20 Tips For Better Phrasing

This article is only a tap into topic of phrasing. I will mention some of the options you have, and go deeper into them with other articles.

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This article is only a tap into topic of phrasing. I will mention some of the options you have, and go deeper into them with other articles. Take 2 notes the note from which you begin, and the note on which you end a phrase. Those notes will be your referance points, while you focus on everything that happens between them, in order to enhance your phrasing diversity and vocabulary. In this article, I'm going to point out 20 things you can work on to make your phrasing more interesting and colorfull: 1. Scalar progressions This is most obvious way to phrase. Play all notes between starting and ending note in scalar form, in descending or ascending order, or even not. It may be whatever lenght of notes or their order your imagination wants wholes, halves, eights, sixteenths, tuplets. You can also mix all of those in phrases. You can experiment with legato and with picking. 2. Using rests Sometimes rests can make a strong statement in a phrase. 3. Thrills Using short and long thrills can be very colorfull. You can do it with notes of any interval you desire, and be sure to try all of them! 4. Bends Bending notes is always effective. It can be done in slow and in fast solos. You can bend any note in the phrase you like, and you can bend it up to 2 whole tones, or even more, but be sure to keep the accuracy of pitch. 5. Pedal notes These ones are found most oftenly in neo-classical phrasing, but it can be used in any genre of music. Work with pedal notes below, above and in the middle of your referance notes. 6. Slides Sliding from note to note is sometimes way more expressive than just hitting the next note. You can combine sliding with tapping technique, as well, when you do it with your tapping finger. Having spontaneous slides to the note, or from the note can sometimes enforce your that note. 7. Changing the 'return note' I don't know any other term for this note, but it often occured to me that, when I get into certain phrases, I have one or more notes on which I often return. My phrases got lot more interesting when I began to change those 'return notes' into higher or lower, when I actually returned to them. 8. Reaching higher and lower notes You can make some runs that go into higher notes than your beginning or ending notes, and then get back to your ending note. And of course, you can make runs that go into lower notes than your beginning or ending notes, and then get back to your ending notes. The idea of this tip is not to get stuck only in between the first and last note. 9. Vibrato One of the strongest tools you have as a guitar player is firm and creative vibrato. Try slow vibrato's, fast ones... Mix vibrato and bends. There is a sea of options in this one. Take one note and play with it for hours, you might get really surprised with what may come out! 10. Repeat Repeat certain parts of phrases in right rhythm and you might get really effective, dazzling solo. 11. Dual melody By dual melody, I don't refer to polyphonic melody, meaning, you get only 1 note playing at the time, but you make 2 melody lines. 12. Tapping Tapping may sound really exotic. You can tap on the same notes you already played, you can tap on the notes next in the scale, you can tap on notes one octave higher, or any other.. There are many options on this. 13. Chords It is really powerfull to put a few chords on higher notes when you're in the middle of the solo, but this has to be really carefully worked out. 14. Open string notes If the notes of one or more open strings fit your key, be sure to try using them. 15. Same notes Try playing same notes on different strings, or same notes on same string. Try playing them in various speeds. Tremolo pick them, slide to them, bend to them, play them with your teeth! ;) 16. Octaves You can play up to 2 octaves in the same time (if you have enough wide fingering range). Adding octaves to your melodies is really powerfull. 17. Harmonics You can play artificial, natural or tapped harmonics instead of regular notes. Even try playing several natural harmonics on different strings at the same time. You will get really interesting sound. See where do you have natural harmonics available on your guitar, and how they can fit in your phrase. 18. Prolonging the notes Try prolonging the note into next measure of your phrase, and then resolve it. 19. Intervals and multiple melody lines Having more than one guitar playing certain melody line, in different intervals, is really effective. Be sure to try how each interval sounds, and think of where you'd like to hear it. 20. Whammy bar Whammy bar can be your source of really intense, emotive and innovative phrases. See what you can do with it when transitioning only from one note to other, as well as when 'whammying' whole phrase. There are countless things to do with whammy bar dive bombs, screams, weird vibratos, artificial chorus.. really anything! Mix all of those tips. Don't get held on only one of them. Of course, when you learn, you should have all of your focus on only one, but when you actualize the phrase or solo, have all of those options in mind! Official Josip Pesut site Visit the site and enjoy playing Josip's 'Licks of the month'! Subscribe to newsletter to get free guitar lessons!

