You probably have licks that you play all the time, I think most of us have and of course that is a part of having a style (Pat Metheny or Pat Martino Lick?) But not to get stuck with the same phrases too much it is very important to make variations and open up those phrases.
In this video, I am going over 4 ways you can make new licks from the ones you already know. Something that will also help you get better at writing your own licks and come up with great phrases.
So to have something to talk about we need something to work with. Let’s use this II V I lick
This is, of course, a little long and most of the time I work with ideas that are a lot shorter, but it is a good example to demonstrate some techniques that will give you a lot more vocabulary.
#1 Transpose it to Another Chord
This is always useful to do, if you have an idea that works well on one chord then it probably works well on other chords too.
The first part of this line is really close to a maj7 chord and we can use that directly on Cmaj7 and make a similar type of melody from the rest.
Usually, I wouldn’t move the last part, but here it fits so nicely and it is good to mess around with that as an exercise for your melodic and theoretical skills as well.
You can turn it into a Dm7 phrase as well. Notice that I am not strict about preserving the last part. It is more important to make something that sounds good and is playable.
#2 Invert The Melodies
The goal here is to make a new melody by changing the direction of some of it, so if it is an ascending scale or arpeggio run then you can make it a descending version instead.
The first part is difficult to move around and get to sound good, but the arpeggio works really well. In fact, you can do that and play the rest an octave lower.
#3 Octave Displacement
Another way to turn things around is to use Octave Displacement. The idea with octave displacement is to keep the direction of the melody but move it an octave.
You can see in the example below how that works:
And it can be used on the example as shown in example 7:
Using this on the Dm7 part of the line would give you something like this. Turning around the Fmaj7 is very close to what you hear George Benson and Grant Green. Here is a Grant Green example:
You can do the same with the dominant part of the lick and get something like this:
#4 Diatonic Transposition
Another thing that can work really well is to move a part of the line a diatonic 3rd up or down. In this case that happens to work completely if you do so, but that is actually a coincidence.
If you want more ideas for licks you can start working on and get some ideas for more licks then check out this playlist with videos that are on licks with a certain type of chord or arpeggio.
Putting Licks to use in music
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