I’d like to share an incredible flatpicking style lick that can be used in countless songs and tunes. This is a phrase that opened up many doors for me as a flatpicking guitarist. Should you want to master this idea you will have to transpose these ideas into other keys and octaves. Each one of these variations showcases a different way of inventing the phrase. The ideas vary in length and note choice but are all based on this one idea. Once you work through the following variations I’m certain you will be able to come up with more of your own and find endless situations to use this classic phrase.
I play jazz piano, bluegrass mandolin and other things in Raleigh, North Carolina. I’m a self proclaimed music nerd and recently found myself in a unique position due to my background in both bluegrass and jazz. I run a periodic newsletter of weird, obscure and interesting music called The Orphic. Like many productive members of society, I work a desk job to finance my unhealthy interest in music. The following is a rewrite of a response I made on the r/jazz subreddit about the relationship between improvisation…
We’ve all heard the phrase “stick to the melody!” before. Normally those words are shouted by a bluegrass festival veteran in the direction of a pre-teen Chris Thile play-a-like. But far from a traditional versus progressive dividing line, these comments often come from the same traditionalist that will applaud a completely improvisational Tony Rice break.