Phrasing is your identity as a player.
It is the one thing that sets you apart from other guitarists. If you aren’t careful, it can also be the one thing that breaks your playing. Bad phrasing is one of the most recognizable aspects of a person’s guitar playing.
In this article, we will discuss how you can improvise on guitar and phrase in the key of C Major around the root note.
Everything in music has a root note. No matter how many octaves spanned within a chord, at the bottom of it all, there is a root. The root note is the lowest sounding note of a chord. In the key of C Major, there are seven different root notes. Each root depends on the scale degree being played.
For instance, if we were to play a C Major tonic chord, which consists of the notes C, E, and G, our root note would be C. Why? It’s the lowest sounding note out of the three.
The easiest way to identify a root note is by finding out what scale you are playing in, then which scale degree the chord is stemmed from. This will automatically tell you which note is the root note.
You can also listen to the chord itself and pick out the lowest note.
With inversions, the task becomes a bit trickier. You can’t find an inverted chord’s root note without identifying the chord itself first. This is because the root note is no longer the lowest sounding note.
To phrase around the root note, you need to start at the root. For simplicity’s sake, we’ll use the root note C in the key of C Major. This means that we are using the tonic.
To phrase around the root note, you need to find out the other notes that are compatible with the root note. While at one point or another all notes are compatible, they won’t always work together. This is due to the fact that not all intervals sound, for lack of a better term, good together.
The notes that most closely relate to our tonic C root note are E and G. Why? Because they are the notes of the tonic C Major triad; C, E, and G. This means that the easiest notes to phrase around C as a root note are E and G. Using the E and G around the C depends on the length of the C note.
If it is a whole note, you have more time to weave your notes throughout in different patterns. If it isn’t, you need to work with one note or the other. This will avoid the passage becoming too clustered. Too many notes trying to work along with a single note is never a good thing.
The best way to improve your skill is to practice. Start off with some simple guitar chord progressions. Allow yourself to get used to the C as the root note, and then choose your way around it carefully. Have fun, and keep an open mind.
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