Counting out a lick

Discussion in 'How To Improvise Blues Solos' started by Mr.Scary, Nov 30, 2016.

  1. Mr.Scary

    Mr.Scary A Blues Legend in My Own Mind

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    How would you count out a lick if you just made it up or you saw one on YouTube or somewhere else and the only thing you knew about it was the box it fit. Do you just play a Jam track and see where it starts and ends or how would you do this
     
  2. HotLks

    HotLks Blues - it's in me and it's got to come out.

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    Determine if it's 1/8 notes, triplets, dotted 1/8 notes. Get a piece of staff paper, draw 4 vertical lines for each beat. Start counting to the riff and see how the notes start to fall on the various counts: 1& 2& 3& 4&.....1&a 2&a 3&a 4&a.....1e&a 2e&a 3e&a 4e&a.....etc.

    You can write out the tab or notes if you wish. Depending on how well you know the riff you may not have to write it out. If you need help counting, open one of Griff's courses that has a counting lesson in it and get yourself in the counting groove if necessary.

    That's how I would do it.

    See you down the road! :thumbup:
     
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  3. OG_Blues

    OG_Blues Guitar Geezer

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    If HotLks approach (which is good advice BTW) doesn't work for you, try combining his method with recording.
    If you can multi-track record, first record your voice doing the count panned left.
    Then record the lick over that panned right. Depending on the lick, it may have more than one starting / ending point combination that "works", so try different ones until you get the one that sounds right to you.
    By listening to it, slowed down if necessary, you should be able to identify where notes and beats line up.
    Another approach might be to record a click track with an emphasis on the beat instead of the actual count. ONE and uh TWO and uh etc.
    If your recording software displays a visual of the audio, you will be able to actually see and hear where the beats and notes coincide, allowing you to write it out.
    Transcribing is essentially matching the notes and timing of licks to an underlying count, and is a learned skill that takes a fair bit of practice, just like most other stuff.
    Tom
     
  4. TwoNotesSolo

    TwoNotesSolo Student Of The Blues

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    The thing is, the same exact lick could start in different places, so if you get it completely out of context so you can't figure out where the 1 is (e.g. no drum or backing instruments), then it doesn't matter. Usually you'll get a sense of where the beat it vs the "&" of the beat, but not even always.Wehn deciding where the 1 is, try not to makeit on the first notes, sinceGgriff advocates you shouldn't start a lick on the 1 beat to make it sound less boring.

    I absolutely *love* to play the same thing twice in a row, but not starting on the same beat, it can fell quite different, especially if playing over a chord change. this is the only example I actually have transcribed, it repeats the same thing twice (technically the last not of the first pass is shorter in this transcription, but the notes are the same and you could make the first lick last one more beat). If used in a blues in G backtrack without a quick change, the last G is actually on the IV chord and to me sounds different and cool even though I played the same pattern twice.


    upload_2016-11-30_15-58-7.png

    I think of it as the same lick, starting on the 1st bar, then repeated on the 4th bar one beat early.
    Since the "4 qualities" are different (where it starts and ends) I suppose that's really 2 differnet licks according to Griff's definition

    I think I remember the first solo in "5 easy blues solos" doing something similar, except one instance of the lick started on the beat, the other one started off the beat. Could be wrong. either way, I love it when people pull off something like that effectively.
     
    #4 TwoNotesSolo, Nov 30, 2016
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2016
  5. MikeS

    MikeS Moderator... Another Man In Black.
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    I pretty much do what Hot Licks does, but I use software (Guitar Pro 6). With most software these days you can have it play back what you have written so that you can see if it sounds right. I usually first create a simple drum track, which ensures that things are falling in the right place.
     
  6. LLL

    LLL Workin' the Blues

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    You mean you just don't "feel it" Mike? I thought that was the preferred method, at least until Griff's course came out. :)
     
  7. HotLks

    HotLks Blues - it's in me and it's got to come out.

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    I hope this isn't considered a thread hijack. It's the most difficult timing challenge I know at this time. And this is a lick counting challenge.

    I can feel my way through many songs. But I'll count to hit the right starting beat. Occasionally I'll try to count for months and still not get it. Here's an example of some guitar work I struggle to understand.

