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Tip: A Quick Lick

Here’s a quick lick to play over these chords: Em, Am, Dm, G7 in C major. In other words, this is a turnaround: the last two bars before returning to the start of the first phrase. You can strum each chord once or twice; record that accompaniment and play this over it:

  E E E Q Q  E   E E E Q  Q.
|-------5------|-----5----------|
|-5-6-----8--5-|-6-7---8--------|
|-----7--------|----------------|
|--------------|----------------|
|--------------|----------------|
|--------------|----------------|
Q - quarter; E - 8th; Q. is dotted quarter. The Q. with no note is a rest.

When you study licks, and really try to figure out what makes them sound good, study the lick in standard notation. The reason is that you can see the shape of the line so much clearer in standard notation compared to tablature. It’s not a knock on tab, just the way it is.

Even if you can’t (yet) read standard notation, you can at least see the relative height or depth of pitches, which is already more than what tab can show you.

By the way, this tip about studying licks applies just as well to any melodic stuff you really want to understand: use standard notation to figure it out – and write your own.

Thanks for reading.

Copyright © 2008 Darrin Koltow

This first appeared in the Guitar Noise News – February 1, 2007 newsletter. Reprinted with permission.

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