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View Full Version : Phrasing vs. Speed


_arvin
06-03-2011, 10:54 AM
My band is in the midst of recording a high-quality demo CD. I sing and play mostly rhythm guitar, but I have a solo section (8 bars) in one of the songs. When recording, I didn't have a set thing to play, I mainly just have a skeleton of how the solo should progress and I improvised in the studio.

Anyway, I'm listening back to the rough mix, and I find it amazing how much I prefer the simple bluesy rock solo I improvised in the studio as compared to our lead guitarist who tries all this sweeping/tapping/sweep-tap-slide shred trickery and it just sounds sloppy and our of place. So I think the moral of this rather pointless post is...

SOLID TONE AND PHRASING > SPEED AND BAG O' TRICKS.

Jeremy_Green
06-03-2011, 11:00 AM
Absolutely! Thing is the great fast players have the ability to do TASTY parts - only fast. But the shiz is in the line itself. If it is an uninteresting phrase - it's gonna be uninteresting at any speed.

strumminsix
06-03-2011, 11:12 AM
I agree. I'm on my way down the improv path from a rhythm guitar player and I've learned this little bit: learn your phrasings and then partials and after time you'll get some speed that will sound meaningful and not just fast.

Kinda like a good spicy chili or Buffalo wing. Sure hotter is better but there has to be an increased TASTE!!

_arvin
06-03-2011, 11:14 AM
Right. I'd rather have the intense bluesy sounding microtone bend and the exact correct amount of wah on the release of the note that makes you think I've been through war and back and lost my children in a fire and ran away on a freight train than to do that stupid minor arpeggio 3 string sweep lick with a tapped note on the top. Not saying sweepy things don't have their place, but... I wish I had a clip i could post. Maybe in a week once it's mixed. ;)

V-man
06-03-2011, 11:19 AM
Can 'o worms.

In context, the problem is sloppiness, which is ironically acceptable for the bluesy phrasing (page) by those who turn their nose up to the tricks. It also depends on the piece played. I agree 100% fast playing poorly executed < well phrased slow playing, but ususally these threads degenerate into hit pieces on shredding.

buddastrat
06-03-2011, 11:22 AM
Yeah slop is slop. Everything has it's place, do what the song calls for.


"SOLID TONE AND PHRASING > SPEED AND BAG O' TRICKS"

Don't make it out like it has to be one or the other though. Plenty of players have both.

_arvin
06-03-2011, 11:25 AM
To try and quell any "I hate shred" sort of confusion..

My favorite guitarist has to be Guthrie Govan. He's legendary. He plays with unbelievable speed, phrasing, and precision. So my criticism of fast playing isn't because I don't like it or because I can't pull it off. It's more a criticism of how a simpler phrase can convey more within the context of a song when the tricky guitar part right next to it seems to just.. be there to satisfy the lead guitarists need for attention.

strumminsix
06-03-2011, 11:32 AM
Yeah, no, nothing against "shred". It's not in my wheelhouse and by the way the OP was talking figured he and I were talking similar styles. Well, until Guthrie Govan, never heard of him :)

Yngtchie Blacksteen
06-03-2011, 11:48 AM
I like good guitar playing. I don't really buy this whole competitive aspect of things that the OP describes, I don't see guitar playing as a competition.

mark norwine
06-03-2011, 12:06 PM
"speed" comes from "knowledge".

Unfortunately, many guitarists use "speed" as an attempt to mask a lack of knowledge.

2 essential lessons:

- Never play faster than you can play accurately

- If you practice fast, and you make mistakes....you're "practicing mistakes". Think about that for a moment.

Melodic Dreamer
06-03-2011, 12:22 PM
The big thing is preference. One guys tone heaven is another man's trash. One person's idea of speed is slow and boring to another. If someone is going to play fast then I'm fine with that if they retain character and melody. When someone starts tapping and sweeping just to do so, that really isn't my thing. For speed, I'm fine with guys like Eric Johnson, Allen Hinds or Brett Garsed. They're guys who can play at a decent speed, but that are also thinking of tone and melody throughout the process.

Satyrist
06-03-2011, 03:54 PM
Agree with most of the above. I especially liked the hot wings comparison. I LOVE spicy food, but the heat has to be balanced with flavor. So play as fast as you want, as long as you do it well and actually have something to say. Hell, Shawn Lane played faster than pretty much anybody on earth and yet never ran out of great musical ideas and always played with soul.

guitarjazz
06-03-2011, 04:38 PM
My band is in the midst of recording a high-quality demo CD. I sing and play mostly rhythm guitar, but I have a solo section (8 bars) in one of the songs. When recording, I didn't have a set thing to play, I mainly just have a skeleton of how the solo should progress and I improvised in the studio.

