The Lick

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"The Lick" in A minor on piano (Works with Dorian or Aeolian) About this soundPlay 
"The Lick" in E minor on guitar (swing) About this soundPlay 

The Lick is a commonly used jazz lick (a stock musical pattern),[a] regarded as "the most famous jazz cliche ever."[2][3] 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.[4][5][1] It has been seen in adverts, such as in an "Injury Lawyers for You" advert and in the music on popular TV programmes, such as The Late Show. The Lick is now usually used for comedic effect,[b] as it has become such a cliche that musicians tend to only see it as an inside joke, so unironic performances are rare. The Lick is usually played over a ii°-V-i (minor-key) chord progression.[7][2]


  1. ^ The Lick was not first seen in jazz, as examples of classical music include variations of the modern version of The Lick,[1] but it has been primarily known as a jazz lick for the attention it has received from being commonly used in jazz improvisations.[2]
  2. ^ An example of extreme comedic effect is seen in Adam Neely's "I play the lick for 5 hours straight".[6]


  1. ^ a b "An Awesome Compilation of the Most Used Jazz Lick Ever". September 14, 2015. Archived from the original on 2018-05-25. Retrieved 2018-05-24.
  2. ^ a b c Laukens, Dirk (24 December 2013). ""The Lick" - The Most Famous Jazz Cliche Ever (Video & Tabs)". Archived from the original on 2018-04-26. Retrieved 2018-04-25.
  3. ^ Hein, Ethan (November 17, 2011). "The Lick". The Ethan Hein Blog. Archived from the original on 2018-04-26. Retrieved 2018-04-25.
  4. ^ Heitlinger, Alex. "The Lick". Archived from the original on 2016-12-06. Retrieved 2018-04-25 – via YouTube.
  5. ^ Jones, Josh (21 September 2015). "A Great Compilation of "The Lick" Found in Music Everywhere: From Coltrane & Stravinsky, to Christina Aguilera". Archived from the original on 2018-04-26. Retrieved 2018-04-26.
  6. ^ Adam Neely. "I play the lick for 5 hours straight" – via YouTube.
  7. ^ Coker, Jerry (1984). Jerry Coker's Jazz Keyboard, p.23. ISBN 0-7692-3323-6.