Mind Games

Jacque mentioned yesterday that she thought Husband’s challenge for imaginary dinner guests was the result of filling time during Great Plains travel. She wasn’t far off.  Travel out here is tedious. People at the conference I attended were somewhat surprised to hear that we drove to Minneapolis, since it was “only” 500 miles from our home.

I listen to classical music on the radio, either streamed from MPR at home or at work, or else the Symphony Hall station on our car radio. I challenge myself to identify the composer and/or the name of the piece before the announcer says them.  I pretend I am in a competition. I listen to music whenever I can, so I do the challenge quite a lot. I have  a really good auditory memory, and I recognize pieces quite quickly. (I can always tell if it is the Concordia Choir on the MPR Choral Stream just by the sound.)  It is coming up with the name of the piece and the composer that is tricky. I find that the more pieces I recognize, the harder it is to sort out exactly what the name of the piece is. My brain is getting too full.  I am pretty good at recognizing pieces by Brahms or Schumann. They have distinctive patterns of harmonies and rhythms. Mendelssohn and Schubert can sometimes confuse me.  I always know Stravinsky and Prokofiev, but sometimes  late Prokofiev sounds like Shostakovitch

As I was in a wind band in college, I can identify Vaughan Williams and Holst and Grainger very easily, but distinguishing Molly on the Shore from Handel in the Strand is sometimes hard.   I am  somewhat embarrassed to say that I  can always identify the Polka and Fugue from Schwanda the Bagpiper and also know the name of the composer. It is so distinctive.

I know that Baboons have various areas of interest. Mine is classical music. I hope that my classical habit helps keep my mind alert and healthy.

What are you doing that keeps your mind active and healthy. How are you at identifying the names of musical pieces and their composers?

51 thoughts on “Mind Games”

    1. Thanks! I see in the news that consumption of trans fats is linked to dementia. Our lard is looking healthier and healthier! I will just sit here trying to discern which of Sibelius’ symphonies is playing while I eat pie.

      Liked by 5 people

  1. I’m a little like you, Renee, at being able to identify music I’m already familiar with. I once amazed a college date by saying, three solitary notes into the piece, “Oh, Ramsey Lewis!” – it was a song I had on an album… but he was impressed.

    I do sudoku and crossword puzzles, take on projects like the Fall Book Sale (September) and moving our friend W (early November), with a visit from my sister this next week thrown in just to make things interesting.

    OT: I love what you all did on the Trail yesterday, and I’m still thinking of whom I would invite – was trying to come up with some comedian to throw into the mix.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m pretty good at rock music of the 70’s. I can pick those out. I think I would have been good on ‘Name that Tune’ show.

    Learning new stuff on the lighting console I hope is good for my mind. And the classes I take.
    I really hope playing solitaire on the phone is good for my mind. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. renee are you aware that mpr has a channel just for choral music. my son does choir and every now and again i listen in his honor. the same deal as the morning show /radio heartland on their live stream or xm radio.

    i have my pandora radio station just about perfectly rounded out so that when i hit shuffle the mix of yo yo ma miles davis and bob dylan is about right. i do leave 2 or 3 christmas stations in the mix and smile as i enjoy may king cold or burl ives sing christmas favorites as i drive along on a balmy june day.
    i also have a rotation of podcasts with ted talks on being this american life and interviews of interesting presenters that i enjoy

    i too am getting the hang of classical guys
    vivaldi is automatic, but many blend into the commonality of an era or genre. von williams is a guy i identify as a 50’s 60’s sound for example

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I exercise my mind with the reading I choose—some of it challenging in one way or the other. To the extent that mind is memory, I try to use mine as much as possible. I don’t, for the most part, make lists, even grocery lists. As Robin could tell you, I maintain a mental inventory of most of the food supplies we have on hand, how much we have and where to find it. When I go to the store, I know what we need.

    I try to focus especially on names, certainly the names of people I have met, but also historical names. When I was collecting images and biographies of nineteenth century theatrical performers, I could identify perhaps 100 or so from their image. That gave me an advantage if I was searching images on eBay because unidentified images always sell for less. It also helps if you know a little about each person that you can associate with the name.

    In my more recent effort to collect nineteenth century humor, with an emphasis on antebellum authors, I have had to research names that have almost entirely been forgotten. The advantage there is that often the seller of a book is unaware of who the author was and his or her significance. The disadvantage is that those same sellers miscategorize the books and I would never find them if I didn’t know the authors. The additional challenge with remembering and locating works by those authors is that a great many of them wrote under a pseudonym (or several) and keeping track of those as well as which author is associated with which pseudonyms can be daunting.

    When my mind is not otherwise occupied, I sometimes review the names I carry in my memory. I can’t always immediately retrieve them all—the neuro pathway has gone slack—but I find that if I relax and allow my brain to work on it, the name I seek will usually bubble up in a little while and, having renewed that pathway, I can retrieve the name at will.

