How To Stylize a Song

Singing or playing piano with a specific style depends on a few things. How do you interpret the lyrics for a song? What do they mean to you? What feelings do the words awaken in you, and how can you evoke those feeling to the audience? Where does it make sense to increase or decrease volume? Also, the rhythmic pattern you choose to use will create a specific feel and style to the song.

Your stylistic choice will determine your phrasing. And by stylist choice, I mean anything different from the original melody (unless it is an original song). As you look over your lyrics, ask yourself: Are there any important words I would like to highlight? Where is it appropriate to add some embellishments (like a run or riffs)? (See blog 8/30 “The Difference Between a Run & Riff) Are there specific lyrics that need a little more weight added, or any notes to sustain (hold) longer?

Your rhythmic pattern will also determine the style of the song; which means the song will have a pop, rock, country, contemporary, etc. style or rhythm. For instance, using triplet quarter notes or triplet eighth notes. We will talk about song rhythms styles in another blog.

Another element of style to consider is called back phrasing, which is when you purposefully sing ahead of or behind the beat. Back phrasing is heavily used in jazz and more contemporary styles.

Final thoughts, Remember that your ultimate goal is to be able to sing and play the song the way you feel the song. This gives you the ability to communicate the song and evoke those feelings to your listeners. Listen to Ilenia Vasquez (Her artist name is Milania Prince) stylizing Adele’s song “One and Only”.


What do you do if you run over a bass player? Back up.