donderdag 3 januari 2013

Phrasing - Making the instrument Sing

This is the first post after a long break. I'm in the middle of a fairly intense period of concentrated practice now, working to improve my sight-reading and performance skills. So these posts are thoughts that occur to me in this journey.

Back to the subject - phrasing. It's very important to make music sound beautiful and full of life, but it is something which isn't really shown in sheet music. It's an area where the performer adds their own interpretation to the written music.

I think of phrasing as being like the lines of a song. A singer will have to pause to breathe, and a good singer will do that at natural pauses in the music, often the end of each line. Not all music has lyrics of course, but it all has phrases. Playing accordion enforces some breaks anyway to change the bellows directions, and these should correspond with the ends of phrases. So, think where in the music a singer would take a breath, and make a tiny pause there.

One thing I've been trying lately is to deliberately lift off the last note of a phrase just a tiny bit early, to enable me to leave a little "pause for breath" before playing the first note of the next phrase exactly on the beat. The music will also sound better if all of these little pauses between the phrases are more or less the same length.

These are all subtle details, but they're well worth paying attention to and good attention to phrasing is one of the things that marks out really good musicians.