Referred to simply as The Lick this melodic element can be found in nearly all genres of music and played by all kinds of instruments. It has somehow managed to seed itself everywhere. It can be found as early as Stravinsky’s “Firebird” (1910). Player’s “Baby Come Back” and Santana’s “Oye Como Va” are based on variations of The Lick. Although the origins of The Lick are unknown, it has propagated throughout the entire musical kingdom as you can see from the two videos below.
I have come down hard on artists who use clichés too much. But I think The Lick proves itself as something greater than a musical cliché, something more like a musical meme. The best art copies, reconstructs, personalizes, mutates and owns up to other great artworks that came before it. Viva La Lick!