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Phrasing and the importance of that in soloing


desertbluesman
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I never have thought of phrasing in my solo's until I learned how by doing. I never intended to "phrase" a passage until long after I knew how by long years of practicing. It is only after folks told me I played too many notes, and never left a moment of silence between notes in my solo's that I began to change my thinking. Once I heard that a few times from studied musicians, as well as music listeners, I got the message, and began inserting silences, pauses and sustains in my solo's. Once I did that consciously, I began to remember things my teachers told me back in the day, things like "musical flavors", & having a dialog with the backing track or the other musicians and what they are doing at the moment. Thinking of my single note lines as a conversation with the other things going on in the band or song. All of a sudden it came to me, the importance of conscious phrasing, and this only happened recently (after 45+ years of playing). Some folks take a little longer, I guess I am one of those.....
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The importance of Phrasing came to me early on with my chord work and with my vocals. I play mostly rhythm guitar as my backing instrument for the songs I like to sing. Even after all these years I have not given the proper amount of attention to phrasing in my soloing as I don't get to solo all that much these days unless I get together with my buds for a jam or two. Listening to players like Joe Pass will put some phrasing in my mind and I do intend to work on it some day.

 

We all tend to want to play fast licks as it's impressive when we watch others glide up and down the fret board with ease. But plus 1,000 on appreciating the rests (spaces between the notes)as being just as important as the notes themselves. Funny, as we get older we stop to smell the roses more and appreciate techniques like phrasing. I get more into it when playing my nylon acoustics with a Latin vibe...

 

I do get into phrasing in my scale work and promise to work on it more one of these days LOL! Thanks for the reminder DBM! It's always a great thing to listen to those that give feedback on your solo playing, chording, singing, volume, tone, equipment, and oh yeah: phrasing! :thu:

Take care, Larryz
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I`ve always been aware of it, enough to know when I`m throwing it out the window. I think there`s phrasing and there`s expressing-if I`m wound up, pissed off or just `in a mood`, that`s going to come through in what I play. I think it should, unless I`m doing a note by note rendition. I`m not going to articulate every word like a book if my world is falling apart.

Same old surprises, brand new cliches-

 

Skipsounds on Soundclick:

www.soundclick.com/bands/pagemusic.cfm?bandid=602491

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My first Jazz teacher advised me, "Play your solo like a horn player plays or a vocalist sings. Take breaths." He also told me, "your solo should have a beginning, a middle and an end".

 

Charlie (Bird) Parker once said, "I realized that I could play any notes I wanted, as long as I resolved to a chord tone". IMO, this is a valuable improvisational concept.

If you play cool, you are cool.
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Phrasing's not just a matter of number of notes, though.

There's vibrato & it's depth & placement (DBM is a master at that !); accelerations & ritards, along w/ other syncopations; expressive variations on standard or well-know lines & much more ....

 

Thanks for the nice words, I would certainly like to be a master of my instrument, I keep on trying. Some days it comes out decent, some days it comes out less than satisfactory (at least to my ears).

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I once got a great compliment from someone who'd heard one of my performances, and enjoyed it, without seeing the video. The guy said, "He can't be a Guitarist! He knows how to leave space between the notes!"

"Monsters are real, and Ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win." Stephen King

 

http://www.novparolo.com

 

https://thewinstonpsmithproject.bandcamp.com

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I don`t know-I`m seeing a lot of chat about technique. I still say, that phrasing comes from expressing a mood, making a statement-having something to SAY when one plays. Technique by itself can be masterful, and still sound empty-impressive but forgettable as soon as it finishes.

Same old surprises, brand new cliches-

 

Skipsounds on Soundclick:

www.soundclick.com/bands/pagemusic.cfm?bandid=602491

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In the definition of technique, I also find synonyms like strategy, practice, method, artistry, delivery, etc. So I think of phrasing as a tool to have in the toolbox to help us express ourselves. Timing is important too. Playing from the heart is a strategy I try to keep in mind. I agree that expression plays a major role in our playing. :cool:
Take care, Larryz
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There is a lot going into any effort by a practiced musician like phrasing, I think there are many factors in anyone's musical efforts. I was heavy into technique, playing lost of notes, all clean as a whistle. Nowadays I just play what comes to me going from sound to sound without too much thinking. I try to stay in scale or at least in key if I stray into a full scale from pentatonic. These days it is a struggle to keep the lack of feeling in my hands (neuropathy) from limiting my playing. I am thinking of seeing a neurologist, I hear they have some not too dangerous medications that may help.
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I don`t know-I`m seeing a lot of chat about technique. I still say, that phrasing comes from expressing a mood, making a statement-having something to SAY when one plays. Technique by itself can be masterful, and still sound empty-impressive but forgettable as soon as it finishes.

 

I wonder if there's some value in doing something such as considering a verbal phrase & making that into a musical phrase....same # of notes & all (or maybe melismas), just non verbal....

d=halfnote
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These days it is a struggle to keep the lack of feeling in my hands (neuropathy) from limiting my playing. I am thinking of seeing a neurologist, I hear they have some not too dangerous medications that may help.

 

Good luck DBM! I too have trouble with pain my hands that comes and goes. It can really make playing a little more difficult. It helps me a lot if I remember to take a break every hour... :cool:

Take care, Larryz
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To wander a bit but address DBM on medicines.....

 

My wife(who suffered peripheral neuropathy) found that NEURONTIN helped, at least for a while. Some docs offer LYRICA for that infliction, but my wife felt that it made her feel "loopy". But you may have to try either to see what works for YOU. And best of luck to you in finding a remedy and relief.

Whitefang

I started out with NOTHING...and I still have most of it left!
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To wander a bit but address DBM on medicines.....

