When playing blues guitar, as with anything, you always start with the basics and gradually you advance to where you get to riffs, style, and that thing they call phrasing.
Phrasing is how you take all the techniques and all the details that go with it and make it yours. In other words, phrasing is the way you have made all the technical stuff that you’ve learned sound the way you feel.
In any kind of music, it’s the phrasing that makes the piece unique, because you’ve learned how to express yourself through all the techniques and mechanical aspects of the music. Phrasing is your way of playing and singing and your ability to create an emotional impact with all you’ve learned. However, with everything, there are pitfalls, and here is a short guideline.
It is easy, when playing to get lost in the notes themselves. What distinguishes your style from others is rhythm – pacing, or timing. Doing a solo without this crucial element will only run everything together, and eventually it will all sound the same. It is the timing and knowing of when to add something new or let the effect of what you are doing linger.
The second thing to watch for is to avoid doing the same interval all the time. Good players always mix and match for effect, it breaks up the same pattern into interesting pieces and shows your versatility at the same time.
The third pitfall is to try to do too much. Don’t try to cram in as many notes as you can. The idea is to keep it simple which means refrain from getting it bogged down. Remember, that it is layered simplicity that, when put all together, sounds like a very complex piece that has depth and peaks interest.
The last pitfall concerns too much technique. Players who are too technical are boring because they don’t have the “fire” that makes an emotional impact. The idea is to have sufficient technique that is adequate, in and of itself to make an emotional impact, and that goes for any form of communication, be it painting, writing, photography, or music.
Really, what these pitfalls are all about is your common sense. It is easy to get so involved with your playing that you concentrate on how technically good you are. Nobody cares about the technical way you did that last riff, they only care about it makes them feel.
To summarize then, be sure that once you are technically proficient, you don’t forget the emotion behind it. It is the emotion that an audience wants, and if you are just technique then you don’t convey an emotional impact, and you will turn off your audience by boring them to death. If you are wondering about the emotion part, just remember what got you into this in the first place – it was the passion, and that is what drives everyone who has any life in them at all.