CHOPS and LICKS: What’s the difference?

The embouchure is the use of facial muscles and the shaping of the lips to the mouthpiece of woodwind instruments or the mouthpiece of the brass instruments. Commonly referred to as “CHOPS”

The term CHOPS has also come to be used to describe technical ability in general, on any instrument. For example, one might say something like, “Wow, she’s got a lot of chops” about someone who can play very difficult things on their instrument. So, to be clear, it is NOT possible for a musician to PLAY chops. We HAVE ABILITY. We HAVE CHOPS. CHOPS and ABILITY could be used interchangeably.

This term should NOT be confused with musical ideas or “LICKS” which are patterns or ideas that make up a portion of musical vocabulary, especially in improvised music. Many musicians often make the mistake of using “chops” and “licks” as if they have the same meaning. They do not.

I once had a student ask to be taught “a chop per week.” What that student meant was that they wanted to learn a new “LICK” at every weekly lesson. There is NO SUCH THING AS “A CHOP”, in music. #musicterminology

Posted in blog, news on June 12th, 2014 - Tags: , , , ,

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