Why is it easier to remember words of a song than those of a paragraph?
There is no single cause for this kind of effect. Several issues interplay in varied degrees but mostly concurrent.
We read text of a paragraph and grasp the contents of it and do not pay much attention to the structure of the sentences.
Hence, we forget words though we retain the meaning of the text in our memory. Song, on the other hand, carries both, a meaning as well as a beauty of rhyme and rhythm by prosody. Hence, we get attracted, knowingly or unknowingly to the arrangement of words besides to its contention.
Words in a song are concise like in a stanza and some routine words are deliberately omitted whereas a sentence usually holds all the necessary parts of speech.
Further, a song has pauses between sets of words whereas a sentence may be even a compound one with main and subordinate clauses.
For example, if the rhyme, “Jack and Jill went up the hill; To fetch a pail of water; Jack fell down and broke his crown; And Jill came tumbling after” in a 4-line stanza, were to be taught to us in nurseries, as “Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water. (There) Jack fell down and broke his crown and (then) Jill came tumbling after”, we would remember the moral of the story alone that Jack failed to get water and fail to see the rhythm in syllables of ‘Jill’, ‘Hill’, ‘Fell’ and ‘Water’ and ‘After’.
Song is memorized and pronounced many times because of its artistic content and for performing or for passing time or by aesthetic impulse. Thus, one word in a song leads us to the next and so on. That is how, even without, sometimes, knowing their meaning we remember many songs of other languages. Hardly are we keen to remember the words of a sentence after the meaning has been grasped, leave alone text of other language that we are not much used to.
Words in songs are usually simple and subtle whereas those in sentences are likely to be complex and big.
There are many other reasons including linguistics, psychology, etc.
PROF. A. RAMACHANDRAIAH
Dean, Research & Consultancy
National Institute of Technology Warangal
Warangal, Andhra Pradesh