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We have had many discussions on note choice in soloing - perhaps we could discuss another part of the equation, which is phrasing. How do you work on phrasing, and which players do you admire for this. I think it is the first lick that EC plays in White Room between the vocals - the note choice is ok but the inflections he brings to it make it really sing. His tone on that track is also amazing.

Miles' solo on 'So What' (Kind of Blue - an album everyone really should own) is also built from some incredible phrasing. Cannonball Aderley's solo is also very sweet on that take.

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Hi, Scotty. Not many takers for this topic, eh? Phrasing is such a subtle aspect of music that it's hard to even think of a way of discussing it.

I think the main thing I do when playing melodically, whether it's off the cuff or a set melody line, is really try to imagine singing the lines. Singers need to take breaths, the same applies to playing; singers are singing actual phrases of English language, players need to emulate that ... play phrases of music, in other words deliver the melody in self contained chunks that add up to the whole; singers tell the story of the song, so should instrumentalists; singers don't sing scales, they sing melodies, so try and emulate that too.

Apart from all of those aspects, there's the question of how you play the phrases ... on the beat, behind the beat, in front of the beat ...

Good question, but it's a hard one!

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I always thought my phrasing was ok, till someone came to me and said: "... could you please rephrase that?" lol

Phrasing is probably the single most important thing that puts us as players apart form easch other. I listen to a player and I think "wow I wish i could sound like that..." and that same person says the same thing about my playing... it is cause we all phrase things differently. We interpret music in different ways. I might think it is a fast choppy piece when the next person brings a nice laid back sound to the front...

I just wish my phrasing could be better, I find that I do nice mellow songs nicely but faster choppier songs I have some trouble with.

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It is hard to discuss! I guess an apt analogy would be someone delivering a soliloquy. A good speaker, one that will grasp and keep your attention, knows how to create drama by inserting pauses, emphasising certain words through changes in volume and inflection and changing the cadence of his delivery.

The same techniques apply to making a musical statement. We want to avoid deadpan, montone delivery, run-on sentences, and we want to create a sense of drama or anticipation.

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The following three posts came up in another thread a week or two ago discussing phrasing and so I thought it would be a good idea to reproduce them in this thread in a slightly edited format.

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Originally posted by GT

1-Look, phrasing is EVERYTHING on a solo. Its a CHAT between the performer and the outside. When i play a solo im creating i start by SINGING in my head what i want to reproduce on the guitar.

2-You wont say the same thing (as an "I love you") to your girl 10 times in a row and you wont xpect to bore her. I mean, you can try and move on the freetboard up and down. I ussually start on the lower freets and then increase the intensity by moving forward. Also, on the other half, you wont speak to a girl 10000 words in a second..... thats what happen to shreaders as Yngwie...they dont say anything, they just express a feeling, "a-la understand it as you wish" but is not comunicating something specific.

3-The silences between each lick is also a good thing to learn... Mr David Gilmour is a master of it.

4-Think in a solo as when your with a lady...start slowly (you wont throw your best licks here on the first 10 seconds,wont you?), then increase the speed, add mooore passion and get to the climax(yea %$%$ niow is the time of those killer licks!!!)!!!! aaaaaaarrgghhhh......then slow down...just like when your with a lady ....i tell you

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OldG

question/answer phrasing - put out a lick that sounds like a question,wait till the time is right (in context with the backing track) then answer it with your reply. this can work for all moods you want to create - depending on the 'conversation/arguement' you are evoking with your playing. And as GT mentioned check some David Gilmour....

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I'd also just echo the other members thoughts on phrasing. Try and anticipate each approaching phrase, work out in your head what you want to hear and then try and play it.

Frank Sinatra was a master at phrasing, anyone can learn a lot from his tunes. For the same line or phrase in a song sometimes he would add in extra words or sometimes take words away, sometimes he would sing it with a triplet feel, sometimes he'll emphasise different words, other times he'll hold on to one note a bit longer than before.

Kirk also is very good at phrasing, check out some of his tunes on the radio and listen out for similar things.

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my two cents - phrasing is what seperates an instrument player from a musician. You can be technically very good but no soul comes across in your music. Your instrument is your voice and it has to speak to those listening.

