A lick for bassoons, in all keys and full range.

“The Lick” has become a ubiquitous part of certain internet music sub-cultures. T-shirts, mugs, string quartets, and likely hundreds of quotes by jazz musicians have made it quite cliche. For the uninitiated, here is the video that started it all, and here is a discussion of the meme culture surrounding The Lick, and a serious take on it.

What I never really realized about The Lick, was how pedagogically interesting it could be. In David Bruce’s video above, he describes how it is constructed: a short scale fragment, followed by an arpeggio and a resolution. How convenient! So I figured this might be a reasonably useful tool for practicing patterns around the instrument.

So I quickly made this preliminary sheet up that has The Lick in all the standard playable range of the bassoon, with the lowest iteration bottoming out on our lowest B-flat, and the highest topping at E5. I then created a modal alteration that puts it more or less in Lydian, if the original is in Dorian, which hits a different scale fragment (all whole steps) and different arpeggio type (minor instead of major). Then I figured I would invert the figure. This is intervallically inverted, not diatonically, so we end up with a fragment that kind of sounds like minor but after landing on the last note could retroactively be viewed as being mixolydian.

This may be a test draft of something more interesting where I can treat the pattern as being more diatonically transposed to create a long figure that could then be transposed into all major and minor keys. If I have time.

Suggestions for practice:

  1. Skip the whole notes completely. When doing the ascending pattern this creates a voice leading half step between each iteration of the figure, extending the scale figure. It makes for an interesting connection in the inverted version.
  2. Swing or straight rhythm, pick various articulation patterns.
  3. Switch the rhythm to be 1/8 1/8 1/4, 1/8 1/8 1/4, whole. This highlights the arpeggio figure a bit more than the regular rhythm. This is noted at the end of the document.
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