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"Splitting The Licks"

Posted by Janna on Monday, June 3, 2013

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I can learn tunes from banjo tabs and play them as I learned. But it's a very big problem for me when musicians wants to jam with me... I don't know how to improvise and what to play when they say "Let's play anything together!". I hate it... When I tried to do it, I played always wrong, bad and I was ashamed and I said that I'll never will take part in jams. But... I understand that one day I'll need start to learn how to do it. I must to know how to improvise on banjo, because all the musicians likes to jam. I have very proper mind so I like when all the things made right, but when people improvise, they play what they want, and it seems strange for my mind. I think I must to change my mind to understand it and to open some secrets about improvisation and banjo arrangements. So I started with the Janet Davis's book "Splitting The Licks".

On the first pages, Janet gave me some basic rolls. It's nice that I already know most of them. Then she wrote different licks for basic bluegrass chords - G, C, D, A, F

And then she tells how to create your own arrangement by using chords, rolls, melody and licks. So, as I understood, at first I must learn all that licks for every chord?

Ok, I've just learned 12 licks for G chord and I already can put them into any roll. Tomorrow I will try to learn other 12 licks for the same chord. And I'll need some days to learn all the licks for all the chords. And then I could use them in bluegrass songs. Is it right?)



3 comments on “"Splitting The Licks"”

webadage Says:
Monday, June 3, 2013 @8:11:47 PM

When I first started playing I developed a method of listening to the banjo in an effort to understand the notes or patterns that I was hearing. Believe it or not, I click my eye teeth (canine) together to the beat of the banjo tunes that I want to learn. It really comes in handy. By articulating my jaw in very small moves I can click out single notes, double notes such as hammer on's or pull offs, even triplets. I find it to be very useful when learning new tunes, especially when improvising. Once I've heard the tune enough to have it in my head, my teeth take over and work out the arrangement and suddenly, I know how they did it. LOL isn't that strange?

Meles_Meles Says:
Monday, June 3, 2013 @9:25:57 PM

If you examine the sheet music for simple Western pop and folk songs, you'll notice that often the notes of a melody are actually notes of the chord for that section of the tune. If you put the fingers of your left hand into position for the chord, you'll notice that all the stressed notes (and sometimes all of the notes) are to be found in that chord. For example, look at the sheet music for 'La Cucaracha', 'King of the Road', 'Sloop John B', 'Mairzy Doats' or 'G.T.O.', and you'll see what I mean.

Most Western music uses a major scale that follows the ascending pattern TTSTTTS, where T is a full tone and S is a semi-tone. (On a fretted instrument like a guitar or banjo, one goes up a tone by moving up the neck two frets and a semitone by one fret.) In the key of C major, the notes are C-D-E-F-G-A B-C. In the key of G major (the most common for banjo tunes) the notes of the scale are G-A-B-C-D-E-F#-G. The individual notes of a major chord are the 1st, 3rd, and 5th of a major scale, which would be C-E-G for C Major and G-B-D for G major. (To construct a minor chord, flatten the 3rd note of the scale by a semitone --one fret lower-- so that C minor is composed of C-Eb-G and G minor is composed of G-Bb-D. A 'seventh' chord adds the 7th note of the scale to the chord, so C7 is C-E-G-B abd G7 is G-B-D-F#.

When you are soloing, usually the idea is to make sure that all your stressed notes are part of the chord that the accompanist is playing, or at least on that chord's scale. You can use the other notes of the scale to move from one chord to another. For example, moving from C major to G major you might play C-D-E-F-G, or C-B-C-D-E-F#-G. Get it? In essence, you're 'walking' the melody from chord to chord. 'Licks' are just really pre-memorized ways to do this.

One thing that might confuse you at first is that TTSTTTS is only for 'western European art music'. Spanish music, like Flamenco or Fado, uses a scale of STTTSTT, and Slavic music used a scale of TTTBSTTS, so soloing to buegrass music might sound a little alien to you if your ears accustomed to Russian music. (These different scales are called 'modal' scales.)

Alekseich Says:
Sunday, June 9, 2013 @10:49:58 AM

Жанна, включай любые записи, любых стилей, и пробуй под них играть. Не бойся ошибаться. Сама не заметишь, как ошибок будет все меньше и меньше. И все больше и больше идей будет рождаться.
И всё это надо разбавлять работой над техникой (играть гаммы, упражнения, подбирать чужие соло, играть всякие лики из книжек и т.п.) и теорией (смотреть как строятся аккорды, где какие ноты на грифе, сделать какую-то систему у себя в голове).
Ежедневно трать на это немного времени и импровизация сама поползет вверх!

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