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Idea for an on-line Lick Library

rhysonsax

Well-Known Member
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4,391
I was going to suggest calling it "Wiki-Licks" but that name seems to have been used already online.

Anyway, I have been messing about with playing some blues in D on my tenor (concert C) and thinking about writing down some of the best licks I come up with and then transposing them to all the other keys.

Then I thought that this is the sort of thing that computers do well and also the sort of thing that many, many other sax players and other instrumentalists do. So perhaps it could be done online in a co-operative way. There could be various different categories of licks (e.g. blues, ii-V7-I, V7-IV7) and maybe one bar, two bar, four bar phrases. It would be done in musical notation and perhaps it would show under each note how it relates to the chord(s) against which it would be played.

Would this sort of resource be possible, would it be useful, would it legal ?

Rhys
 
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kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
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21,947
Good idea Rhys!

Wiki-licks would probably get caught by the porn filters in many places....

Possible - yes, useful - I think so, but you never know, legal - why not, these are your own creations.
 

Sweet Dreamer

Senior Member
Messages
505
Some years ago I used to program Java Applets, I could have written some pretty slick applets for transposing licks. I've been out of it too long now. It would take a lot of effort for me to get back into doing that. I currently use my sheet music program for transposing. Just type in whatever you have, in whatever key it happens to be in, then just copy and past it into another staff in the key you want to transpose it into. It works really well.

In fact, I've been working with my sheet music program all day today. Not necessarily doing transpositions. In fact, I was actually working with drum grooves for a backing track I'm making for a sax solo.

I have templates I made that automatically loads, electric guitar, alto sax, trumpet, and a drum staff that I have tailored specifically to my drum set. I've also make these templates in three keys; Concert C, Eb, and Bb. If I'm writing music using the guitar I load in the Concert C template, write the music for guitar, and then I can copy and paste those into sax or trumpet to get the transpositions.

Similarly I can load in the Eb template, write music for the sax (like as if it's in concert C), and that will transpose everything over to the other instruments. Or use the Bb template and write music using the trumpet (like as if it's in concert C).

So this is really cool.

I'd love to hear some of your licks Rhys. I'd also like to see how you notate them. I find it difficult to notate things precisely as I play them. It seems like I'm always having to trade-off in terms of musical notation. Otherwise, I'd have to get into using double dotted 16th notes and dotted 16th rests ect. It can get pretty messy trying to write precisely what I actually play. So I just write as close as I can within reason.
 

thomsax

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,807
Good idea. I have a "saxophoneblues-lick-bank" myself. Some are on charts others you have to learn by ear. I don't think you are allowed to transscribe an excisting lick, solo ..... , and write it out and share with other muscians except a small band, few friends ... without paying royalties. But you're allowed to describe it with words. This happend to my friend when he transcribed a famous rocksaxsolo for publishing. The saxsolo wasn't transcribed before, so it was his own version. And maybe it was not right as well? The rules about this are not clear.

The best and funniest way is to meet other muscians and trade licks and learn them by ear.

The guitarsite and songs you recommend are great for creating your own Rock-Bluessax licks and solo in differnt styles and grooves.
 

Sweet Dreamer

Senior Member
Messages
505
: WARNING! : - Severe ramblings ahead next forum mile


Lick Libraries versus Improvisational Motifs?

I recently bought a DVD on "Motivic Development" demonstrated on the Alto sax by Ed Tomasi

Jazz Improvisation: Starting Out with Motivic Development

I can't truly recommend this DVD as I feel that it's a bit over-priced for the actual content. The DVD is only 30 minutes long and half of that time is wasted by the Dean of Berklee jumping in to interview Tomasi. So the actual lessons are only about 15 minutes long. They are quite brief, yet powerful in the underlying concepts. I guess, the video was worth the price just to get the general idea and process for motivic development. Just the same, it could have been far better with a little more lesson time and less interviews by the Dean of Berklee.

