Quirks of Memory

My officemate has a classical internet radio station going on her Mac, and they're playing a piece I recognize - I played it, some 20 years ago, in one of the two concert bands I played in. I love the piece, can hear the second clarinet part running underneath (although this is a symphonic rendition so the clarinet has been replaced by violins). But I can't, for the life of me, remember the name of either the song or the composer. An utterly wild guess would be Handel's Water Music Suite.

Oh, cool! I got it right!!! That almost never happens - it was the horns that gave it away. And I think we played that suite in both bands, which helps. I've probably only heard it a few hundred times.

I'm not right very often when it comes to identifying music, I fear. I have an excellent aural memory - I can drop instantly into any piece I've ever heard before and, if I played it before, can add in the clarinet line I played 2 decades past. I can even tell, if it's a song I know but a version I don't, where it varies from what I've heard before (after watching the video version of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat a couple of times, it took probably 200 playings before the Canadian cast recording we bought stopped sounding wrong).

But ask me for the name or composer, and 95% of the time I don't have a clue. Ditto for pop music - unless the name comes from the chorus, I'll probably get it wrong and the only bands I can consistently identify are the Stones and the Beatles (much to Dean's dismay).

Which is kind of odd, considering that I can match up probably 90% of the books and authors I've read in my life (and there have been thousands of those). And if I've read a book more than once (again, thousands), I can probably identify both title and author from any reasonably representative passage therein.

The human mind is a mysterious thing.