Has anyone used Sythesia to *memorize* pieces?

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Electrode
Posts: 187

Post by Electrode » 07-11-11 12:29 pm

occurin wrote: This is a pity, because I really need to memorize pieces, so I can internalize the music and develop my "mental play".
I would like to make a distinction, and clear up a potentially confusing misconception that could be brought about by this sentence, written by the original poster.

Mental play has more in common with aural skills (hearing the music in your head and being able to translate that to the piano through your fingers) than memorisation. While memorising and mental play are somewhat related, they are also totally different. Memorisation does not necessarily involve mental play (it doesn't have to involve mental play at all, actually), but mental play complements and solidifies memorisation. If you had to choose only one of them to work on, then choose mental play. That is far more important to overall musical development than memorising. I will define what memorising and mental play are in this post.

Before I do that though, let me say that you can memorise music using Synthesia alone, but it is a lot more difficult and much slower to do without musical theory knowledge. There are threads I made in the "General" section of the forum, in which I have posted videos of two of the three pieces I performed for my previous piano exam, along with how I used Synthesia to help me prepare the pieces for the exam. However, I did have some familiarity with the pieces already (before drilling them with Synthesia) because I had to learn them from sheet music first.

I would define mental play as "hearing the music in your head, with notes and expression intact - hearing the music as if you performed it perfectly to your own liking". I would define memorisation as more of a visualisation thing, sort of like this: you know how there are YouTube tutorials for songs, where you are looking straight down from above at the piano keyboard, and seeing someone's hands and fingers on the notes as they play? Memorisation is like that - it is as if you are viewing yourself playing the piano, looking down on yourself from above. Synthesia is perfect for this, because you already have the keyboard in front of you on the screen! The only thing you do not have is your hands and fingers on the keys of the keyboard. Therefore, you can see that memorising and mental play are different, but related concepts. One deals with the physical, the other deals with the sound. This is why they are complementary.

Nicholas has been playing with the idea of live video feeds in Synthesia anyway. If that feature ever makes it in, Synthesia will be an amazing memory aid.

Anyway, I hope that sheds some light on why memorising and mental play are two different, but complementary things.

kjun13
Posts: 2
Location: Southern Ontario, Canada

Post by kjun13 » 07-16-11 9:58 am

Absolutely!

Don't try to play alongside Synesthesia, but listen to a section and try to replicate it by yourself. You need to have a good sense of Proprioception to play piano, since your eyes can only watch one hand at a time.

I have Memorized these songs using synesthesia since I started on April 27th...
- "Never Forget" from Halo 3
- "Epilogue/Ghosts and Glass/The Package" from Halo Reach
- "Autumn of Mankind" from Gears of War 2
I have a few more that are works in progress, I have memorized over half of "The Portrait" from Titanic.

Remember, Practice Makes Perfect! Once you are confident you could play it blindfolded, THEN you can worry about how hard you press the keys and what not.

Good luck!

Hopfrog
Posts: 16

Post by Hopfrog » 07-16-11 10:59 am

I'm going to try and address the OP's main concern. Being able to use Synthesia to help memorize a piece.

I think I went through the same process that the OP did. I found Synthesia and claimed "Eureka!", I've found a way to dramatically cut down on learning time. Then I started using Synthesia and found it odd and frustrating that it didn't seem to be helping me to 'learn' the pieces. I found myself anticipating the falling notes, but didn't really have the song in my head.

I then went back to using sheet music and found that although the initial process of learning the song was more painful than learning it with Synthesia, I found I was able to 'memorize' it much faster. I started thinking about what I was doing differently. With sheet music I was going through the song in small pieces (or small groups of measures) and not moving to the next piece until I had the piece I was working on down cold. Reason being, I find using sheet music to be a chore, a chore that I do not like to repeat.

With Synthesia, I didn't find learning to be a chore, and I often would keep plowing through whole songs because I knew I could get through it sounding like a song, but it wasn't helping me learn. So I thought, why don't I apply what I do when I use sheet music to Synthesia. That is when I started using bookmarks to break the songs down into smaller pieces. I'll go through a bookmark over and over until I feel I have it, then I put my head down so the monitor is only in my peripheral vision and play through the bookmark in melody mode. As long as I see some movement in my peripheral vision, I know I am hitting the right notes, and I find that I am now 'learning' the song. The bookmarks are great because you can easily hop around the different sections you are struggling with and they are saved for future use.

