Skip to main content

David's Tip of the Day: Value of Repetition, Part 7 (Theme, Part 2)

David Barrett Admin's picture

"What happens when you don't repeat your A lick... can it still be considered phrasing?"

Nope. Repetition is at the core of phrasing. Without repetition you're playing lick, after lick, after lick, after lick.. after lick.. after lick... after lick... after lick.... after lick. Get it? All change is sameness, boring. At the core of all that is melodic, or that which is story telling, a recurring theme must be present. Change cannot happen without repetition.

The Af Af At Chorus Form is a great example...

First Line: You play a lick (A) and there's a little bit of time left in the four-bar line, so you throw in a fill (f). This means nothing to the listener... just ear candy right now.

Second Line: You repeat your lick (A) and now the listener is given something familiar... they appreciate that. They can't hum along yet, but they like being able to the play this game you're providing them. They expect a full repeat, because you just set up that precedence, BUT you change your fill and they're surprised... "That was cool how he went there instead."

Last Line: They wonder, "Is he going to repeat again, or go away?" and you do... they got it right, and they're rewarded with the feeling that they're able to play this game, and now they're humming your melody. They say to themselves, "He changed the last piece of the line last time, I wonder where he's going now," and you play a cool turnaround lick.

You present... give something familiar... surprise them... allow them to guess correctly and set up anticipation. Pretty cool game.