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Old 01-21-2013, 04:26 PM   #1
satchfan9
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Developing phrasing

Well it's pretty simple really:
How does one go about developing better phrasing?

I downloaded a backing track of Little Wing and on the solo it sounded like a mashup between the versions I've heard a lot:
The Pawn Kings version(Andy Timmons), the G3 Live in Denver one(Satriani, the Vai really isn't showing much, but is showing more than the Yngwie) & the Hendrix version.

It sounds good but it doesn't seem to have development, unlike the Pawn Kings version, mine doesn't "take off" I'd say.

My big 2 influences are Satriani & Timmons, another would be Petrucci but mostly precision related.

In my own stuff I have no problem, but on covers and such, it's another story.

Phrasing, how to develop it greatly?

Last edited by satchfan9 : 01-21-2013 at 04:28 PM.
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Old 01-21-2013, 04:44 PM   #2
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OK, well first of all phrasing has less to do with technique and more to do with expression.

To use an analogy: Some people don't have the widest vocabulary, but they're able to use what they have to great effect.

So the first thing to do when trying to phrase things is to forget your influences for a while because learning to express yourself has to do with saying something you want to say rather than just saying what you've learned to say.

Just to continue that analogy for a moment: When someone's saying something they will pause between phrases, mainly because they need to breathe. So your playing needs to do the same. Don't just keep playing, remember that music is about sound and silence.

Saying something interesting also has to do with creating some kind of direction in what you play. Shaggy dog stories are fine as far as they go, but it's usually more interesting to listen to something that's leading you somewhere - a high point or low point - even if that somewhere is only slightly different from where you started.

There's also the question of keeping the thread of what you're saying. In music this comes through repeating certain elements of what you played to start with - the pitches, the contour, the rhythm - and changing other elements. Playing one thing after another with no link between them is just disorientating - if people can hear that you're still using some element of the idea you started with but it sounds different somehow you're much more likely to take them with you when you start off with your musical anecdote.
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Old 01-21-2013, 04:46 PM   #3
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You're talking melodic phrasing, like in improv?

If so, the best thing you can do is to learn melodies by ear (and this doesn't mean solos necessarily, vocal melodies are usually better for this). This is the way to develop both the vocabulary and the feel needed to have good phrasing.
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Old 01-21-2013, 05:00 PM   #4
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how you can tell a guitarist isn't very good: their influences are all guitarists

listen to other instruments. appreciate their techniques, their timbres - appreciate the harmony of the track, and each individual component of it. otherwise you're never going to get the most out of your improvisation, considering the process is a real-time exchange between what you hear, what you want to hear, and what you actually add, and any time where you have to translate between those 3 components is inevitably going to detract from your ability to represent yourself and the piece as well as possible
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Old 01-21-2013, 05:14 PM   #5
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Or you could just learn a variant of this solo and play it for every song.
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oh shut up with that /mu/ bullshit. fidget house shouldn't even be a genre, why in the world would it deserve its own subgenres you twat
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Old 01-21-2013, 05:23 PM   #6
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I'm extremely concious(?) of the first statement, I just have the technique sitting there for when I need it (and a lil fun sometimes)

"Saying something interesting also has to do with creating some kind of direction in what you play. Shaggy dog stories are fine as far as they go, but it's usually more interesting to listen to something that's leading you somewhere - a high point or low point - even if that somewhere is only slightly different from where you started."
That would be my problem, developing a musical idea.

On the last part you mentioned the keeping thread thing. I find myself the last time doing the first phrase I did but instead I do it in thirds mostly, does that count as a basic stage of this?
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Old 01-21-2013, 05:27 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by food1010
You're talking melodic phrasing, like in improv?

If so, the best thing you can do is to learn melodies by ear (and this doesn't mean solos necessarily, vocal melodies are usually better for this). This is the way to develop both the vocabulary and the feel needed to have good phrasing.

