l executive musicians shoul d have their
inte l lect and ear so indi ssol ubl y j oined together in sym
p athy that what the intel lect perceives the ear under
stand s and what reaches the ear i s immed iately
comprehended by the intel lect
'

'

'

HO W TO M E M ORISE M USI C

29

ckl e an d inconstant that


that through e x citemen t ex
or any other ordi n ary cause the facu lt y
h au s t io n
o f cal l ing to mind a m e m o ri se d t un e desert s one as wel l
as the facu lty o f touch ; but it mu st be remembered
th at there are stil l three other f aculties to f al l bac k
and
rarel
y
i
f
ever
d
o they fai l at once
o
n
up
T h e sound s o f chord s mu st be memorised by the e ar
in much the same way as the mel od ies onl y this side o f
the subj ect i s m ore d ifcu l t to master
I t i s not
perhaps so important to memorise the harmony as it is
t h at the mel ody shoul d be wel l noted as the mel ody
o ften suggests the accompanying harmony
in
many cases there fore unnecessary to memorise the
d i fferent harmonies o f a piece by the ear unless t h e
harmonies are very strange and pe cu l i aruf I t wou ld be
wel l to study and memorise by the ear niiiCh o f the
h arm oi iy o f Chopin when p l a
yi ng that Composer!thi s
al so to those modern composers
who are noted for their original ity in harmonic invention
B ut this special department o f the art is best stud ied in
conj unction with Chapter V I which deal s with t h e
subj ect o f M usical Anal ysi s
The
W

m e m o ry_
W

of

man i s

so

-.

'

H O W TO M E M ORISE M USIC

30

IV

Th e F acu l t y

f He ari n g

the musici an the ear i s al l important I t i s the


e t him l ose hi s
sin e
n o n o f al l that he does
L
u
d
q
hearing and he is hel pless ; compositions may not
c ease to come from his pen but the j oy o f creation wi l l
be greatl y spoi led by the constant thought that d o
what he may he wi l l never be abl e to hear the resul t
o f his l abours B ut strange as it may appear at rst
the man who possesses the most keenl y sensitive ear i s
not necessarily the best musician Intel lectual capacity
temperament original ity and power o f interpretation
are each o f them more or l ess necessary to the musi
o ian who desires to be above the common herd
and
these are things that cannot be acquired And a good
e ar
i s l ikewise a thing one is born with ; though
o i
course a de fective ear may be trained and ed ucated
unti l it becomes more sensitive to the subtler d ifferences
b etween t h e pitch and between the v ol ume o f d ifferent
s ound s
S til l a natural ly per fect ear is a f ar better
p ossession than one that has had to undergo years
.

HO W

TO

M E M ORISE M USIC

31

o f p atient training be fore it has been abl e to reach a


high state o f perfection
I n order that I m ay i l l ustrate my st atement that
a good ear does not necessarily make a good musician
I w il l mention the case o f a young m an who came
under my notice a short time ago H e was nineteen
years o f age and hi s parents had spent no in co n si d e r
able amount o f money on hi s musical education He
had a certain amount o f technique and among other
o f hi s pieces he co ul d pl ay hal f a dozen o f Mendel s

sohn s S on gs Without Word s


This was the resul t
o f ve years tuition and d ail y practice
H e had
alway s found it a great bore to practise the pi ano and
very rarel y touched it for his own p leasure B ut he
had an excel lent ear not onl y being easil y abl e to
d istinguish a particul ar note when pl ayed on a i n st ru
ment out o f his sight but al so correctl y naming the
simpler chord s and their inversions when struck u pon
the piano I t was to him a matter o f no d ifcul ty
whatever to p l ay a tune that he had heard casual l y in
the street and that Was the kind o f pl aying he l iked
best And yet in spite o f thi s unu sual and p leasing
gi ft he never per formed on his instrument without
making me and others feel almost il l H is touch was
heavy and l i feless ; his i deas o f time and rhythm were
conspicuous by their absence ; and expression and soul
were absol utel y n i l He pl ayed l ike a machine that
requires oi l ing
The notes themselves were correctly
pl ayed but everything el se was as wrong as it cou l d
be I o cas io n al l y heard o f peopl e envying hi s abi l ity
to retain a fresh tune in his memory and h e certain l y
had a wonderfu l gi ft for doing that ; but he had not
the musical tem perament
I t wil l thus be seen
.

