The A To A Of Scales. Part 2: Phrasing

author: chris flatley date: 03/26/2012 category: soloing
rating: 8.5 / votes: 4 
monotony (noun) 1. tedious lack of variety: boredom or dullness arising from the fact that nothing different ever happens 2. unvarying condition: repetitiousness or lack of variation in pitch or tone, especially in relation to music or speech This is a continuation of my last article: The A to A of Scales. In that lesson I talked about how to group together scales in terms of stylistic continuity. I talked about how this approach is phrase-friendly, but didn't actually go into specifics about phrasing itself. Thought I'd do that here. TV PRESENTER PHRASING So why the pretentious dictionary quote? Well one of the coolest things you can do if you know exactly where you can and can't reproduce your phrases, is play them in different octaves to create either call and response, or octave splicing; both of which are far more interesting than just hanging around on one level (one octave). I call it TV presenter phrasing because of the way they speak. TV presenters deliberately vary the pitch of their voices wildly in order to avoid literal monotony. You can do exactly the same thing with musical phrasing. First thing to do is make up a phrase you like. Well actually, the first thing I would do is start my metronome plus. This is basically a simplistic drum track with the kick playing the beat, and the hihat playing the occasional eighth/sixteenth. I also have a simple bassline playing just the keynote. IN this case A. This is looped, and allows me to play anything in A; major and minor scales, modes, arpeggios, grooves and phrases. So now it's time to create a nice little phrase. We've all probably played something like this:
|--------------------------------|--------------------------------|
|--------------------------------|--------------------------------|
|--------------------------------|--------------------------------|
|--------------------5-----------|--------------------------------|
|----3---3---5-3-5/7---7\5--p3---|----3---3---5-3-5/7-3-----------|
|5-----5-----------------------5-|5-----5---------------5---------|
Even a pair of phrases as corny as this can still sound nice if played with style, but we could spice them up a bit simply by being able to play them exactly the same, and equally well, an octave higher. First thing we could do is exaggerate the call and response part by putting the second phrase in the upper octave.
|--------------------------------|--------------------------------|
|--------------------------------|--------------------------------|
|--------------------------------|----5---5---7-5-7/9-5-----------|
|--------------------5-----------|7-----7---------------7---------|
|----3---3---5-3-5/7---7\5--p3---|--------------------------------|
|5-----5-----------------------5-|--------------------------------|
Now let's try octave splicing.
|--------------------------------|--------------------------------|
|--------------------8-----------|--------------------------------|
|----------------7/9---9\7--p5---|----5---5---7-5-----------------|
|------------------------------7-|7-----7-------------------------|
|----3---3---5-3-----------------|----------------5/7-3-----------|
|5-----5-------------------------|----------------------5---------|
Remember that fluency is essential for this kind of thing to work. If there's any stiffness, hesitancy, or dynamic/stylistic discontinuity, then this won't sound good at all, but that's true of everything so work hard and spend heaps of time on the nuts and bolts of musicianship. Note that fundamental skills can be developed on the cheapest equipment. You really don't need expensive gear to become a good musician. Below are a few matched segments in A minor pentatonic. Try creating a nice little phrase in one, and then make sure you can play it equally well in both, skip back and forth effortlessly, and then try call and response/splicing.-
|----5-8---------|----------------|------------8-10|----------------|
|5-8-------------|------------8-10|--------8-10----|----5-8---------|
|------------2-5-|--------7-9-----|----5-7---------|5-7-------------|
|--------2-5-----|----3-5---------|5-7-------------|------------2-5-|
|----------------|3-5-------------|----------------|--------3-5-----|
|----------------|----------------|----------------|----------------|
 
|--------------------3-5---------|--------------------------------|
|----------------3-5-------------|--------5-8---------------------|
|--------0-2-2-5-----------------|----5-7-----------------2-5-----|
|----0-2-------------------------|5-7-----------------2-5---------|
|0-3-----------------------------|----------------3-5-------------|
|--------------------------------|------------3-5-----------------|
 
|-------------------------15-17--|
|--------8-10----13-15-17--------|
|--5-7-9------14-----------------|
|7-------------------------------|
|--------------------------------|
|--------------------------------|
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