Ending phrases well

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    Default Ending phrases well

    After having a listen back to some of the recordings I've recently done for TOTM & so on, I'm becoming aware of how often I'm not finishing phrases particulalrly well or decisively. I think there are some good ideas in places and some phrases and ideas that get developed well, but then end up going nowhere or getting a bit fudgy. And there are quite a few that always seem to finish in the same way on a prelearned lick, especially at speed.

    Any good tips for learning how to finish off a phrase, or carry it over into a new one without it sounding so abrupt?
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    Default Re: Ending phrases well

    Very good question! You probably work on constructing phrases always from their beginning; because you do not complain about the lack of clarity in the beginning of phrases. Try to invert this work: at first, to build a clear ending for phrase and then search for the path to it.

    untitled.jpg
    Apparently, it is necessary to create a separate repertoire endings of phrases.

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    Default Re: Ending phrases well

    Quote Originally Posted by Mrblackbat View Post
    After having a listen back to some of the recordings I've recently done for TOTM & so on, I'm becoming aware of how often I'm not finishing phrases particulalrly well or decisively. I think there are some good ideas in places and some phrases and ideas that get developed well, but then end up going nowhere or getting a bit fudgy. And there are quite a few that always seem to finish in the same way on a prelearned lick, especially at speed.

    Any good tips for learning how to finish off a phrase, or carry it over into a new one without it sounding so abrupt?
    Here are a few exercises for the practice room that might be helpful. Try these on a tune you know well:

    1) End each phrase on either the root, 3rd, or 7th of the chord.

    2) Practice specific play-rest combinations like 3 bars solo/1 bar rest, 2 bars solo/2 bats rest, etc.

    As an aside, make sure you are ending your phrases on purpose, rather than because you are running out of air or because you are losing the tempo.
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    Distinguished SOTW Member Dave Pollack's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ending phrases well

    Quote Originally Posted by dctwells View Post
    As an aside, make sure you are ending your phrases on purpose, rather than because you are running out of air or because you are losing the tempo.
    This is really crucial- so many people kind of trail off at the ends of phrases because they run out of ideas/air/etc. I think if you can't think of something musical to play, DON'T PLAY! Playing less is much better than adding in random crap.

    Also if you can't hear what's coming up or how you want to approach what's coming up in the tune, you won't be able to play it. I always have students listen to solos and then pause it at certain points, asking them "Where should the solo go next? What would you do next?" If they can give me a definite answer, we can then move to actually putting it to the horn. If not, we need to work on our ears.

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    Default Re: Ending phrases well

    Quote Originally Posted by jazzman1945 View Post
    Very good question! You probably work on constructing phrases always from their beginning; because you do not complain about the lack of clarity in the beginning of phrases. Try to invert this work: at first, to build a clear ending for phrase and then search for the path to it.

    untitled.jpg
    Apparently, it is necessary to create a separate repertoire endings of phrases.
    That makes a lot of sense, and I like the example. A set of building blocks for phrase endings that you can pull from if you need to.

    Quote Originally Posted by dctwells View Post
    As an aside, make sure you are ending your phrases on purpose, rather than because you are running out of air or because you are losing the tempo.
    I think that is my problem, particularly with up tempo songs where I start to lose it a bit and then it all kind of fumbles about and falls over into nothing. Perhaps focusing on having that repertoire of ending phrases practised slowly up to speed will help as a way of getting out of jail when that happens.
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    Default Re: Ending phrases well

    Quote Originally Posted by Mrblackbat View Post
    That makes a lot of sense, and I like the example. A set of building blocks for phrase endings that you can pull from if you need to.



    I think that is my problem, particularly with up tempo songs where I start to lose it a bit and then it all kind of fumbles about and falls over into nothing. Perhaps focusing on having that repertoire of ending phrases practised slowly up to speed will help as a way of getting out of jail when that happens.
    I would suggest not working out "endings" to phrases but rather learning to hear a resolution to your lines, like ending on a "strong" note.

    Sounds like you would benefit from working on your time, maybe your 8ths specifically. If you can play 8th notes without speeding up or slowing down you will find you can execute the ideas in your head to their musical conclusion. Often times our tongue and swing feel end up mucking things up as well. Try this:

    - Put a metronome on .... pick a tempo that's comfortable. Take a tune you know and practice soloing with just the metronome and the following "rules": 1) you can only play eight notes, just stopping to breathe 2) the eigth notes must be perfectly straight and in time with the metronome 3) you can't use your tongue at all except to tongue the first note of each phrase

    This exercise is really hard and it will change your life .... try it!
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    Default Re: Ending phrases well

    It was revealing the day I really thought about ending phrases well. I don't know if it will work for you, or not, but for a while, I overcompensated on making my endings more important than the beginning.

    Listen to the "story tellers". Lester Young is a good place to start.
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    Default Re: Ending phrases well

    Quote Originally Posted by dctwells View Post
    As an aside, make sure you are ending your phrases on purpose, rather than because you are running out of air or because you are losing the tempo.
    This happens also in outstanding artists. Bill Evans ( a pianist) was known for the clear fluid phrasing, accuracy and purity of his playing . But in his solo https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ftmlNyEflvs from 3:53 till 3:58 we clearly hear how energy (air) leaves from his melodic line; but he tries to continue by force - and immediately misses the notes , although before that everything was clean. It was necessary to make pause!
    I do not remember a similar incident in BE, but this - I remember for a lifetime ...

