how to improve your phrasing?

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by highway-one, Dec 23, 2009.

  1. highway-one

    highway-one Member

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    I want to get some really good exotic sounding phrasing going can anyone give some pointers?
     
  2. derekd

    derekd Supporting Member

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    Transcribe guys who have this style, or listen for singers who have that sort of phrasing. Maybe from some other style of music, like Middle Eastern or Indian.
     
  3. gomez1856

    gomez1856 Member

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    Agreed. Listen to some artists that sound like what you want. Scott Henderson for example. Jake Cinninger from Umphrey's McGee is, to me, a master class on phrasing.

    I'd also recommend Scott's video, Melodic Phrasing.

    Couple quick things to think about when practicing:

    Say something: Don't just play notes. Scott, in his video, compares playing melodically to writing. Make paragraphs, don't just through a bunch of words out there.

    Use Call and Response: Focus on making phrases connect. Make them work together. If you have an ascending lick, maybe make the next phrase a descending one but a little different feel.

    Use repetition: Repetition can create some very memorable and effective phrases. Play a lick that you like, play it again, play it one more time but a major 3rd higher, then try it again with a slight different rhythmic feel, etc. That little motif can become the basis for a very cool improvisation.

    Good luck

    Rick
     
  4. litlounge

    litlounge Member

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    copy a vocal melody from a pop song to get ideas and pay attention to the intervals
     
  5. bopplayer

    bopplayer Member

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    For what you are doing and your video I saw, just start copping solos from SRV, Albert King, Warren Haynes, etc. I read an interview with a well known musician that said: "People can copy what I play, but they cannot copy what I don't play" it's in the spaces and the cracks. And yeah listen to singers, Ray Charles #1 for phrasing in my book, Aretha, Greg Allman, Rich Robinson from the Crowes. Listen to guitar players that don't over play like Larry Carlton. Scott Henderson is too much for you at this point. Also if you really want to get into phrasing although very advanced, listen to Miles Davis play the blues in the 50's. Wow! that's the ultimate phrasing.
     
  6. highway-one

    highway-one Member

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    nice nice nice, best music forum in the world
     
  7. brad347

    brad347 Member

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    Listen to lots of great music.

    Phrasing is about instinct. You need to develop your instincts. There is no shortcut for this. You need as broad a frame of reference as possible, which means listening to lots of music that you love. Fortunately, that's a pretty enjoyable thing to do. Also LIVING and 'having something to say' helps.

    A lot of it, too, is the attitude you bring to the music. You have to be a "giver" and not a "taker."

    In other words, if you're playing to impress others, you will phrase very differently from approaching it from the standpoint of playing what NEEDS to be there. As long as you listen and stay humble... putting all of the focus on the MUSIC and none on yourself... "phrasing" will take care of itself.

    Related-- often the great things that happen in music are "allowed" to happen rather than "forced" to happen. Put the music first and everything else will sort itself out.

    If I ever notice I'm "rambling" and playing too much ********, then invariably it is a direct result of being "selfish" musically... trying to "be a good guitar player" instead of "trying to facilitate the creation of great music." Stuff like trying to work things out, foolishly trying to impress another musician or pretty girl in the room, trying to work in something I want to try whether it fits or not, trying to play something too clever just for its own sake... you know, all the selfish, CHILDISH things.

    The musicians whose phrasing I love are invariably "grown folks" for whom that kind of kid stuff is a distant memory.

    You have to be willing to not play a single thing if that's what would make the music its best. Great phrasing, in my experience, is a side-effect of that musically selfless mentality. To me, it doesn't make sense to look at it as another "trick" in your arsenal. It is a small part of an entire musical way of being.
     
  8. Julia343

    Julia343 Member

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    Think of a phrase as a sentence. There is the thought, the statement, and within the statement there is punctuation. Everything is done for a purpose. Phrases have to breathe. And listen to this masterpiece and you'll hear the phrasing. And it's keeping with the season. No one does it better than the little twerp (WA Mozart for the uninitiated). Happy Holidays.

     
  9. Pedro58

    Pedro58 Member

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    Listen to sax players or anything by Louis Armstrong. Between his horn and his vocals, he invented modern phrasing.
     
  10. vhollund

    vhollund Member

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    2 exercises from me
    >Playing 3-4 notes and listening to what you just played and try to transpose the idea an few times
    >Having conciusness if the melodic movement in tone heights.
     
