Musicians face a big challenge in how to phrase music that has a lot of repetition in it.  The truth is, most musical compositions have a lot of repetition.  Melodies are built on repeated fragments, different phrases sound alike, and entire sections are often repeated.

When something reappears in your music over and over again, you have opportunities to be creative.  You can develop your own interpretation of the music and play these repeating sections differently each time you encounter them.

You can make adjustments in your dynamics, tempo, and tone to bring out elements of the music.  Without making these changes, your performance can sound flat.  With these changes, you can create a cascade of emotions for your listeners.

One phrasing decision must be dealt with: whether repeating sections are building toward a specific climax in the music.  If you are building, increasing the dynamics and tempo on each repeated phrase can propel your music forward.  You can be subtle with these changes, or you can be exaggerated.  Trying both is usually best in the practice room.  You will find a happy medium that makes your phrasing sound just the way you want it.

Adjusting your tone can make repeated sections sound interesting also.  You can alter your attacks, make notes very breathy and light or heavy and dark, and change the length of the notes (short/staccato vs. long/legato).  By combining these various elements of your sound, you can create an infinite palate of interesting sound that makes the music sound less repetitive.

If you’re playing in a group, you have even more ways to be creative when dealing with musical themes that keep returning again and again.  Different players in the ensemble can bring out their parts at various times, allowing the group to create a constantly changing timbre.  This way, each time a section is repeateed, it has a new life and communicates something fresh to the audience.

Each time you encounter phrases or sections of your music that are repetitive, open yourself up to creating a new interpretation–something that shows your own style.  Be bold in your decisions about how to phrase your music!

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