H O W TO M E M ORISE M USI C

32

that it i s possible for an excel lent ear to be pl aced in


conj unction with an execrabl e temperament

B ut this
intel l igence o f the ear i f I may com
a phrase i s a great boon to musicians Al l o f them
possess it to a certain extent but there is qu ite a l arge
number o f otherwise excel lent musici ans who d o not

possess the sense o f absol ute pitch and are not able
to retain a mel od y in their memory until they have

heard it over and over again


They possess
tem

and
great
power
o
f
interpretation
; perhaps ;
e ram e n t
p
but they have not the keenness o f ear which many o f
their less gi fted brethren possess
Now in memorising music it i s very necessary that
t h e ear shoul d be wel l trained and those pianists who
are conscious o f having either de fective ears or ears
t h at are not as ready as they might be to note what
they hear shoul d see to it that t h ese de fects are
remed ied
In order that the ear may be put to the best possibl e
use in memorising music it i s not onl y necessary that
it shou l d be abl e to retain for an indenite period
a mel ody once learned but that it shoul d (with the
assistance o f the intel l ect o f course ) be abl e to compre
hend and re m ember a tune heard once only
The
abil ity to d o this is somewhat rare The use ful ness o f
it
i s evinced in that i f a pianist can remember a
mel ody after hearing it once he i s in a far better
position to imprint it on hi s mind indel ibly a fter study
than the pianist who nd s it necessary to hear a
mel ody twenty or thirty times be fore he is sure o f
h aving grasped its fu l l meaning
Nowad ays a new
and real l y striking melody i s rarel y heard :they al l
st :
m to have been used u p
M odern composers have
.

H O W TO M E M ORISE M USIC

33

to cal l al l the wonder ful resources o f harmony to thei r


It is
aid to cover their weakness in inventing mel ody
e asy enough , I know to write sentimental l ittle tunes
pre t ty and charming in themsel ves I d o not d oubt but
possessing no p articul ar character or ind ividual ity
And this comparative sameness in much o f the mel od y
o f the present d ay i s undoubted l y the reason why so
few peopl e are abl e to grasp a tune at its rst hearing ;
it bears so many d istinct resembl ances to other tunes
t h ey have heard th at it gets inextricab l y mingled with
them and it i s al most an impossibi l ity to separate it
The onl y way by means o f which this may be obvi ated
is to re fuse to l isten to the trash that is d inned into our
e ars d ay by d ay and to study onl y the work s o f t h e

great composers
trash
I do not necessari ly
By

mean
l ight
music for l ight music i s very o ften
o f excel l ent qu al ity ; but I mean s o cal l ed music that
i s vul gar and pretentious possessing no merit and
savouring very strongl y o f the music hal l
Avoid
then al l m U S i c o f this kind
Welcome pure fresh
mel od ies as you wel come the sunl ight ; stud y them ;
n d out how they are constructed ; feel their emotion ;
dwel l on them in your mind when you are away from
your piano forte ; and as a resu l t o f al l thi s you wi l l
gradu al l y be abl e to grasp the meaning and emotiona l
force o f a good mel ody the very rst time you hear it
I t is al so a matter o f rst rate importance that t h e
pi anist shoul d be in a position to trans fer a mel od y in
his mind into the actual soun d o f the piano forte
U nless one h as been blessed with thi s gi ft by nature it
wil l be found a somewhat d i f cul t thing to d o The
reason o f its importance may be seen when you think
o f how easi l y the con stant di f culty may be overcom e
.

34

HO W

TO

M E M ORISE M USI C

i n pl aying a piece o f music from memory when the


sense o f touch deserts one utterl y and one has n othing
l eft to guide one but the continuation o f the mel ody
which l ingers in one s mind but not in one s ngers ;
i n cases o f this kind and with some pianists there
are very many thi s power o f transposing thought
into sound cannot be too highl y est imated I t saves
from an embarrassing breakdown and even when
one
there is not much occasion for it s use it gives one
condence and courage
Th e cul tivation o f thi s facu l ty may be carried out in
F irst o f al l it i s necessary that you
t h e fol l owing way
shoul d test yoursel f to nd out whether or not you
possess thi s power and i f you d o to what extent
T ake any ord inary mel ody which y ou have had in your
for some months and which you have occa
m in e
but o f which you
s i o n al l y sung or hummed to yoursel f
have never seen the printed mu sic and which you have
never tried to pl ay on the pi ano forte Fo r pre ference
t ake a simpl e tune beginning and ending on the tonic
say a hymn tune or a simpl e song sung in the streets
T h en go to the piano and try t o pl ay the mel ody
W ithout any harmonisation whatever
I f you pl ay it
from beginning to end with onl y two or three mistakes
you may res t assured that you possess the f acul ty in a
fairly wel l devel oped cond ition but i f you nd that
y ou are constantl y stumbl ing over every other note
t h en you wil l know that Nature has not gi fted you with
this facu lty and that a certain amount o f hard but
A t rst the power to
pleasant work i s before you '
pl ay unpracti sed but wel l known mel odies from ear as it
i s cal led wi l l come rather sl owly ; but a fter a few week s
s tudy o f
say hal f -an h o u r a d ay you wil l have made
,