    Finish What You Started

    I'm mostly interested in the ongoing rhythm line licks. If anyone can tell me what's going on here I would greatly appreciate it. Maybe a drummer can shed some light on this. It's fast enough that I can't nail down the beat he starts his licks on. I think he changes the starting beat often. I think he also puts in pauses on different beats as well. It's tempting to just say, "I give up." and feel my way through it and do a close approximation or just play it straight. Playing it straight would be much less interesting. It would be nice to get it right. To tell you the truth I don't think most listeners would notice slight differences as long as they stay between the start and end lines of the measures and not change the feel of the complete work.

    Until I see the light, I will struggle to persevere.

    P.S. I don't care about the lyrics. I hope you don't.

    See you down the road! :thumbup:
     
  8. OG_Blues

    OG_Blues Guitar Geezer

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    Here is the drum beat transcribed - don't know if that helps you.
    https://www.8notes.com/drum_riffs/show_riff.asp?riff_id=2979
    I didn't search for the guitar parts, but they are probably on line as well.
    The lead and rhythm guitars are panned hard left and right in the track, so it's easy to isolate them.
    It's a catchy riff.
    I'm like you - for many / most riffs, if I count the beat to get the starting point right, I can usually feel my way to the end of the riff.
    Some are more difficult, and there are some riffs that are truly impossible to count - you just simply cannot count fast enough. For those, I identify specific notes along the way the should fall on a beat and gauge my timing off of that. I suspect that this method is quite common.
    I would never dismiss counting as a necessary part of one's learning process and playing progression. In fact, as my playing gets better, I find myself counting more! Or possibly my counting is making my playing better - who knows? :D
    Tom
     
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  9. MikeS

    MikeS Moderator... Another Man In Black.
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    When I'm figuring out a lick, I can sometimes "just feel it", but I'm not as good as others.When I take a BGU lick and use it in different solos, I do just "Feel" it. sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. When I count it first, it ALWAYS works.
     
  10. HotLks

    HotLks Blues - it's in me and it's got to come out.

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    Thank you Tom!

    I searched for guitar tab once for this song. What I found was a complete mess. It offered no help with following the beat. Is what the drummer is doing called syncopation? Seems like the guitar player is doing it too. It seems complicated to me.

    Your comment about identifying the beat a specific note falls on in a tricky passage sounds like it may help. You use these identified notes as markers to help you gauge the rest of the lick.

    Do you think he's altering the start, end and pauses as he goes from start to finish? It seems that way to me. I'm truly baffled by this one. I think I'm counting OK until I get to a point where I lose track of the timing and then have to pick up again after the point I get confused at. I've never worked with transcribed drum beats so this should be interesting. Would I lay the notes over it like I would a chord progression? I find the drum part of this song to be complex and I get off track several times during the song. I'll keep at it.

    I know it's 4/4 time. I know he starts the first lick on 2&. I count it as 1/8 notes. Then I count off several measures OK. Then something I hear put's me off the trail. I haven't been able to sort it out yet.

    If these weren't such cool licks I might be tempted to give up. I don't think I will. It has that Keith Richards, Honkytonk Woman feel to it. To me, the difference is Keith's picking is very straight in feel. This song could be played straight but then it would be much less interesting.

    See you down the road! :thumbup:
     
  11. LLL

    LLL Workin' the Blues

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    I think that pretty much sums up what I think Griff has always told us Mike - "If you want to improve your playing the fastest - COUNT." As you stated, If you count it - it will ALWAYS be right.
     
  12. Griff

    Griff Chief Cook And Bottle Washer
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    Here's the big, important part - it doesn't matter if you're right or wrong, only that you do it!

    Let's say you see a lick with no explanation so you write it down after figuring out what the notes are... Then try assigning beats (as per HotLks suggestion which is also how I do it) and see how it sounds.

    If you like it, you're done. If you don't, at least you've quantified it and now you can change it in a known way. And it's entirely possible you'll stumble upon several variations you like along the way which means several new licks.
     
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  13. Griff

    Griff Chief Cook And Bottle Washer
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    For the main riff... there are triplets on the & of 2 (open D, 2nd fret E, 5th fret G) then the A on beat 3, B on the & of 3, G on beat 4 (same, 5th fret 4th string, not open,) and E (2nd fret, 4th string) on the & of 4.

    From there he hits the 2 top open strings on the down beat of beat 1.

    The drums are definitely syncopated but knowing how that riff fits in might help you just count through it a few times. He does modify and embellish everything after that start of the riff constantly throughout the tune, so it would be darn near impossible to memorize.
     
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  14. HotLks

    HotLks Blues - it's in me and it's got to come out.

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    Thank you Griff! I will endeavor to persevere.

    See you down the road! :thumbup: