One of the greatest guitar lessons I’ve had came in the form of an instructional video by Scott Henderson called Melodic Phrasing.
This is one of those videos that marked a break through in guitar education, Scott Henderson was at the time heavily involved in the legendary GIT in Los Angeles.
GIT was in the 80s and 90s the Mecca for seemingly every jazz and rock guitarist who wanted to advance on the electric guitar.
So in the name of great guitar tuition, let’s take a look at a 10 minute clip from this video and learn about how to phrase by one of the greatest jazz and blues guitar players of our time.
At 1:33 Scott says how the third most important component to phrasing is the note choices and how he exclusively deals with this in his previous full length instructional video.
From this standpoint you could then apply everything Scott talks about when you practice your pentatonic shapes over for example the 2 Chord Loops.
Don’t be intimidated by Scott Henderson’s seriously advanced playing, listen to his wise words and apply his ideas to the progressions and pentatonic shapes you are working on at the moment.
Scott Henderson Melodic Phrasing lesson breakdown
1. What is a phrase 0:24 – 4:12
In this part of the video Scott talks about the three components to phrasing being; rhythm, shape and note choices.
I couldn’t agree more with Scott about putting the rhythm first, rhythmical interplay is everything in hit writing, part writing and improvisation.
However, as Scott stress; if you don’t have the note choices down, learn them!
When I was 17 and first saw this video I didn’t do that, if I would have I can now in retrospect see how that would have saved me almost a decade of fumbling around before I finally sat down and worked my scales and shapes out, just like you see in Chordacus.
Don’t make the same mistake I did, realize now that by cracking the fretboard, making musical harmony easy to execute anywhere on the neck will enable you to drop this as your focus, allowing a move of focus towards rhythm and expression.
You can see/hear in Scott Henderson’s playing that he has without a doubt done this.
Every time the chord changes he swaps scale, even when he is trying to play badly, demonstrating how to play without rhythmical punctuation and repetition; he still automatically change over each chord!
The scales, the note choices are to Scott Henderson never a problem. This plays a huge part in why he is so free in his guitar playing.
I’d like to sum this up as:
The note choices don’t matter as long as you know them!
The example of no rhythm in your improvisation happens at 4:30 in the video.
Can you tell how he is still switching scale, following the chords?
2. Rhythmical repetition 4:58 – 9:08
Great stuff here from Scott, take his advice, let for example the pentatonic scales guide you to the note choices, allow the rhythm to bind your phrases and shapes together.
In the video Scott is playing Blues but don’t let that affect you, this really is universal stuff.
The concept on blues phrasing could easily be translated to writing a melody for a verse of a song, or a guitar part in a band arrangement.
3. Milking an idea 9:08 – 9:54
In the last part of this beautiful guitar lesson Scott talks about milking an idea, what he says is brilliant, I just want to add one more perspective here.
Let’s take the song Whistle For The Choir as an example. The first melody, scanning with the words:
Well it’s a big, big city and it’s always the same, this phrase use the E major pentatonic.
Can never be too pretty, tell me your name, this phrase use the G# minor pentatonic.
The notes and rhythms are almost identical, but the change in chord, from I to III provide the variation!
This would be another example of milking an idea; keep the melody, allow the chord behind it to change its meaning!
Buy Scott Henderson Melodic Phrasing
If you like what Scott is talking about in the video, why not check out the whole thing by getting Scott Henderson – Melodic Phrasing on Amazon?