Yes, because I could easily wank away but that's not what I want.
I used to do that, especially with Chris Cornell lines, I figured the whole Temple Of The Dog album. So I'm supposing I should keep doing this with other vocalists I like.
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Old 01-21-2013, 05:30 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hail
how you can tell a guitarist isn't very good: their influences are all guitarists

listen to other instruments. appreciate their techniques, their timbres - appreciate the harmony of the track, and each individual component of it. otherwise you're never going to get the most out of your improvisation, considering the process is a real-time exchange between what you hear, what you want to hear, and what you actually add, and any time where you have to translate between those 3 components is inevitably going to detract from your ability to represent yourself and the piece as well as possible

I learned a bunch of Jordan Rudess stuff once so I should keep at it? I mean it's not that I don't listen to violins and stuff but keyboard playing adapted to guitar seems to be curious for me.
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Old 01-21-2013, 05:34 PM   #9
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EDIT:

Quote:
Originally Posted by satchfan9
Yes, because I could easily wank away but that's not what I want.
I used to do that, especially with Chris Cornell lines, I figured the whole Temple Of The Dog album. So I'm supposing I should keep doing this with other vocalists I like.


You can "wank away", but you don't have good phrasing? Sounds like the problem is that you're not leaning while you "wank away".

You can get nice melodies from jazz lead sheets from a fake book. Find a jazz song you like, and learn the melody.

Or continue learning vocal melodies.

anyway, ignore the rest of my bs. You're not that much of a beginner.

--------------------

There's no need to get all philosophical n shit with such an easy question.

1. you should know at least 1 key on the fretboard. if not, get a scale diagram from some website (try this one) and a backing track to match it or vise versa.

2. Play a backing track that stays in the same key, Put up the diagram, pick a starting note, stick to starting the Tonic note for now. To keep it simple, the Tonic note is the note of the key you're in.

If the Key is Eb(E flat) major then the Tonic Note is Eb(E flat)

3. Play calmly and focus on how the notes you play interact with the backing track.

4. Do that for an hour a day(or more... whatever) after you study/practice riffs and/or solos.

5. This is the main one!

Learn only what you like. Your ears should guide you in choosing what you like. Heard a solo, but only like the middle section? Then learn only that section.

6. Also important, get a basic understanding of music theory.

BTW It won't be easy.

Last edited by Deadds : 01-21-2013 at 05:43 PM.
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Old 01-21-2013, 05:46 PM   #10
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By wank away I mean play extremely fast/precisely.

What's a fake book?
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Old 01-21-2013, 06:35 PM   #11
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A fake book is something you should never buy cuz all jazz should be transcribed by ear.

Mick Goodrick could always tell if someone had learned from a book, or by ear.

Last edited by mdc : 01-21-2013 at 06:36 PM.
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Old 01-21-2013, 06:40 PM   #12
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A fake book is a collection of lead sheets of jazz standards that many jazz musicians would look through when they didn't know the song and would "fake" their way through it. Now you can buy a Real Book, and officially published collection of tons of jazz standards.

I really recommend transcribing vocal lines. Guitar has a way of trapping players into playing up and down scale boxes with small intervals. Vocal music can help with that.
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Old 01-22-2013, 05:55 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by satchfan9
Sleepy_Head
I'm extremely concious(?) of the first statement, I just have the technique sitting there for when I need it (and a lil fun sometimes)

"Saying something interesting also has to do with creating some kind of direction in what you play. Shaggy dog stories are fine as far as they go, but it's usually more interesting to listen to something that's leading you somewhere - a high point or low point - even if that somewhere is only slightly different from where you started."
That would be my problem, developing a musical idea.

On the last part you mentioned the keeping thread thing. I find myself the last time doing the first phrase I did but instead I do it in thirds mostly, does that count as a basic stage of this?


> That would be my problem, developing a musical idea.

> On the last part you mentioned the keeping thread thing. I find myself the last time doing the first phrase I did but instead I do it in thirds mostly, does that count as a basic stage of this?

Um?

Look, let's take a simple example and work it through.

Say that the first phrase you play is G, F#, B, A#* (crotchet, crotchet, quaver, quaver). This phrase is going to be your theme. So let's break down what you know about your theme.

First of all it has a number of elements.

• It has a rhythm (crotchet, crotchet, quaver, quaver);
• It has a series of specific pitches (G, F#, B, A#);
• It has a series of intervals (Minor 2nd, Perfect 4th, Minor 2nd);
• It has a contour (kind of a sine-wave shape).