Anyway, I'm listening back to the rough mix, and I find it amazing how much I prefer the simple bluesy rock solo I improvised in the studio as compared to our lead guitarist who tries all this sweeping/tapping/sweep-tap-slide shred trickery and it just sounds sloppy and our of place. So I think the moral of this rather pointless post is...

SOLID TONE AND PHRASING > SPEED AND BAG O' TRICKS.
How are your lyrics and hooks?

J.T.
06-03-2011, 10:54 PM
- If you practice fast, and you make mistakes....you're "practicing mistakes". Think about that for a moment.


And even worse " Practice makes Permanent"

gigs
06-03-2011, 11:12 PM
....If you practice fast, and you make mistakes....you're "practicing mistakes". Think about that for a moment.

Thought about it. And it gave me a headache. I'd rather make mistakes in practice than in performance. And if I dont make mistakes in practice, then i'm probably not pushing myself or learning anythign new.

Practice is reinforcing good stuff, working in new stuff, and working out mistake stuff.

Think about that for a moment.

craigoslo
06-04-2011, 05:15 AM
Rythm and groove are what I've been focusing on lately. Get more milage out of the notes I already use. But the most important thing is that the solo serves the song. Some songs call for shred, other songs want a simple melody.

Phreekfuse
06-04-2011, 08:12 AM
I am a blues fusion player and am really into laying down slow bluesy solos on changes.... But i must point out a little confusion on my part

Does great phrasing really mean playing at 80bpm and making a face o.O ??

Does playing with feel always have to be below 120bpm :\ ???

If speed and bag of tricks are so bad then how do we really enjoy guitarists like Vai, Guthrie Govan, Buckethead

Also... being an avid Paul Gilbert fan, i analysed a lot of his songs for his phrasing style long ago... On closer notice, he is just playing scales up and down.... but he does them with sooo many rhythmic ideas and rhythmic motifs that his unique phrasing style is created by playing the basic everyday patterns that we all play....

It's true that sometimes we just really feel ourselves going on our toes for a really beautiful blues solo... But as with the world everything has it's place... instead of comparing the two we could try merging them and probably phrase with speed or incorporate speed in our slow phrasing. :) !!

Peace ^_^ !!

Jay Mitchell
06-04-2011, 09:31 AM
2 essential lessons:

- Never play faster than you can play accurately

I'd add a paraphrase of something Hal Galper said: "Never play faster than you can hear."

Yngtchie Blacksteen
06-04-2011, 11:48 AM
I play with feeling, not technique.

Drumongus
06-04-2011, 01:12 PM
but do you use your intellect?

Jay Mitchell
06-04-2011, 01:56 PM
I play with feeling, not technique.If that were literally true, then anyone with "feeling" would be able to play as well as anyone else. Do you believe that to be the case? I don't.

Yngtchie Blacksteen
06-04-2011, 02:27 PM
but do you use your intellect?Nah, man, I just bang my hands on the guitar while I'm making these intense facial expressions. I find it to be a very honest and emotional playing style, especially when I hurt my hand and really feel it. That's passion.

Drumongus
06-04-2011, 07:22 PM
that's what I do too, I was just checking.

_arvin
06-04-2011, 07:32 PM
How are your lyrics and hooks?

What do you mean "how"? The lyrics are deep (IMO), dealing with topics including coming of age, ways of viewing the world and people, rocky relationships past, and of course... there's a "That she-devil done gone stole my soul!" song ;)

We're aiming for a mainstream pop audience while simultaneously satisfying the needs of guys who just like brute metal. So the choruses have hook melodies, but the vocal tone is rather aggressive.

Hope that answers your question. I hope to have clips soon (mixing this week).

_arvin
06-04-2011, 07:37 PM
I am a blues fusion player and am really into laying down slow bluesy solos on changes.... But i must point out a little confusion on my part

Does great phrasing really mean playing at 80bpm and making a face o.O ??

Does playing with feel always have to be below 120bpm :\ ???

If speed and bag of tricks are so bad then how do we really enjoy guitarists like Vai, Guthrie Govan, Buckethead

Also... being an avid Paul Gilbert fan, i analysed a lot of his songs for his phrasing style long ago... On closer notice, he is just playing scales up and down.... but he does them with sooo many rhythmic ideas and rhythmic motifs that his unique phrasing style is created by playing the basic everyday patterns that we all play....

It's true that sometimes we just really feel ourselves going on our toes for a really beautiful blues solo... But as with the world everything has it's place... instead of comparing the two we could try merging them and probably phrase with speed or incorporate speed in our slow phrasing. :) !!

Peace ^_^ !!

I'm not an exclusive blues player or anything, so I don't believe that "feel" occurs at a slow tempo. Like I said.. Guthrie Govan. Someone else mentioned Shawn Lane. Yeah. It's about what's appropriate and making sure what you play conveys something within the context of the song. Not just to throw in a three string minor arpeggio and tap the high octave during the chorus of a song because you want people to say "Wow, listen to that LICK".

