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Kardamom's avatar

Is there an equivalent to an eidetic memory, with regards to aural memories and sounds?

Asked by Kardamom (23856 points ) February 16th, 2014

One of my friends is a drummer. He’s been playing since he was a teen. Going on 40 years now. He’s in his mid 50’s. He took drum lessons as a youth, but he never learned to read music.Yet he is one of the best drummers I’ve ever heard. He’s played in several bands in which he had to recreate the drum sequences of Ringo Starr (The Beatles), John Densmore (The Doors) Clem Burke (Blondie) and Hal Blaine (studio musician for The Monkees, Frank Sinatra and The Beach Boys and beyond).

When he has to learn new pieces, he takes a day or two and then he’s proficient. He does not need to rehearse day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. After a few days, he’s got it down pat.

How does he do it? He never learned to read music, and never studied music in school. He was given a set of drums (after begging for them as a youth) given a few lessons, and then he was, for all intents and purposes, a pro.

Would you say that he’s got an eidetic memory? I don’t think so, because that involves someone seeing and memorizing something. This friend of mine doesn’t read music, so he’s not memorizing or even reading, thus seeing, the music.

Is there an equivalent for people who hear things, especially music, who can immediately recreate those sounds, simply because they can hear them, in their mind’s ear rather than their mind’s eye? If so, is there a term for that?

Is he a musical Sherlock Holmes? Or an Aural Savant?

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5 Answers

dxs's avatar

After a while, you get used to the sounds and intervals of things. I can do this because of relative pitch.
If you gave me a basic melody, I can recreate it on the piano. You learn, for instance, what each degree of a scale sounds like in context. The rhythms are even easier to recreate.

PhiNotPi's avatar

Some people are good at remembering music. They may hear they music and it may be stuck in their head for a while, but even after it’s no longer stuck in their head, they never really forget it completely.

Personally, I think I belong this group of people, and I think it’s all a function of how deeply music gets stuck in your head after hearing for the first time. If you tend to find music “catchy” when nobody else does, then you have a better chance of remembering it. Most people, for example, probably don’t find Pictures at an Exhibition – Prominade Theme to be partically catchy, but I did earlier today.

People often know the lyrics to their favorite songs or line from their favorite movie, it doesn’t matter what it is, if they find something interesting they will remember it.

filmfann's avatar

This mentions that skill as being eidetic memory, which apparently is not limited to visuals.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

Someone with perfect pitch and eidetic memory would have the capability to which you refer.

28lorelei's avatar

I’d say there are many people who can remember sounds to a ridiculous degree. As a trained musician, I’m fairly good at remembering sounds myself, but I don’t know if I’d say that I have an eidetic memory in regard to sounds. This guy does though.
I haven’t met anyone with this degree of this specific capability, but I’ve met people who can recreate pieces of music in their heads from reading a score pretty much perfectly (I’m working on this skill, but am not nearly as fluent as I’d like to be… practice, I guess).

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