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memorizing licks

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by boo radley, Feb 29, 2012.

  1. boo radley

    boo radley Supporting Member

    Jun 4, 2011
    I'm starting to feel as if I have early-onset dementia, because I'll sit down, learn a couple 'licks', for example from a TrueFire "50 licks" course, and then a week later completely forget them. Hell, the next *day* completely forget them.

    I realize the idea is to incorporate the new material into ones playing, changing, adapting, experimenting...but maybe ONE lick out of many will 'stick,' and I find myself -- when playing -- reverting back to the same handful of licks I've known for years. Any tips on improving the knowledge bank? Is this even a worthwhile approach? It certainly seems that something I come up with on my own sticks a lot better, although it's crude stuff.
  2. Hotspur

    Hotspur Member

    Apr 15, 2011
    Let me take a guess:

    You are learning this licks physically, rather than musically, right? That is to say you think of them as a series of finger moves, rather than as a precise series of sounds you can identify with pitch-accuracy?

    I've found that my ability to remember music has gone up exponentially as I've improved my ear. Remembering a series of finger moves is hard. Remembering a series of sounds is much easier - IF you're trained for it.

    Think of it as the difference between remembering a sentence in a language you don't speak vs a language you do speak. One's obviously a lot easier, right?

    Work on your ear so that you "speak" the language of music.
  3. Poppa Stoppa

    Poppa Stoppa Member

    Dec 27, 2005
    Your only problem is that memorising anything takes a lot of effort. You can only memorise a lick or a solo if you really put sustained effort into it. Lots of repetition over a period of time.

    I read that if you want to learn something you should do the following:

    Learn it really well on day 1
    Go over it again the following day
    Again after 1 week
    Again after 1 month
    Again after 3 months

    With music you probably need to to more than this even...
  4. Goerman

    Goerman Member

    Sep 19, 2011
    Try singing it. If you can do this it makes the connection between ear-brain-fingers a little clearer.
  5. mayrandp

    mayrandp Member

    May 19, 2006
    QC, Canada
    If it can help, here's the process that works for me:

    1- Analyzing the lick (theory, note choice, rhythm/tempo, over what chord or chord progression it will work, etc.)
    2- Getting it under my fingers (getting up to speed by using a metronome and gradually increasing the speed)
    3- 'Overusing' the lick in improvisations with backing tracks (this help me to hear the lick in context, hear how it 'fits' with the rest of my vocabulary)

    Once the lick is 'mastered', then it might pop up in performance and improvisations without thinking about it, playing it because it feels right.
  6. randalljazz

    randalljazz Member

    May 12, 2010
    anchorage, alaska
    daunting though it may seem:

    "Knowledge plus 10,000 times equals ability."-- Dr.Shin'ichi Suzuki.
  7. GovernorSilver

    GovernorSilver Member

    May 30, 2007
    This works for me too.

    If I understand the OP right, he wants to hear a lick for the first time today and remember it tomorrow. That rarely works for me. I have to record the lick being played, then listen to it several times a day, over a period of at least a month, before I memorize the lick.

    Transcribing the lick myself would speed up the memorization process because I'd have to listen to the lick over and over to jot the notes onto paper. In the process of transcribing just one measure I probably would have listened to the lick at least 10 times.
  8. sausagefingers

    sausagefingers Supporting Member

    Dec 22, 2007
    'Neath the shade of an old walnut tree
    Totally the reason.

    There's no harm in playing them and forgetting the exact patterns, if somehow you are incorporating some muscle memory and linking that with a certain sound you want at a given moment.

    Bits of the licks may surface for you down the road, and you don't want to regurgitate someone elses patterns verbatim anyway.
  9. buddastrat

    buddastrat Member

    Mar 20, 2005
    A good solo is a song in itself. So for me, I just hear it in my head and play along, but that's a solo, not just licks.

    As far as licks, I improvise. The licks are always new and twisted up differently. I never sit and play it the same way twice. How boring that would be. We don't do that when we speak. I want the guitar to be an extension of myself.

    So my suggestion would be, to keep learning some new licks and absorb the idea, and then forget it, and let it come out later. Then you just sit down and hear all this music come out of your guitar and you wonder where the heck it's coming from. It's pretty great when it works.
  10. AndyNOLA

    AndyNOLA Member

    Feb 13, 2012
    This is so right its ridiculous.....but again, until you get it, you can't get it. Also memorizing can lead to stiff, unimaginative playing. Its not a good way to learn IMO.
  11. ivers

    ivers Member

    Jan 19, 2005
    I don't know the OP, but this describes my own change in approach better than I could have done myself, and I suspect many experience this shift at some point in their guitar playing journey.
  12. AndyNOLA

    AndyNOLA Member

    Feb 13, 2012
    Count me in too...
  13. Terry L. Perry

    Terry L. Perry Senior Member

    Sep 27, 2008
    Coppell, TX
    Same here, unless it's something very close to what I already know. Even then, it won't stick until I use it some live in my playing on stage.

    I'm always working on patterns of things that I like. When I get bored with my sound, I'll pick something that's unusual to what what I normally use. It could be something figured out only by ear, someones transcription, or something I've made up myself. Some of the ideas made up on the fly, I record them so I won't forget them. I might come back to them later. I bet others do this too.

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