Welcome to the Piano World Piano Forums
Over 2 million posts about pianos, digital pianos, and all types of keyboard instruments
Join the World's Largest Community of Piano Lovers (it's free)
It's Fun to Play the Piano ... Please Pass It On!

Gifts and supplies for the musician
the Forums & Piano World

This custom search works much better than the built in one and allows searching older posts.
(ad) Yamaha CP4 Rebate
Yamaha CP4 Rebate
(ad 125) Sweetwater - Digital Keyboards & Other Gear
Digital Pianos at Sweetwater
(ad) Pianoteq
(ad) Pearl River
Pearl River Pianos
(ad) P B Guide
Acoustic & Digital Piano Guide
Who's Online
179 registered (ajames, Alan Davis Jr, acros, accordeur, 47 invisible), 1724 Guests and 18 Spiders online.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Quick Links to Useful Piano & Music Resources
Our Classified Ads
Find Piano Professionals-

*Piano Dealers - Piano Stores
*Piano Tuners
*Piano Teachers
*Piano Movers
*Piano Restorations
*Piano Manufacturers

Quick Links:
*Advertise On Piano World
*Free Piano Newsletter
*Online Piano Recitals
*Piano Recitals Index
*Piano & Music Accessories
*Music School Listings
* Buying a Piano
*Buying A Acoustic Piano
*Buying a Digital Piano
*Pianos for Sale
*Sell Your Piano
*How Old is My Piano?
*Piano Books
*Piano Art, Pictures, & Posters
*Directory/Site Map
*Virtual Piano
*Music Word Search
*Piano Screen Saver
*Piano Videos
*Virtual Piano Chords
(ad) Estonia Piano
Estonia Pianos
Topic Options
#1940878 - 08/11/12 02:39 PM Lick Harvesting
TromboneAl Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/12/04
Posts: 795
Loc: Northern, Northern California
I wrote this for a friend's website, but it wasn't what he had in mind, so I thought I'd share it here.

Lick Harvesting

Incorporating well-chosen licks into your playing is one of the best things you can do to sound more professional. Many players disparage licks, saying that you'll sound like a robot that plays a particular lick every time you come to a particular chord change. Not true if you know many different licks, or if you know how to vary the sound of individual licks. Others say “No, you should hear everything in your head before you play it!” Well, there's no reason you can't hear a lick in your head before playing it.

Using a spoken language analogy, you can think of licks as short phrases or even sentences. “It was nice to meet you!” or “What's new?” or “Good enough for government work.” are phrases that pop into our head as preformed units – we don't have to construct them from individual words. In the same way, licks can flow from our instruments effortlessly once we learn them.

Before I continue, let me show you my favorite lick. This lick is ultra simple, but I hear a lot of musicians use it, and every time I put it into a solo, I like the way it sounds. In this recording, I first play the lick by itself then use it with the bass and chords:


Here it is written out:

Where do You Get Licks?

The best place to get a lick is from a recording you have. When I'm listening to some jazz on my iPod Touch and I hear a lick that sounds good, I do a screen capture to save the name of the tune the lick is in, and the location.

Like this:

Next, I need to transcribe and learn the lick. If I can't figure out the lick immediately, I might slow it down with Transcribe, an application that helps me “steal” licks and music from recordings.

I also save the licks I've harvested in short audio files. I try to give them a name that will (hopefully) remind me of the lick. I have over 200 different licks (too many!) stored in short audio files. Here are some of them:

Here's an example of a great lick from an Eddie Higgins Trio recording of Blue Bossa, from the You Are Too Beautiful CD (3:06 into the tune). I saved it in a file named “BlueBossaEbm7MyChordArpeggio.aiff” because it is from Blue Bossa, and it outlines the rootless voicing for Ebm7 that I use (hence “MyChord”). Because my fingers are used to this voicing, it was very easy to learn. This is what it sounds like:


The next trick with licks, is to practice adding them to your solos. Try to play your new lick at every possible opportunity. Overdo it. Go to a gig planning to play the new lick at least five times.

