Creating a Library of Licks

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by scyzoryk, Nov 24, 2017.

  1. scyzoryk


    Jan 12, 2004
    Vancouver, BC
    Over the course of transcribing songs I've found a bunch of really cool licks to apply over chords and chord progressions, but I'm now wishing I could easily reference them so I can practice them and apply them to my playing.

    Has anyone here ever created a "lick library" -- whether on paper or digital, to catalogue your favourite licks?

    I'm thinking about using a tool like EverNote to create notes on certain chord progressions, like I to IV, and copying/pasting music written on MuseScore. That way if I'm wanting to practice I to IV licks, I can remind myself what I've transcribed over time.

    Another idea I had was using my iPhone to record the licks and saving them somewhere.

    Anyone else have good ideas?
    Spidey2112 likes this.
  2. Was just thinking about that yesterday. Would be nice to have some small device like an "Instant Riff Maker" that one could carry around.

    Often an idea comes at the least opportune time then one gets distracted and can't remember it later.
  3. BrotherMister


    Nov 4, 2013
    PVG Membership
    I don't really have a book of set licks but I've got a a few manuscript books with all my transcriptions in them. I got the idea from a lesson with Janek Gwizdala, he showed me a bunch of ones he's made over the years, apparently Mike Stern has even more. They call them the 'scrolls of knowledge'
    Spin Doctor likes this.
  4. I'm assuming that if you are looking at licks, you are into jazz. For me the best licks come from horn players.

    This trumpet player has cataloged many licks with explanations. But, the site is old so the lick playback function doesn't work. but the notes are written out and they are not too mind bending.

    A ii V7 I Jazz lick that starts off as bebop and finishes as a diminished lick. | Jazz Trumpet Licks

    There are others there for you to check out, of course. This is just a quick link.

    I wrote out a fair number of licks in the past, but lately I just transcribe solos by ear, then try to work out whatever chords are in the harmony so the solos have some context. It generally takes a long time for licks and such to become a part of my playing, but it's fun to me.
    Lownote38 and LeeNunn like this.
  5. I remember an article where he talked about transcribing and how much he did it. I gotta say that Stern is one of my favorite guitarists, but I appreciate him more as a side man than a leader. I bought one of his CD's (remember CD's?) called "who let the cats out", because it had so many great and I mean fantastic musicians not to mention the world class bassists on it: Wooten, Anthony Jackson, Meshell, Richard Bona and others. I really wanted to like it, but to me the music was really gimmicky...
  6. BrotherMister


    Nov 4, 2013
    PVG Membership
    I'm not massive into Stern, although I saw a gig with him and a big band in the UK recently which was incredible. His solo on Mile Davis' Fat Time is just something else, everyone sounds so flat after he's finished. His solo albums don't really do much for me. Stern and Janek are absolutely huge on transcribing though and I'm in that camp as well. Both those guys have huge sets of ears and some series chops as a result of doing so and putting the hours into learning them as well.
    Spin Doctor likes this.
  7. Lownote38


    Aug 8, 2013
    Nashville, TN
    I've always called that the "bag of tricks". Anyone who takes a solo has them. Especially guitar players and horn players. For me, it's a collection of licks that I've gathered over nearly 3 decades. The best way to remember them and use them without even thinking about it is to know why the licks work over the chords you're playing. That way, when you know the chords to a song, you know what licks you can use.
    nonohmic and Spin Doctor like this.
  8. Ditto..... why they work. If the lick does not fit in with what you are playing at this moment in time, what good is it?

    Have a guitar friend who knows hundreds of heads, i.e. first 12 bars of tunes, however, none of them fit in with what we play, but, he warms up with them and hearing them we starts to jam along, but, he runs out of what he knows and quits. Bummer.

    Licks are great if they are woven into what is being played. My all time best example of this is.......
    Bill Evans and his Peace piece.

    See how pop tunes are woven into the improvisation...
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2017
    scyzoryk likes this.
  9. nonohmic


    Dec 13, 2005
    ABQ, NM.
    Time to start doing this.
  10. Minus


    May 22, 2011
    Yes I do. I studied with a guitar player who suggested this. I write them all out in the key of C and categorize them by starting note.
  11. WrapRough


    Jan 26, 2021
    I used to write comedy, and one thing I did was to have a small Dictaphone on me at all times. Anything I'd think of I'd quickly record and then write it down later. I could be doing the weekly shopping and something would pop into my head, Dictaphone out, straight in. Then into Evernote later.

    I remember an interview with the bassist from Brand New Heavies and he said he did that with basslines. He'd just sing it into the Dictaphone and then transcribe it and learn it on the instrument later.
    Spin Doctor likes this.