Now that I am thinking about it, I think a great addition to the program would be some way of obscuring the falling notes, but still get visual feedback that the song is progressing. Not a sheet music only mode, or well, I would just use sheet music, but something graphical along the lines of those visual kaleidoscopes that used to be displayed when playing music on early PC media centers. Granted, that would look terrible and I really don't have a good suggestion for actual implementation, just wanted to share how I was able to use Synthesia for learning and put out some food for thought.

vicentefer31
Posts: 899
Location: Madrid, Spain

Post by vicentefer31 » 07-16-11 4:14 pm

I use Synthesia to memorize songs with "Memory Mode". How? Press F5 on your computer Keyboard when you are with the falling notes and you are playing like always but the you can't see the notes until you press again F5, so you have to play by memory.
Picasso: I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.

Hopfrog
Posts: 16

Post by Hopfrog » 07-17-11 10:15 am

vicentefer31 wrote:I use Synthesia to memorize songs with "Memory Mode". How? Press F5 on your computer Keyboard when you are with the falling notes and you are playing like always but the you can't see the notes until you press again F5, so you have to play by memory.
Doh!, I've been using Synthesia for a couple of months now and I didn't even know this existed. It still lights up the keys that need to be pressed, and I think some type of visual feedback that shows progression without showing you what needs to be pressed would be better. Reason being, I still need to look away or I am doing the same thing, using the visual as a crutch instead of as feedback. Maybe two options for memory mode. One where the keys light up, and one where the piano roll moves graphically (I wish I had a good idea for this), without any indication of the notes that need to be pressed. Sure I could just use the audio cues, but I am just passing along what I feel has helped me progress effectively with Synthesia as a learning tool. That has been visual and audio feedback.

Hopfrog
Posts: 16

Post by Hopfrog » 07-17-11 8:31 pm

Thought of a way to graphically do this that makes sense. The piano roll could turn into randomly falling notes in randomly falling colors, kinda like a note waterfall. It cascades down as the right notes are hit, if the right notes aren't hit then it stops, and after a few seconds or a few missed notes then the appropriate keys could be lit up. I may be in the minority who like getting the visual feedback without 'the answers', so it may not even be worthwhile. But if enough people express the same concerns, or this issue keeps popping up, then it's a suggestion to at least consider.

Electrode
Posts: 187

Post by Electrode » 07-19-11 9:50 am

It's important to stress that there is no standard way of organising your memory. For instance, Hopfrog and I organise our memories differently. I prefer to go through a piece once in its entirety (no matter how long that takes me) when I first start learning it, in order to get a sense of the piece as a whole. I find that helps my memory on a subconscious level because I'm aware of how the sections of music fit together and how the piece exists as a whole. It's almost as if I'm taking a mental photograph of the entire piece, and allowing that "bigger picture" to aid my memorising when I start breaking the piece down. Hopfrog works in the other direction, learning each piece of the puzzle and then fitting each piece together to create the whole, rather than my way of seeing the whole, then breaking it down, then putting it back together again. Mine is definitely the longer (and possibly even harder) way of doing it, but I don't seem to learn things the easy way. Learning things the hard way is the only way they'll stay in my head! ;)

The message is: work in the way that is easiest for you. Everyone works differently. If you and someone else memorise the same music in different ways with the same results, then who cares how you got there? The important thing is that you got there in the end!

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DC64
Posts: 830
Location: Earth, U.S.

Post by DC64 » 07-19-11 4:08 pm

Electrode wrote:The message is: work in the way that is easiest for you. Everyone works differently. If you and someone else memorise the same music in different ways with the same results, then who cares how you got there? The important thing is that you got there in the end!
Exactly.
"And now for something completely different."

613Skier
Posts: 49

Post by 613Skier » 07-27-11 2:49 pm

Practice, Practice, Practice!

Let me start off by saying I've been using Sythesia to relearn piano from when I dropped off some odd 15 years ago+.
As a child I was turned off learning classical piano, didn't enjoy piano lessons, and quit. I've been playing Sythesia for over year and half now. When I quit piano lessons I was a novice. Not much strength in reading music.