But I have a huge problem with licks: I learn them, and perhaps use them for a while, and then forget them. They end up on the garbage heap of my broken dreams.

For example, last year I learned that Eddie Higgins lick (above) in several keys, and used to great effect at gigs. But today, when I happened upon it, I realized that I haven't used it for months. I can still play it, but I have forgotten to use it. I haven't found a good solution to this problem – perhaps I just need to go through my list periodically.
- Al

My Book: Becoming a Great Sight-Reader -- or Not!
My Blog: The Year of Piano Sight-Reading

Piano & Music Accessories
#1940922 - 08/11/12 04:48 PM Re: Lick Harvesting [Re: TromboneAl]
Hidden son of Teddy Wilson Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/27/09
Posts: 116
Well, what can I say... you're doing everything right, IMO !

#1941808 - 08/13/12 07:18 AM Re: Lick Harvesting [Re: TromboneAl]
custard apple Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/09
Posts: 2311
Loc: Sydney
I agree with Hidden.
I only got into licks about 2 weeks ago.
Prior to that, I thought improv had to be completely original.

My improvs haven't been appealing in the Clifford Brown, Lee Morgan, Tommy Flanagan way.

Now I've been in lick mood, I can say my improvs are more melodic.

Your first lick is great and is one of the easier ones to learn for an ending.
I know it as 8th notes starting on the 6th over a G maj 7.

Do you compose ?
I've been finding it's a great way to consolidate your lick vocab.
I was personally surprised at how the licks were incorporated naturally into my vocab.
Sometimes I think it's a Bird lick, and then I hear Brownie and realise he's used it too. Everyone uses everyone else's licks and now I'm not too arrogant to think I can't use them too.


Moderator:  sharpsandflats 
What's Hot!!
The February 2015 Issue of our Free Piano News Newsletter is out now! FREE Piano Newsletter
The best thing I've learned on Piano World....
Posting Pictures on the Forums
Forums Rules & Help
on Piano World

The world's most popular piano web site.
(ad) Jazz Piano Online
Jazz Piano Online Lessons
Ad (Seiler/Knabe)
Knabe Pianos
(125ad) Dampp Chaser
Dampp Chaser Piano Life Saver
(ad) Lindeblad Piano
Lindeblad Piano Restoration
New Topics - Multiple Forums
Strong Overtones on CP4 S6 Sound.
by Alan Davis Jr
03/05/15 01:39 PM
Reading vs Memorizing
by Dru Morgan
03/05/15 01:38 PM
Which Forum Would Render Technical Help Doctoring an Audio ?
by Joey Townley
03/05/15 12:22 PM
Ervin Nyiregyhazi & Gloria Swanson -previously uncirculated
by Michael Sayers
03/05/15 12:00 PM
Organizing and hosting a piano Meetup group, Ottawa, Ontario
by Dennis in Canada
03/05/15 11:24 AM
Forum Stats
78,415 Registered Members
43 Forums
162,104 Topics
2,380,105 Posts

Most users ever online: 15,252 @ 03/21/10 11:39 PM
Gift Ideas for Music Lovers!
Find the Perfect Gift for the Music Lovers on your List!
Visit our online store today.

Visit our online store for gifts for music lovers

Help keep the forums up and running with a donation, any amount is appreciated!
Or by becoming a Subscribing member! Thank-you.
Donate   Subscribe
Our Piano Related Classified Ads
Dealers | Tuners | Lessons | Movers | Restorations | Pianos For Sale | Sell Your Piano |

Advertise on Piano World
| Subscribe | Piano World | PianoSupplies.com | Advertise on Piano World | Donate | Link to Us | Classifieds |
| |Contact | Privacy | Legal | About Us | Site Map | Free Newsletter | Press Room |

copyright 1997 - 2015 Piano World ® all rights reserved
No part of this site may be reproduced without prior written permission