3 Bill Conners Style Licks


American Fusion master Bill Conners first came to prominence on Chick Corea’s Hymn To The Seventh Galaxy album and caused quite a stir. Bill’s guitar playing is smooth, accurate, and capable of switching between different feels effortlessly. For many phrases he switches between different scales superimposed over standard Blues harmony.

This week’s licks are a great example of ‘outside’ (i.e. not diatonic to the underlying chord) playing. So if you want to make your licks more sophisticated, look no further! Here’s a breakdown:

Lick 1

This lick starts out as a typical Blues Scale phrase, then in bar 3, it descends through the Dominant 7th chord with a Chromatic-based line. Being unexpected, it’s an exciting sound verging on being outside.

Lick 2

Again, we set up the line using a very solid Mixolydian-based Blues opening phrase – quite John Scofield or Mike Stern. Then, in the second phrase, after hinting at more minor Blues lines to follow, we run up the A Dominant 7th Arpeggio, adding in Chromatic notes. The triplets give the line an unexpected burst of energy.

Lick 3

Here’s a great example of how to play outside on the Blues. Phrase one starts with an A Dorian Mode played over the A7 (Mixolydian Mode) harmony, then ends on the #11 and 13th notes, implying 13#11 harmony. The second half is outside playing and can be analysed many ways. Just learn the shapes and see if you can find an A Diminished Scale moving to a Bb Diminished Scale in there somewhere. For more playing like this, listen to Miles Davis and John Scofield.

As always, below the YouTube video you’ll find the backing track to play along with, and below that, the tablature. Aren’t I nice?!

Feel free to ask questions or just share your thoughts in the comments!

Watch the video:

Play along with the backing track:

Read the tab:

3 Biller Conners Style Licks

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