How To Understand What Is Unique About Your Own Voice Part 2: Riffs and Phrasing

Now that you’ve discovered a bit about your own unique voice it’s time to dig into another aspect of singing, phrasing and riffs! 

Sing Is Charming Enough, But Is There a Reason It Has Animals?
Tori Kelly is an expert at riffs and phrasing

Be sure to check out Coach Michelle’s video at the bottom of this post for a visual and audio demonstration of how these techniques apply to your unique voice! 

What is phrasing? 

A musical phrase is like a musical sentence, a duration of notes broken apart by where we breath. 

The concept of phrasing refers not to the actual pitches sung, but the timing and delivery of those notes. 

While there are many intricacies involved in phrasing, the two main ideas to wrap your head around are back phrasing and forward phrasing

What Is Back Phrasing?

In this style the singer comes in a little behind the beat. In other words, their singing begins a little later than you might anticipate it should. This gives the singer a laid back type of feeling. 

Billie Holiday was famous for this aspect of her style.

What Is Forward Phrasing?

Forward phrasing is the exact opposite! The singer begins their line a little earlier than is expected, giving a more immediate and urgent feeling. 

What Are Riffs? 

Riffs are embellishments added to a song’s melody to personalize the song and make it more exciting. Essentially, riffs are the vocalist’s main form of improvisation. 

Riffs and Runs for Beginners--ANYONE Can Do Them! | Ramsey Voice Studio
An example of a riff that’s been notated

In order to feel comfortable creating on the spot and find the right notes, singers need to practice their scales and ear training. 

What Exercises Can I Do?

Check out Michelle’s demonstration where she skates circles around the melody of “Can’t Help Falling In Love” here! And remember, if you want to take your singing to the next level with private lessons don’t hesitate to contact us!