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.
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.