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David's Tip of the Day: Value of Repetition, Part 8 (Is Your Playing Forgettable?)

David Barrett Admin's picture

"Can what you play (when you don't repeat your "A" lick) still be cool if it doesn't use a theme?" Absolutely. This where the importance of using phrasing can be vague to new improvisers. They CAN play lick, after lick, after lick, and as long as the licks are cool (pitch, rhythm, texture, dynamics, etc.), the solo is cool. But, "Will it be memorable?" No. We can remember the experience of the solo, which in itself IS valuable, but if you want the listener walking away with a cool hook/melody, you need to repeat it enough so that it can stick with them.

So, in the micro view of Chorus Forms, it's the formula that master players use to take one lick, within one chorus, and make it interesting. Each chorus has it's own theme (its own "A") and it's how you repeat that "A" that turns it into one of the five Chorus Forms I've taught you.

A Chorus Form can be as simple as playing one lick and repeating it three times. Not only does it conserve your valuable lick resources (i.e., saves you from getting old quicker by the fact that you're using your resources wisely), the added benefit of this repetition is that it creates a theme for each chorus that the listener can grab onto and appreciate.

A solo doesn't have to use Chorus Forms to be interesting, but the longer you solo, the less likely the listener will stay interested if you don't allow them to play the listening game of, "Is she going to repeat or move away," or "That's cool how she just returned to the first lick she played, but it's higher now."

When it comes to instrumentals, where you need to keep the interest of your listeners for up to five minutes, not using Chorus Forms is a sure way to make an instrumental forgettable.

As Joe Filisko said at a Harmonica Masterclass Workshop, "If what you're playing is not memorable, then it's forgettable... and who wants to play something that's forgettable?"

Next week we'll continue our study of Chorus Forms, eventually getting into the ultra-cool art of instrumental songwriting.

Have a great weekend!

More Tips of the Day can be read here: http://www.bluesharmonica.com/forums/tip_day