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David's Tip of the Day: Songwriting Spark, Part 3 - Head

David Barrett Admin's picture

In Friday's tip I spoke of the hook, which is a catchy lick that's played by the rhythm section and BECOMES the groove.

The other most common way to play a catchy lick is to use it as the main lick in a head. The head is the same structurally as any other chorus in a song, it's just the BEST one. The lick is repeated within that chorus, using one of the Chorus Form structures I teach in Improvising Study 1 ( to make it memorable.

The head is the opening chorus and commonly the closing chorus, and becomes the main theme of a song... the song is defined by that head (commonly the head is played and everything else is improvised).

Here's a list of great classic blues harmonica heads to listen to and learn.

"Juke" Little Walter
"Off the Wall" Little Walter
"Rocker" Little Walter
"Juicy Harmonica" George Harmonica Smith
"Sharp Harp" George Harmonica Smith
"Easy" Big Walter Horton
"Walter’s Boogie" Big Walter Horton
"Chitlin Con Carne" Junior Wells
"The Creeper" James Cotton
"Bye Bye Bird" Rice Miller

To learn more about writing heads, check out my lesson on the subject: Improvising Study 7 - Heads, Hooks, Bridges, Arrangement & Tribute Writing and Soloing Themes (–_heads_hooks_bridges_soloing_themes).

Tomorrow I'll list some great instrumentals by contemporary players.