The Leads Are Weak



The Leads Are Weak - Tony Sannicandro of Job For A Cowboy

OK, let’s talk turkey. Let’s make some original recipe licks.

Think about when you first start doing anything — playing guitar, working out, making a fucking cheesecake, whatever — you always start out by doing what someone else has already done. This is good. It’s important to get a start from someone that knows what they are doing because it gives you a reference point. But when it comes to writing licks, it’s important to start knowing how to start making up ideas and licks. This concept totally goes by the majority of beginning guitar players.

The foundation of creating a lick usually comes from an arpeggio, or a sequence of notes. Take an arpeggio or a chord that you want to use and start hacking it up, using inflections, passing tones, melodic repetition and using broken chords.

For example, let’s look at an A major scale:

Tony Sannicandro - Job For A Cowboy(click to enlarge)

Lets build an arpeggio, a sequence of notes using only notes from this A major scale. It contains a few “bonus” notes apart from your regular 1, 3, and 5 which gives it a more interesting sound and also makes it much easier to play in an economically picked style (i.e. the F# at the 7th fret). It just rolls off the fingers.

This can be done with any chord, scale, treasure map, or whatever you have. Without diving into the theory side of it, taking out and adding diatonic notes to your regular scale patterns makes arpeggios much tastier, and it’s simple to do in the metal and rock context.

This also works well with sequences. Let’s take a basic sequence using a five note pattern (the second line in the above image), using that repeating idea in a five note pattern and creating a melodic sequence using the same scale. Repeating and moving sequences like this is a cool way to make tension build in a solo section and it’s good for your picking hand. I’ve also added a few chromatic passing tones and some other diatonic notes which is a cool way to spice up almost any lick provided you do it at the right time and make it flow smoothly.

These are two examples of how I like to come up with cool melodic ideas that I didn’t just farm from someone else’s solo. There’s literally no end to making licks this way. It’s good for your ear, good for your hands, and good for your scalar knowledge. Now, take what you will and go and do likewise, gents. It’s all out there.

Until next time… go fuck yourself!

– Tony Sannicandro / Job For a Cowboy

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