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Watch the Why Is Phrasing So Important? online guitar lesson by Robbie Calvo from Power Phrasing

Phrasing is the rhythmic vehicle for your melodic message and can be compared to a conversation between two people or the timing of a well paced monologue.

Conversations are vocal phrases that are paced using your own personality to express thoughts and opinions. We use inflections and punctuations to add excitement to a sentence; we pace our statements to allow them to be understood clearly and we use cadences to give the listener cues that it may be time for them to respond to our dialogue.

The listener then responds to our conversation using similar techniques as ours, using their own choice of punctuation and inflections to express their personal thoughts. Thus, a conversation begins of verbal communication that goes far beyond the use of words.

The analogy, then, for musicians would be that words constitute notes and pitch and punctuations and inflections represent the rhythms and groove.

I like to break phrasing down into 3 main components:

1. Note pitch 2. Rhythmic feel 3. Rhythmic/melodic placement. These 3 main categories can then be broken down into further sub categories to include the nuances and details of phrasing. Dynamics, ornamentation, sustain, rests, rhythmic combinations, feeling etc. constitute the subtleties and expressions we associate with fine musical phrasing. We’ll be studying all of these detailed components throughout the course.

Imagine for a moment listening to a speech delivered by a presenter with a monotone voice that stayed at one monotonous level. No dynamics, change of pace, breaths, personality or tonal inflections! You would lose the will to live very quickly!

Now take the same speech presented by a master presenter who adds the elements listed above and combines that with his or her unique personality, now you have a compelling speech that we all want to listen to. That is why phrasing is so important to our lead guitar playing. It’s our musical voice and personality combined with our personal note choices and rhythmic delivery.