34 comments sorted by best / new / date

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    J-Master
    apedal note, is when you play several chords while holding one note that rings through the whole time. It can sound really nice.
    voodoochild23
    I have a problem with articles like this, because firstly, this list is by no means a comprehensive one, OR a necessary one, unless their musical aims and taste is exactly like yours. Secondly, phrasing and what not is a measure of a musicians experience, and their sense for melody, they aren't going to see anything in this list that they couldn't already think up. All you've said, no offense, is that the more various techniques from your list they master, the better their musical phrasing might be. Its nonsense
    ihavenoname93
    this article is a dissapointment. i read '20 phrasing tips' and got all exited, but this is just a list of techniques mixed with about 2 actual phrasing tips, which were pretty much useless
    josippesut
    Technically, this is purely an insight on all techniques guitar player can use to widen his phrasing vocabulary. I will eventually go in details with all of mentioned techniques. Yes, phrasing itself shouldn't be just a bunch of techniques, but you cannot but start from overcoming those. If you have certain melodies in your mind, you will have far much problems expressing them without having the technique in your fingers, than if you had it.
    07bevanm
    MusicThinker +1 i agree completely, however this is still probably quite useful for many users of the site
    esp 4 life
    another good thing to change up your playing could be unison bends, think Highway Chile, Jimi Hendrix
    MusicThinker
    This article was a terrible collection of vague references to general musical devices. I believe the author first needs to evaluate what he is refering to as phrasing.
    crocoscar
    Useless article, stop worrying about techniques and let your emotion flow through the guitar ...
    Jondy
    OK I gave it a 10, because this is obviously a joke article. Read it again keeping this in mind. It's hilarious! Brilliant parody of UG guest columns.
    Jondy
    josippesut wrote: Technically, this is purely an insight on all techniques guitar player can use to widen his phrasing vocabulary. I will eventually go in details with all of mentioned techniques. Yes, phrasing itself shouldn't be just a bunch of techniques, but you cannot but start from overcoming those. If you have certain melodies in your mind, you will have far much problems expressing them without having the technique in your fingers, than if you had it.
    No offense, but you need to work on your phrasing, and I'm not talking about guitar. You may very well be an amazing guitarist. But, type this shit up in Microsoft Word first. If something is underlined in green, don't post it to the site yet. Also, I think it's going a bit far to say bending is "always effective." Really? Always? Every single time? So, when we solo, we should just bend EVERY SINGLE NOTE, because it's ALWAYS effective.
    ivan987
    Jondy, you must be a really sad and sick person if you really had to write those three posts. Josip does a great job with his articles, they are usually full of examples, this article only shows you on what aspects of your playing you can work on. He said he will explain these techniques later, but you could also look them up on the internet, he is doing you a favor with these articles.
    Jondy
    wtf is a thrill? is that supposed to be trill? I mean, if we have to be told to use something like that, wouldn't we also need to be told what it is?
    repercussionist
    And what does this have to do with phrasing? Absolutely nothing. It's just a list of techniques. If you want to know about phrasing, dive into theory a little more, and if you want to sound intelligent, stop using bad English. I say this with the utmost sincerity.
    gothikchile13
    This article is terrible. UG's standards have really dropped lately. This has absolutely nothing to do with actual phrasing (melodic structure of a musical line). This article is more like a beginner's guide to guitar techniques. Coffeeguy9 was right, dual melody is called counterpoint. Music theory ftw! One thing that should have been mentioned is being able to accurately identify musical intervals by ear. That is probably the most important step to improving your phrasing. -g13
    Andragon
    That's all good, but you need to expand on and explain these points. Especially "pedal notes" and "dual melody."
    Rengori
    Dream Floyd wrote: WTF is Thrill? Second, I didn't understand dual melody very well... Also, why say that you can play artificial, natural and tapped harmonics, even though a tapped harmonic is an artificial anyway? (It's like saying you can eat bagels donuts, and jelly-filled donuts... they're both donuts...) Finally,How can you play a melody with different intervals? It changes the melody if you do that...