H O W TO M E M ORISE M USI C

36

Th e F acu l t y

f S ig h t

HI S facu lty consi sts in bein g abl e whi l e one i s


act al l y per forming to see the printed page i n t h e
There are few
m in d s e y e by a mere effort o f the wil l
peopl e who have this facul ty and I have only come
across two or three piani sts who possessed i t in such
a highl y devel oped state that i t w as o f materi al assist
ance to them in memorising music I k n o w one famou s
E ngl ish pianist who decl ares that he rel ies chiey on
thi s facu l ty rel ies on it more than al l the others put
together and he i s abl e to pl ay more than 800 pieces
from memory He has the most extensive repertory o f any
musici an I have ever heard o f in past or present history
The eight hundre d pieces incl ude ne arly al l Beethoven s
S onatas a l arge number o f the works o f Chopin S chu
mann and S chubert and many pieces o f B ach H andel
and Weber with stud ies o f Arensky Tschaikowsky
G rie g and other modern men
Thi s i s not at al l an ex
aggeration for in E ngl ish musical c ircles it i s wel l
known that Mr Frederick D awson has the most
,

HOW

TO M E MORISE M USI C

37

tupendou s mu sical memory o f any man l iving I m y


s el f have tested his abi lity in this d irection ; I have sat
d own and named piece after piece until I was tired and
Mr D awson has pl ayed them al l without a moment s
hesit ation And t h e most wonder fu l part o f it al l i s
that he pl ays them al l mainl y by the e ye s power to
memorise al one I can very wel l bel ieve he has al l his
other f acu lties devel oped much better than the ord inary
pianist ; but yet to him the eye is the organ that
ret ains the music that he has memorised A s soon as he
sits down to p l ay hi s eye p ictures an ex act copy o f the
music from which he has learned the particu l ar piece he
i s interpreting ; and he does this without hi s being
forced to close his eyes H e keeps them open al l the
time but sees nothing but his music A strange
facu l ty trul y ! I t i s al most weird
It wil l be seen from what has already been sai d that
t h i s facu l ty o f sight i s f ar more l ikel y to be o f u se to
those who are by n ature care ful ly observant than to
those who never see anything at which they l ook The
power to observe is d ifcu l t to acquire When one has
gone through l i fe for years and years observing onl y
those p articul ar things which have interested one and
taking no note o f ord inary things in the street and
in the country it i s a great task to turn round and say

I wi l l note everything I see care ful ly so that when I


am away from it I shal l remember it in every detail
At l east it is a great task to act u p to thi s determina
tion :the actu al saying o f it is easy enough A habit
that one has cul tivated for years is not so easi ly broken
o ff :
it becomes part o f one s very n ature and i t i s next
to impossible to cast it off so that its inuence shal l
n ever be fel t
I am there fore incl ined to say to those

HO W TO M E M ORISE M USI C

88

who have n ever traine d themselves to observe and w h o


ar e not natural l y abl e to impress the ir m i nd s with what

their eyes have dwel t upon


Leave this subj ect o f
memorising by the eye until you have mastered t h e
other chapters o f the present work and then beg in t o
l earn to observe thin gs that you come across in your
everyd ay d uties S tudy Nature as she is to be seen in
the country around you for i n this way not onl y wi l l
your mind be re freshed and strengthened but you wi l l
al so l e arn to observe and remember things at rst for
the sake o f t heir beauty and then becau se al l know

l e dge is both val uabl e an d interesting


I have within my acqu aintance several peopl e o f d e e p
kn owled ge and high attainments in music but o f al l
other subj ects th ey are absol utel y ignorant Mention
the l at e st popu l ar novel or the present pol itical
struggl e an d they l ook at you with wi de open eyes
wondering w h at on earth you are tal king about Thi s
p articu lar form o f ignorance i s not so much d ue to l ack
o f observ ation as inabil ity to take an intel l igent interest
in matters outside one s own immed iate sphere o f
action B ut there i s a l ack o f observation in many
otherwise exceed ingl y clever peopl e
I think most o f
u s wil l have come across people who are unabl e t o
tel l the d ifference between a swal l ow and a sp arrow a
moth and a butter y and thi s i s perhaps an e x ag g e r
ation a sheep and a goat To excl ude Nature from
our observation al together wou l d i f carried too far
make one a monomaniac
B ut the students I wish to re fer to more particul arly
now are tho se who have fai l ed to observe n o t becaus e
they l ack interest or are essential l y ignorant but simp l y
because Nature has not endowed them with this par
,

