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Shred Academy - Free Guitar Lesson by Sam Hasting
is, if nothing else, an extension of our speech. Whether it is
the actual music or the words that go along with it, it is just
another way for us to share what we think and feel with the world
around us. The concept sounds simple enough, but many, many, many
musicians across the planet have trouble finding their voice.
Still many others wish to find a way to bring a greater sophistication
to their voice. The answers to a lot of these problems have to
do with technical or theory issues, two musically specific areas.
There are other areas outside of the musically specific, though,
that can aid someone in the development of their expression. One
of them, for example (and the focus of this article), is the incorporating
of regular language devices into composing and playing.
Through school, we learn about grammar and writing tools to essentially
not sound like an idiot when we speak. The class’s effect
usually does not reach past the end of the class period. It has
no effect on their lives as kids and teenagers while they are
learning it, and will not really affect the rest of their lives
unless they follow a career in which writing is the focus. And
then here you are, reading this article, indicating you have made
the choice to involve writing in your life. It just happens to
be the writing of music.
One huge part of writing and performing music, for example, is
the art of phrasing. Phrasing is the creating of musical phrases.
It is a cliché (yet apt) comparison, but phrases are very
much like sentences. A sentence tells us something has happened,
is happening or will happen. It is a relatively short expression
of an idea, like a musical phrase. Let’s use the example
“I play.” It’s an essence-only sentence: it
has a subject, and it has a verb. We can embellish the sentence
by varying its structure (syntax). By adding a direct object,
our sentence now reads “I play my guitar.” Now we’re
more specific. How can we continue from here? Adding an indirect
object and preposition, we now know “I play my guitar for
you.” Now I don’t think you’re feeling what
I’m telling you, so now I exclaim “I play my guitar
for you!” There are so many more ways to mess around with
that sentence, but you get the idea, I’m sure.
When you’re creating a musical phrase, don’t give
us any more information than you want us to know.
I could have continued “I play my guitar for you and on
the weekends I binge on peanut butter,” but it ruins what
I’m trying to communicate.
When you’re creating a musical phrase, make sure we have
all the information you want us to know.
You don’t really take anything away at all from the original
“I play.” either. “I play my guitar for you.”
says exactly what I wanted to say, no more, no less.
How does this carry over to music, prepositions and direct objects
and whatnots? I preface this following section by saying it is
solely up to you what you wish the idea of interpreting music
with lingual tools means. Here is my take on it all.
If I was to consider a musical phrase a sentence, a few of the
areas around the idea I would focus on are rhythm, direction,
and enunciation. Rhythm in speech is something that can either
captivate a listener or bore them. Studying the great speakers
of all time, you can notice the hypnotic lilts and bounces of
their speech patterns. When you’re considering the rhythm
for what you’re wanting to say, keep in mind that you want
to say something to you’re listener, so make sure it’ll
be interesting for them to hear. For direction, I look at how
I get from the beginning of the idea to the end of it. Am I shaping
a question? Am I making a statement? Am I exclaiming a belief?
It is just knowing what tone I am taking throughout and what tone
it is ending on. Enunciation also is a good indication of tone.
If someone were speaking to you very punctuated and snippy, you
would get the idea that they were upset about something. If someone
was speaking slowly and slurring their words, their lethargy and
disinterest would come across. Enunciation in speaking is the
same as our articulation of notes. If I come at you with a heavily
distorted, face melting, speed demon of a lick, you would feel
the intensity. If I played a very clean toned, legato, luscious
line of notes, you would get a different vibe (hopefully).
for thought: A good musical phrase is not confusing or ambiguous
about explaining what is happening.
the article we touched on one aspect of writing and playing, and
barely touched on it at that. I’m only here to introduce
the concept to you, not do all of the work for you. But that is
the idea. It is, after all, just a tool. You can borrow someone’s
tools to lay a foundation for your own house of music. There is
such a magnitude of areas that you could dissect and treat like
language that it could take a lifetime to see every scenario.
It should also be noted that there are more microscopes with which
to examine your music, than the rules of language (two big ones:
other realms of art and nature). Look around in the most obvious
and not so obvious places for other perspectives and tools to
But at the end of the article, what I really hope you take away
from this is that when you want to say something, be sure to clearly
know what you want to say, just say that, and it will not be lost
upon your listener. Anything that you take the time to get across
will be that much more appreciated.