5 Must Have Robert Glasper Piano Licks

Would you like to learn some Robert Glasper piano licks?

You’re in the right place for today’s Robert Glasper piano tutorial.

You can perform some hip-sounding improv over minor chords with these licks.

Let’s get started.

Robert Glasper Piano Performance Example

In the example below, let’s listen to how Robert Glasper solos over the Radiohead tune “Packt Like Sardines In A Crusht Tin Box.”

1. How To Incorporate Bluesy Elements With A Robert Glasper Piano Lick

In this first lick, we see two elements that can make your lines sound soulful and bluesy:

  1. The blue note a.k.a. flat 5th.
  2. Thickening a line with a droning chord tone.

Check out how this lick is used over a Dm7:

Here’s the notation for the lick:

As you can see in the notation above, this Robert Glasper piano lick uses the blue note often.

It’s an ornament leading to the A (the 5th of D). This gives the lick a more vocal quality.

In the second bar of the lick, Robert plays the 11th and the 7th of Dm7 to thicken up the line.

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Now let’s take a look into how to incorporate neo soul/gospel elements Robert Glasper style.

2. How To Add A Neo-Soul Flavor To Tunes

In the next example, we have a Robert Glasper piano lick being played over a chord progression.

This chord progression replaces the usual sequence of Dm7 bars. The chords are as follows:

Gm7 | Am7 | Gm7 | Em7

Check it out here:

The interesting thing about how Robert Glasper plays these chords is as follows:

  1. He plays it over a bass line that mostly focuses on Dm7.
  2. He plays the chords as rootless cluster voicings.

Now, look at the lick itself here. Robert plays the lick over Gm7 and Am7:

Robert Glasper Piano

Robert clumps the notes of the chords together instead of spreading them apart. This provides a a very characteristic of neo-soul piano playing.

The first part of the lick uses a kind of chromatic descent leading to the root (G). In between each note of that chromatic descent is a “pedal” tone using D.

Now let’s take a look at how Robert Glasper makes his solos a bit more interesting.

3. How 3’s and 6’s Over 4’s Create Rhythmic Tension And Excitement

In this next lick, Robert plays a couple of 16th note sextuplet and triplet groupings over a pulse of 4.




This produces a polyrhythm that adds excitement to the music:

Modern hip hop and R&B tends to have a straight 16th-note feel. The introduction of a triplet- or sextuplet-based 16th note lick adds that exciting texture.

Here’s the notation for the lick:

Robert Glasper Piano

Now it’s time to learn another Robert Glasper technique.

4. How To Use Chromatic Lines Like Robert Glasper

Robert Glasper makes use of another well-known jazz soloing trick in this next lick: chromaticism.

In this lick, Robert uses chromatic lines on the 4th beat to land on a chord tone on the 1st beat of the next bar.



Check out how he uses chromaticism here:

Here’s the sheet music for this lick:

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Let’s take a look into another Robert Glasper piano lick to learn how to make solo lines really catchy.

5. One Proven Way To Create Interesting Lines In Solos

For the last Robert Glasper piano lick, we’ll look into creating more interest.

Check out how Robert plays this lick:

Here’s the notation for this lick:

Robert Glasper Piano

In this example, we see Robert combining different elements:

  1. Narrow and wide intervals (in the pickup measure).
  2. Arpeggio using the flat 7th and extensions over the Gm7 chord.
  3. Blues techniques such as chromatic grace notes and a pedal point (A).

By combining all of these elements in a lick, you can create that interesting gradual development of texture.

Now that you have learned 5 awesome licks, what’s the next step to go further?

Why You Need A Mentor

Do you feel like you’ve hit a brick wall in your playing?

Maybe you’ve tried to develop your chops on your own for a long time.

However, when you get your chance to play on stage, all of a sudden you can’t use any of it.

This is a common problem and you’re not alone. Legendary players like Robert Glasper, Oscar Peterson, Chick Corea, and Herbie Hancock have attributed a great deal of their success to working with a mentor.

If you truly want to learn from the best of the best live in the comfort of your own home then you will find your ideal mentor inside the Jazz Inner Circle.

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We hope that you enjoyed this lesson on how to play Robert Glasper piano licks.

If you have any questions on this Rober Glasper piano tutorial, comments, or suggestions for the next lesson, feel free to leave a comment below.

Enough chit chat then. It’s time to go to the piano and start making some music.

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Mark A. Galang, OTRP, MAM-MT(c)

Mark Galang is one of our contributors at FreeJazzLessons.com. He loves teaching all styles of music especially jazz, blues, rock, classical, and Christian music. Mark is also a licensed occupational therapist in the Philippines that combines music therapy intervention with occupational therapy.