(This is the seventh in a series of posts following Tyla Tharp’s book The Creative Habit. All the previous posts are collected in the Summer Blog Project category.)
Calliope, epic poetry
Erato, love & lyric poetry
Polyhymnia, sacred music
Terpsichore, dance & choral poetry
Rote memory works, but she points out that associative memory makes it easy. She gives a mnemonic for the names of the Muses: can clear earnest effort make proper things add up for the names, and then asks how you would remember their domains.
This exercise is about associations, attaching an image or a subject that triggers a memory and calls it to mind. There are the obvious ones, Urania sounds like Uranus, the planet, for astronomy, Erato sounds like eros which means love for love poetry, and Polyhymnia like hymns which are sacred songs. The question is, how do you remember the others?
For me to remember anything I have to write it. If I just hear or see something, it is pretty hopeless. I have to write it, make the shapes of it over and over. I sort of burn what the word looks like into my brain while attaching an image, a sound, or a word to what I am trying to memorize, like this:
Calliope has the repeat of the L’s and ends with p and e. The repeat of the L shapes in Calliope reminds me that the p and the e repeat themselves in epic poetry.
Clio sounds like Cleopatra so I drew an Egyptian style face
Euturpe has two u’s which make an upside down m for music, and the sound of those u’s is in music as well.
Melpomne starts like melancholy, one of my favorite words, and sadness is a part of tragedy. I drew a frowning face.
Terpsichore dances, so I drew a stick figure of dancer .
Thalia is comedy and using the tail of the final a for a grin, I added two dots for eyes making a smiley face.
Silly maybe, but it helps me.