    The game I like to play with myself is one I call, “Six degrees of separation in the nineteenth century”. I take two figures who are as seemingly unrelated as possible—Sir John Franklin, who perished looking for the Northwest Passage, and Susan B. Anthony, for example—and try to find a chain of connections between them. This comports with my interest in viewing history as a web of associations rather than isolated individuals and incidents.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Your “Six degrees of separation in the nineteenth century” game sounds intriguing to me. You must use some sort of criteria to include or exclude some random person in your data base? I would have no idea of how to develop the chain that would somehow tie two people together. Does it involve a fair amount of speculation? One thing for sure, you must have a much firmer grip on dates than I do, I’m lucky if I can place a historical figure in the right century. As I said, I’m intrigued.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I try to stick to what I know and not speculate. Since the connections are person to person, contemporaneousness is not an issue. To illustrate using the Franklin to Anthony example, when the Franklin expedition disappeared, to subsequent searches to discover what happened were led by Elisha Kent Kane. Although I don’t know that Kane ever met Franklin, I do know that Kane met with Lady Franklin to report his findings. Kane had a romantic connection (some say marriage) to spiritualist Maggie Fox. Maggie and her sister Kate in a sense kicked off the spiritualist movement. The spiritualist movement provided women with a platform to independently step out in public with a voice of their own and many of the women’s movement activists got their start in the spiritualism movement, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony included. Both Stanton and Anthony knew and interacted with the Fox sisters early on.

        Liked by 3 people

        1. bill i suspect a boy could’ve employed to do ongoing searches for the books etc you are looking for
          alert you and inform you of what where how much
          a different brain stretch not better book finder perhaps


  5. When I was a music ed. major in college, Renee, I might have been as quick as you in identifying classical composers and their works. I’ve probably slacked off a bit since I only listen to MPR Classical for an hour or so in the morning. And I’ll occasionally play a classical CD or LP from my collection.

    I was also in concert band/wind ensembles through college and played all the band classics like Holst, Vaughan Williams, and dozens of transcriptions of overtures and other works of Brahms, Shostakovich, Mozart, Rossini, Beethoven, etc. Most of those tunes are impossible for me to forget.

    I’m probably better at ID’ing jazz musicians and songs these days because jazz gradually supplanted classical as my favorite genre over the years. I’m pretty good at discerning sax players, but surprisingly not as good at identifying trumpeters (my major instrument). I guess sax players can personalize their sound more than brass players can (is it the reeds they use?).

    And there are several pianists who stick out above the crowd. Oscar Peterson is my personal all-time favorite. He has a style all his own. And Art Tatum defies logic and belief. He’s without a doubt the greatest of all the jazz pianists. I’ve never heard anyone perform such incredibly difficult music so effortlessly. The man sounded like he possessed four hands sometimes.

    Writing fiction keeps my mind active and alert, but somedays I think it’ll drive me to early-onset Alzheimers. 🙂 Or drive me crazy.

    Chris in O-town

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Miles #1 mainly for his innovation and unique style. Satchmo right up there. WYnton Marsalis and Dizzy Gillespie up in the top five too. Wynton’s probably the greatest of them all because of his effortless transition to playing classical style too.

        Maynard Ferguson just because he was a freak of nature and I doubt I’ll hear anyone play like him again. I’m a huge fan of Clark Terry. Not crazy about either Chet Baker or Chris Botti. LOVED Clifford Brown but his discography was so short it’s hard to know how great he could have been.



  6. I set the display on our car radio so that it only partially shows the name of the piece. Whenever it shows something like “Symphony #98, it is an easy guess it is by Hayden, since he is about the only one who wrote that many symphonies.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. isn’t it amazing how lucky you get at guessing when you have some knowledge about the subject
      i’m always surprised how when you get the groove attained the growth becomes exponential


  7. Rise and Shine Baboons,

    I do crossword puzzles to exercise my brain. I also do a lot of physical exercise because I believe that does help people stay sharp.

    My music recognition is fading as I age and I am more distant from the world of concert band, etc. I can recognize the same body of work Renee mentions, Holst, Grainger, Williams. A good challenge is discriminating one Sousa march from another.

    One thing that has remained constant is that I dislike orchestral works re-arranged for concert band and have the flutes, clarinets and oboes take the violin parts. That just grates on me. It must have been too many years of that particular arrangement. Having to play that fast in 4 sharps or 5 flats is really unpleasant.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You mean you can hum the tune and get the answer, Ben?

      Years ago I had an earworm, something I’d heard way back in my childhood, that was a jazzy piece, and I had picked out a bit on the piano. Never could learn the name, so one day I called MPR when Leigh Kamman was there, managed to hum it into the phone, and he recognized it as a big band piece that I can’t now recall (AGAIN!) or find. : |

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Hmm, never tried humming a song to Siri. but she can pick out music playing on the TV or radio. Tractor works too if there isn’t too much background noise.

        should I just start throwing out big band numbers?? I have been listening to a ‘Modern Big Band streaming station.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I think it was the right thing in this case. If they would have at least responded once to indicate there was a human at the other end more than just posting random words I’d have accepted it without issue.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Musicmini.com is a web site that quizzes you on little snippets of pop songs. You can pick a particular time frame, play a few seconds of audio, and identify the artist (multiple choice). The ones from the 60’s are easy. The decades get progressively more difficult for me. By the time I get to the ones from the 21st century, I often don’t even recognize the names of the artists, much less the songs.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. thank you Vegus168 @VG666 now i can play the game happily, it’s really annoyed when there is some update before i start the game, it ruin my mood. yo know when i want to play the game i want to play it now! do you understand me?. I tried to calm myself down, but is not. it’s getting worst! i don’t give a crap! i wanna play the game! Grand Theif Auto V you know?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.