The basic idea is to take a general "motive" or "motif" of notes. Like say three notes, the first pair an interval of a third apart, the second pair separated by an interval of a second. (this was just one example)

He then takes that 3-note motif (or motive, if you prefer), and plays it over every chord of a progression. Of course, the notes must change as the chords change, but the intervals between them do not change. Thus it's the same motif (or lick), played over any chord imaginable. Learn this motif (or lick) and you can play it over any chord anytime. Assuming you use Ed Tomasi's practice methods to play these motifs over every chord progression in ever key. Clearly he doesn't do this on the DVD. He plays over one chord progression in the key of C minor, and then just tells you to play it over all imaginable keys. Then he chuckles a bit.

Motif or Lick?

What is a "lick" but a pattern of notes. And that's precisely what a Motif is as well. So all this approach is doing is getting you to make up licks (or motifs, or motives if you prefer), and then learn to play those licks over every chord and key imaginable.

By doing it this way, you don't need to learn special licks to play over special chords. You can play any lick you know over any chord that comes up. Assuming you've practiced these in ever key imaginable. (chuckle chuckle)

But actually it's not that hard. Just put on a backing track of your choice, chose a lick or motif, and learn to play that particular lick over every chord in the progression. Of course you'll need to move the lick around in terms of notes, but the intervals between the notes will always remain constant. And that's the KEY idea (pun intended)

No special licks for special chords. Any lick, any time. Just get used to playing it over entire progressions. (chuckle chuckle)

In other words, lots of practice with this method, but clearly it's worth it if you put in the effort.

Musical Notation

By the way, this is where musical notation comes in to play big time. When Ed Tomassi writes out a motif, he just writes them out as stemless crochets. In other words, he's more interested in just pointing out what notes are to be played, he doesn't write out the timing. In fact, the timing is entirely up you. A single motif of lick can be played many different ways just by changing the timing and durations of the notes in the motifs.

In fact, he takes that simple 3-note motif I mentioned above, plays it as a 6-note lick, using the same 3 notes twice but with different timings and plays some truly awesome sounding jazz phrases.

So it would be a waste of time to try to write out the timing for every motif, because the timing is entirely arbitrary really. Play the licks or motifs out in any phrasing you like, they will still fit the chords you are playing over if you have practiced them over all chords.

It's a fabulous system really. And it's amazing what you can do with just 2, 3 or 4 note licks or motifs.

I've adopted his system into my practicing sessions and it's already paying off big time.

Building Bigger Licks

Also with this method, once you learn some basic simple motifs as building blocks, you can start stringing them together in any imaginable form to create licks and phrases, or even entire solos endlessly.

And that's the whole idea of improvisation. No "library" of licks to remember. No special licks for special chords. Just play the motifs you are very comfortable with over any chords imaginable and string them together however you like, and the actual phrasing of them becomes the FREEDOM to really do your own thing. The actual motifs have no TIMING! They are just note patterns in terms of intervals. The phrasing is FREE.

: End Ramble :

By the way, I'm not renouncing a library of licks. Those are always good to have around. Everything is useful in its own way. But this "motivic development" approach is pretty awesome and powerful.

I only wish the DVD would have been far longer and had gone into more examples, etc. But the general idea is there. You've just got to take the idea and run with it yourself.



 

Fraser Jarvis

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,910
Why not just buy a copy of Jazz Saxophone Licks Phrases and Patterns, published by Mel Bay and learn to transpose them to every key as i have? more time playing and less faffing about with computers!
 