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I'm far from proficient in improvisation/soloing - but one of the best pieces of advice I've read yet, and one that I try to use when I practice, is to "let it breathe".

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I`m with Kirk in that it`s a great help to imagine speaking or singing the melodic line.

I think musical skills are intricately wired in our brains with the same bits that let us work with the rhythms, tone and melody of speech. If you can mimic them in your playing, you will actually begin to communicate some sort of feeling with the sounds you are making.

You are in effect, saying it with your fingers IMHO.

Will

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hey,

I tend to think of building a solo as storytelling. I think I'm almost repeating the above comments except I'm "re-phrasing" it lol. Letting it breathe is a good idea, what you don't play can be just as important as what you do, I'm a shredaholic so I go against the typical feelings of the board, but I still realize that you don't just play a rhythm line and all the sudden go and play 30 notes a second it just doesn't make sense.

If your telling a story, you'll start out with an introduction, I'll play what will be the main theme first and then I give it detail like it were an introduction. I'll "say" something, then define it by playing it an octave higher (kinda like saying something and responding to it in a higher voice). I'll slowly add intensity, and speed to build up to a climax and then eventually a resolution.

Alright, that's how I approach it.

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Letting it breathe always sounds tome like you are saying it slowly... Not always a bad thing, but to me I am finding that I am playing all my solo's slowly, I try to do it emotionally. I think I get it right to a degree when playing slowly, but...

The problem that i have is that, whenever the song calls for a faster solo (not shredding necessarily) I am a bit stumped... I play the notes but the solo does not "breathe" anymore... Maybe it is just me, maybe I am making more of this than it already is, but I am not too happy with my phrasing when playing faster solo's... Sometimes though...

Any ideas on this?

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Halen-

First off, I didn't mean play slowly necessarily (it is needed a lotta times). But instead of playing note after note after note (whether playing slow or fast) stop for a second and just let it breathe. (like when a kid is crowding up on you and your like "eh...give me some breathing room)...the music needs the same kinda thing.

It can take a long time to get your accuracy up with your speed...but if your trying to play something fast make sure you can play it accurately at a slow speed. Take a solo that you want to learn and if break it into portions (say learn this bar..or this line), and learn the notes and play it slowly and accurately. Try to get it to sound like the guy on the record would have it sound if only he slowed it down to half the speed. Work with it, it'll come to you. :yes:

Once you get intimate with the solo, you can gain more speed. most importantly speed is a side-effect of accuracy I just posted a tip for building speed somewhere in a post called fast fingers or something, maybe you could check that out too.

Hope this helped,

Jayson

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I force myself to stay within my speed limits and i dont do things that are sloppy... I try at least to do it as good as I can get it... I have found that I dont always need to go fast, there are times when I wish I could go faster though, and for that I am training... :guitarguy:

I generally dont do covers of a solo, and I try to make up my own, when jamming over a track, otherwise I generally play to original tunes from our band. I try to stick to fairly general BT's that does not give me an idea of the song. I like to play to BT's that I dont know the song of, it makes it easier for me to play something that I have conjured up. Otherwise I find I gravitate back to the original tracks sound and feeling...

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Letting it breathe always sounds tome like you are saying it slowly... Not always a bad thing, but to me I am finding that I am playing all my solo's slowly, I try to do it emotionally. I think I get it right to a degree when playing slowly, but...

The problem that i have is that, whenever the song calls for a faster solo (not shredding necessarily) I am a bit stumped... I play the notes but the solo does not "breathe" anymore... Maybe it is just me, maybe I am making more of this than it already is, but I am not too happy with my phrasing when playing faster solo's... Sometimes though...

Any ideas on this?

I really like the "call and response" phrasing you find in a lot of bluesy solos. You can play fast solos, but leave a bit of a "breath" in places to keep them from having that run-together feel. IMO, Jimmy Page was a master of this - he'd play mind-blurring fast runs, but then leave a short pause before another one, or break them up with a looong string bend. Listen to "Since I've Been Lovin' You" or the solo in "Stairway to Heaven" to get an idea of what I'm talking about.

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I have been improving my speed over the last couple of days and I think I am getting there, or I am at least improving... I am focussing on phrasing and emotion, it seems to be working... I did realise that I tend to forget about hammer on's, pull off's and vibrato when playing fast. So I focussed on that part of my playing and things already sounded much better... :D

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Yeah, don't forget your ghost bends either they're cool for emotion.

