The Art Of Phrasing With Pentatonic Scales

Phrasing is the way we will think of how we play the guitar or bass. Its almost like english class in school, in that we will think of it like the way we speak. After all, that is what you want to do with your instrument isn't it? We will learn to express ourselves and our playing using phrasing.

Phrasing terms :

  • phrase: A phrase is a group of scale notes being played together to form a musical "idea".
  • period phrase: A period phrase is a phrase that ends with the root note. This leaves the listener with a sense that the idea is done or complete. It has a "finished" sound.
  • comma phrase: A comma phrase is a phrase ending in a note other than the root note. This leaves the listener with the feeling there must be something more to come. The idea does not sound "finished" yet.
  • phrasing: This would simply be the art of phrasing and using both comma and period phrases together to form whole solos, etc.

Each lick, riff, or melody you play we will call a phrase. Some phrases are comma phrases and some are period phrases. When we link comma and period phrases together we get ideas that are more complete. So a whole entire solo would be just like a paragraph. Lots of smaller ideas linked together, using comma and period phrases that kinda make up sentences, and those all put together will kinda make a paragraph (or for you a solo).

It does not matter what scale note you start a phrase on, only what note the phrase ends with. This all rests on knowing what key you are playing in. To be able to hear this comma/period phrasing at work much better, you need to hear the root note often. Say, if you are playing E pentatonic minor scale notes it would help to hear an E minor chord (your root) fairly often. Also, playing with a CD or some song that you know uses your scale would help tremendously. This allows you to hear the way a phrase ending on a root note sounds finished, and a phrase ending on a note other than the root note leaves it sounding like more must be coming.

Try it out. If done properly you will hear what I am talking about.

Recommended Books On The Pentatonics

  • pentatonic_scales_guitar (5K)Pentatonic Scales for Guitar : The Essential Guide (With CD) - This book provides the pentatonic scale fingerings, diagrams, lessons and licks that every guitarist needs to know. It covers major and minor pentatonic scale patterns in all positions; licks in the styles of Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page and many other great artists. The CD includes 90 full-band demos for listening and/or play-along. The book is in standard notation and tablature.

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