Background/Study Context: Explicit memory for music was investigated by using a new test with 24 existing and 3 newly composed pieces. Methods: Ten patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and 10 patients with early stage of Alzheimer's disease (AD) were compared with 23 healthy subjects, in terms of verbal memory of music by the identification of familiar music excerpts and the discrimination of distortion and original timbre of musical excerpts. Results: MCI and Alzheimer's patients showed significantly poorer performances in tasks requiring verbal memory of musical excerpts than the healthy participants. For discrimination of musical excerpts, MCI and AD patients surprisingly performed significantly better than the healthy comparison subjects. Conclusion: Our results support the notion of a specialized memory system for music.