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How many licks in your bag o' tricks?
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How many licks in your bag o' tricks?
<20
60%
 60%  [ 9 ]
<50
13%
 13%  [ 2 ]
<100
13%
 13%  [ 2 ]
>100
13%
 13%  [ 2 ]
Total Votes : 15

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princeplanet



Joined: 28 May 2009
Posts: 23

PostPosted: Tue Jun 16, 2009 2:25 pm    Post subject: How many licks in your bag o' tricks? Reply with quote

Was wondering if some of you guys would mind being honest for a minute and come clean on how many prepared phrases you rely on for improv? Dozens? Hundreds? None? Are they distributed evenly against all chord groups, or are most of them only on certain types )eg hip alt dom lines)?


Also, are they your own creations, or "stolen"? Bit of both maybe?

Just wondering.....
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greentone



Joined: 31 May 2008
Posts: 670

PostPosted: Tue Jun 16, 2009 5:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good idea, this poll. I'd be surprised, however, if most players were using more than about a half-dozen prepared phrases in their solos--honestly.

There are some "typical" ways to negotiate II/V jogs in the music, and most pre-60s music is all about that kind of movement--at least, popular charts work that way. Still, when soloing, trying to play the reharmonizations in your head isn't easily accomplished via prepared licks.

The likeliest moments in your solo when you are going to hit a lick is when you are taking a "breather" between ideas. A whole other trick bag is when you are adding bass lines to chord stabs or to independent melody lines. Most players are going to hit "lick" bass lines. Heck, the great Jimmy Smith did it on the B3 and it sounded great. I figure it it was good enough for Jimmy... (Au Privave, The Sermon, etc.)

That said, I probably use maybe five or six prepared licks.
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randalljazz



Joined: 19 May 2009
Posts: 92

PostPosted: Tue Jun 16, 2009 5:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

two. so i try like the dickens to avoid using them, unless i'm completely against the wall! Rolling Eyes
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princeplanet



Joined: 28 May 2009
Posts: 23

PostPosted: Wed Jun 17, 2009 8:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well I have none yet, but I wouldn't mind a coupla hundred, y'know, seems like all the players I love to listen to relied on a stack of "pre learned" ideas.
Why is this so bad? It's how you use 'em right? No one could accuse Bird of lazily relying on his own cliches (hmm, well maybe towards the end of his life, sadly...).
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MangoTango



Joined: 08 Sep 2008
Posts: 307
Location: UK

PostPosted: Wed Jun 17, 2009 10:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

princeplanet wrote:
No one could accuse Bird of lazily relying on his own cliches (hmm, well maybe towards the end of his life, sadly...).


Not cliches in his playing, just about "jazz musicians living the life"...

Anyway, stock licks - do not have many and usually just as stated above, to get you out of a hole of to catch a breath before going onto something else. Maybe I need more, given the number of holes I seem to dig for myself Embarassed .
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greentone



Joined: 31 May 2008
Posts: 670

PostPosted: Wed Jun 17, 2009 2:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Different bag, but Clapton claims to have amassed nothing but licks, which he quilts together into solo after solo. For what it's worth, I can hear only a few in his playing. Listen to his early recorded work with Mayall, or Cream (especially "Live Cream, Vol I) and his solos are non-repetitive. Given the bass and drum work by Bruce and Baker, it's why Cream was regarded in its day as a jazz band.

If Clapton was using only licks, he must have had a catalog of thousands of them to draw upon.
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MangoTango



Joined: 08 Sep 2008
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 17, 2009 4:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jack Bruce has been quoted as saying "Cream was a Jazz Band - we just didn't tell Eric....".

Laughing Laughing Confused
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princeplanet



Joined: 28 May 2009
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 17, 2009 6:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I doubt if Clapton could even spell Jazz. The guy knew two box shapes and just shifted gears b/n maj and min pentatonics. Thats a million miles away from say, someone like a Wes Montgomery. It's easy to noodle all day with a box pentatonic, we all did that within a year of playing right? Fast forward 20 years and I'm damned if I can figure out what Wes was doing....
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Generic Sobriquet



Joined: 03 Jul 2007
Posts: 804

PostPosted: Wed Jun 17, 2009 6:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pfffft on Crapton. I have little but contempt for that effete fake. Had to get that out of the way in an obligatory fashion.


Look'ere, the concept of "prepared licks" runs counter to one of the fundamental principles of jazz: improvisation. Improvisation is defined as spontaneous, extemporaneous composition. (I hope I shouldn't have to define spontaneous, extemporaneous, or composition.) "Jazz improvisation using prepared licks" is therefore, and rather self-evidently in my view, an oxymoronic statement.


Yo, I recommend that when one hits those "breather moments"—take a breath! You don't have to play incessantly.
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M



Joined: 02 Jan 2009
Posts: 331
Location: Northern VA (USA)

PostPosted: Wed Jun 17, 2009 7:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Prepared phrases" kind of puts a negative spin on it, right from the start, but ...

If you can equate jazz to a communicative language, then you have to have words to build upon, and you have to have some general structure, phrases, buzzwords, and idiomatic lingo. You can't create *all* that stuff from scratch every time you are about to utter a thought.

Our creativity is evidenced in the ways we assimilate, assemble, and repurpose the language. And, like body language, the context, delivery, and feel carry as much weight as the "words" themselves.

I think it must be a spectrum. You don't want to be a totally redundant, repetitious fool, and you also don't want to be a totally esoteric, incomprehensible one, either. You want to find your spot on the spectrum where you communicate most effectively, and you continue to try to improve your communication skills from there.

Pardon the ramble! Rolling Eyes
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princeplanet



Joined: 28 May 2009
Posts: 23

PostPosted: Thu Jun 18, 2009 4:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

[quote="M"]"Prepared phrases" kind of puts a negative spin on it, right from the start, but ...

If you can equate jazz to a communicative language, then you have to have words to build upon, and you have to have some general structure, phrases, buzzwords, and idiomatic lingo. You can't create *all* that stuff from scratch every time you are about to utter a thought.

Our creativity is evidenced in the ways we assimilate, assemble, and repurpose the language. And, like body language, the context, delivery, and feel carry as much weight as the "words" themselves.

I think it must be a spectrum. You don't want to be a totally redundant, repetitious fool, and you also don't want to be a totally esoteric, incomprehensible one, either. You want to find your spot on the spectrum where you communicate most effectively, and you continue to try to improve your communication skills from there.

Pardon the ramble! Rolling Eyes[/quote]

At last someone prepared to even suggest that it's ok to have some "lines". Why is everyone so afraid of them? Parker had 300 of them, you calling him a wuss? Maybe your improvs can be more compelling when you use them judiciously. Anyway, anyone says they don't have pet ideas they draw on for solos must be a liar! Even if it's the way you like to phrase your fave arp extensions, or that diminished run, that alt dom lick, and they way you know how to slip in a blues line or two..... c'mon, even Coltrane had licks!
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dewey decibel



Joined: 15 Feb 2006
Posts: 1677

PostPosted: Tue Jun 23, 2009 2:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm all about licks. That said, there's only a handful that I play very often (at least in an instantly recognizable way). This music is all about vocabulary, and that vocabulary is made up of licks and phrases. The difference is you don't necessarily play these licks and phrases verbatim, you alter them to fit the context. They're in your head, not necessarily under your fingers.

I like the word device- I look at many jazz licks as devices. A way to get from here to there, A to B. What you need to do is take your lick and figure out what the device is, what makes it work. Some licks will have more than one device happening. There's a harmonic quotient and a rhythmic one. Once you understand what this device in your lick is, you can then apply this lick to many different contexts. You can alter that lick, creating a new one (but still using the same device). This is what jazz is about.

Improvising isn't about creating something completely new from scratch each time, it's about taking things you already know and putting them together in different ways to create something new. If you're new to this and don't have anything in your bag, the absolute best place to start building a vocabulary of licks is from the tunes themselves- the melodies. Learn the licks and devices in these melodies, and learn how to alter them to fit your improvisations. Don't worry about numbers- how many licks you know, it doesn't matter. I can take 1 lick, figure out the musical device it uses, and make 1000 new lines from it.
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princeplanet



Joined: 28 May 2009
Posts: 23

PostPosted: Tue Jun 23, 2009 3:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice response Dewey. Thanks.
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Generic Sobriquet



Joined: 03 Jul 2007
Posts: 804

PostPosted: Wed Jun 24, 2009 10:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, to be diplomatic, perhaps we have different concepts of the term "lick" and are somewhat speaking crossways.