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    Default Re: Ending phrases well

    Quote Originally Posted by dctwells View Post

    1) End each phrase on either the root, 3rd, or 7th of the chord.
    I agree, but why not the 5th? i.e. any chord note?

    It's also worth pointing out that with yer typical jazz quaver patterns, phrases that end on an anticipation (e.g. 4 &) are absolutely fine taking the chord note of the next chord, i.e. the one they anticipate.

    So a bar of G7 (leading to C) might be G Gb F A E D B C so the C note anticipates the C chord.
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    Default Re: Ending phrases well

    Miles said something along the line of don't play the last few notes of what your ending phrase
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed

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    Default Re: Ending phrases well

    I'm taking Form and Analysis now (very challenging for me). This concept of a phrase (which seems kind of simple on the face of it) is pretty interesting. One quote from the text book to define it:

    "...we are all familiar from the first movement of our existence as separate human beings. We celebrate that event by drawing a breath...The drawing of the breath is an act of cumulation, of tension which is then released by the alternative act of of exhalation...What is a so-called "musical phrase" if not the portion of music that must be performed, so to speak, without letting go, in a single breath...I am tempted to call this the most important musical fact." -Roger Sessions

    The improviser has quite a challenge of learning to do this in the moment, unlike writing a composition. It seems like it's saying things musically in a more conversational way vs. a finely crafted and edited prose, for example. One has to be be well versed in a language to be able to articulate thoughts and convey emotion effectively, so I guess it's same with improvisation. I notice the same thing in my improvising, ideas that that trail off, and just general indecisiveness in what I'm trying to say-
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    Default Re: Ending phrases well

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete Thomas View Post
    I agree, but why not the 5th? i.e. any chord note?

    It's also worth pointing out that with yer typical jazz quaver patterns, phrases that end on an anticipation (e.g. 4 &) are absolutely fine taking the chord note of the next chord, i.e. the one they anticipate.

    So a bar of G7 (leading to C) might be G Gb F A E D B C so the C note anticipates the C chord.
    No doubt, any chord tone could be fair game ..... I just gave what I would consider the top 3 to make the exercise a little more manageable for getting started. The 5th, and 9th for that matter, can also make for great resolution notes.
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    Default Re: Ending phrases well

    Since the riff is a repetitive rhythmically melodic figure, necessarily including a pause; you can end the phrase with one-off riff.

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    Default Re: Ending phrases well

    Quote Originally Posted by dctwells View Post
    I would suggest not working out "endings" to phrases but rather learning to hear a resolution to your lines, like ending on a "strong" note.

    Sounds like you would benefit from working on your time, maybe your 8ths specifically. If you can play 8th notes without speeding up or slowing down you will find you can execute the ideas in your head to their musical conclusion. Often times our tongue and swing feel end up mucking things up as well. Try this:

    - Put a metronome on .... pick a tempo that's comfortable. Take a tune you know and practice soloing with just the metronome and the following "rules": 1) you can only play eight notes, just stopping to breathe 2) the eigth notes must be perfectly straight and in time with the metronome 3) you can't use your tongue at all except to tongue the first note of each phrase

    This exercise is really hard and it will change your life .... try it!
    I like the sound of that exercise, certainly sounds a challenge! Thanks for the tip.

    Some really great stuff here, thankyou everyone for your input!
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    Default Re: Ending phrases well

    Phrase endings: https://yadi.sk/d/KIsQ1CQn3NRUHH

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    Default Re: Ending phrases well

    When playing on stage, I'll sometimes end a solo on the 4th or 5th of the key scale, depending on the chord progression, holding it long enough to in effect hand the solo over to the guitarist, who I know will therefore begin his solo on the root, so that the beginning of his solo also functions as a resolution of mine. This works well for people who have been playing together for some time, but I'm not sure how you would practice it.

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    Default Re: Ending phrases well

    Quote Originally Posted by dctwells View Post
    "As an aside, make sure you are ending your phrases on purpose, rather than because you are running out of air or because you are losing the tempo."

    Ok, I'm guilty. As I assume most everyone is who solos a lot. It is often quoted by great players that we must always remind our listeners of the melody, never letting our most out-of-the-box selves totally wander off leaving the audience unsure of what the original song was.

    I find this to be true in those moments when my phrases are not finishing well, or my tempo is drifting, or I honestly am not putting relative ideas together... I simply drift back to the melody in order to internally recoup & reset, then charge back in.

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    Default Re: Ending phrases well

    Quote Originally Posted by because View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by dctwells View Post
    "As an aside, make sure you are ending your phrases on purpose, rather than because you are running out of air or because you are losing the tempo."

    Ok, I'm guilty. As I assume most everyone is who solos a lot.
    I would hope that most people who solo a lot (i.e. are experienced) would actually end their phrases the way they want them to end. I actually can't imagine ending a phrase purely because I'm running out of air.
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    Default Re: Ending phrases well

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete Thomas View Post
    I would hope that most people who solo a lot (i.e. are experienced) would actually end their phrases the way they want them to end. I actually can't imagine ending a phrase purely because I'm running out of air.
    That's good that you can't- I hear lots of people fizzle out in the middle of their phrases! Really kills what they were going for.

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    Default Re: Ending phrases well

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Pollack View Post
    That's good that you can't- I hear lots of people fizzle out in the middle of their phrases! Really kills what they were going for.
    Or maybe it's bad in that I never stretch myself to start something without knowing how it will end.
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