"Phrasing" when playing.

Image
Anything special about the way you play? Please post in here.

"Phrasing" when playing.

Postby Hugh-AR » 07 Oct 2018 14:02

What is Phrasing?

I think the best way of describing this is how a piece 'flows' when it is played. This involves not only the 'emphasis' you place on individual notes or series of notes, but also where/when the notes are played. Often, when you look at the sheet music, notes are 'rigidly' placed in the bar, usually with the first note of any melody line being placed firmly at the beginning of the bar.

"Phrasing" when singing, or playing a piano is different to playing a keyboard. When playing a keyboard we more often than not are using a 'Rhythm' and a 'Style', so we don't have the option to phrase the music by slowing down or speeding up. Instead, we can play the notes in the melody slightly differently each time we play it. The video below is a DEMO on a guitar, but he shows quite clearly how a few notes in a song can be played with a different emphasis on the length of a note without changing the melody by adding extra notes in or taking them out. And he also makes a very valid comment about how sheet music is often written in a very 'standard and basic' way so it doesn't appear too complicated (he describes this as being written in a "square" manner), which would put people off from buying it.



And here is a DEMO on a piano explaining the essence of 'phrasing'.



We often put our own 'stamp' on a piece of music and play it as the mood takes us .. both with emphasis and when notes come in. The most common example of 'when notes come in' is to play a note just before the first beat of the bar .. when the sheet music says to play it on the first beat of the bar. This is what JohnT had done in his piece Any Dream Will Do. Listen to it below. John comes in with the melody on the first beat of the bar first time round, but in other phrasing comes in just before the first beat of a bar.

Do a right-click to open this up in a New Tab
Any Dream Will Do (MP3) played by John Taylor

And another example, from me. In this one I have played the 'pattern' of the melody differently in the three lines of the verse. The first line is straight 'as is'; the second line comes in just before the first beat of the bar; and in the third line I have played the notes with an 'evenly placed emphasis' on each note. Then in the Chorus, by using a 'piano' voice I have been able to make specific notes play 'louder' .. and put in some 'runs' between the notes.

Do a right-click to open this up in a New Tab
As Time Goes By (MP3) played by Hugh Wallington

Hugh
It's all about the music. Yamaha AR 80 Player.
Image .. Image
Challenge Winner
2018 August (Joint Winner); October (Joint Winner); November (Joint Winner); December (Joint Winner)
2019 March (Joint Winner)
User avatar
Hugh-AR
Prolific Poster
 
Posts: 3031
Joined: 07 Feb 2015 15:34
Location: Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, UK

Re: "Phrasing" when playing.

Postby dragon » 07 Oct 2018 15:11

Thank you Hugh. Some interesting ideas there. I think a lot of us play in a more relaxed manner from time to time without really understanding the changes in a piece we are currently playing. .. Fred
Roland BK-7m. Tyros4 LOWREY RIALTO
User avatar
dragon
Prolific Poster
 
Posts: 2235
Joined: 25 Jul 2012 11:38
Location: Nottingham

Re: "Phrasing" when playing.

Postby Brian007 » 07 Oct 2018 15:54

Hi Hugh,

Interesting subject and videos, as Fred has just said. For me it just comes naturally, the phrasing as its called. Its your interpretation of the piece of music, unless you are a professional studio musician ( session player ). I would imagine that most players will subconsciously put their own interpretation on a piece of music. You can listen to various covers of a tune and normally they are all different, not only by arrangement but by the phrasing of the musician playing it. So sometimes not being able to stick to the exact music provided can be a good thing.

Brian007 :D
Image Image Image
Image .. Image
Challenge Winner
2018 September (Joint Winner); October (Joint Winner); November (Joint Winner)
User avatar
Brian007
Prolific Poster
 
Posts: 4210
Joined: 18 Jan 2014 11:58
Location: chester-le-street. Co. Durham

Re: "Phrasing" when playing.

Postby Hugh-AR » 07 Oct 2018 18:45

Brian,

What I reckon is that although there are some of us who say they can't play 'by ear', I think we all 'play by ear' to a certain extent as we try to emulate the way a tune that we have heard has been played. Or, we put our own interpretation on a piece, and never play it exactly as written on the sheet music. That is what makes us musicians.

Hugh
It's all about the music. Yamaha AR 80 Player.
Image .. Image
Challenge Winner
2018 August (Joint Winner); October (Joint Winner); November (Joint Winner); December (Joint Winner)
2019 March (Joint Winner)
User avatar
Hugh-AR
Prolific Poster
 
Posts: 3031
Joined: 07 Feb 2015 15:34
Location: Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, UK

Re: "Phrasing" when playing.

