The Importance of Writing Licks
“Good players play off of scales; great players play off of licks.” ~ Robert Newton
Have you ever walked into a music store and perused the sheet music section? If you have, odds are that you have seen the Signature Lick series of books for various guitar players, bass players, drummers, etc. There is no way around it: writing licks is imperative to becoming a great player. Here are some reasons you need to get to writing some licks today.
Bag of Tricks
It’s great to have a deep bag of tricks to pull from. Have licks assembled for various scenarios. You can construct licks around certain chord progressions, styles, feels, effects, and more. It’s the equivalent to having more colors on your palette if you are a painter. If you are going to take a solo in a song, make sure you know the song inside and out. Then, create licks that you can access.
Having licks or riffs written in advance gives you a different point of reference. You can almost create your own “scales” and patterns. The licks you create will spawn other licks and ideas. I assign my guitar students at Freeway Music to create licks with each concept we learn. Make sure you begin the ritual of creating licks and keeping a record of them.
As you continue to create licks, your style will rise to the surface and give your playing a unique signature. It’s great to learn and transcribe other people’s solos and “steal” or “borrow” ideas; however, you don’t want to be a clone of another player. People will call you out and say things like, “He’s just copying Stevie Ray Vaughn.” Take what you learn and put your own spin on it. Focus hard on your own creativity and style and people will take notice.
Once you have created a pool of licks, you will have unique starting points. This will help define who YOU are as a player. So, don’t take it lightly. Start by writing 5 licks per day around a specific concept and don’t stop writing licks ever! Best of luck in your musical journey!