Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Phrasing with Scales and Modes (part 1)

I've had no end of requests about modes since I first started the phrasing module.

Am I going to be covering modes/phrasing with modes?

While I've had some really good, supportive feedback about the first 2 videos, I probably didn't make it clear enough in the post "New Year, New Ideas" that the first 2 videos are supposed to serve as an example of what can be done with a scale. It happened to be a Bb major scale that I used in the example, but in truth it could have been any scale, any mode. Pentatonic, blues scales, even arpeggios can be practiced using this principle of breaking up the rhythm, and experimenting with different note values and rests between them but remaining within the restricted framework of completing the scale (or arpeggio) over however many octaves as you wish. It was meant to serve as an example of a principle rather than just as a major scale exercise.

If building familiarity with different scales and modes is necessary, then I would suggest that is done before attempting to explore different rhythms while playing them in their ascending and descending forms. Scale diagrams and information about what (and where) all the modes are can be found all over the internet. A quick google search will offer you all the information you will ever need, and some clear scale diagrams are well presented on a lot of good education websites.

Getting back to the phrasing module, there are two directions that I can go in from those first videos. The first is to explore different scales, modes, arpeggios, pentatonic and blues scale choices etc... and thoroughly go through a lot of different sounds and effects that these tonalities can bring. The other direction I could go in is to explore the dynamics of movement within a scale more thoroughly. Maybe changing direction once or twice over a 2 octave scale instead of always needing to complete it over 2 octaves before either ascending or descending once more. Maybe explore intervals? The list of options here is immense.

What I had planned to do next was to explore more 'melodic movement choices' rather than tonalities, although since I've been asked about this a lot, I'm probably going to explore both of these things.

Monday, 8 February 2010

Asking Better Questions (part 1)

I vividly rememeber a time at music college when the question "What is art?" set off the first academic year with the intention of generating some healthy discussion about it. Maybe it was also to challenge preconceived ideas or to expand thoughts that people may already have on the subject, but my recollection of this day was of a very defensive position that one lecturer took when I suggested that the question "What is art?" was actually quite limited, and that perhaps the topic may be better addressed by asking "Where is art?" "When is art?" "How is art?" and even "Why is art?". Judging by the reaction I got, I don't think these questions fit into that particular lecturers 'plan', and as I learned quickly, you can't go against 'the plan' in an established academic setting. To challenge 'the plan' is to challenge the institution itself, and they don't like that very much. For anyone else, outside an institutionalised educational setting who may wish to explore an idea and develop a deeper understanding of a topic beyond some elses 'plan', asking better questions is a very good way to achieve that.

What this brings me to is an important set of questions which can be asked of anything, and for the current focus on phrasing, "What is phrasing?" can generate some interesting answers, but how about "Where is phrasing?" "When is phrasing?" "How is phrasing?" or even "Why is phrasing?". Proper grammar might sometimes be difficult to fit with these questions, but what they pertain to is there, and exploring the answers to these 'better questions' can lead to some useful insights that in turn, can better inform what it is you're trying to do.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Phrasing Videos

I've had a couple of messages letting me know that the videos I embedded into the "New Year, New Ideas" post don't always seem to work.

I don't know how to fix this problem beyond posting the links to these videos on youtube which are here: