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Remembering Chord Progressions

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Postby planetluvver » August 7th, 2012, 1:00 pm

I was looking at The Definitive Paul Simon Songbook published by Amsco. Many of the songs have many, many chord changes.

I know I am not anywhere near the skill level to add any of these songs to my repetiore. But I am feeling lousy at the thought of the difficulty of remembering so many chord progressions.

Right now, I am telling myself that at some future point in time, when I am a better guitarist, remembering a chord progression will not be any more difficult than remembering the lyrics. The idea of rote memorization of complex chord progressions is frightening me.

Please someone, tell me this will be easier in the future... Is it like learning another language, and as I learn more, I will gain more fluency?

I still need to look at the sheet music for some of my 3 and 4 chord songs that I am currently practicing.
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Postby Rocket Dog » August 7th, 2012, 11:05 pm

planetluvver wrote:Is it like learning another language, and as I learn more, I will gain more fluency?


Yes I think that is a very good comparison. As with a language, the more you use it, say in conversation, the easier it is to recall the words and phrases. Don't try and learn too many at once, maybe concentrate on one or two and get those under your belt then move on to learning a new one. As you do make sure you still play the ones you have already committed to memory in order that you don't forget those.
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Postby cnev » August 8th, 2012, 4:31 am

Had the same fear don't worry you'll remember.
"It's all about stickin it to the man!"
It's a long way to the top if you want to rock n roll!
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Postby jwmartin » August 8th, 2012, 8:04 pm

Playing with others will help that along as well. 6 months ago, I probably only really knew about 10 songs from beginning to end, excluding ones I wrote. I've been playing bass in a cover band and now I know about 60. Not just the chord changes, but most I know the original bass line. You start finding patterns in the songs, as well, so it's less to remember.
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Postby planetluvver » August 9th, 2012, 1:13 pm

Thank you for the reassurance. If I tell myself things will get easier, it seems like wishful thinking. So much better to hear it from the other side of experience!
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Postby EzraplaysEzra » August 9th, 2012, 6:47 pm

Try learning the song through only the root notes. When I have a song in my head I usually start with a line or a melody then add the chords. That might help you get your head around the changes.
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Postby dogbite » August 10th, 2012, 5:13 am

one thing to keep in mind with some sheet music....I may be wrong, but some sheets seem to be written for Piano; many chords and many complex (passing) chords. I have and have seen simpler written sheets with less chords. the song sounds nearly the same.
eventually, as your skill level increases and your hands have muscle memory chords and chord changes become more automatic. and eventually, you ear begins to hear those spaces for the more complex passing chords. your fingers will seek them out.
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Postby planetluvver » August 10th, 2012, 9:37 am

I am just starting to pick out melodies. My sight reading skills are still at the point that I need to count lines on the staff. My knowledge of the fretboard is not any better.

I have seen books written like that, where the guitar chords seem to be just the same as the piano. In this particular case, I don't think it is true. My reason for thinking so is that there is no bass clef. Only the treble clef with the melody line.
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