“Phrasing” is the way we play the notes. We use volume (dynamics), time (rhythm), tone quality, and more. Just as in speech, music has common patterns and tendencies. And in speech, we express emotion using these same elements.
When we set out to play music beautifully, we have to decide how to play each note. We have to create a strong intention and direction for the music. This is what makes music powerful and touching. But how do we do this? How do we decide?
Enter phrasing concepts. These concepts will help you to understand how music works. You’ll find the overarching goals and aims of the music, and can then base your decisions on them (instead of making random choices for each moment).
To begin, these are the most foundational concepts:
- The Long Line – This is the core foundational concept on which all others are built. When you learn of the Long Line, and learn what promotes it and what undermines it, you’ll make better decisions.
- Musical Parts and Voices – Classical guitar music notation uses just one staff. Here’s how the melody, bass and accompaniment are shown in music. Know the parts, and make decisions for each part separately.
- How to Practice for More Expressive Playing – This article explores how to practice each day so that everything you play will become more expressive.
Below you’ll find more concepts and practice methods to help you become a more mature musician. You’ll discover how to listen more critically, and make more informed musical decisions. See also Phrasing Techniques, which are the actual techniques you can use to meet the goals discussed here.
All Phrasing Concepts
- A Guide to the Fine Details: How to Mine Your Music for Gold
- A Quick Guide to Musical Ornaments on the Guitar
- An Introduction to Musical Form for Guitarists
- Exaggeration: Bring Your Playing To the Next Level
- How Much Liberty Should We Take with Musical Interpretation?
- How to Create Beauty with Musical Expression
- How to Decide on Musical Phrasing and Play Guitar More Beautifully
- How to Play Fluid Guitar, with Perfect Tension and Musical Flow
- How to Stretch Time, With Rubato
- More Flow in Your Pieces, Using the Concept of Unity
- Musical Parts and Voices: How to Interpret Classic Guitar Music
- Play Legato Guitar! Synchronize the Hands for More Fluidity
- Strong Beats vs. Weak Beats
- The Four-Measure Musical Formula for Practice, Phrasing and Memory
- The Long Line: Musical Interpretation and Playing Beautifully