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  1. #1

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    Hi friends, i need some help by practicing the II V I licks. I have been really quite struggling doing this through years.

    do you as experienced jazz guitarist memorize/visualize which degree the notes belong to in the chords while practicing a lick, like this :
    About memorizing/visualizing licks (need some help)-截屏2020-04-1516-45-40-jpg

    or you memorize/visualize the notes in the scale which the II V I belongs to, like this:
    About memorizing/visualizing licks (need some help)-截屏2020-04-1516-56-47-jpg

    or you just don't visualize anything, just let your ears/fingers memorize the lick.

    I find the second method easier for me, i could find the lick quicker on the finger board when i am improvising. Because this is less information there, but I'm wondering, if it is right to do this, because you then always just have the lick as one "block", and always use it the same way.

    I expected more from the method 1, I thought wenn you practice the lick that way, then you could freely use a short term of the lick in another non-II V I changes. But I just didn't get to that point, maybe it still takes time, or maybe my expectation was just totally wrong.

    So PLEEEEase, help me out of the maze...

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  3. #2

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    I don't do it all that much, but I think I tend to do it this way ...

    I memorize the lick the way anybody memorizes a melody. So, I can sing it, or at least hear it clearly in my mind.

    Then, I relate the starting note to the starting chord or the key -- which facilitates starting on the right note.

    For some licks, the geometry of the lick on the fretboard may stick in my mind, others just the sound.

    So, for example, I use a m9 lick starting on the 9th. It's mostly the descending m9 arp. If the chord is Am9 I know to start on my third finger, high E, 7th fret. From there I know the geometry (and sound) of the lick. I originally memorized it by shape, iirc. But,I also play a certain Charlie Parker lick, but that one completely by sound. I don't think about where on the neck or what the notes are. All heard on the fly.

    One possibly helpful tip: I found it easier to memorize licks when I made them up myself and wrote them out. I did that for awhile and I still use some.

  4. #3

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    Some of us don't visualize music - because that does not tell phenomenologically how it sounds, or because it is not necessary, or because the eyes or the mind's eye doesn't hear music like the ears or the mind's ear, or for various other reasons.

    Personally, I would have quite a bit of trouble describing by string and fret, or name, or drawing most of the chords and lines I play, but I know them by how they sound and my hands know how to play them, including the ones I make up as I go.

    Consider striving for internalization rather than memorization. The latter is subject to confusion, loss, and may need contrived methods to maintain and apply. The former is clear, permanent, direct, instantaneous, and naturally promotes and freely adjusts and connects itself in variations of context... you know you are internalizing when the feeling of pushing gives way to releasing, hunting is replaced by the feeling of finding, multiple musical ideas contend to be executed so playing is just using musical judgement in choosing what to be expressed.

  5. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar
    I don't do it all that much, but I think I tend to do it this way ...

    I memorize the lick the way anybody memorizes a melody. So, I can sing it, or at least hear it clearly in my mind.

    Then, I relate the starting note to the starting chord or the key -- which facilitates starting on the right note.

    For some licks, the geometry of the lick on the fretboard may stick in my mind, others just the sound.

    So, for example, I use a m9 lick starting on the 9th. It's mostly the descending m9 arp. If the chord is Am9 I know to start on my third finger, high E, 7th fret. From there I know the geometry (and sound) of the lick. I originally memorized it by shape, iirc. But,I also play a certain Charlie Parker lick, but that one completely by sound. I don't think about where on the neck or what the notes are. All heard on the fly.

    One possibly helpful tip: I found it easier to memorize licks when I made them up myself and wrote them out. I did that for awhile and I still use some.
    Hi, thanks a lot for your reply, I found it very helpful!

    I have 1 more question:
    I learned the CAGED System, and kind of rely on it to "navigate" my finger to find the right scale/arp... One lick (when it has a large range) fits in always better in one pattern, and in the other four patterns worser. And I was told, one should always practice a lick in all 12 keys. But you wouldn't practice one lick with the same fingering, just shifting the fingering through the 12 frets, to practice it in all 12 keys. You would change the string sets, change the first finger you used for the first note of the lick... So should i still try to figure out the geometry of the lick in the other four patterns? Maybe you just don't use the CAGED system, then how do you practice the lick in all 12 keys?