Sythesia has allowed me to by-pass being unable to read sheet music. The first song I learned via Sythesia was "Mad World" by Gary Jules. Under a hundred times played, and I had it memorized. Since then it's allowed me to pick up other song's I've put efforts into learning.

Realizing that "learning how to play piano" solely from Sythesia would leave me handicapped in my abilities I took on actual piano lessons. This time around it lasted about 3 months, got some basics down, stuttered my way through Alfred's level 1. I stopped the lessons due to financial constraints.

Using the game "Rockband" as a good example. You start off beating songs on normal, then move to hard, by the time your ready for Expert mode the key notes drop so fast that you need to develop both muscle memory, and a bit of memorization as sometimes the notes are flying by way too fast.

Practising Sythesia, just like the game Rockband it's easier to take in at slower speeds, then increase the pace. In Online recital mode you'll notice how different it is when you get bucked off the track (out of rhythm) with the notes continuing to fall whether you're with them or not. If you have the memory to pick it up again it's easier.

There's a big difference between piano players that just "play the notes" vs those that "feel the music". Listen to any midi track, sounds robotic. Play on a Keyboard vs Real Piano, and you'll notice the differences right away as well.

Watching the progress of # of times played vs Tempo vs Mistakes against, it's easy to see improvements.

Great examples of "Learning how to play via Sythesia" would be going back to a song you haven't played in Months. If you've been playing regularly you'll likely find minutes (I know I do) shaved off previous attempts. Likewise, the more you play a song, getting it down pat, the finer it becomes. Eventually it will reach a point where you've memorized the piece.

From my own experience I'd say that number sits around 100 plays for me (That will vary for everyone!). I'm sticking to pieces I'd like to learn. Influences include The Beatles, Radiohead, Smashing Pumpkins, The Stones, Aerosmith, Vikagoeswild, ect. This time I'm doing it for myself on something I'd like to learn. I find reading sheet music a chore as well. I do realize that it's somewhat limiting my skills as a pianist, but the biggest proof I can tell you is when I take a piece I've learned on Sythesia, and play it from memory on the piano.

I look forward to future updates, and improvements.

This is the medium I've chosen to learn how to play piano.

And, Again....

PRACTICE!!!

Bissrok
Posts: 341

Post by Bissrok » 07-29-11 1:28 am

There's parts of some songs I have memorized from Synthesia, but it seems infinitely easier to learn from reading the sheet music. With sheet music, you tend to go through and practice small sections over and over again until you've mastered them. In Synthesia, you generally run through the entire song. You're not focused on the section, you're only concerned with the very next note. It doesn't stick. You can learn a song on Synthesia, just as you could learn a song by watching a video of someone playing Synthesia... it just doesn't seem like the most practical way. I'd prefer to use sheet music, and then I'd prefer to have it front of me just to be sure.

Hopfrog
Posts: 16

Post by Hopfrog » 07-29-11 10:48 am

Bissrok wrote:There's parts of some songs I have memorized from Synthesia, but it seems infinitely easier to learn from reading the sheet music. With sheet music, you tend to go through and practice small sections over and over again until you've mastered them. In Synthesia, you generally run through the entire song. You're not focused on the section, you're only concerned with the very next note. It doesn't stick.
This seems to be the issue a lot of us are having. Using bookmarks to break the songs down into sections helps a lot, and then focus on those sections just like with the sheet music. It also seems that, as pointed out, some of us learn differently than others so while someone like Skier may not need to use the program differently, there does seem to be a good portion of us that do.

I made a couple of suggestions in this thread, but I'll add another, have an option for Synthesia to automatically bookmark a song into different measures. RIght now the biggest hassle I have is going through the song and bookmarking it all up before I can get to me section practice. If it auto bookmarked the measures, I could easily delete or move them in logical sequence instead of have to do the pause/bookmark mode dance.

Right now, since using bookmarks, I prefer Synthesia to reading sheet music as a learning tool, but there is still lots of things that can be done to cater to the different ways we learn.

