Motifs are technically defined as “a short succession of notes producing a single impression; a brief melodic or rhythmic formula out of which longer passages are developed.” While that’s a very accurate description, blues motifs may very well be the single most impactful element of blues guitar improvisation.
A blues guitar player with strong motivic development skills doesn't need blazing technique or deep theoretical knowledge to engage listeners and pull them to the edge of their seats. Motifs help you connect with your audience, interact with your band, and creatively frame the stories you tell them through your solos and improvisations.
Anyone familiar with Larry Carlton’s solos knows that he almost always starts with a short melodic statement — a motif. The phrase following that opening statement might be a similar phrase but slightly altered. Or slightly altered and played in a higher register. Or played softer or louder. Or have a similar rhythmic feel. This ‘motivic development’ process continues throughout the entire solo. Larry Carlton is a master of motifs.
Naturally, Larry isn't thinking about motifs while he’s soloing. It’s a creative ability that's been long embedded in his musicality. Fortunately, to help the rest of us develop those skills, Larry dissected his own approach and presents his key blues motivic development techniques in 335 Blues Motifs.
Larry presents his curriculum across 12 lesson sets, each featuring a different approach, concept or insight: Soloing With Motifs, Listening To The Band, Dynamics & Registers, Implying The Chords, Imitating Bass Lines, Imitating Other Parts, Space & Common Tones, Expressions, Practicing Motifs, Telling A Story, Comping With Motifs: 1 and Comping With Motifs: 2.
All 12 sets of lessons feature blues rhythm tracks in a variety of keys and feels. In the first video of the set, Larry talks about the track and then demonstrates a particular motivic approach. In the second video of each set, Larry applies the approach to construct a full solo. All of the performances are tabbed and notated, plus you’ll get all of the rhythm tracks to work with on your own.