  11. Tomo

    Tomo Member

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    Good question!

    Tomo
     
  12. kimock

    kimock Member

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    Well, if I knew what a phrase was, so that I knew what a 'normal' phrase sounded like, I could probably point you towards exotic really good.

    My problem is I don't know what 'phrase' means.:eek:
    What's a phrase? Or maybe, what's a normal non-exotic phrase?
     
  13. Tomo

    Tomo Member

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    Steve,

    Better to make more specific. Great question! I usually go from "Blues" but this case we want to know what he is hearing in his head.

    Tomo
     
  14. anais

    anais Member

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    Really? this seems odd to me because a phrase is not a sentance, right?

    I was always more worried about what sound or feeling I wanted within the guidelines of the tune and playing that. NOT that you cant get far out with what you play in the tune.. but if you are 'trying' to play it exotic and not feel it, then it might just sound like a really rehearsed thing...but I think I might understand what you are meaning to ask.

    I would say listen to VOCAL parts from some of the live zappa stuff from the early 70s with NMB.. like Dummy Up on Roxy and Elsewhere.. or just Zappa's playing in general- you are talking some serious pentatonic based stuff.. but it doesnt 'sound' like it, right? Or maybe play along to some Bjork, or the Meters, or some world music. All of this music is exotic, depending on what part of the planet you are on, right?

    It seems to me the biggest point that never comes up in the 'expansion of phrasing' conversations is that most players typically allow their hands to reproduce motions due to muscle memory. You do a line in a relative minor pentatonic and your brain remembers it, the muscles get used to it, and the rut begins. The thing I enjoy about the Zappa stuff is there is a lot of vocal stuff going on in the banter sections, and the voice will let you know that more than just the 12 western tones exist. Take that application/approach to the instrument and you have a whole bunch of doors open. So if you hear something in your head in application to a tune, sing it. Then try to play it. I try to imagine this when improvising. I dont know if its exactly 'phrasing', but it is something that will challenge you and get you to think outside the box that the muscle memory licks have you stuck in.

    I dont know if it will turn out exotic enough or not for you, but it will get your brain moving in a different direction and at least expand your abilities as a musician.

    Phrase on haha
     
  15. kimock

    kimock Member

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    More specifically then, is "phrase" constructed of smaller bits, notes and beats, in some systematic way, or is "phrase" a consequence of melody and form?

    That would certainly make a difference in how you approach the issue.

    Personally I think phrasing is a consequence of melody and form, and improvement would be the result of trial and error in identifying appropriate use in context, but wtf do I know . . .:dunno
     
  16. Neer

    Neer Supporting Member

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    To me, phrasing is "how you say it." If you want to speak in exotic tongues, you need to learn what you want to say. Transcribe some of these exotic things that you're hearing others play and try to find out what makes them exotic (is it a scale, are they chromatic notes?). Once you've made that determination, you can go about building phrases of your own, 1 bar at a time.

    One of the most effective ways of doing this is to limit your phrases to 1 measure (and no more), with a whole measure rest in between. The first phrase should be a question and the second phrase should be an answer to it (take that any way you like--I know what it means to me). After you've successfully achieved this, expand it to 2 bar phrases. This enables you to really get closer to pinpointing and nailing what you're trying to say in the way you want to say it which, of course, is what phrasing really is.
     
  17. shane88

    shane88 Member

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    listen to great jazz horn players like coltrane
     
  18. vhollund

    vhollund Member

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    Form is really important i agree
    Buildups at the end of periods and stuff like that

    I think the developement of ideas based on rythm an melody is equally important.... The content in the context.
    If the ideas have the chance to develope into something large where the ambitus of the instrument is explored and maybe a greater harmonic conciusness that takes over
    And the rythm is spontanuis virtous and inspired...
    The ideas can kindof take over and camuflage the form/structure
    and take us out of the trivial monotony into something where the message seemingly becomes more important than the structure.

    Maybe a good ideal is that the solo has a comprehensable beginning and end
    but that one is allowed to forget structure because of the musical content.

    sometimes its also just the state of mind of the musician or his presence and touch taht takes it "out there" i guess.
     
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2009
  19. torquil

    torquil Member

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    I am always very impressed by the phrasing whenever this lady sings:



    Torquil
     

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