 

My wife(who suffered peripheral neuropathy) found that NEURONTIN helped, at least for a while. Some docs offer LYRICA for that infliction, but my wife felt that it made her feel "loopy". But you may have to try either to see what works for YOU. And best of luck to you in finding a remedy and relief.

Whitefang

 

Thanks for the heads up Fang. I searched those and am thinking something other, that I can find as a supplement non prescription item, those both carry serious warnings.

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Well look at it this way-my friend walks into the room and says, "I just won the lottery!"

I say, "Wow, great!"

My friend walks into the room and says, "I just won the lottery!"

I say, "Wow. Great."

They are the same verbal phrase.

Musically, `tone` is a never-ending quest for perfection.

In writing, `tone` is only perfect for the content. Screaming, growling, whispering, whining and crooning are all perfect, at the right time. The content determines the right tone. What are you really trying to say? I think there`s value there for music as well.

Same old surprises, brand new cliches-

 

Skipsounds on Soundclick:

www.soundclick.com/bands/pagemusic.cfm?bandid=602491

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  • 3 months later...
When I teach improvisation to my students, I always tell them to listen to what they are playing. That is, just because one is playing notes that fit the chord progression, it does not mean it sounds good. If you put yourself in the position of the listener when you improvise, you will more naturally create melodic phrases. I hope this makes sense
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It sure does rufasuve...it's nice to have another teacher on board. Improvisation is a very important part of my enjoyment in playing the guitar. I also like to capture a moment or two on my looper and play it back to see if it sounds good. I do this with my vocals too!
Take care, Larryz
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It sounds odd to me that one can teach improvisation. Kinda like saying you're scheduling your spontaneity. ;)

 

But I kinda get your drift. Some people( especially growing up these days) live such regimented lives that thinking"outside the box" is a concept that IS "outside the box".

 

I always thought that by "phrasing" in musical terms meant conveying a feeling. Like maybe instrumentally, trying to use your instrument to capture a particular mood set by the song's lyrical content. And I think that's probably been said a few times a few different ways here already. ;)

Whitefang

I started out with NOTHING...and I still have most of it left!
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My first Jazz teacher advised me, "Play your solo like a horn player plays or a vocalist sings. Take breaths." He also told me, "your solo should have a beginning, a middle and an end".

 

Charlie (Bird) Parker once said, "I realized that I could play any notes I wanted, as long as I resolved to a chord tone". IMO, this is a valuable improvisational concept.

Phrasing's not just a matter of number of notes, though.

There's vibrato & it's depth & placement (DBM is a master at that !); accelerations & ritards, along w/ other syncopations; expressive variations on standard or well-know lines & much more ....

I once got a great compliment from someone who'd heard one of my performances, and enjoyed it, without seeing the video. The guy said, "He can't be a Guitarist! He knows how to leave space between the notes!"

 

All of the above so true.

Ask yourself- What Would Ren and Stimpy Do?

 

~ Caevan James-Michael Miller-O'Shite ~

_ ___ _ Leprechaun, Esquire _ ___ _

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"Phrasing" is as varied as the artists who are known for their "phrasing". Whether or not on an instrument or with vocals.

 

For ex., I've mentioned in here a few times over the years, of Frank Sinatra, a singer often hailed for his "great" phrasing, once said that he thought Nat "King" Cole's phrasing was better, "If I could phrase a song like Nat, I'd die a happy man."

 

And I'm guessing that since most of those old bluesmen weren't "taught" by some instructor as to what's "right" or "wrong" musically and had only their instincts to go on, that their natural ability to phrase took over. I DO also recall reading in an article by some guy who, as a music student in the '40's, was told by his instructor that JAZZ wasn't "real" music, and it was because of it's use of "flatted 5ths" which the instructor felt was some kind of musical "desecration".

 

I can't begin to imagine the number of possible sterling jazz careers that man stifled with that kind of "instruction".

Whitefang

I started out with NOTHING...and I still have most of it left!
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@ Fang, The Flat 5 is a very important note in Blues, Jazz, Country, Rock and Roll, etc. I doubt that particular music instructor side tracked any possible sterling jazz careers as anyone interested in jazz at all, would leave him flat! [pun intended] LOL! :cool:
Take care, Larryz
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I think things might be getting a bit far afield in some ways, partly b/c of the connotations of words that might not mean the same to all or even be properly understood by some.

 

Let me suggest that like all aspects of music or any art there are techniques that may be be used in various ways but there are not really any rules.

Expression is what it's all abt. That has 2 aspects: outgoing intent & the reception on the part of listeners. Both are a wide mix of cultural habits & expectations.

In music, anything that's not part of yer note selection is part of phrasing (& actually sometimes that is part of it too).

We could make a list of all those things but such lists exist & to be fully complete would be v. extensive, so much so as to drift over into TMI, where ppl might get frozen by tryna keep it all in mind.

 

I can't leave w/out making the point that, despite what some may think (& which has been expressed addressed elsewhere before) the fact that some musicians may have developed outside the expectations of others has absolutely nothing to do w/their skill level as expressive players.

In fact neither does their use or lack of any techniques, which is not to say technique's not important but that it's just part of a toolkit. & diff tools have diff uses.

 

When one focuses only on the tool, the message is sometimes ignored.

Music's an aural art. Talkin' abt can be helpful but is sometimes just ppl tryna have something to say.

 

d=halfnote
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Absolutely correct d. It's funny how threads move as the thoughts of individuals progress like one of those word association games. Kind of like how we phrase a song, whether original or a cover. It's called making the song "your own". I personally think it's ok to intertwine notes and expression since that seems to be how we make it our own. As I once heard a great guitatist say, "...all the notes you need are in there (guitar) and to create a great song, it's up to you (the guitar player) to get them out, at the right time and in the right order."
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