Nicholas
Posts: 12244

Post by Nicholas » 07-29-11 12:55 pm

How would you have auto-bookmarking work? Every N measures? Some smart song analysis that detects different sections? (That second one is a really hard problem. ;) )

I was thinking more along the lines of giving content creators control over it like finger hints. Starting in 0.8.3, creators will be able to share entire sets of songs, their metadata, finger hints for each, (and maybe bookmarks now that I'm getting a sense they're this important)... just by having users click a special link on the creator's webpage.

So, it sounds like I should be thinking about giving creators the ability to share their bookmarks, too.

Hopfrog
Posts: 16

Post by Hopfrog » 07-29-11 8:06 pm

After I made that post it immediately hit me, wait, you can't automark every measure, it would be too many bookmarks. Basically I would recommend just prompting for how many measures each bookmark should cover. I find that I like em grouped about 6 measures per bookmark, but someone else might like em double that size. I think some type of smart analysis would be too much hassle and produce too many weird results. It's basically just a way to get 'em out there and adjust 'em as needed. Would save a ton of time. Incorporating the user created bookmarks is a good idea as well, but I know for me auto-bookmarking would be the most effective solution.

USMC0811
Posts: 5

Post by USMC0811 » 07-29-11 8:49 pm

I'd suggest playing the "watch and listen" mode of a song, have your computer sound muted, and have your keyboard sound on. This way you can use the notes on the screen as a guide, but play how you please without worrying about getting ever note timed perfectly, and you can improvise how you want. Obviously, if it sounds good, you're playing it good.

613Skier
Posts: 49

Post by 613Skier » 07-29-11 9:41 pm

User assignable fingering hints would be very helpful. Along with the power to split up L & R hands in midis where only one instrument track is present. I know it's been said by others before. Really it would be a huge help. Breaking down any piece assigning input Key/# would be an excellent way to memorize.

Not every key would need to be labeled either kind of like in sheet music, when just the hand position changes, Eg. 1-C moves to 1-A, 2-B#, 5-E moves to 1-F, A, C... Y'all know what I mean.

Nicholas
Posts: 12244

Post by Nicholas » 07-29-11 10:41 pm

613Skier wrote:User assignable fingering hints would be very helpful.
You can do this today. Press N while the song is playing (or hit the little hand icon).

Christopher
Posts: 1

Post by Christopher » 07-31-11 5:01 pm

I also have some problem with memorizing songs I play on Synthesia.
In order for me to memorize a whole song I need to look on my Piano an see how i play it, after a while i learn how to move my hands.

Thou i think it is pretty strange, because the method is almost like Synthesia but i watch my hands instead of the dropping bars..

Hopfrog
Posts: 16

Post by Hopfrog » 08-02-11 12:06 am

Christopher wrote:I also have some problem with memorizing songs I play on Synthesia.
In order for me to memorize a whole song I need to look on my Piano an see how i play it, after a while i learn how to move my hands.

Thou i think it is pretty strange, because the method is almost like Synthesia but i watch my hands instead of the dropping bars..
Another example of someone who learns visually.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visual_learning

The vast majority of us learn visually. The great thing about Synthesia.. it is primarily a visual learning tool. Clearly though, there is still some ways to go (and probably some yet uncovered idea) to really untap its potential as a learning tool.

Bissrok
Posts: 341

Post by Bissrok » 08-02-11 10:14 am

And it just seems like you spend more time thinking about each note and about your fingering positions when you play with sheet music. With Synthesia, even in Practice Mode, I tend to play as quickly as I can, and I'm only concerned with hitting the notes. Plus, even with bookmarks, I tend to play the song the whole way through. With sheet music, I do small sections at a time until I've mastered them.

Synthesia is good for muscle memory, though. I wish I had the exact sheet music for every midi file I own (the Sheet Music mode on here is still a little wonky), because I would learn the basics with sheet, practice the crap out of it in the game, then return to playing it on sheet again. I think that would probably be ideal as far as timing and long term memory goes.

Nicholas
Posts: 12244

Post by Nicholas » 08-02-11 4:40 pm

Bissrok wrote:the Sheet Music mode on here is still a little wonky...
That will soon be remedied. It's been wonky for way too long. ;)

I'm still scoping the next dev preview for 0.8.2 that's going to focus on sheet music improvements. But I want to err on the side of too much. 0.8.2 is quickly becoming the release where I am cleaning up all my embarrassing messes. :D

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