I would not say that I have the greatest memory. Names, faces…many are a blur, which is made worse when folks call me by name and say it’s nice to see me again. Um, again? I have even forgotten my own birthday several times, but, to be fair, it is during the summer and I tend to lose track of the date that time of year.
So why can I remember every lyric to a song I haven’t heard since high school? It’s crazy! On a recent road trip, everyone in the car sang almost every word to a classic by Salt-N-Pepa…and there were a lot of words!
My research of music and memory continues, this time focusing on why song lyrics can imprint so well that they are practically permanent.
So far, I have found a few reasons that perhaps should have been more obvious to me:
- Rhyming- Of course! If I know that the next verse will rhyme it helps me remember ( or figure out) what it is.
- Patterns- Other speech patterns other than rhyming also help us remember, like alliteration, assonance, and repetition.
- Exposure- Music is everywhere, and those lyrics we remember have been played a bunch of times, and because it’s a recording, it’s identical.
- Emotions- We remember things better when emotions are involved, whether they are positive or negative, and music tend to trigger emotions!
And here are a couple reason that were less obvious to me:
- Special Storage- One theory is that our brain has a special storage section for lyrics, that is different from where the melody and other parts of the song memories are stored. Weird.
- Motor memory- Since we often sing along to songs, we remember it as a physical motor memory as well! It’s like riding a bike!
Well, this is all starting to make a lot more sense to me.
I have more to learn about music and memory how this can be used as a powerful tool for education and happiness…I will keep writing new posts as I unfurl these mysteries!