Postby JohnT » 09 Oct 2018 20:07

Hi Hugh. The phrasing which you mention I suppose just seems to happen. I try to play the music as written as I cannot get used to adding bits to the music. To some it may come naturally. Perhaps my timing is not good as I am always given advice about it. However as long as it sounds okay and members enjoy their listen it has been worthwhile. John
Image .. Image
Challenge Winner
2018 November (Joint Winner)
User avatar
JohnT
Prolific Poster
 
Posts: 3273
Joined: 25 Mar 2014 19:22
Location: Chester-le-Street. Co. Durham

Re: "Phrasing" when playing.

Postby Hugh-AR » 10 Oct 2018 08:46

John.

It's not about 'adding bits' to the music. It's all about sticking to the tune, but 'coming in' with notes to change the 'pattern' of the notes .. like coming in just before the first beat of the bar. When you think about it, a song always has words, and the words are not in the same pattern for each verse. If you have the words of a song in your head as you are playing it then you would automatically put a different emphasis on different parts of the song. I don't know any words for anything (the grand children do .. they seem to know the words for everything, including "Lipstick on your collar" .. they were singing that in the car the other day) so when I play I probably just play an 'average' of note 'patterns'.

Hugh
It's all about the music. Yamaha AR 80 Player.
Image .. Image
Challenge Winner
2018 August (Joint Winner); October (Joint Winner); November (Joint Winner); December (Joint Winner)
2019 March (Joint Winner)
User avatar
Hugh-AR
Prolific Poster
 
Posts: 3031
Joined: 07 Feb 2015 15:34
Location: Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, UK

Re: "Phrasing" when playing.

Postby Hugh-AR » 12 Oct 2018 23:02

Whilst on the subject of 'phrasing' to make a tune 'flow' and not sound 'regimented', here is a perfect example from George. In this piece (Show Me Heaven) you can hear clearly how he plays notes just before the first (and sometimes third) beats of the bar .. and sometimes plays the notes 'evenly' across the bar. Maybe he is just following the pattern of some words, but I don't know this tune and certainly don't know any words he may be playing to. And of course different words to different verses will put the emphasis in different places, which really does make a piece 'flow'.

Click the LINK below to play it (a right-click to open it up in a New Tab):

Show Me Heaven

Hugh
It's all about the music. Yamaha AR 80 Player.
Image .. Image
Challenge Winner
2018 August (Joint Winner); October (Joint Winner); November (Joint Winner); December (Joint Winner)
2019 March (Joint Winner)
User avatar
Hugh-AR
Prolific Poster
 
Posts: 3031
Joined: 07 Feb 2015 15:34
Location: Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, UK

Re: "Phrasing" when playing.

Postby Hugh-AR » 02 Jan 2019 16:58

We have had an example of notes being played differently so as to follow the words of a song.

Click this LINK below to listen (do a right-click to open it up in a New Tab).

Blue Moon DEMO played by Roy on his Technics GA3

This is the comment I made:
This is a tune I have always liked, and it sounded good with your 'mellow sounding' organ. But the way you played it (the 'phrasing'), with the emphasis on the notes in the first verse being different to the second, made me look up the WORDS for this song.

    Blue moon
    You saw me standing alone
    Without a dream in my heart
    Without a love of my own

    Blue moon
    You knew just what I was there for
    You heard me saying a prayer for
    Someone I really could care for

And that's it in a nutshell. A 'single' note at the end of each line of the first verse; and a 'repeated' note in the second (to fit the words).

As I don't read the music and never know the words of a song, I never get the emphasis of the notes in the right places. What I play is never the first or the second verse, but an 'average' of all the verses, and I play it as an 'instrumental'. We once had a saxophonist staying at our Hotel and he said he couldn't listen to me play because I never follow the WORDS of a song. Every song has a 'story', which is told in the words. He said he always played the melody on his saxophone as if he was singing the words. So the way I played, with the emphasis in all the wrong places, drove him scatty!

Now, we spent Christmas Day with our daughter at her college, and in the church attached to the college they had a Carol Service at 10.30am actually on Christmas Day. One of the carols we sang was In The Bleak Mid-Winter. Now I know this carol well (or at least, I thought I did). And I reckon all the congregation knew it too .. until we got to the second verse. And then everything went pear shaped. Why? Well, look at the words. The 'pattern' of the words is so completely different in the second verse that nobody in the congregation could manage to fit the words with the music.

Verse 1.
In the bleak mid winter, frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone ... etc.

Verse 2.
Our God, heaven cannot hold Him, nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away when He comes to reign ... etc.

Well, the words "water like a stone" have the same pattern as "when He comes to reign". But the rest of it? How do you 'phrase' the music to fit those words in the second verse? I expect the organist managed it, but none of us could follow him.

Hugh
It's all about the music. Yamaha AR 80 Player.
Image .. Image
Challenge Winner
2018 August (Joint Winner); October (Joint Winner); November (Joint Winner); December (Joint Winner)
2019 March (Joint Winner)
User avatar
Hugh-AR
Prolific Poster
 
Posts: 3031
Joined: 07 Feb 2015 15:34
Location: Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, UK


Return to Playing Technique

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

cron