The organization and grouping of musical phrases to create meaningful and expressive musical phrases

"Phrasing" in music refers to the organization and grouping of musical phrases to create meaningful and expressive musical phrases. A musical phrase is a unit of musical thought, similar to a sentence in language, that expresses a complete musical idea. Phrasing involves shaping and connecting these musical phrases to convey the intended musical expression and interpretation.

Phrasing is an essential element in musical performance and interpretation across various genres and styles. It helps to give a sense of structure, flow, and coherence to the music. It allows musicians to communicate their musical ideas, emotions, and intentions to the audience.

In instrumental music, phrasing is influenced by various factors, including dynamics (loudness and softness), articulation (how notes are played), tempo (speed of the music), and musical gestures. Musicians use techniques such as legato (smooth and connected), staccato (short and detached), accents, and breath pauses to shape and emphasize musical phrases.

In vocal music, phrasing is closely related to the natural phrasing of the text or lyrics. Singers interpret the meaning and emotion of the lyrics and use breathing techniques, articulation, and dynamics to shape their phrases and convey the intended message.

Interpreting phrasing requires an understanding of the composer's intentions, the musical style, and the overall musical context. It also allows for individual artistic interpretation and expression, as musicians have the freedom to bring their own musicality and personality to the performance.

Musicians and performers often use musical notation, markings, and expressive indications provided by the composer (such as slurs, phrase marks, crescendos, decrescendos) as guides for phrasing. However, phrasing is not solely determined by these markings, and musicians have the flexibility to shape and interpret the music based on their understanding and artistic sensibility.

Example of Phrasing

Hilary Hahn — Reflective masterclass: Phrasing Technique