Is this phrasing?

Fuo

Platinum Member
I've always heard people talking about "phrasing" on here, but never really understood what it meant (despite trying to look it up. i just don't get it). I've been working on the bridge to "Zero" by Smashing Pumpkins and I think i'm starting to get it...

The pattern is basically (4/4, 1/8 notes and i left out the cymbals to simply):
Code:
S: o  o  o | o  o
B:  oo oo o|o oo ooo

When I see a pattern like this I naturally see it as 3+3+3+3+4 (ABB ABB ABB ABB ABBB) because its easier... just do ABB four times, then ABBB once. But, then I think, since its 4/4 and not written as triplets (and it cant be trips since it would then be 6 beats instead of 8), it should be 4+4+4+4 (ABBA BBAB BABB ABBB). This is alot tougher, because now its 4 separate... phrases... So I practice this to a metronome... Once it get it going well with the 'nome I put the music back on and realize that my original/intuitive/easy interpretation was probably correct, it sounds like 3+3+3+3+4 (just evenly spaced)...

So anyway, i think i rambled too long, is this an example of phrasing?
 

Boomka

Platinum Member
I've always heard people talking about "phrasing" on here, but never really understood what it meant (despite trying to look it up. i just don't get it). I've been working on the bridge to "Zero" by Smashing Pumpkins and I think i'm starting to get it...

The pattern is basically (4/4, 1/8 notes and i left out the cymbals to simply):
Code:
S: o  o  o | o  o
B:  oo oo o|o oo ooo

When I see a pattern like this I naturally see it as 3+3+3+3+4 (ABB ABB ABB ABB ABBB) because its easier... just do ABB four times, then ABBB once. But, then I think, since its 4/4 and not written as triplets (and it cant be trips since it would then be 6 beats instead of 8), it should be 4+4+4+4 (ABBA BBAB BABB ABBB). This is alot tougher, because now its 4 separate... phrases... So I practice this to a metronome... Once it get it going well with the 'nome I put the music back on and realize that my original/intuitive/easy interpretation was probably correct, it sounds like 3+3+3+3+4 (just evenly spaced)...

So anyway, i think i rambled too long, is this an example of phrasing?

Yes. 4/4 time and the illusion of the bar line are an artifact of written music. As you say, the intuitive way to think of these is not in even 4 quarter-note groups. Here you're taking a cycle of 16 notes (let's call them 8th-notes) and splitting them into groups of 3 and 2 without regard to the bar line. Using the analogy of written and spoken language that the term "phrasing" comes from, think of the entire cycle as a sentence, and the various groups of notes within that as the phrases that make up the sentence. The tension of the repeated groups of three is not resolved on "1" of the second bar, but on "3" of the second bar (3 is another resolution point, though not as strong as 1). As you say, if you try to think of them resolving that way (i.e. on "1") the whole thing sounds and feels odd and is, frankly, not swinging. Groupings of 3 and 2 are the basis of syncopation and can actually be used as a concept to find your way through just about any simple or complex time signature in jazz, rock, funk, what-have-you.

In this case, your intuition is 100% on the ball - trust your ear over your eyes.
 
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Fuo

Platinum Member
Thanks. That explanation really helped. I do need to be careful though, back when I played guitar, this was one of my biggest bad habits: i'd always phrase things in whatever way came naturally to me (ie the easiest way). That led to some bad train wrecks that I don't want to repeat again.
 
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