LEAD GUITAR: Melodic Phrasing Solutions

Do you need to spice up your riffs, licks and lines? Are you bored with your chord progressions because they sound so drab, plain and dull? Well, you're in luck... look no further, this lesson will help you spice things up with as little as only one note! Yes, that's right, take your playing from boring to amazing with as little as just one note...

Phrasing is a big part of using chords and scales musically. One of the most important areas of phrasing is the creation of well-structured musical ideas.

Every player likes to have good control over the different phrases they create. A guitarist needs to know what the effects will be when they either start or end a melody line or a chord progression.

Deciding how we want our musical ideas to occur will involve learning about adding more impact to musical parts. To learn this, we have to spend time studying ways to improve how changes like this can happen in our music.

In this lesson, we’re going to explore ways that are simple and at the same time will work nicely to boost melodies and chords. In the end, you'll learn about simple techniques that can allow our phrases to have more impact and more intensity.


Most chord progressions and melodies in music are what’s referred to as “Diatonic.” In other words, they only use notes of the prescribed key center that the underlying song is based within.

However, a lot of our diatonic ideas can generally sound quite weak when it comes to the overall impact of a phrase. Let's begin by exploring a basic Major Key example of working within a key.

My first example will use a group of diatonic chords from the key of “E Major.”

Example 1). Diatonic chord progression

Now, let’s hear a melody line that relates to those diatonic chord changes…

 Example 2). Diatonic melody line

Diatonic phrases may come across as fairly basic /dull sounding, however there are methods in music that allow us to change certain tones within a key and generate more impact and more intensity so that our phrases can get a boost when they’re performed.

Next, let’s make some changes to the progression we just performed. We’ll enhance the triads with a few select 7th quality chords. And, we’ll add in a non-diatonic sound by way of an altered Dominant chord, the B7(b9)…

Here’s what our progression sounds like w/these change.

Example 3). Non-Diatonic chord progression

The non-diatonic tone in this harmony occurs in that "B7(b9) chord, it is a note of “C” Natural. This obviously adds more intensity to the resolution of our progression, creating a boost to the sound of the harmony line.

We can also have that same intensity with respect to our melody line by adding in that “C” tone from the altered chord. It can be added directly into our melody. Here’s what that would sound like on our melody line…

Example 4). Non-Diatonic melody line

There are a lot of different ways of doing this in music. Adding altered chords to a diatonic chord progression and then matching that unique non-diatonic tone within a melody is only one of the ways.

Another interesting effect can come from the different forms of minor scales, and the most common of those comes from Harmonic minor.

We can get this effect from replacing the diatonic “V-chord” in a Minor key with either a major or a dominant 7th chord…

This is a fantastic effect that sounds really cool in both chord progressions and melodies.

Here’s an example of that type of sound occurring in a key of “D Minor” chord progression.

Example 5). Minor Progression (Harmonic Minor)

Next, here is a melody line using the “D” Harmonic Minor scale over top of that “A dom.7” chord...

Example 6). Minor Melody (Harmonic Minor)

Study each chord example, then record the chord changes, (use a drum machine or a metronome to keep proper time). Afterwards, practice and perform the melodic studies that relate to each chord progression.

Now, that I’ve demonstrated a few of these different phrasing effects for you, I think that you can tell from the sounds of these “phrasing solutions,” the intensity of adding in notes that technically don’t belong within a scale, or a chord harmony can work out to be pretty cool sounding.

The chord movements, and the melody phrases that end up being the end result (of boosting the phrasing of any sort of musical passage), will help you line up new sounds that you otherwise quite likely would never have stumbled across if you were to only staying within the key.

So, carry on by continuing to experiment with adding in notes that don’t belong. Even if you aren’t fully aware of the music theory, try it anyway… You might discover a sound along the way that you otherwise would have never thought of before. 

...Well, as always, thanks for joining me, if you liked this video, please give it a thumbs up and subscribe for more, (and remember to hit that bell when you subscribe so that you’ll never miss any of my uploads to YouTube).

I also want to let you know about the guitar courses over on my website at CreativeGuitarStudio.com

I’ve got step-by-step; Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced courses that work alongside of in-depth elective programs to form the best guitar course available.

The courses work to help you learn to identify what's required to get you up to that next level of guitar playing, in a very organized step-by-step way, that makes sense.

So, I look forward to helping you further at CreativeGuitarStudio.com

Until next time, take care and we'll catch up again on the next video. Bye for now! 



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