I always like to think of them as a reverse bend. When I was learning about bends I was thinking "oh cool what a concept, but no matter if your bending the string up or down your still up a whole step? (or a half, or a quarter)...what about bending down a whole step?"

Maybe I'm just slow, but I came to realize that ghost bends are bending down a couple steps. because your starting in a bent position (lets say bent up a whole step), and then when you release you get a note that is a half step lower...in other words a reverse bend. It was awesome when I found that out.

Ghost notes are really good to throw in a solo, and if done correctly can give a lot of emotion (or soul, or anger, and what-not)...

Hopefully that was insightful, and I'm NOT just slow.

-Jayson

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lol!

my personal view on phrasing and dynamics .

i see the guitar as an extention of myself , its my voice in the world of music !

without it , i remain dumb and valueless in the dimension of music .

phrasing helps me express a musical emotion in a musical sentence - not to be confused with my usual human ones - they are connected but im thinking and speaking in an entirely different language when engaged in the world of music.

hope that doesnt sound too deep or shallow but it is the way i look at it .

insofar as the phrasing and dynamics go - it would depend entirely upon the piece of music happening at the time.

compared to self expression when using your native language , i would say that a phrase in music , is similar to a question mark , full stop and the other grammatical principles we have .

so when improvising , its sometimes good to think of your licks and runs as sentences .

how many different ways can you say ' i love music' ? (cliche)

their are lots and they are all different , depending upon the emphasis and stresses put on each word.

I love music . i LOVE music . i love MUSIC , I LOVE MUSIC .

you can see above the different ways of emphasising that simple sentence.

this is applicable to music too.

using a 12 bar backing and just 3 notes from the relative blues scale , you could possibly improvise for hours using bends , sustain , slurring , hammer on , pull off , trill , finger taps , glissando , shimmer , vibrato etc

hope that helps someone !

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In recent weeks (and although I have been playing a long time) phrasing has become of special interest to me. Actually watching Kirk play in and around the shapes is what got me thinking about it. What interested me about Kirk's playing wasn't so much about his using the shapes, but how he was actually making relatively easy note selections sound great. To me the magic has to actually come primarily from how something is phrased. I totally agree that it is not a very talked about subject. Perhaps because we are supposed to know that stuff as a natural part of musicianship? Most folks want to know where to put their fingers, and most teachers will show them but it is quite interesting to me that there little or no tutorials that I know of that really gets down to the nuts and bolts of phrasing. No one seems to talk about the many ways and techniques that players could employ to improve their phrasing. Some players will say "well..duh..just listen to records and get yer phrasing off that. Maybe I am a little slower than the average player, but I have always found this a difficult thing. I listen to a record and end up being happy with a facsimile of the riff. I can get a great tone sometimes, but great phrasing is elusive. I have been listening to Kirk's great phrasing on some of the simpler examples he gives on the Plane Talk vid and even emulating that requires some careful attention to detail. The notes are not the issue with me, but rather, how to put them right in the pocket is much trickier. When I hear Marc Knopfler play, I don't hear complicated notes at all, but I hear beautiful phrasing -- phrasing that is quite hard to really nail. This for me is the true magic of music. When I hear great phrasing, each note no matter how familiar seems like a surprize -- like it is touching some deeper part of us that really knows what great music is, even if our head doesn't. If anyone out there knows of better ways to improve phrasing or knows of 'exercises' or anything at all about this often unstated topic, I would love to hear back from you.

Bearz

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I love to hear beautiful phrasing.

But,,,

Sometimes I enjoy listening to Johnny Winter ripping it up, pedal to the metal.

Other times, the articulate phrasing of Anson Funderburgh makes me smile.

Its all good.

It depends on the piece of music.

Sometimes lyrical, sometimes hysterical.

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Yes I totally agree. I spent much of my younger years treating the guitar more like a motorbike rather than a musical instrument - I find it interesting to look back at those days and realise that music was less of a priority than sound. I also like the Johnny Winter approach, although in all his blues mayhem, his phrasing is still pretty hot -- it just all happens a bit faster with him. hehe

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