H O W TO

ME M

ORISE M USI C

39

faculty for it i s a f acu l ty and nothing el se


They have not noticed that many peop le are almost at
every moment o f their l ives watch fu l and observant
and not seeing this the consequence has been that
they have not been aware that there w as such a facul ty
as thi s o f observation Their case is not by any means
so hopeless as is the case o f those mentioned above
who are unobservant chie y b e cause their symp athies
are narrow and l imited B ut I take it that al l my
readers have fairl y wide sympathies that they have
interest in other things besides mu sic and that Nature
i s to them a t subj ect for admiration and stud y
H av ing learned to observe interesting obj ects in Nature
try to form mental pictures o f these obj ects when y o u
are away from them Notice their shape and col our
and think o f them and s e e them when they are no
l onger in your sight B y this means you wil l come to
observe accurately and observation in one el d o f
thought l ead s to observation in another
In memorising music by the eye it i s necessary that
stand ard ed itions shoul d be used in order that that
which the eye retains s houl d be retained in its clearest
and most ex pl icit form C lear printing is an essenti al
The more d istinct the printed music the more d istinct
wil l be one s mental image o f it
B ut it i s one thing to observe cl osel y and remembe r
what one has seen and quite another thing to cal l up a
complete menta l picture o f this when one requires it
The l atter requires a great deal o f co n ce n t rat in and
al so a fair amount o f imagination To keep i t u p for
any l ength o f time causes a great strain on the nerves
but I have known peopl e who are abl e to cal l u p a
mental picture without the least conscious e ffort

t icu l ar

HO W TO M E M ORISE M USIC

40

To those who habitu al l y observe things around them

and remember what they see I wou l d say : You


possess thi s power o f memorising by the eye already i f
you are abl e to visu al ize what i s in your memory and
i f you c annot d o thi s you wil l b e abl e to d o it with

practice
In f act practice i s ever y thing
It is impossibl e to l ay d own any strict rules regarding
a particu l ar method o f study for acquiring thi s fac ul ty
Again I mu st repeat C l ose observation i s the great
essential
I wil l give a few more or less extreme
ex ampl es in order to show the broad l ines in which the
student may d irect h i s work
I n the rst
u n i t i at e d
pl ace it wi l l be wel l to attempt the visual memorising
o f a piece w h ich on the printed page attracts and
arrests the eye A piece which i s del iberatel y eccentric
o f strikingl y original wi l l very o ften bear the imprint o f
its true nature on its very appearance F o r instance
Chopin s E tude O p 2 5 No 4 is su fciently u h
common ih appearance to make the beho l der excl aim :
I shoul d l ike to hear that piece pl ayed I wonder
what it sound s l ike i
,

1 1

The above three bars wi l l be sufficient in themsel ves


to show the student w h at i s meant by visual m e m o ris

H O W TO M E M ORISE M USI C

41

i n g I Le t

him study them with his eye al one i Le t him


gaze l ong and earnestly bar by bar not icing the
pecul i arities common to each ; e t him perceive why
t his particul ar s t udy l ook s so ind ividual and character

i s t ic ; and then let him cl ose his eyes and attempt to


cal l up a mental image o f what he has been studying
This method o f procedure repeated time a fter time wil l
wil l
rad
u
al
l
y
bring
about
the
desired
resul
t
in short
g
teach him to make an unconscious practice o f observing
wi t h his eyes as wel l as with hi s e ars and intel lect
The fol l owing are a few more ex amples o f charac
t e r is t ic pieces the more individu al points o f which the
eye wil l at once perceive and take note o f
.

Ex

A l l eg r o

t r oppo

n on

C HO !I N
O p 2 4, N O

S ot t o

v ot e

e tc

Larg o

m es t o

B E E T HO V E N

No

C t C.

H O W TO M E M ORISE M USIC

42

M E N D E LS S O HN

The Chop in ex am pl e i s the onl y one o f those I have


instanced which may be cal l ed real l y eccentric , an d i t
i s the onl y one which the untrained eye wil l memori se
wit h out much e ff ort The other two examples possess
ind ividual ity but they are not wi l ful ly pecu l iar ; and
the unpractised student wi l l require to exercise a
certain amount o f prol onged observation an d coneen
t r at e d attention be fore hi s eye wil l retain a picture o f
what he has been studying As the student nd s hi s
eye becoming more and more trained and under the
command o f hi s wil l he may sa fel y entrust it t o
memorize l onger passages which d o not bear t h e
appearance o f being essential l y d i fferent from other
music
A very good p l an in this connection is for a student
to st ud y a short piece al ready made fami l iar by
constant practice with his eye
He wil l nd thi s
method a good way o f attacking the subj ect i f t h e
one which I have a lread y ind icated shou l d fai l hi m
a ltogether
.

