Amateurs phrase in a way that sounds boring and boxy. In contrast, professionals phrase in a way that gives excitement and forward motion to their playing.
In this article I’ll explore some tendencies that I’ve observed in the recordings of my heroes. Of course, your personal observations would result in different conclusions, which is why I highly suggest you transcribe and find tendencies that you observe. One thing to remember as well: These are not rules. They’re just things to be aware of and experiment with.
To illustrate the techniques, I’ll use the following example:
This is not a “bad” line and you will find similar lines throughout the jazz vocabulary, however, what we’re concerned with today is how to phrase in an exciting way and this line in isolation, as depicted, is quite boring. If you were to tag on an idea in front of it, or connect it to something else, immediately it would take on a new life, and that’s exactly what we’ll be talking about: how to take the ordinary and use it like a pro.
Avoid starting phrases on beat one
Amateurs constantly start phrases on beat one. This common way of starting a line allows the listener to easily predict where the next line will start. Consequently, there’s no interest to hold their attention and they stop listening.
Pros, while occasionally starting phrases on beat one, will more often than not start phrases on beats other than one. Instead of the original line, they … Read More