Top 10 Tips To Get The Most Out Of Your Guitar Licks Part 2
Written by Steven Martin (Steven Martin Guitar)
I hope you enjoyed part one of this series . This is the second part and the final 5 licks; enjoy!
Develop the lick - This can involve adding notes or removing notes. There are loads of ways of adding notes ('melodic ornamentation', if you prefer). Chromatic passing tones can be added between scale notes as melodic 'filler'. This is common in Jazz or Fusion where you'd play 'strong' notes on the beats with the added chromatic notes in between. Any notes (not just chromatic) can be used to 'fill gaps', including wider intervals to create a melodic jump.
You can also displace or develop the rhythm, increasing the rhythmic density and building momentum. Or try altering the articulation of a lick by sliding into or out of certain notes; adding bends or vibrato; playing staccato or legato; adding or changing accents.
Melodic Superimposition - This technique can be difficult to master because it requires either a knowledge of theory or a great ear. The basic concept is to take a lick that was orginally played over one chord and play it over a different chord. This means that all the notes in the lick have different functions and relationships to the chord. For example...
Your lick uses the notes C B G D E over a C major chord. This means we're using the root, major 7th, 5th, 2nd and major 3rd.
Now we'll play the same notes over an E minor chord. How do they relate to the new chord? The C is now the minor 6th, which is a whole different sound from the root! And then we have the 5th, minor 3rd, minor 7th and root; a completely different set of sounds. The best way to see how these types of devices work is to try them out for yourself and see how you get on!
Swing vs Straight - This can also be a fun way to excite old licks. Using both straight and swing rhythm with your licks will really help you to learn them and also give you a few more ways of using them. Also trying playing straight licks over a swing backing and swing licks over a straight backing for some cool variations.
Change the speed of the lick - This doesn't mean changing the tempo (like 120 bpm to 130 bpm). What we mean is moving up or down through 'rhythmic subdivisions'. If your lick is made up of 8th notes, play it as 16th notes or quarter notes. Or if it starts with one 8th note and two 16th notes, change that to one 16th and two 32nd notes... and so on. The idea is that sometimes there are great melodies hidden within blisteringly fast shred lines that you'd normally miss. Conversely some of the best melodies make very interesting shred lines when sped right up!
Use the licks in a new genre - Who says you can't use your best country licks in a metal song? Or your best jazz licks in a pop tune? Sometimes taking things out of context and viewing them in a new light can change your perceptions and get more from your music!
So that's the last 5 of the top 10 tips for getting the most out of a single lick! Why not try it with one of the 20 Licks packs? Pick any lick and really experiment with all the tips in this article... I GUARANTEE you will get so much more out of the licks. You'll also develop your own creativity, find fresh inspiration, expand your fretboard knowledge and improve your improvisation!
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Written by Steven Martin.