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Posted by oldtimewine on Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Can anyone break down phrasing for me? Recently Nancy Shill said Phrasing is very important for what i want to do. She did explain a little and gave me an understanding of it but i want to know:

is phrasing something only done in old-time fiddling?

Where does a phrase begin and end?

and tips on phrasing better or exercises.... lol i dont know if any of this is making sense but hopefully someone can help!

Thanks OTW

11 comments on “phrasing...........”

cheekee Says:
Wednesday, January 5, 2011 @8:57:42 AM

phrasing happens in all music. if you're reading fiddle tunes from sheet music, it may seem like there is no need to think about phrasing because there are no phrase marks given. but phrasing happens when you play joined/slurred notes, detached and staccato notes and by varying volume.both suddenly and gradually. certain bowing patterns and attention to specific details may often seem minor, but it can make your playing sound more "old timey" once you have put it all together. to make it all worse, it seems like different fiddle styles have different ways of phrasing the same tunes.

if you're playing classical, someone has already done all the work for you and interpreted the piece so they will write all the dynamics and phrase marks and the player is expected to play it in that style.

bj Says:
Wednesday, January 5, 2011 @9:42:42 AM

One of the easiest ways to "get" phrasing is to listen to vocalists. I suggest listening to different vocalists singing one specific song, ie Tennessee Waltz. Listen to the differences carefully. Which notes are bent, which are stressed, which are slurred, etc. Each vocalist will impart a different feeling by doing different things with the phrasing. Since the fiddle is so much like the human voice, you can do many of the same things with the fiddle. Youtube has a few dozen versions of this song, so you can really hear the differences!

Each genre of music has its own conventions when it comes to phrasing, and each fiddler who has developed his or her own style has narrowed it down even more. Melvin was a master at it. So was Bill Huber (you can hear his fiddling from the music on janepaints page) and Nancy is no slouch at it either. I'm glad you hooked up with her. But you can also get creative with it. Listening to the vocal phrasing of some of the old blues and torch singers like Ella Fitzgerald and Nina Simone and bringing a little of that feel into your playing will impart a difference into what you're doing.

Have fun with it!

bj Says:
Wednesday, January 5, 2011 @9:45:17 AM

Oh, forgot to mention TIMING! Extending a note out just a hair further than the dots would specify, or cutting it off a bit early, that's also important to phrasing, and is what gives a piece lilt, lift and danceability!

OTJunky Says:
Wednesday, January 5, 2011 @1:58:07 PM

Just listen to Frank Sinatra.

Near the end of his singing career a good argument can be made that he could barely carry a tune - but it didn't matter because he knew how to phrase a song. The same can be said of Louie Armstrong.


carlb Says:
Thursday, January 6, 2011 @5:58:47 AM

For phrasing, Ill just use the Calhoun Swing as an example.
In some sense, I think of phrasing as going beyond where in classical music a line over a group of notes indicates legato (i.e. a group of smooth notes). In the first part of the Calhoun Swing, I think of it in two phrases. It's a bit difficult to describe as the 2nd phrase starts on a lick that just precedes the notes that descend in a scale. This phrase that precedes the scale is exactly like a lick in the first phrase the first time through, but I think of it belonging to the 2nd phrase. On the repeat, the notes in the lick preceding the scales are different. In the second part, I think of each of the 1st two licks as separate phrases and the 3rd phrase is extended and includes that lick and the notes in the rest of the part.

Boy, all I can say is that its a lot easier playing the tune then trying to describe where I think the phrases are!

oldtimewine Says:
Thursday, January 6, 2011 @8:38:16 AM

thanks carl lol

oldtimewine Says:
Friday, January 7, 2011 @3:58:15 AM

I was talking with a friend who is a singer and i understand what everyone was saying! It's how you (for example)approach a note and it gives free interpretation. Very interesting bc i work at The Fudgery( if no one has seen us were a fudge shop that sings, dance and make fudge on a marble slab just for you! ) and my boss is a major in vocals and a producer so i got an awesome insight. now i can hear what uncle Mel did different from everyone else and add my own twist into things. Thank you all for the help!!

bj Says:
Saturday, January 8, 2011 @12:28:43 PM

Aren't Lightbulb Moments AWESOME??!?

eerohero Says:
Saturday, January 8, 2011 @5:17:26 PM

Sure agree with you,bj, and these moments will never end to showing up,I have talked to professionals and even they agree. I played some oldtime for a first Violin in Symphony Orchestra in Finland, She cant do it, not even after a Workshop on it,where Kenny Kosek was a teacher.

She gave up the whole thing and continues with Classical. Stay on this track, Jesse !

oldtimewine Says:
Sunday, January 9, 2011 @3:25:44 AM

I will say Yes the light bulb moments are great! I have found that the more i push for something, it never works but if i try to understand the concept behind what I'm trying to do it comes naturally. I play everyday even if its just for 10 mins and each time i pick my fiddle up i learn something new.
One more thing to ask.... Would any of you check the videos out on you tube of my playing and give some tips or advice for me? I would appreciate it!!
this is the most recent and i notice i start out on a sour note in the second part and quickly fix it,lol. good thing i have a good ear :) Thanks again!

bj Says:
Sunday, January 9, 2011 @6:59:29 AM

Your bowing is a lot stronger than your intonation, in fact you are doing REALLY well with your bowing! The only thing I noticed about your bowing is your hitched up right shoulder, which will give you problems if you don't relax it. Try playing more out of your wrist and fingers. Stand in a doorway, relax your shoulder and plant your elbow against the doorjamb and play that way for a few minutes each day for a few weeks, and you'll get the feel for it. Some people use the arm of a chair instead. Idea is to immobilize your arm from the elbow up and move the movement down into the wrist and fingers. You can watch vids of Rayna Gellert and Oldtimer (aka Glenn Godsey) to really get a feel for how the wrist should work, though few of us get our wrists as jello-loose as those two!

To get your intonation in shape you might find it helpful to put in a few minutes a day playing with a tuner on. If your tuner is responsive you can do this playing your tunes slowly on one string at a time.

Also, there's a cd you can buy with cello drones on it. The site that sells it has a player you can test to see how this works for you. When you're playing a tune in the key of D, you play the D cello drone in the background. It tunes your ear in and you'll find your fingers making minimal adjustments.

And expect that once you start paying attention to your left hand, your right hand will go to hell in a handbasket. It's the seesaw we're all on for the first few years. ;-)

Overall, you're doing really well for the amount of time you have in. I like the approach you're taking to your tunes.

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