    A trill is just a hammer on/pull off thing. To trill a note you just hammer on/pull off in rapid succession. And dual melody is saying instead of just having two guitar lines that are just playing 3rds of each other (think Iron Maiden), you have one instrument playing a melody line and another playing a different but complementary melody line. Basically it's just saying that it's not a bad idea to have your guitars be a little different. And the whole melodies in different intervals is basically saying "Do what Iron Maiden is famous for". For most of their songs they have one guitar playing the root and the other the 3rd above it, but you could change it up and have one guitar play the 4th or the 5th, or you could switch it up and have the lower guitar playing the 3rd of the chord and have the other playing the root note above it, so that it's making a 6th. And to Bender424, Pedal Notes are when you have one note not moving at all while a melody goes on above it. So think like one guitar playing a melody on a high string and another one just chugging on E or something. They're called pedal notes cause it came from the organ, where to do that you would just hold a note and stomp on the sustain pedal while your other hand did whatever. This article is very music theory intensive, expecting you know a bit of it before you come in because some of this is stuff that was going way over my head the first time I learned it in class.
    Deep*Kick
    "oftenly" is not a word. also, you can play more than two octaves at the same time, most people will be able to play three (or more if you tap as well) and I've seen Allan Holdsworth finger four octaves at the same time. Also Dream Floyd, as for harmonics he may be referring to pinch harmonics (not pick harmonics) as artificial harmonics (see tommy emmanual) which are great as well
    Instrumetal
    Dream Floyd: Tapped harmonics implies something like harp harmonics, where you can hold any note and achieve harmonics by tapping notes higher on the strings, for example, holding the 3rd fret of the D string and tapping the 15th can create the same sort of sound as playing a harmonic at the 12th fret of the string, only three half steps higher (Bb). Whereas "artificial harmonic" is more suggestive of pinch harmonics, as DeepKick said. Also, polyphonic melody is two or more melodies being played simultaneously, maybe you're thinking of homophonic? That said, what you're trying to say is still a little unclear, do you mean varying melodic motifs in a single solo?
    Dream Floyd
    in the example I meant "bagels (,) donuts and jelly-filled donuts"... grammar nazi FTW
    Dream Floyd
    WTF is Thrill? Second, I didn't understand dual melody very well... Also, why say that you can play artificial, natural and tapped harmonics, even though a tapped harmonic is an artificial anyway? (It's like saying you can eat bagels donuts, and jelly-filled donuts... they're both donuts...) Finally,How can you play a melody with different intervals? It changes the melody if you do that...
    chaos13
    Awesome stuff, I like how it's more about how to use these techniques in your playing than learning them. There's far too many articles like that already, so this is a nice change.
    J-Master
    dual melody is explained a little strange, but i think he means that you play two melody lines at the same, playing higher notes on one string while playing lower pitched notes on another string, and they're both melody lines.
    ReynboLightning
    What he probably means is two completely different melodys that sound amazing together.Check out the solo section in selkies by btbam to see what i mean
    coffeeguy9
    What does any of this have to do with phrasing? Phrasing is how melodies begin and end in a rising or falling action, within a certain amount of time. 4 bar phrases are common. A common guitar>musicianship misunderstanding is most guitarists often think the term phrasing refers to "feeling" or a plethora of techniques (as described in this article). Good phrasing can usually mean the melodies flow really well, or make sense. as for the dual-melody debacle, look up "counterpoint" or maybe "diatonic harmony".
    nivlarama
    i dont think these are necessarily for phrasing as they are just techniques in general, a phrasing in my head usually is something more melodic.
    MetalheadforJC
    One of the better articles I have ready in a while that's not a fictional story. There should be a lesson on this
    Instrumetal
    ^ both of those are examples of polyphonic melody, so if he was trying to say homophonic you're right, but if not then that isn't what he meant.
    josippesut
    I meant what J-master and ReynboLightning said. You can do that in 2 ways, one is to play them together (as 2 note chords) and other is to sequence - start with note of first melody line, then make the first note of second melody line come as second, than make the second note of first melody line come as third, and so on... Thrill (or trill - excuse my mistake, for english is not my primary language), is when you repeatedly play 2 notes (for example, you pick E note and then hammer-on to F, and then pull off to E, and so on as you wish). Again, my advice is to focus on all of those techniques, and I'm glad you have some much questions. I'm willing to go into details for any of those techniques. If you have some additional questions, feel free to contact me directly. Thank you!