Sweet Dreamer

Senior Member
Messages
505
Why not just buy a copy of Jazz Saxophone Licks Phrases and Patterns, published by Mel Bay and learn to transpose them to every key as i have? more time playing and less faffing about with computers!
I actually enjoy faffing about with computers. ;}

None the less, I might look into the Mel Bay book too! Thanks for the tip. :thumb:
 

Sweet Dreamer

Senior Member
Messages
505
Ok, I just ordered the Mel Bay Presents Jazz Saxophone Licks, Phrases and Patterns

It better be good now! :)))

I also ordered Mel Bay How to Create & Develop a Jazz Sax Solo

It was cheap enough. ;}

And I went way overboard and also bought:

Jazz Duets for Saxophones (Book & Cd)

I'm kind of hoping that I can play the Bb parts on a trumpet and turn these into Alto Sax/Trumpet duets. Or maybe Alto Sax/Clarinet duets.

I don't have a Bb sax. So we'll have to wait and see what kind of duets I can muster up for these.

I stuck this in the order too: Ricardo Monzon: Basic Afro-Cuban Rhythms

It's a DVD on Afro-Cuban drumming. I have bongos, congas, and a full set of drums too. So I thought I'd toss this in as well since it's been on my wish list for quite some time.

Now I'm broke! :crying:
 

thomsax

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,807
Why not just buy a copy of Jazz Saxophone Licks Phrases and Patterns, published by Mel Bay and learn to transpose them to every key as i have? more time playing and less faffing about with computers!
I use to record when I'm playing, alone or together with other. Sometimes I play some good stuff! I take it into my computer and I write down what I played. It can be a lick, phrase, motif, riff .... . Rock, Blues, Reggea, Soul, Funk ..... so no Jazz Saxophone Licks, Phrases and Patterns for me.
 

Nick Wyver

noisy
Subscriber
Messages
5,953
Does anybody really 'improvise' by learning a whole pile of 'licks' and stringing them together (apart from Charlie Parker of course)?
 

Sweet Dreamer

Senior Member
Messages
505
Oh it is! if you're a slow learner like me theres over a years worth of work to get on with in that one book!
I've actually had my eye on that book for quite some time now. This is why it was so easy for me to jump on it when you recommended it. I wanted to order that drumming DVD anyway. So ironically all the saxophone books were tossed in as the "extras".

But yes, I think I'll enjoy this book too.
 

Sweet Dreamer

Senior Member
Messages
505
Does anybody really 'improvise' by learning a whole pile of 'licks' and stringing them together (apart from Charlie Parker of course)?
Well, it's a good place to start for beginners who don't yet know all their scales. ;}

"Licks" get you up and running quickly.

But yeah, if you're going to move on to really being able to 'improvise' freely you've got to learn the scales. Either that, or be really gifted in the art of playing by ear and having an almost magical innate sense of natural fingering.

This is what I like about the method of "motivic development' by Ed Tomasi. He gets you playing "licks" as "motives" or "motifs". And he has you playing these licks over every possible chord by having you play them through progressions in every key.

In essence he's forcing you to learn the scales without realizing it in a really FUN way.
 

Fraser Jarvis

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,910
"Licks" get you up and running quickly.
Absolutely! and to the other guy Thomsax, even though the book's more aimed at the Jazz player, of course you can integrate these with the music you play, as i have done.

And Nick, no of course we don't but surely as in my case for example as a keen and very "amateur" player learning some good licks adds to your arsenal of things to draw on when required and is bound to add colour to your music?
 

Sweet Dreamer

Senior Member
Messages
505
Absolutely! and to the other guy Thomsax, even though the book's more aimed at the Jazz player, of course you can integrate these with the music you play, as i have done.
Oh absolutely. Don't be turned off by the term "Jazz". That's totally irrelevant when we're talking about note patterns and licks. Any "lick" can be played in any genre of music by simply changing the phrasing and dynamics. It's just notes really.

I think Victor Wooten covers this concept well in his DVD on "Groove Workshop".

Victor Wooten: Groove Workshop

Wooten's DVD is aimed at Bass Guitar, but that covers all genre's of music. He lays things out in a rather interesting way. He breaks things down into eleven categories.

