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on transposing licks & getting them into your soloing

anthon_74anthon_74 Marin county, CA✭✭✭✭ Alta Mira M 01
edited April 2013 in Gypsy Jazz 101 Posts: 561
Hi there folks !

So in my path to learning Gypsy Jazz, I often hear people say that the best way to master a lick is to transpose it into different keys, which I do religiously with every new lick I learn....
BUT !!
I have a question about what it MEANS to transpose a lick.
On the surface, I look at it as - taking a lick you've learned, say over an E7 chord using it's "D shape" at the 4th/5th fret zone, and then playing it over the same "D shape" over the A7 (up at the 9th/10th fret zone), and then the same for D7, and so on and so on.
THEN it has recently occurred to me that PERHAPS people ALSO mean, which requires more work... - taking the lick, and learning it over an entirely different chord SHAPE... In other words, taking that lick you learned over the D shape/E7 chord, and figuring out how to play it over the "E shape" of the E7, and then perhaps over the "A shape" of the E7.

So not only can you play the riff over different chords using the SAME chord shape, you can play it over the SAME chord in different positions on the fret board. Of course, this generally requires you to figure out how the lick goes in the different shape, since lick resources don't ever seem to show you how to play it in different places over the same chord....

does this make sense to people ??

Assuming it does make sense to you, is this something many of you do to help get the lick into your soloing faster ??



  • kevingcoxkevingcox Nova Scotia✭✭✭✭ Dupont MD50
    Posts: 298
    It can also, for me, mean figuring out how to use the lick over substitutions (a D7 lick over Am, for example, or a Bb lick over Gm). Somethimes this means making small changes that also sound cool.

    Certainly, if the lick if short enough and doesn't need that much fret board then learning it in a different shape couldn't hurt but I'm not consciously aware that it has ever helped me as much or more than learning it in different positions and over subs.
  • AmundLauritzenAmundLauritzen ✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 236
    For many licks, it's a good idea to learn to play them anywhere on the neck and in all keys. But for some licks, this is not desirable because it can ruin the character of a lick. Here are some reasons why that can happen:

    -The lick uses open strings. Impossible to move or transcribe in most cases.

    -The picking pattern demands to group the notes in a certain way to get the right accents and dynamics. Some times, alternate fingerings can sound good and not ruin the lick, but sometimes they can. Listen carefully. This is more critical in the Dutch style where there is a lot of importance in picking patterns. The French style seems more legato to my ears(I'm thinking Bireli, Angelo, Convert, Giniaux etc) so it can probably work in more cases. I've transcribed mostly Dutch players so far so these are only observations and I welcome correction and input.

    -It is impossible to find a comfortable fingering for that lick that can allow you to play it fast. For every lick you learn, it is a good idea to speed check it. Does the fingering and picking pattern allow you to play it in all the tempos you master? Generally, the faster the tempo, the more upstrokes but there are exceptions, particularly with Dutch players.

    This is what I can think of right now. I don't write this to discourage you from practicing licks in all keys and locating them in different areas, far from it. But it's good to keep those guidelines in the back of your head. It's a waste of time to spend hours practicing licks with fingerings or picking patterns that don't do the lick justice, or that won't work in fast tempos.

    You'll find that many gypsy jazz players have preferred positions for licks. Stochelo seems to play ascending major 7th arpeggios always starting on the A-string. He also has a certain "dominant chord position" from which he bases much of his dominant vocabulary around.

    So the bottom line is, listen closely when transposing and moving licks. The same note can have a radically different character when played on a different string.

    My 2 cents.
  • Many GJ players learn licks and phrases rather than scales and arps.....if one is a scale and arp person, then playing in different positions will help in learning the neck. If the phrase you are learning in a different position doesn't quite sound around with it til the articulation sounds appropriately gypsy....may not be the same as the original long as the "accent" or language if you want is right
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • HemertHemert Prodigy
    Posts: 264
    When I started out seriously practicing gypsy jazz on violin that's what I did: learning Grappelli licks and transposing them in all keys. I soon found out though that I actually only played the licks in keys that were very comfortable to play and skipping over awkward fingerings/bowings in other keys. Even worse: I completely forgot licks during solos because I spent so much time practicing them in difficult keys that I wasn't really comfortable with them in any key.

    I changed to practicing licks in those keys that were comfortable. Of course this depends on the lick. Most licks are comfortable in about 5/6 keys, some in all 12 and some in 1 or 2. By doing this I dramatically reduced the time I needed to get them in my playing.

    On guitar it's the same thing. I'd recommend to just shift licks around with the same fingering and not spend too much time finding alternate fingerings for other keys. Better to spend time practicing a new lick which does feel comfortable in those keys.

    I have now transcribed so many solos and licks by Stochelo that I have a whole system in my head (and fingers) of how Stochelo approaches different chords and progression. There's a different approach to playing songs in Bb and C then say G or A with completely different licks, phrases and tricks.

    As an added bonus of only sticking to certain licks in certain keys is that if those different keys are present in one song (bridge in a different key for example) you will sound fresh when the key changes!
  • Christiaan.. I find .your insights to Stochelo's way of playing very insightful. Thanks for sharing. I am enjoying what little time I can get on RA at the moment but school is soon done.
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • Doubled
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • HemertHemert Prodigy
    Posts: 264
    Jazzaferri wrote:
    Christiaan.. I find .your insights to Stochelo's way of playing very insightful. Thanks for sharing. I am enjoying what little time I can get on RA at the moment but school is soon done.
    Why, thank you sir! I hope the material in the academy suits you.

    I was planning to come to Django in June this year to check it out and jam. I know some members of RA are coming and it would have been fun to meet them.

    Also many indie Gogo backers of Nous'che's Rythm Guitar Course will be there and I was thinking of organizing some kind of workshop to discuss the rhythm techniques face to face with those interested. I had it all planned out when I got a call informing me that a short tour I'm doing in the Netherlands would be extended untill the third week of June. That's nice as well but I would have much preferred going to DIJ. I hope to be there next year. Meanwhile I'm looking into Django Fest Northwest in September.
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