“Musicians use chunking, a way of organizing information similar to the way chess players, athletes, and other experts organize information. Chunking refers to the process of tying together units of information into groups, and remembering the group as a whole rather than the individual pieces.
We do this all the time without much conscious awareness when we have to remember someone’s long-distance phone number. If you’re trying to remember the phone number of someone in New York City — and if you know other NYC phone numbers and are familiar with them — you don’t have to remember the area code as three individual numbers, rather, you remember it as a single unit: 212. Likewise, you may know that Los Angeles is 213, Atlanta is 404, or that the country code for England is 44.
The reason that chunking is important is because our brains have limits on how much information thay can actively keep track of. There is no practical limit to long-term memory that we know of, but working memory — the contents of our present awareness — is severly limited, generally to nine pieces of information. Encoding a North American phone nuber as the area code (one unit of information) plus seven digits helps us to avoid that limit.”
This is your brain on music P. 214