I would like to share with you about one of the most important elements of musicality, the phrasing. Simply, I refer to phrasing as both rhythmical and melodic distribution of musical sounds (let’s not limit ourselves just to the concept of notes). So phrasing refers to how we distribute musical sounds within a musical phrase. And to compare a phrase to a bar (a measure), is just like comparing a stanza (a strophe) to a verse in poetry, so a musical phrase is just a logical and organic collection of a few measures (very often 4).

Beyond phrasing

Phrasing is definitely one of the most significant elements of musical expression, but there are many, of course. If we would wish to talk about other aspects of musicality, I would recommend a superb and fantastic DVD by Victor Wooten, and his Groove Workshop DVD. The DVD is understandable to musicians at all levels, and you will do yourself a monumental favor by watching and studying it.

Try and sing what you hear

Very often I study and disect interesting phrasings of some fascinating songs. It is well known that if you wish to learn a tune on your instrument (whichever instrument it may be), one of the most effective ways to learn it quickly is to sing out the tune first. Singing does a few great things for you:

  • first it lets you easily and quickly check if you have remembered the tune exactly;
  • it also gives you the opportunity to internalize the tune and immediately inspect and experiment with it’s subtle elements and hidden possibilities;
  • it also lets you practice even when you don’t have your musical instrument with you (yes, it really does).


These following exquisite musical examples are a selection from my most recent playlist, songs which I’ve been repeatedly grinding in my mp3 player during the past few months, and the first great phrasings which come to my mind at this moment. But ladies and gentleman, there is truly much to learn from these examples. I will not say much about what you will experience with them, I will just give you my warmest recommendation and a thumbs up to reassure you that this exercises will definitely improve your overall musical skills.

Try and sing these tunes. The entire songs are beautiful, but I have extracted the exact phrases which I urge you to sing out. Some of these songs are in Croatian, while other are instrumentals, so just sing “na-na-na-na…” if you don’t speak the language.

  1. Listen to the whole song
  2. Listen, sing and repeat the tune (together with background music, at first).

Now really do try and sing this, THEN you will see what I’m really talking about.

The tunes

  1. Dragan Dautovski kvartet – Nasuprot vetrot (Against the Wind)
    Voice line, 0:33-1:52 (repeated several times)
  2. Sevdah Takht Damira Imamovića – Potjera kroz Skopje (Instrumental)
    Guitar melody phrasing, 0:42-1:48 (also repeated 4:42-5:32)
  3. Theodosii Spassov – Something Beautiful (Instrumental)
    Kaval melody, 0:27-1:12 (repeated 7:00-7:53)
  4. Folkestra – Pastir i žirafa (A Sheppard and a Giraffe)
    Voice line, 0:06-1:28 (quite structured and very beautiful)
  5. Animals as Leaders – Crescent (Instrumental)
    Guitar melody, 1:32-1:47 (very short, simple and effective, repeated 3:21-3:37)

One Comment

  1. Fabrice Aburbé says:

    Thank you very, very much for this ! 🙂