Rhetoric in music
The acts of preparing a speech and preparing to play a solo on your instrument are closer than some people might expect. The similarities begin with the purpose: We want to express something. They are also similar in the medium of sound and so are received by the listener with the same organs. If we are aware of all these similarities can we use some guidelines from one method to the other? Yes, we can! Even more important, this approach gives a very organic structure to your solo. So let’s look into some guidelines of rhetorics that are easily applied to your guitar playing.
Guideline 1: Structural ideas - Chiasmus
If you are working with two ideas in your solo you could play them in the order the first time and switch the order around the second time. This emphasizes the ideas but is more interesting that a simple repetition.
Idea 1 – Idea 2
Idea 2 – Idea 1
The name of this device comes from the Greek letter chi which looks like an x.
Guideline 2: Contrast - Thesis and Antithesis
To make one idea stand out play a contrasting idea before or after it. He you can get creative with what contrasting means. You could invert the idea, modulate it or change it completely. This works excellent with rhythmic ideas. Either keep the pitches and change the rhythm or keep the rhythm and change the pitches for the contrasting idea. Keep in mind that the goal is to make the important idea stand out so that listeners remember it.
Guideline 3: Talking in threes - Trikolon
The most basic and most effective technique speakers use is repetition. The most well known example of this structure is “Veni, vidi, vici.” You could use this guideline leading up to the climactic point in your solo by starting a phrase, then starting it again but playing a bit further and finally playing the whole phrase up to it’s climax.
These three ideas are just the beginning. Try to find different rhetoric device and try to apply it to your solo playing. You will be amazed of the quality and quantity of ideas you can create in this way.
The author of this text is an entrepreneur, music teacher and physicist teaching in Germany. Feel free to contact Rene Kerkdyk to find information about guitar lessons in Hildesheim.