What is The LickIf you are a musician, or at least familiar with music lingo, you have probably heard phrases like “I love that lick you played on the guitar”. 

A “lick” is basically similar to a “riff”, “hook” or motif. Basically a short memorable phrase of music.

However, there is one specific lick that has somehow transcended time itself, and been used over and over in all genres of music…to the point that it has basically become a “meme” among musicians.

What is THE LICK?

The lick as in specifically THE lick that somehow stands above all other licks, can be traced back all the way to the classical era of music, but was later made famous in jazz circles.

The Lick (notes)

And then, for some reason: it started to pop up in rock, pop and modern styles of music again and again.

It is a basic phrase made of 7 notes, using 5 steps of a diatonic scale, starting with 8th notes going up, and then making a twist end that slows down with a long whole note.

The phrase is often played with a swing feel, and/or some sort of glissando or grace note inside.

THE LICK = The Meme of Music

To give you a glimpse of how much of a meme “the lick” has become, especially on the Internet, here is a video where a musician plays the lick on a huge number of instruments, over and over again: