Lick Development Techniques

Lick Development Techniques 

Composers use certain techniques to vary their original themes into entire pieces.  Improvisers can use these same development techniques when using motifs in soloing, but also as a way to make their lick vocabulary more personal and free flowing.

Original Lick:

I copped this lick from BB King’s “Thrill Is Gone.” 

Technique 1: Extension

When using extension, play the entire original lick then improvise your own idea onto the end.  This can turn a two-measure lick into a four-measure phrase. 

Technique 2: Fragmentation

This is the opposite of extension, instead extracting a smaller portion of the original lick.  This portion can come from anywhere in the lick including the beginning, middle or end.  Try repeating the fragment over and over to build tension. 

Technique 3: Fragmentation and Extension

Here we combine the previous two techniques.  Play a smaller fragment of the original lick and then improvise your own extension onto the end. 

Technique 4: Rhythmic Variation

Play all the pitches of the lick, but vary the rhythm by extending, contracting or inserting rests into the lick.  Don’t try to be too exact.  Do this by feel and experimentation. 

Technique 5: Combine All Of The Above

Once you are comfortable with all of the listed techniques, experiment with using as many as you can on the same lick.  Just use the original lick as a framework and see what you can create.