The Lick

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"The Lick" in E minor on guitar (swung) About this soundPlay 
"The Lick" in G minor played on tenor saxophone
"The Lick" in G minor played on bass clarinet
"The Lick" in G minor played on alto saxophone
"The Lick" in G minor played on trumpet
"The Lick" in G minor played on ukulele

The Lick is a lick (stock musical phrase[1]) regarded as "the most famous jazz cliché ever".[2][3] The phrase has been used on numerous jazz and pop records and is part of several classical compositions. In recent years, it has become an internet meme and is sometimes used for comedic effect.

Musical structure[edit]

The Lick consists of seven notes, using five steps on a diatonic scale. The interval pattern is 1 (unison) – 2 (major second) – b3 (minor third) – 4 (perfect fourth) – 2 (major second) – b7 (lower seventh) – 1 (unison). In jazz, it is played swung, sometimes including a glissando before the fifth note. The Lick is frequently played over a ii°-V-i (minor-key) chord progression.[4]

History[edit]

The term "the lick" was coined by an eponymous Facebook group in the 2010s and popularized by a YouTube video assembled from clips from the group by jazz musician Alex Heitlinger in 2011.[5][6][disputed ]

The Lick was not first seen in jazz, as examples of classical music include tonal sequences similar to The Lick,[7] but it has been primarily known as a jazz lick for the attention it has received from being commonly used in jazz improvisations.[2]

It has been popularised as it is easily adaptable into all keys and modes and is heard in many famous pieces, including many non-jazz pieces.[8] It has been seen in adverts, such as in an "Injury Lawyers for You" advert[9] and in the music on TV programmes, such as The Late Show.[10] The Lick has been used for comedic effect by YouTube artist Adam Neely in the clip "I play the lick for 5 hours straight".[11]

In 2019, composer David Bruce used the lick as a basis for a string quartet which he named "The Lick Quartet".[12][13]

Popular recordings of The Lick[edit]

Jazz phrases[edit]

Similar sequences[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Durkin, Andrew: Decomposition: A Music Manifesto. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group 2014.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Middleton, Richard (1990), Studying Popular Music, Philadelphia: Open University Press (published 2002), p. 137, ISBN 0-335-15275-9
  2. ^ a b Laukens, Dirk (December 24, 2013). ""The Lick" - The Most Famous Jazz Cliche Ever (Video & Tabs)". Archived from the original on April 26, 2018. Retrieved April 25, 2018.
  3. ^ Hein, Ethan (November 17, 2011). "The Lick". The Ethan Hein Blog. Archived from the original on April 26, 2018. Retrieved April 25, 2018.
  4. ^ Coker, Jerry (1984). Jerry Coker's Jazz Keyboard, p.23. ISBN 0-7692-3323-6.
  5. ^ Heitlinger, Alex. "The Lick". Archived from the original on December 6, 2016. Retrieved April 25, 2018 – via YouTube.
  6. ^ "Bio". Alex Heitlinger. Retrieved October 17, 2020.
  7. ^ "An Awesome Compilation of the Most Used Jazz Lick Ever". September 14, 2015. Archived from the original on May 25, 2018. Retrieved May 24, 2018.
  8. ^ Jones, Josh (September 21, 2015). "A Great Compilation of "The Lick" Found in Music Everywhere: From Coltrane & Stravinsky, to Christina Aguilera". Archived from the original on April 26, 2018. Retrieved April 26, 2018.
  9. ^ "The Lick V - YouTube". www.youtube.com. Retrieved January 14, 2021.
  10. ^ "The Lick V - YouTube". www.youtube.com. Retrieved January 14, 2021.
  11. ^ Neely, Adam. "I play the lick for 5 hours straight" – via YouTube.
  12. ^ Taking the Licc Seriously – Converting a Meme for String Quartet on YouTube
  13. ^ The Lick Quartet – David Bruce on YouTube
  14. ^ "r/thelick". reddit. Retrieved October 26, 2020.
  15. ^ September 21st, in Music |; Comment, 2015 Leave a. "A Great Compilation of "The Lick" Found in Music Everywhere: From Coltrane & Stravinsky, to Christina Aguilera | Open Culture". Retrieved October 26, 2020.