    Thank you!

  6. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by pauln
    Some of us don't visualize music - because that does not tell phenomenologically how it sounds, or because it is not necessary, or because the eyes or the mind's eye doesn't hear music like the ears or the mind's ear, or for various other reasons.

    Personally, I would have quite a bit of trouble describing by string and fret, or name, or drawing most of the chords and lines I play, but I know them by how they sound and my hands know how to play them, including the ones I make up as I go.

    Consider striving for internalization rather than memorization. The latter is subject to confusion, loss, and may need contrived methods to maintain and apply. The former is clear, permanent, direct, instantaneous, and naturally promotes and freely adjusts and connects itself in variations of context... you know you are internalizing when the feeling of pushing gives way to releasing, hunting is replaced by the feeling of finding, multiple musical ideas contend to be executed so playing is just using musical judgement in choosing what to be expressed.
    thank you very much, I think I could have internalized some phrases, mostly short and simple ones. As for the long licks with many chromatic approaches/intervals , I still cannot just play it in time just from hearing without having practiced it. I hope one day I could reach that level....

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Peng1026
    Hi, thanks a lot for your reply, I found it very helpful!

    I have 1 more question:
    I learned the CAGED System, and kind of rely on it to "navigate" my finger to find the right scale/arp... One lick (when it has a large range) fits in always better in one pattern, and in the other four patterns worser. And I was told, one should always practice a lick in all 12 keys. But you wouldn't practice one lick with the same fingering, just shifting the fingering through the 12 frets, to practice it in all 12 keys. You would change the string sets, change the first finger you used for the first note of the lick... So should i still try to figure out the geometry of the lick in the other four patterns? Maybe you just don't use the CAGED system, then how do you practice the lick in all 12 keys?

    Thank you!
    I can tell you how I do it, but that doesn't mean that most people do it this way (I doubt it) and it doesn't mean I think you should.

    That said, here's my approach.

    Jazz requires two skills.

    1. To hear, in your mind, an interesting line to play.

    2. To play it, instantly, with great time feel.

    Let's focus on #2.

    Here's a test: pick a random string, finger and fret and, starting there, play Happy Birthday without making a mistake. If you can't do that, how are you going to think of a good jazz line and play it?

    I learned a few fingering patterns early on, but I never used them. I learned to read early, so I knew where the notes were, by name, all over the fretboard. That became the foundation for being able to play. Over time, unconsciously, I got to the point where I could pass the Happy Birthday test. I never had an organized approach. It was just decades on the instrument.

    If I was teaching it, I guess I'd have to teach what I know -- which would be reading, repertoire, some theory, some licks/transcriptions and lots of practice improvising - often singing a line and playing it instantly.

    Eventually, you get tired of the lines you're imagining and you seek out more interesting things to play. I think that's where listening, imitating and transcribing come in. I don't like massive doses of theory all at once. It may work for others, but it didn't work for me. I find that it's hard enough to learn one new sound at a time.

  8. #7

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    Yes... I hear notes with reference to a Chord. I would see and hear your lick as C-7 G7#9 /(F#7#9) F7 B13/ Bbmaj7.

    I also hear and see approach notes... any embellishment as also with reference to a Chord. By chord I'm really just implying a tonal root reference... like that F# being a F#7#9 approach chord.

    Most don't approach this way.... I just started playing music with this approach. It's simple I don't really need to think...

  9. #8

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    I'd suggest trying to hear the overall nature of the line above before detailing each note. For instance, the chords are written for convenience as one per bar but the line suggests | Cm7 | Cm7 F7 | Bbmaj7 |. Play those chords in time to help internalise the harmonic rate of change. Other points of interest may be that the complete phrase encompasses an octave framed by F#/Gb lower and upper neighbour notes. Notice how the first and last four notes connect as a melodic approach note figure to the final 'F'.