1. Notes
2. Grooves
3. Articulation
4. Technique
5. Emotion/Feel
6. Dynamics
7. Rhythm/Tempo (which he distinguishes from "Groove")
8. Tone
9. Phrasing
10. Space - or silence/rests
11. Listening

These are the topics he covers in his 2-Disk DVD lectures. Whilst aimed at Bass Guitar, he really covers many concepts that every musician should be aware of no matter what instrument they play.

Notice that he speaks about "notes" as simply a single topic. Only a very small part of what makes up music. He argues that most courses on "music theory" focus almost entirely on the notes, learning scales, intervals, keys, playing over chords, etc.

But he very vividly demonstrates why the notes on only a very small part of music. He demonstrates this by taking a written line of notes and playing those very same notes in the order they are written in a way that makes them sound totally different. For example, he plays them in a rock style, a funk style, a pop music style, etc. The point he's making is that there are only 12 notes. And everyone plays the same 12 notes not matter what genre of music they are playing.

The only thing that creates a genre of music, or makes someone's style unique are topics 2 through 11. They are all playing the same notes in a sense. It's not the notes that creates the genre but rather concepts 2 through 11.

So that's what he focuses on in his video. He says you can learn the notes anywhere. There are tons of "Music Theory" courses that will teach you scales, intervals, keys, chords, etc. But that's only a very small part of what it takes to actually make music.

So when I learn music, especially licks, I don't even care what genre they supposedly came from because I can morph those same licks to fit any genre, style, or mood of music I so choose. In fact, one of Wooten's exercises it to take a single musical phrase and play it in every genre, mood, style, tempo, etc, that you can dream up.

In fact, he plays two pieces of music using precisely the same notes, but he plays them in such drastically differently styles that you'd never recognize that he's playing precisely he same notes in the same order, but simply changing up the timing, phrasing, temp, groove, etc. It sounds like two completely different pieces of music. Yet they use the very same notes in precisely the same order.

So notes are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to music.
 

rhysonsax

Well-Known Member
Messages
4,391
Some interesting replies so far, but perhaps not the overall enthusiastic response I was hoping for.

Licks aren't the answer to making music, but can be a useful way of introducing authentic-sounding fragments of the "language" in which you are trying to express yourself - be that blues, rock, jazz or whatever.

Stringing together loads and loads of licks would make for boring music, but so would running up and down scales or showing off with clever technique. Listeners generally prefer to listen to someone who can "tell a story" or "take them on a journey", which involves changing moods, tension and release, variety in terms of pitch, dynamics, speed, articulation etc.

In improvised music, that requires some imagination to come up with ideas, sufficient musical knowledge for those ideas to work and fit with the backing harmony and sufficient technique to execute the ideas. Whether listeners like a particular soloist depends in part on whether they appreciate the player's taste and imagination and those two are hard to learn !

This thread wan't particularly about whether learning licks is a good thing, but merely some ideas about whether new technology could help. I think that a Wiki-style co-operative environment for capturing licks might work really well. Then the power of the computer can help to make that information accessible and translate it and present it in ways that users might find helpful. For instance:
  • Transpose licks into different keys
  • Group licks of the same type
  • Analyse licks (e.g. how do the notes relate to chord tones)
  • Let people hear what the lick sounds like (e.g. a linked sound file)
  • Modify licks (e.g. changing length of notes, change rhythm, change placement in a bar)
  • Let people give feedback on which licks they really like
  • Access and printout licks in different ways

These are some of the things that a written book of licks won't provide. Some of these facilities might actually stop players improving, by doing stuff for them that they should really do themselves. For example, transposing a nice lick by ear into all 12 keys would help a player improve more than getting a computer to transpose and printout the same thing.

Rhys

PS Most of my "licks" are probably cliches - played that way or nearly that way by hundreds of other players. I can't see any way that licks like that could possibly be someone's intellectual property.
 

Sweet Dreamer

Senior Member
Messages
505
Some interesting replies so far, but perhaps not the overall enthusiastic response I was hoping for.
Well, I might actually be more enthusiastic about it than I actually appear to be. I'm old and decrepit for one thing, so it's hard for me to get aroused anymore.