As whomever contributes the stuff to Wikipedier wrote:
In popular music genres such as rock music, a lick is "a stock pattern or phrase" (Middleton 1990, p. 137) consisting of a short phrase, or series of notes that is used in solos and melodic lines. The term is most often used by rock musicians who play the guitar. Licks in rock and roll are often used through a formula, and variations technique in which variants of simple, stock ideas are blended and developed during the solo. In heavy metal, the term "hot lick" is often used.[citation needed]

In a jazz band, a lick may be performed during an improvised solo, either during an accompanied solo chorus or during an unaccompanied solo break. Jazz licks are usually original short phrases which can be altered so that they can be used over a song's changing harmonic progressions.


Whatever. I still prefer to forgo or straight eschew the idea of "licks" when it comes to jazz. And yes, one reason would be the association with the first description, which is how princeplanet has put it himself. "Prepared phrases and lines" is, in my mind, a different deal from what [should] goes on in jazz. I mean, I wouldn't necessarily disagree with M, or entirely with dewey decibel. There may also be some subtelty and/or semantic distinctions going on here, as well. Still stand by my original post, though, to include in this thought.

See, there's a big difference between, on the one hand, simply rearranging the order of complete, contained, unaltered phrases and sentences; and on the other hand, expressing the same or similar meanings of those phrases but using different and original words, grammar, and syntax.

Obviously, one doesn't invent his own words, idioms and such, or grammar every time he speaks. But, well shit, I'm belaboured. Let's just say this could parallel the same sort of conversations and debates that writers and public speakers have about what constitutes plagiarism.

Were you to sing a song (even one you wrote) and simply put the lyrics (whole lines) in a different order, would that qualify as improvisation? I don't think so.
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dewey decibel



Joined: 15 Feb 2006
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2009 5:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Generic Sobriquet wrote:
Well, to be diplomatic, perhaps we have different concepts of the term "lick" and are somewhat speaking crossways.

As whomever contributes the stuff to Wikipedier wrote:
In popular music genres such as rock music, a lick is "a stock pattern or phrase" (Middleton 1990, p. 137) consisting of a short phrase, or series of notes that is used in solos and melodic lines. The term is most often used by rock musicians who play the guitar. Licks in rock and roll are often used through a formula, and variations technique in which variants of simple, stock ideas are blended and developed during the solo. In heavy metal, the term "hot lick" is often used.[citation needed]

In a jazz band, a lick may be performed during an improvised solo, either during an accompanied solo chorus or during an unaccompanied solo break. Jazz licks are usually original short phrases which can be altered so that they can be used over a song's changing harmonic progressions.


Whatever. I still prefer to forgo or straight eschew the idea of "licks" when it comes to jazz. And yes, one reason would be the association with the first description, which is how princeplanet has put it himself. "Prepared phrases and lines" is, in my mind, a different deal from what [should] goes on in jazz. I mean, I wouldn't necessarily disagree with M, or entirely with dewey decibel. There may also be some subtelty and/or semantic distinctions going on here, as well. Still stand by my original post, though, to include in this thought.

See, there's a big difference between, on the one hand, simply rearranging the order of complete, contained, unaltered phrases and sentences; and on the other hand, expressing the same or similar meanings of those phrases but using different and original words, grammar, and syntax.

Obviously, one doesn't invent his own words, idioms and such, or grammar every time he speaks. But, well shit, I'm belaboured. Let's just say this could parallel the same sort of conversations and debates that writers and public speakers have about what constitutes plagiarism.

Were you to sing a song (even one you wrote) and simply put the lyrics (whole lines) in a different order, would that qualify as improvisation? I don't think so.



Let me put it his way- I am (and always have been for the most part) an anti "chops" player. To me chops are pre worked out parts that you pretty much play verbatim. They fit a specific context. Licks are simply part of your vocabulary. Of course chops can be made up of licks, but it's not the same thing.

Now I do have chops kinds of things that I play often, I can't help it. I think everybody does, we all have things that just naturally fall under our fingers well. The difference is what we do with them. I use these things when I have nothing else to play, as a jumping off point, and see where they take me. A chops type of player will build to their chops- it's the focal point of what they're doing. Guys like Jimmy Bruno come to mind. There's a certain line he always builds to, it involves picking a note on one string then two on the next, etc. I'm so sick of hearing that line...
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