Numerous studies have shown that some forms of memory for music are spared in dementia, but only few studies have investigated patients with early stages of dementia in this field. Therefore, we tested ten patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), ten patients with early stage Alzheimers disease (AD) and 23 controls with respect to the explicit (semantic) memory for music, the working memory for music and the emotional classification happy/sad in dependence of mode and note density in musical items. Up to now there was no suitable test for this purpose, therefore we created a new test battery that investigated the specific domains utilizing musical memory tasks. We found that the groups of MCI and early stage Alzheimers disease had deficits in exercises involving verbal memory for music, but showed unimpaired performances in musical tasks requiring the perception of musical properties. In respect to the working memory for music, participants with MCI and early AD showed significantly reduced proficiency as compared to controls in most of the presented tasks. However, in recognizing chords, MCI- participants surprisingly were as successful as controls. Furthermore, we did not find any indication in favour of the popular assumption that major in western cultures is associated to „happy” and minor to „sad”. Instead, we demonstrated that the note-density of a musical piece (rhythmic component) is the key factor for happy/sad judgements. Neither the diagnosis MCI or early AD nor the values on the geriatric depression scale had any influence on the attribution of emotional expressions to musical pieces.The results of these studies indicate that the gradual increase of the impairment during the preclinical phase of AD spares special musical abilities in MCI- and AD-patients and therefore support the notion of a specialized memory system for music, distinct from other domains.