Jamie Holroyd Guitar

Jamie Holroyd Guitar

Increase Your Vocabulary with a Charlie Parker Lick

Increase Your Vocabulary with a Charlie Parker Lick

When learning to play bebop jazz guitar, a study of Charlie Parker’s language and style is a must. In his short life Parker was one of the most influential jazz musicians of all time and his legacy can be heard in almost every jazz musician in the last 60 years or so.

Many of the early bebop jazz guitarists such as Jimmy Raney, Ronnie Singer, Tal Farlow and Billy Bean admit that they spent many hours slowing down old Parker records to learn licks and compositions which they transferred to guitar.

In today’s lesson we’ll be checking out a great common Charlie Parker lick that is based of a root position triad and uses chromatic approach tones that many jazz guitarists have adapted over the years. To view the accompanying video look near the bottom of this article.


Charlie Parker Lick


Things to Notice in This Charlie Parker Lick


  • The use of passing tones on the strong beats of the bar such as first and third beats of the first bar and the the first beat in the second bar.
  • Implied use of the #11 sound on the 3rd beat of the first bar
  • After each passing tone is played the diatonic note a semi-tone above is picked three times which makes the passing tones work on the down beats of the bar.


Charlie Parker Lick Video Lesson




How to Practice This Charlie Parker Lick


When you have this lick under your fingers take it through a few different keys and apply it to different root position triads across the neck then begin to apply it over different tunes that you know. When you begin to get tired of the lick, you can explore some of the outside tones which the lick hints at such as the #11 by jamming over a backing track. Note that this lick can be played over a major 7th or dominant 7th type chord. Using thje major 7th on beat of the bar over a dominant 7th chord creates a bebop scale type of sound. 

I hope that enjoy learning this Charlie Parker Lick and this small piece of languages brings a bebop flavour into your guitar playing. Do you enjoy learning Charlie Parker licks? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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