tc

HOW

44

TO

M E M O R ISE M USIC

out o f one idea grows another and from the second a


third and so on And i f the piece be a true work o f
art wel l constructed and sincere these d i fferent emo
t ions wil l grow one out o f the other quite n atural l y and
they wil l form a homogeneous whole ; one emotion wi l l
f ol l ow another as natural ly and compl etel y as the night
fol l ows the d ay I d o not wish to impl y by this that i f
h al f a dozen composers worked out a theme t h e d i ffer
e n t emotions in their compositions woul d al l correspond
Not at a l l ! Al l owance must be made for the temper
ament and mental gi fts o f the d i fferent composers S o
e asil y and natural l y in mu sic is the ex pression o f one
into the ex pression o f another tot al l y
e motion turned
d issimil ar one that from one emotion two composers
m i ght c h oose entirely d i fferent ones to fol l ow the rst
I f thi s were not so one s memorising by the facu lty o f
e motion
woul d be reduced to a mere formul a the
e x pression
wou l d be almost as easy to learn as the
a l p h abet ; indeed one woul d onl y have to remember a
l ong l ist o f emotions and remember which was t h e
n atural
outcome o f the one which one was ex pressing
at the moment
No ; each composer passes from one
m ood to another according to the way in which hi s
temperament d irects him
How then d oes al l thi s assist one in memorising
?
i
a
n
f
r
t
o
e
l
iterature
In this way
When a pi an ist
p
h as gained su fcient mastery over a piece o f music as
t o enabl e him to pl ay i t from beginning to end without
bl undering and with comparative ease he shou l d
e ndeavour
to feel the emoti on o f it as acutely as
possible He shoul d note each separate emotion and
try to perceive why and how they are connected with
those that precede and fol l ow them and when this i s
,

'

H O W TO M E M ORISE M USIC

45

d one he wi l l have done al l that is necessary B ut the

reader may say : B ut even now I cannot see how


al l this aid s the memory
Yes but i t d oes When
a pi anist is pl aying a piece o f music without the printed
sheet be fore him he i s very apt to come to a sud den
stop and forget what comes next
H is eyes ears
brains and ngers have deserted him and he d oes not
know what to p l ay He may remember the emotio n
that shou l d come next though he may not remember
the notes by means of which he may ex press the emo
tion ; but i f hi s emotional facu l ty be su fcientl y
trained it wil l so d ominate him as actu al ly to suggest
t h e notes that shoul d be pl ayed and thi s al so in the
shortest possib l e time so that be fore he has had time
to break down his emotional f acul ty has come to the
rescue and he i s saved Thi s f acul ty o f emotion i s
inherent in every musician worthy o f the name and is
undoubted ly o ften unconsciousl y exercised by pi anists
but I d o not remember having seen it stated be fore as
being an aid to memorising music
I am wel l aware o f the fact that there seem to be
quite a l arge number o f people who are quite incapabl e
o f ex periencing any spiritual emotion whatever ; but
these people wil l never make musicians
No matter
how keenly they may feel emotions that appeal to thei r
e sh their sensu al ity that wil l not hel p them to b e
come great pi anists :for music i s the most spiritu al o f
al l the arts and gives l ittl e or no expression to the
hunger o f the esh B ut spiritual emotion the emotion
o f the sou l i s fel t by al l who mak e any pro fession o f
enj
oying m u s I C
I t i s a very vexed question as to how far a l i fe o f
wanton immoral ity d u l l s the edge o f one s spiritua l
.

M E JI OR I S E

H O W TO

4 8

M USIC

a ppet ite for music ; but it see ms to me wel l with in the


t ruth that he who has no l i fe save the l i fe o f the bodi l y
senses and the sati s fy ing o f them begins to l ose per
o f al l that i s greatest and best in music
ce p t io n
B eethoven s symphonies become cl oud e d and misty
and the music o f Wagner l oses depth and meaning I
d o not there fore think I am stepping outside my province
w hen I advise al l readers o f these chapters to govern
t heir l ives in as simpl e a manner as possibl e
R egard
mere enj oyment as but a recreation to t you for your
your one
w ork l et your work itsel f be y our passion
This particul ar rem ark i s intended
r eason for ex isting
for the more youth fu l student ; as he or she advances
i nto manhood or womanhood other interest s wil l cl aim
their attention and rightl y so ; but during the period
o f boyhood and youth one s art shoul d be an absorbing

