Aphantasia

DrumDoug

Senior Member
I’ve always had trouble memorizing music. While reading about memory issues I came across an article about aphantasia. A person with aphantasia can not visualize things in their head. I was reading about a woman who can’t visualize her route to work. As she is driving along she constantly recognizes where she is, but doesn’t remember what comes next. I have the same issue but not quite as bad. I ha e driven the same way to work for 15 years but I only have vague images of a couple intersections. That’s when a lightbulb went off. That’s how I play music. I don’t remember what comes next in the song, I just constantly recognize it as I go along. That’s why I’ve never been able to memorize complicated songs. I get by playing simple stuff because I have trained myself to react to what I’m hearing as it goes along. This doesn’t just apply to driving and music. I don’t have any specific memories of past events. I have vague images of my childhood home, being in college, being in the back of the band room etc... Does anyone else here have aphantasia? How do you memorize songs when you can’t hear them in your head? Looking back on it, it explains why I had trouble doing certain things in school. Why I can watch the same reruns of tv shows over and over. Even though I recognize each scene, I don’t remember what’s next.
 

ALotSirSwings

Well-known member
I’ve always had trouble memorizing music. While reading about memory issues I came across an article about aphantasia. A person with aphantasia can not visualize things in their head. I was reading about a woman who can’t visualize her route to work. As she is driving along she constantly recognizes where she is, but doesn’t remember what comes next. I have the same issue but not quite as bad. I ha e driven the same way to work for 15 years but I only have vague images of a couple intersections. That’s when a lightbulb went off. That’s how I play music. I don’t remember what comes next in the song, I just constantly recognize it as I go along. That’s why I’ve never been able to memorize complicated songs. I get by playing simple stuff because I have trained myself to react to what I’m hearing as it goes along. This doesn’t just apply to driving and music. I don’t have any specific memories of past events. I have vague images of my childhood home, being in college, being in the back of the band room etc... Does anyone else here have aphantasia? How do you memorize songs when you can’t hear them in your head? Looking back on it, it explains why I had trouble doing certain things in school. Why I can watch the same reruns of tv shows over and over. Even though I recognize each scene, I don’t remember what’s next.
Don’t think I have it, but that’s really crazy. Didn’t know such a thing existed. Thank you for sharing your experience.
 

beatdat

Senior Member
Man, sorry to hear you have this condition. I did a quick search on it and... wow. It reads like being in a constant state of amnesia except for the present moment. Glad to hear you've managed to cope with it.

If you're limited to only memorizing simpler music, why not get sheet music or chart out some of the more complex stuff you'd like to learn? With today's technology, it doesn't have to be pages of sheet music that you have to turn on the stand, but good quality pdfs on your tablet with automatic scrolling or a page turning pedal to go with it. A bit of time and investment for sure, but maybe a viable solution.
 

The Shepherd

Well-known member
I don't know if I have aphantasia but I cannot remember any songs. I've played ukulele for 15 years and I only know two songs I can play without having a chord sheet in front of me (King of the Road and Johnny B Goode). I know the key of the songs, (C and A) but really couldn't tell you how they go, I just have to play them. I have played jams, festivals and at back yard parties and cannot play a thing without my music book in front of me.

The same with lyrics, I know the words if the song is playing but I'd be hard pressed to tell you any lyrics without the music going. I've played some of these songs hundreds of times. I am amazed by some folks I jam with who can play songs out of the thin air and recall all the lyrics. I know enough of song structure that I can guess what chords will be coming up, (I, IV, V, mVI) so I can wing it at jams but I just thought I just have a horrible memory. Maybe I have a touch of this aphantasia. Who knows?
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
That's crazy, never heard of such a thing. As stated above, maybe charting and writing stuff out would help. How does one get anything done like this? Wouldn't this make everything a new experience? How do you learn? Obviously you remember some things.

I'm the opposite, I remember everything. I have memories from when I was 2. When I ask my mom about them, she remembers too and can explain what I remember to me, so I know they happened and aren't made up.

I also went through lots of testing when I was real young.
 
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