Taking the theme as a whole you can:

• Play it forwards;
• Play it backwards;
• Play it upside down;
• Play it higher;
• Play it lower;

Taking the individual elements of the theme you can:

• Change an element while keeping other elements the same (e.g. change the rhythm but keep the pitches the same);
• Repeat an element (e.g. repeat the perfect 4th leap).

You can also:

• Introduce new material (i.e. play something else).

Or some combination of all the above.


OK, so that's what you can do with your theme.

Well the first you're going to do is to play your theme at the beginning of the solo so people know that that's your theme and can start to listen along.

OK, so what do you do next? Well that partly depends on the music. If you're playing over slow, subdued then in general you don't want to go rocketing off with Bohemian Rhapsody fireworks, you want to play something that's slow and subdued. If you're playing over faster, fireworky music you want to match what you're playing to that. Match what you're playing to the music.

For the sake of argument let's say that you're playing over something that's slow and subdued. In terms of general shape I might be looking for something that builds in waves. To do that what I might do is:

Play a sequence on the theme using the B as the start point of the next repetition of the theme (so G F# B A#, B A# D# D, D# ...) and then hold the last D# for a moment and start working my way back down to the G (using some element of the theme in a new way (maybe slip a couple of chromatic intervals or a perfect fourth in there) while I'm doing that). Maybe for the next the phrase I'd leap up a little before repeating the theme - maybe shuffle the them so it occurs on the offbeat this time - and go up a little higher than the D#. So you get the idea - you go up a little, back down a little, back up a little more, down a little more - so you're reaching, retracting, reaching further and so on, like waves, or - the best analogy I can think of - like the way plainchant ebbs and flows. Your music should breathe, so use your breath when you're playing like a wind instrument player would. It will help you find natural pauses, and it will also help you to relax and feel the music. Personally I would say to ignore super-flash guitar players when you're trying to do this kind of stuff because on the whole they're not going to teach you what you need to know. You'd be better off listening - as Hail said - to different instruments / to vocal music.


* J. S. Bach, Fugue in C# Minor, BWV 849. I've changed the rhythm and transposed it up a perfect 5th to avoid having to deal with the B#.
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Old 01-22-2013, 06:08 AM   #14
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I think that this is great example of variation on a theme (It also helps that most people will be familiar with the tune already). You have the two part theme opening up the piece, followed by a couple solos. Listen to how the theme is changed up and used as a basis for improvisations. Then, when the theme is restated again, notice how different it is compared to first time the band played it.

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Old 01-22-2013, 04:30 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Hail
how you can tell a guitarist isn't very good: their influences are all guitarists




I agree whole heartedly with this. Listen to other instruments. In fact, hardly any of my influences are guitarists. I take many of my influences from vocalists and hammond organ, funnily enough.

The main thing to remember with phrasing, is to not rush. Allow for space to develop, especially in the beginning of your solos. As the solo progresses and you want to raise the level of intensity, but your notes closer together and repeat your licks. This will cause tension and give a very nice effect when you finally resolve.
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Old 01-22-2013, 04:54 PM   #16
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I say this every time this thread comes up, but sing through things before you play them. The voice has a natural phrasing because of the need to breath fairly often and the intuitive understanding of how to phrase things vocally because of language (and when people say they want "good" phrasing, what they mean is they want vocal phrasing).

Although it seems like there might be other issues in your playing and you're just using the term phrasing as a catch all.
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Old 01-22-2013, 08:03 PM   #17
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There are two ways the I practice phrasing to get results.

1) I copy my favorite players.

And when I say copy I don't mean just their recorded stuff, their improvised live stuff too.

2) This is very important: You sit down, listen to your inner ear and try to bust out some riffs.

Basically you sit down and write solos over some changes that you are familiar with (Blues, Little Wing, etc.).

You will notice that some of your influences will naturally bleed into your solos but at the same time you will come up with phrases of your own.


I think people forget that when you are soloing, you are writing a solo on the spot. And how do you get so good at anything to the point that it's second nature? You practice it.
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