p assion
The more one keeps
unspotted from the

worl d
the tter cond ition wi l l one s sou l be in to
appreciate the greatness and nobil ity o f the work o f the
great composers
B ut on the other hand there are those who while
b e ing o f a decided l y musical temperament and whil st
p ossessing very fair abi l ities as pianists are not abl e to
fee l so intensel y as those whose nerves are more
r esponsive
more quick to feel more ready to enj oy
I t is sa fe to prophesy that these musici an s however
advanced and wel l devel oped their techn ique may be
however strong and keen their intel lectual force wil l
never reach the highest summit o f their art
Fo r
music is founded on the emotions an d i f the emotions
are not al ert quick to feel and quick to respond the
resul t o f the pi an ist s efforts wi l l be futile meagre an d
u sel ess
These peopl e wil l not be able to put their
,

H 0 W TO M E M 0 R 1 SE M USI C

47

emotions to such u se in memori sing music ; for unless


o n e feel s acu t e l y
it i s hopel ess t o ex pect to be carried
away by one emotion on to the next succeeding
e motion
H owever the other branches o f the subj ect
may be stud ied the harder in order that what is l ost in
thi s particu l ar emotion may be gained in others
Those o f my readers who are in the happy (and yet
for many reasons unhappy ) positi on o f possessing
emotional natures that are continual ly requ iring to be
checked and kept within reasonabl e bound s wil l not be
under the necessity o f training themselves in thi s
f acul ty In most cases it i s best le ft al one to guide
and point out mechanical ly and unconsciousl y ; and it
i s an open question as to whether a too cl ose anal ysis
and observance o f it d oes not destroy some o f its power
Thi s point however may be l e ft for the wisdom o f the
i n d iV I d u al to settl e
In any case your pro fessor wi l l
be able to give you the necessary advice al though
your own j ud gment shoul d rarely i f ever be n e g l ct e d
utterl y
Le t me give you an ex ampl e t o i l lustrate what I
have al ready said a wel l known and fairly simpl e piece

o f Mendel ssohn s hi s
Without Word s
S ong
beginning :
,

Ex

A d ag i o

: 63

n on

t r oy-Do

'

M E NDE

I S S O HN .

H O W TO M E M ORISE M USI C

48

e tc

Now a rst read ing o f thi s piece wi l l make it clear to


the pi anist that its predominating emotion i s one o f
rest ful ness and cal m
Al l i s hushed reverent and
peace ful ; no passion no excitement and no great j oy
or deep sorrow And yet in these twenty seven bars
there i s enough vari ety o f feel ing to make the m e m o ri s
ing o f the whol e pi e ce by means o f the f acul ty o f
emotion al one a m atter o f ease and simpl icity F o r
short and easy as thi s l ittl e album lea f i s yet it i s a
compl ete work o f art I t i s a pol ished gem per fect in
every detai l
The rst two an d a hal f b ars serve as a short and
appropriate introd uction
Their purpose is to creat e
in the mind o f the l istener a feel ing o f ex pectancy ;
they prep are the mind for what i s to fol l ow and give
birt h to the appropri ate kind o f emotional atmosphere
The second hal f o f the third b ar begins the piece At
once the rest ful reposefu l feel ing which I have alread y
mentioned is made mani fest but al ong with it i s borne
a tender y earning as for some absent friend Thi s
emotion i s ex pressed until the seventh bar is reached
and it i s intensied (with a sl ight feel ing o f hope ful ness)
i n the midd l e o f bar 5 ; but bar 6 soothes th is intenser
feel ing al most as soon as it is fel t
At the third be at
o f bar 7 the s ame emotion o f yearning i s again e x pe ri
,

H O W TO M E M ORISE M USIC

49

and at b ar 8 it is much keener and more


heart fel t akind o f mil d protest i s indu l ged in because
the absent one cannot be reached
B ut the second
hal f o f bar 9 the whol e o f bar I O and the rst hal f o f
bar I I repeat the soothing inuence o f bar 6 and al l i s
rest again The second hal f o f bar 1 1 ex presses a
d ifferent emotion one o f manl y res ignation ; bar 1 2
d evel ops the emotion ; but in the middl e o f bar I 3 a
hal f ex pressed regret is again evinced and this is
carried through bar 1 4
B ars 1 5 and I 6 seem to

ndicate
a
sl
ight
spirit
o
f
restiveness
as i f the chains
i
o f circumstance were proving somewhat irksome
The student may analyse the remain ing emotions for
himsel f ; he wi l l see from the foregoing ex ampl e what I
wish to convey to hi s understanding by this facu lty o f
emotion O f course it wi l l be understood that I do
not advise that each bar o f a piece shoul d be l abel l ed
with some particul ar emotion and that the names o f
these d i fferent emotions shoul d be l earned off by heart
in a co l umn ; that woul d be pal pably absurd and o f no
possible u se to the student B ut I d o insi st on the
necessity o f anal ysing the emotion o f al l pieces that the
s tudent wishes to memorise
I t wi l l be found use ful in
many cases to invent some sl ight romance or tal e to t
in with the sequence o f the emotion in the piece that
is being stud ied ; I have known several c ases where
s uch a method o f procedure has proved inval uable

e n ce d ,

'

