Chick Corea – Spain Lesson. Awesome Pentatonic Lick.

Recently I’ve been looking further into the music of Chick Corea, he is an incredible improviser, composer and a great inspiration to me and many other musicians! If you haven’t heard much Chick Corea I’d recommend you check out the ‘History’ album available on Spotify for a quick intro!

In this lesson we’re going to look at a typical Chick lick, a few key features of it and there is also a free backing track at the end of this post for you to practice with! The lick in this lesson is taken from Chick’s classic tune, ‘Spain’, you can hear the lick at 06:36, check it out below:

The line contains a few features that make this a typical Corea type lick, like his bebop brethren before him his lines often consist of long strings of eighth notes and end on the ‘and’ of beat one.

  • If you want to learn more bebop language check out this post!


This lick uses a descending pattern from the D major pentatonic scale, but why is he playing D major pentatonic over a Gmaj7? Corea is thinking key not chord. Gmaj7 is the IV chord in the key of D major, thinking in D rather than G brings out the more colourful extensions of Gmaj7 and also avoids the root, which is not a particularly juicy note to use in your improvisations.


  • For more on superimposing pentatonics on a major chord check out this post!

One last thing to note with this lick is that the final two notes are tailored to the F#7 that follows Gmaj7. Corea uses B as an approach note to A#, the major 3rd of F#7, finishing the lick with a root note. When you begin applying this lick to tunes be sure to alter those last two notes to fit the chord you’re playing over.


As with all licks take time to work through all 12 keys and remember to think key not chord when choosing a parent scale during your improvisations!

Download your free backing track here!
Pentatonic Lick Backing Track (29)

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