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Watch the Rhythmic Feel online guitar lesson by Robbie Calvo from Power Phrasing

One of the first elements to consider when working on your phrasing development is to understand the rhythmic feel of the music you are playing over. Having a clear understanding of the rhythmic pulse and it’s subdivisions is going to be key to connecting your melodies to the groove. Your lines will always sound stronger if they are supported by another instrument. A good example of this would be playing a 16th note phrase when the drummer is playing 16th notes on the hi-hat. You’ll notice that your 16ths sound stronger than if you were playing 8th note lines.

In this section I’ll be showing you a great way to expand upon your phrase development through a series of rhythmic/melodic displacement exercises. Don’t get scared by the terminology, simply put we are just going to shift the start point of your phrases within the beat. You are going to immediately hear how powerful this is to achieving new rhythmic phrases and interesting new ways of expressing your licks and lines.

The intro demo I just played demonstrated moving simple phrases across each of the four beats that make a up a bar (measure) of a straight 8ths rhythm pattern.

I started sequentially at the downbeat of 1 for my first phrase. The second phrase started on the upbeat of 1. The next phrase started on the downbeat of 2 and then the 4th phrase started on the upbeat of 2.

I continued moving the start point of each phrase across the whole bar until I returned back to the beat 1 downbeat again. This is called rhythmic/melodic displacement.

This is a very simple but incredibly effective way of spicing up your lines and licks. The most incredible thing is you don’t have to learn any new licks, you just shift the start point to somewhere else within the bar - awesomeness abounds!