Bob Snyder – Music and Memory

A month or so ago I had borrowed Bob Snyder’s “Music and Memory: An Introduction” from the library’s LINK+ system and realized now that I had not gotten around to writing about it. What a great book! I have long had many thought about time, particularly the experience of time, and reading the information presented by Snyder in the book were as if reading many of my own thoughts but done much more deeply and clearly than I had ever taken them. I felt really quite lucky to have come across this book when I did.

Unfortunately, the only problem was that I did not have enough time to read the entire book so had to skim through the rest and take notes with pen and paper (which was surprisingly effective for me to do, as taking the notes and speeding through I felt I did cover a lot of the ground and retained a great deal more than if I had not taken notes; certainly will be exploring taking notes more often in this way). One of my favorite lines I read was when he was talking about expectation as “memory cued by present experience but not fully conscience,” Snyder writes:

“With expectations we can “feel” the future in the present.” (p. 49)

I also very much enjoyed reading the section near the end of memory strategies, particularly memory sabotage. The observations about high vs. low information strategies as well as memory length strategies were those which I had thought about a great deal, and I was glad to see in the appendix listing of many of my favorite composers as examples of memory sabotage (i.e. Feldman, Cage, etc.).

It was really quite interesting to learn all about how memory works (or at least how it is currently understood to work), all the different stages and elements involved in the different levels of memory. I would whole-heartedly suggest this book to any person composing and/or analyzing music as I think it can give some interesting ways to think about music, especially as a tool to help analyze in some way how things do and do not work when listening to a piece of music. I will be looking forward to when I will have a chance to read through this text once again!

1 comment

  1. I couldnt agree more. This book explores many deep and interesting aspects of human brain. But I am wondering how and where i can get a pdf version?

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