    Listen for distinctive melodic units. The final five notes are a bop cliche - 3 to b9 resolving via lower chromatics to the 5th step of the resolution chord. Also, the only notes missing from the F dominant scale in the first bar and a half are the 'A' and 'F' that define that ending lick and give it extra weight as a point of arrival.

    Be aware that scale systems (CAGED, 3nps, etc.) are only a guide, especially when dealing with bop-based phrases. As it happens, the line you supplied is mostly diatonic so it seems to fit well enough into any of the five CAGED positions. You will find that find that some are more comfortable than others. That's ok. Thomas Owens in his Charlie Parker thesis discovered that Bird played certain phrases in one key only. We're always dealing with the inherent design of our instruments - string tuning, keys - so it's only to be expected that these limitations have a tendency to dictate our moves.

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Peng1026
    Hi friends, i need some help by practicing the II V I licks. I have been really quite struggling doing this through years.

    do you as experienced jazz guitarist memorize/visualize which degree the notes belong to in the chords while practicing a lick, like this :
    About memorizing/visualizing licks (need some help)-截屏2020-04-1516-45-40-jpg

    or you memorize/visualize the notes in the scale which the II V I belongs to, like this:
    About memorizing/visualizing licks (need some help)-截屏2020-04-1516-56-47-jpg

    or you just don't visualize anything, just let your ears/fingers memorize the lick.

    I find the second method easier for me, i could find the lick quicker on the finger board when i am improvising. Because this is less information there, but I'm wondering, if it is right to do this, because you then always just have the lick as one "block", and always use it the same way.

    I expected more from the method 1, I thought wenn you practice the lick that way, then you could freely use a short term of the lick in another non-II V I changes. But I just didn't get to that point, maybe it still takes time, or maybe my expectation was just totally wrong.

    So PLEEEEase, help me out of the maze...
    My last comment was general. So about your lick. I just played it a few times. Memorized it. Played it starting on every Eb on the neck, without thinking about fingering, just sound (my fingers find the notes without me).

    If I can burn it into my mind (which I find to be a slow process, and I wish it wasn't) I can relate to it like any melody I know. At that point, I can quote it in a solo if it occurs to me as I'm soloing.

    As far as the analysis goes, it's Cm9 in the first bar and maybe the first two beats of the second bar.

    But wait, those 6 beats could just be seen as Bb tonal center (Bb ionian, if you're keeping score).

    The first two beats in bar 2 could also be seen as F13, which actually implies the same collection of notes.

    The last two beats are F7b9 with a nice jump from the A to the F#.

    Otherwise, there are two passing tones. The F# in bar 1 and the E in bar 2.

    And, not that you asked, but the way I learned is sort of "tonal center, recognizing chord tones, with adjustments as needed to accommodate chord tones that aren't in the tonal center". So it's all Bb major until you want to play the b9 of F7. At that point, you recognize that F# is important.

    To my way of thinking your lick is 6 beats of pretty generic Bb stuff and then nails the F7b9 sound.
    Last edited by rpjazzguitar; 04-16-2020 at 03:30 AM.

  11. #10

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    Don't bother micro-analysing it. Apply it to a tune. If you like it, it'll stick. Simple as that.

  12. #11

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    Yea... hearing and seeing a lick or short melodic phrase... is what. What makes the line work. If you like note to note relationships... you still need a tonal reference. What makes a 3rd or a b9... the relationship to each note or the relationship to a chord, root or Tonic. It's not a trick question... the reference is the root or tonic.

    Most guitarist like to memorize things... have simple organizations.... like rag above, it works or it doesn't.

    At some point your either going to have a huge collection of memories, that you can adjust to different settings and either work or don't... or you'll develop some understandings of what makes a lick work and be able to create your own licks. Or maybe a little of both...