:old:

I'm also on dial-up which is living HELL >:)

It's really hard to get excited about web sites when it take them hours to load. If I had high-speed Internet I'd be a lot more enthused to be sure.

Finally, your choice of calling it a "Lick Library" whilst probably appropriate, sounds a bit dry. Like as if it's just a site that contains a bunch of licks. Clearly, what you suggest below is far more interactive and dynamic than a mere "Lick Library".

Licks aren't the answer to making music, but can be a useful way of introducing authentic-sounding fragments of the "language" in which you are trying to express yourself - be that blues, rock, jazz or whatever.
I totally agree with that. ;}

Listeners generally prefer to listen to someone who can "tell a story" or "take them on a journey", which involves changing moods, tension and release, variety in terms of pitch, dynamics, speed, articulation etc.
Absolutely. Now you're talking music! The artistry. :thumb:

This thread wan't particularly about whether learning licks is a good thing, but merely some ideas about whether new technology could help. I think that a Wiki-style co-operative environment for capturing licks might work really well. Then the power of the computer can help to make that information accessible and translate it and present it in ways that users might find helpful. For instance:

  • Transpose licks into different keys
  • Group licks of the same type
  • Analyse licks (e.g. how do the notes relate to chord tones)
  • Let people hear what the lick sounds like (e.g. a linked sound file)
  • Modify licks (e.g. changing length of notes, change rhythm, change placement in a bar)
  • Let people give feedback on which licks they really like
  • Access and printout licks in different ways
Now, that sounds very interesting. :mrcool

You should call it:

"Rhys's Interactive Web Symposium for the Improvisational Arts"

I'm not joking. Sounds more impressive than just "Lick Library". ;}

PS Most of my "licks" are probably cliches - played that way or nearly that way by hundreds of other players. I can't see any way that licks like that could possibly be someone's intellectual property.
I seriously doubt that you'd need to worry too much about "Lick Copyrights", unless you're putting up licks that are really well-known and associated with a particular song or artist.

I would think it would be pretty hard for someone to win a court case trying to sue someone for publishing a single lick out of the context of an actual song. That lick would really need to be extremely unique, and quite popularly associated with a particular piece of music before the case would even be considered by a judge, I would think.

I think the copyright issue would be pretty much a non-issue. Especially if your "Lick Library" or "Improv Web Symposium" is a free interactive service on the Internet.

You can start your own discussion forum web site for free you know. It's extremely easy. If you need help with that let me know. I'll help the best I can from my current position here in dial-up purgatory.
 

Sweet Dreamer

Senior Member
Messages
505
Ok, I did one. :welldone

This came from the lick library

first lick.jpg

Well, the lick did, not the graphic. I typed the lick into my sheet music program, then transposed it into saxophone.

Here's me playing the lick:

This is a straight mp3 file. It pretty bad. :)))

First Lick

This is some pretty wild fingering for me. Certainly not something that I would have made up on my own.

I'm not crazy about this particular lick. But I think that playing licks in general are good practice. They tend to force you to play stuff that you might not otherwise even try to play.

I'll be playing lots of new licks when my Mel Bay Lick, Phrases, and Patterns book comes.
 
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visionari1

Senior Member
Messages
1,581
Hi Sweet Dreamer..

Your fast on the uptake.....for a dial up kind of person.....I see your located in Heaven....I thought they'd have broadband up there....at least, or in heaven maybe it's not needed....I haven't actually had any experience in that department...
I'd say you play like an angel!

The best kind of licks are held in space by a conical shaped thing which eventually is eaten...and I'm an expert in that field!
 

Fraser Jarvis

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,910
Not bad but your just playing the notes as straight crotchets, look at the first bar: 1(rest) 2&a 3&4&. Second bar:1&2&3&4& pick it up a bit, swing it! play the lick not the notes!
 
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