HO W TO M E M ORISE M USI C

50

V II

:t h

07

S e l e ct i o n

a R

e rt o ry

HI S is a matter that requires the most care fu l


consideration O ne s repertory shou l d consist o f
pieces that represent one s powers and no piece
shoul d be memori sed u nl ess it is worth memorising
i t i s a very bad system to master eighteen or twenty
popul ar pieces o f the d ay for they very soon drop into
that obl ivion which they d oubtless deserve and the
student th en nd s it necessary to memori se a fresh
repertory every few months
A pianist s repertory
shoul d consist o f pieces the val ue o f which is u h
d oubte d ; they shoul d be abl e to st an d the test o f years
and l ast as l ong as the l i fe o f the pi anist I do not
advise the total neglect o f modern composers for it i s
my bel ie f that much excel lent work is done every year

by l iving men ; but I d o say


Le t your repertory be
based mainly on the cl assical composers :let them be
your d aily br e ad your chie f means o f susten an ce
Light composers o f the third or fourth rank may then
be brou g ht i nto requisition to l l in the empty nook s

'

HO W TO M E M ORISE M USIC

52

m emorise

anything B ut yet on the other hand d o


pretend to l ike cl assical music j ust because you
n ot
D o not rave over a B ach fugue j ust
o u g h t to l ike it
because it is a B ach fugue B e honest with yoursel f
and your fel l ow pi anists And i f nal l y you nd that
you are utterly unabl e to appreciate any o f the work o f
the great masters o f composition i t woul d be wel l
to recognise the fact that at heart you are not a true
musician and that any enj oyment you or your friend s
may get from your piano forte pl aying wil l be but
enj oyment o f a very shal l ow kind B ut it very o ften
happens that a pianist wi l l have a tempe rament that
seems to be set al l in one groove He can appreci ate
t h e beauties o f one master but i s unable to comprehend
the work o f another And this circumstance though
regrettabl e enough in itsel f is not an insurmountable
barrier to pianistic success
I f for instance Chopin
appeal s to you f ar more than any other composer
it woul d be advisabl e for you to make his works your
chie f study ; but to make them your o n l y study woul d
merely make y ou more narrow than you were be fore D o
not ignore the other comp osers al together
but
study those whose works are essential ly opposed to
Chopin s and the scope o f your temperament or
in d ividual ity wil l be widened and your appreciation o f
Beethoven and B ach wil l grow more intel l igent and
keen
B ut to take the case o f a piani st who has wide
tastes and sympathies what composers shoul d he select ?
H ere again the particu l ar pieces may be left for him to
choos e the only advice I venture to give being that
they shoul d be as representative as possibl e and that
they shoul d incl ude at l east one sonata o f Beethoven
,

HO W TO M E M ORISE M USIC

53

The more representative one s memory i s the better


abl e wil l one be to entertain d iff erent kind s o f peopl e
a wel l educated audience being able to appreciate
B ach and B eethoven whi l st a not real l y musical
assembl y woul d enj oy the l ighter pieces o f more modern
composers
B ut d on t stoop to memorise mere trash
j ust because you wi l l gain a l ittl e ephemeral popul arity
by being able to pl ay it
The pieces that form one s repertory may in mos t
ca s es be d ivided int o two d istinct cl asses :
Those
that
we
intend
to
p
l
ay
for
our
friend
s
and
1
()
the publ ic and
s
Those
that
we
intend
to
interpret
for
ourselve
2
()
al one
M ost piani sts I have met have certain p ieces at
their nger end s which they never attempt to pl ay in
publ ic ; t h e y are perhaps pieces that for the sake o f
some associ ation o f ideas are hel d too sacred for publ ic
hearing
B ut there are some pieces which by thei r
very nature are unsu ited for publ i c per formance They
are so deep so sol emn so thought fu l that one can
interpret them best in the sol itude o f one s chamber
I t i s at times such as thi s when one is communing alone
with one o f the greater masters o f music that one
real ises the benet to be derived from memori sing ; f o r
when the printed p age is absent one seems to be
al l the closer to the spirit o f the composer one i s
interpreting and the music has an ad ded charm and
signicance