I think I might just be annoyed because it's like... right before my 8 bar solo, and he has to go and play something like that which, to me, sounds completely out of place. I really think it's a lead guitarist needing attention thing. Like.. the song is fine, just let me have my 8 bars and you can be the shreddy lead guitarist on every other track.

Sorry to have opened such a can of worms! ;)

guitarjazz
06-04-2011, 08:59 PM
I'm not an exclusive blues player or anything, so I don't believe that "feel" occurs at a slow tempo. Like I said.. Guthrie Govan. Someone else mentioned Shawn Lane. Yeah. It's about what's appropriate and making sure what you play conveys something within the context of the song. Not just to throw in a three string minor arpeggio and tap the high octave during the chorus of a song because you want people to say "Wow, listen to that LICK".

I think I might just be annoyed because it's like... right before my 8 bar solo, and he has to go and play something like that which, to me, sounds completely out of place. I really think it's a lead guitarist needing attention thing. Like.. the song is fine, just let me have my 8 bars and you can be the shreddy lead guitarist on every other track.

Sorry to have opened such a can of worms! ;)
We are a grumpy bunch of worms.

Jon C
06-04-2011, 09:01 PM
honestly, my reaction is "duh" ... speed without phrasing is like watching someone speed read the phone book... impressive but ultimately boring and a waste of time.

tinman475
06-04-2011, 09:56 PM
different strokes for different folks is all I have to say.. Personally I don't feel the emotion and voice in a shred lick like I do a well played bluesy lick.. BUT there are tons of guys who can shred and make it sound perfect for what they are trying to do..

bdam123
06-10-2011, 01:31 AM
Phrasing is a musical term. Speed is not.

Hwoltage
06-10-2011, 01:36 AM
I have always felt that you can either take a risk and try to force your style on the song, or, you can play what the song calls for and never be wrong.

Speed, tricks and all the gimmicks are a guarantee if you put in a little time to learn them. It's muscle memory. However it takes much, much longer to develop emotionally. There simply are no books or videos that can explain, literally, how you should feel throughout the song emotionally.

Hwoltage
06-10-2011, 01:46 AM
On closer notice, he is just playing scales up and down.... but he does them with sooo many rhythmic ideas and rhythmic motifs that his unique phrasing style is created by playing the basic everyday patterns that we all play....



That's how I feel about Dimebag.

p.j.
06-10-2011, 04:19 AM
honestly, my reaction is "duh" ... speed without phrasing is like watching someone speed read the phone book... impressive but ultimately boring and a waste of time.

Huh!!??

PJ

Marcfordsfuzz513
06-10-2011, 09:04 AM
Its simple, I'd take BB King over Steve Vai or Satriani any day of the week.

buddastrat
06-10-2011, 09:21 AM
Its simple, I'd take BB King over Steve Vai or Satriani any day of the week.

Not me, I get bored listening to style only. I like variety. On your point, Satriani isn't even a speed guy. He writes great instrumental stuff that's real tasteful.

I love listening to a player who has chops and and a great style. Like Gary Moore, Joe B. Jeff Beck...for ex.

I really hate this old argument, like it has to be one or the other.

CowTipton
06-10-2011, 10:10 AM
I've come to appreciate the "shredders" because I've recognized that 99.9% of what they do isn't even shred (well the good ones anyway.)

Take PG's Radiator for example:
F2Z2TzYYTQM

It's an homage to Trower with maybe 30 seconds worth of "shred" in it. The rest is just nut-crunching rock n' roll yet a lot of people will close their minds to it and never give it a chance because the song was on an album released by Shrapnel.

anderson110
07-08-2011, 02:45 PM
To me, PG is a good example of someone who, while he tries, never really did develop phrasing that is compelling. I can't tell you exactly what it's lacking, it just doesn't do it for me.

I think Yngwie has some amazing phrasing (when he tries, which isn't often enough), however, and I know plenty of people will get nauseous at that suggestion, so it's a subjective thing, for sure.

Slow/fast means little about how good the music is. There's good and bad kinds of both, of course. I do, however, think that there are simply more places for medium/slow playing to "fit" into most kinds of popular music. Of course if you're trying to do a David Gilmour thing over a 220 bpm death metal grind, that's not likely to work, either. It's all about context and what you're trying to express. Does it fit? Does it take the song somewhere? Does evoke emotion? Then it's good music. Forget anything else.

Sid
07-08-2011, 03:01 PM
really depends on whats appropriate....prolly in this case shred is out of place

Hwoltage
07-08-2011, 03:05 PM
Phrasing 101. My opinion, of course. :)

erX2W4qT2vA

anderson110
07-08-2011, 05:29 PM
Phrasing 101. My opinion, of course. :)



Err, 101? Surely this is an advanced elective course.

Great song, though, and a good example of "shred" that has musicality.
(Although Vai always goes a *little* too far for my tastes, with the bar especially.)