    A simple trick is to memorize patterns. Rhythmic patterns, like the last part of bar 1 and first part of bar 2.
    A# triplet G Bb C / 8ths D C Bb G use that rhythmic figure and mechanically move it up and down the fretboart.
    You can change the pattern of the notes. Change the directions... change the space between the tones... then use the last rhythmic figure and do the same thing.

    What you'll start to see and hear ... is that melodic lines have Targets, not all the notes have the same importance.
    The important notes become Targets. And the Targets are more important because of a relationship with a chord.

    There is more going on.... rhythmic patterns also have targets and also influence the importance or value of melodic targets.... Eventually you might even begin to see and hear that licks, melodies, any melodic lines is just a collection of target notes with a reference to a chord... and filler licks or notes between those targets with rhythmic organization.

    And then you use standard melodic compositional development or embellishment techniques to expand those melodic targets that have a harmonic reference.

    You can actually make any lick work anywhere when you understand what the lick is.

    There is another option... sight reading. No thinking involves... no memorization... Many musicians just use charts for memory aids....the visual chart helps with remembering the music. I personally do both, I sight read well but having to remember every head gets tough when not playing that many gigs... or when your playing too many gigs.

  13. #12

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    The entire phrase is inside of two octaves of the Bb6 dim scale.

    About memorizing/visualizing licks (need some help)-bb6-dim-png

  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Peng1026
    Hi friends, i need some help by practicing the II V I licks. I have been really quite struggling doing this through years.

    do you as experienced jazz guitarist memorize/visualize which degree the notes belong to in the chords while practicing a lick, like this :
    About memorizing/visualizing licks (need some help)-截屏2020-04-1516-45-40-jpg

    or you memorize/visualize the notes in the scale which the II V I belongs to, like this:
    About memorizing/visualizing licks (need some help)-截屏2020-04-1516-56-47-jpg

    or you just don't visualize anything, just let your ears/fingers memorize the lick.

    I find the second method easier for me, i could find the lick quicker on the finger board when i am improvising. Because this is less information there, but I'm wondering, if it is right to do this, because you then always just have the lick as one "block", and always use it the same way.

    I expected more from the method 1, I thought wenn you practice the lick that way, then you could freely use a short term of the lick in another non-II V I changes. But I just didn't get to that point, maybe it still takes time, or maybe my expectation was just totally wrong.

    So PLEEEEase, help me out of the maze...
    I do both?

    I like the key centric approach (second) - I think it's undervalued. That's how I hear music when I transcribe generally - at least when its functional stuff, bop and that.

    Maybe it's just guitar players who go for the first thing, because we are chord people. Also memorising lines with reference to grips... I do that too. Very guitar.

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    I do both?

    I like the key centric approach (second) - I think it's undervalued. That's how I hear music when I transcribe generally - at least when its functional stuff, bop and that.

    Maybe it's just guitar players who go for the first thing, because we are chord people. Also memorising lines with reference to grips... I do that too. Very guitar.
    I like the key centric approach too, esp with vamps where it can lead you astray to think of each chord as its own thing rather than as part of a larger unit. Whole 8-bar sections (especially on rhythm tunes) can be thought of as the I chord (or, I chord with a nuance at a key point).

    Yet there is value for guitarists in knowing their grips. Once you understand them, you know not only where the chord tones are but also the surrounding tones for altered sounds (b/#9 b/#5) It makes it easier to produce the SOUNDS you want to hear without having to name them in your head first.

  16. #15

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    agree with much of what Reg wrote...

    I do both...and if I like the lick..I play it in as many positions/keys as I can..create a vamp..several chords...and work the lick into it..take the lick apart .. hear what notes work best in what rythmic order..get a feel for the lick itself..use it in a blues..or a 3-6-2-5-1 or anything...get it to work in an "outside" feel..like fusion or slow it way down in a soft melodic context

    i write stuff like this out in several keys..I can then edit it much easier..find other chord relations/melodic patterns to extend it..into other keys/chord patterns.. for me it helps burn into my fingers and ears and I can "see" it