'

H O W TO M E M ORISE M USIC

84

On a

III

Me t h od

f S t ud y

E M O R IS I NG

music shoul d be a constant study


with al l who pl ay any musical instrument ;
indeed many o f our foremost teachers go so far as to
say that every new piece that i s learned shou l d be al so
memori sed I my sel f d o not see any necessity for this
as many pieces that one stud ies are not o f su fcient
v al ue to be worth committing to memory and it is
nothing l ess than fool ish to store the mind with u seles s
l umber B ut it i s never advisabl e to l et any o f the
facul ties rust merely for the sake o f exercise and in
ord er to prevent this one shou l d be constantl y
memorising
The l ength o f time that shoul d be given to thi s
s ubj ect depend s
o f course on the opportunities at his
d i sposal I f he can spare four hours a d ay to the general
s tudy o f music
then hal f ah hour out o f thi s four at
l east shou l d be given to memorising I f however the
student has as yet no memorised repertory and i s
desirous o f memorising a d ozen or twenty pieces then
he woul d nd t hat hal f ah hour a d ay i s not enough
,

HO W

TO M E
,

MOR I S E M USI C

55

and that two h ours Wi l l be nearer the mark B ut each


student wil l decide thi s matter for himsel f according t o
his individu al necessi t ies
The order in which the d ifferent f acul ties shoul d be
devel ope d is perhaps best ind icated by the order in
which these chapters have been written E ach facul ty
shoul d be devel oped separately and tested separately ;
proper attention cannot be given i f two or three are
take n together A very good pl an i s to begin by paying
particu l ar attention to those facu l ties which chance t o
be most highly devel oped and when they have reached
a fair state o f per fect ion attention may be d irected t o
A comparatively e asy piece shou l d be
the others
selected at a rst attempt ; it shoul d be pl ayed over
until the student is famil iar with it and as soon as he
has l earned to pl ay it correctly with the aid o f t h e
printed music o f course he shoul d at once begin the
work o f memorising The sense o f touch wi l l alread y
have done its work more or less unconsc i ousl y as wil l
al so the facu l ty o f hearing
I f these two facul tie s
chance to be those which are best devel oped try to
memorise the piece by their ai d al one When thi s i s
d one d issect the piece anal yse i t n d out how it i s
constructed And then i f the piece chosen happens to
be a suitable one that is happens to be ful l o f e m otion
and feel ing try to memori se it by the emotions ; o r
better st i l l negl ect the piece al together for a few weeks
then pl ay it over once with the aid o f the printed m U s ic
and then try to pl ay i t with the aid o f the emotions al o n e
as far as possibl e It wil l be impossible to d o thi s
entirely by the sol e aid o f the emotions o f course
because the ngers the ear and the intel lect hav e
already memorised it ; but by keeping these facul ties in
.

'

HO W TO M E M ORISE M USIC

56

abey ance as far as i s possibl e it can be done to a


l imited extent
The facul ty o f sight shoul d be devel oped entirel y alone
without the aid o f any o f the other facu lties I t stan d s
quite by itsel f and its devel opment may be carried out
I t wil l be
o n the l ines l aid d own in a previou s chapter
a very d i fcul t matter for the student to m aster this
branch thoroughly unless he has the gi f t d irect from
Nature but it i s one that i s worth mastering for it i s an
excel l ent aid to the other facu lties

As a l ast word o f advice I shou l d l ike to say : D o


not be d iscouraged no matter how many f ai l ures you
have
Thi s advice i s very trite and conventi onal I
know but not one per cent o f our success fu l musicians
h ave made their positions without fol l owing it
Nex t
to t alent perseverance i s e v e ry t h in g in thi s worl d We
have al l met exceed ingly clever men men skil fu l
in mu sic painting and l iterature who in spite o f al l
t h eir cl everness have never been success f u l
Why ?
S impl y because they coul d never bring themselves
to work on and on in spite o f fail ure after fai l ure And
in mu si c we are al l sure to make mi stakes but i t i s by
our mistakes that we gain knowledge and by o ur
fai l ures that we l earn to persevere
And success ?
wel l no man ever yet strove for success with al l his
might and wil l and f ai l ed to get i t that i s o f
course i f he had su ffi cient talent to warrant him
in aiming as high as he d id And that i s another point
to observe D on t over estimate your powers there i s
nothing more fatal to your happiness in al l the worl d
Aim at what your talents j usti fy you in aiming at ; but
on the other hand d on t aim too l ow
,

T HE E N D