Performance – Timing and Phrasing (Part 2)

Last time we started to talk about an important key element in performing valuable emotional music, which is having a unique and tasteful musical timing.

We all know that developing a good sense of timing is crucial for playing music. Unfortunately, a lot of musicians are having a very hard time defining what a good sense of timing is.

One’s perception of timing would be assuming that you should aim to play as precise as you can. This is true when trying to build a foundation of how to play in time, but this is just a part of the big picture in music. As I have stated before, the 100% precise execution of measure based timing is reserved only for machines or computers. Have you ever wondered why there is a constant effort in making virtual instruments and sequencers that can introduce imperfections in timing to make them sound more “human”?

In our world, no one is perfect, as well as in music; there is no such thing as a perfect performance. Even when given the same musical piece and the same musician, we can never expect to have the exact same performance every time. If you ever tried to compare your favorite artists’ different performances of the same song, in the studio and in different venues, you know exactly what I mean. Sometimes, these differences in timing are so subtle, that if we try to express them precisely with notation, the sub divisions will need to be ridiculously tiny. As a result, the notation will be un-writable, unreadable, unrepeatable through performance and therefore irrelevant.

Each and every human being is unique. As an aspiring musician, one of the most important elements that need to be developed is a unique personal sense of timing and phrasing. Using phrasing properly is the key to make our performances exciting and emotional. The same part or even a series of only two notes can sound completely different when played in a different timing by different musicians.

How can we develop a unique sense of timing? We’ll discuss that next time.

Can you spot some unique timing in the performance of your favorite artists or instrumentalists? Can you sing or play it yourself, exactly as they did? Can you transcribe these minor imperfections? Can you imagine how it would sound if you edited them to have perfect timing? How does their unique timing contribute to the overall feel of the music?

Share your insights below.

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