Gypsy Jazz - where to start?

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by Turbo Gerbil, Mar 7, 2006.

  1. Turbo Gerbil

    Turbo Gerbil Member

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    been playing more acoustic and getting into the Django thing... but I basically know nothing about playing Jazz. I want to start working on playing Gypsy Jazz style rhythm stuff, what would you guys suggest as a starting point?
     
  2. Turbo Gerbil

    Turbo Gerbil Member

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    Definately will do that. Mostly wondering about resources about the chord shapes likely to be used, simpler progressions, that kinda thing.
     
  3. robbieboyette

    robbieboyette Member

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    You pose an interesting question...where to START. Obviously you shouldn't start with the man himself. And I'm betting that the majority of us on here only really know about HIM. I'm realizing that I wouldn't have a clue as to the roots of that music in it's simplest forms. Which is where I would think you'd want to start. You know, stuff that people would pick up the guitar in their home and play. The easy stuff. That would be the place to "start". What are the "standards" for that kind of stuff I wonder?
     
  4. Turbo Gerbil

    Turbo Gerbil Member

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    Good question. Also wondering if there are any good books etc. Do you just start with simple versions of Freddy Green style 4 to the bar and go from there?
     
  5. guitarlix

    guitarlix Member

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  6. Bryan T

    Bryan T Guitar Owner Silver Supporting Member

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    John Jorgenson has a pair of books that I found to be very helpful. In the first book he introduces the rhythm techniques and shows common chord voicings, followed by a section on lead lines over common changes. The second book is mainly focused on playing lead and he extends the player's vocabulary.

    I have some other gypsy jazz books/videos, but I found the Jorgenson ones to be the easiest to get into. If you are a more advanced guitarist, then I'd suggest planning to buy both books, as you'll probably get through the first one in a few days, but you do need to go through the first one.

    By the way, you haven't seen Jorgenson play gypsy jazz live, then you are missing out. He is quite impressive, both technically and musically.

    There aren't a lot of good books for building repertoire. I have one called "The Gig Book" (or something like that) that outlines a number of standards, but I was turned off by the price ($75, I think) and the notation system that they used.

    Bryan
     
  7. tastylicks

    tastylicks Supporting Member

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    Pick up the book "Mickey Baker's Complete Course in Jazz Guitar, Book 1", originally published by Lewis Music Co. (I think it's now pub'ed by Hal Leonard). This is a rich and concise book that can keep you busy for years, but also give you immediate satisfaction. On page 1 he diagrams what he considers the 26 most important chords in jazz (Django uses most of these throughout his music) and you go from there.
    He goes through all the crucial jazz chord progressions, intros, bridges, as well as solo work. Django's music is basically swing jazz-based, with his obvious gypsy flavor, so you need the straight ahead jazz basics which this book delivers.
    As I remember a couple of the solo exercises in the second half of the book are based on some Django licks, though not expressly listed as such. More are based on other classic tunes as well.
    Working with this book you will hear these progressions/licks throughout Django's music and other jazz, and after time it will be much easier to simply listen to tunes and figure them out.
    It will help if you read music, but is not completely necessary because he puts string/finger guidance under the the music staff.

    This is a great book that really delivers the goods without overwhelming you with the endless possibilities and overly mathematical approach of other books. Hell, it only has 64 pages.
     
  8. drolling

    drolling Member

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    Ahh.. "la pompe" as they call that vigorous 4/4 strumming, w/accents on the '2' & the '4'. Harder to do properly than it sounds...

    Because of Django's fretting hand injury, there's also very specific chord voicings required in addition to the picking technique.

    There's lots of stuff out there, including the above mentioned 2 volumes of Jorgenson book/DVD combos and a ton of material by Robin Nolan, done in the weirdest tablature I've seen.

    I've immersed myself in this stuff recently and also recommend you take a stroll over to djangobooks.com. The site's run by Michael Horowitz, whose book/CD called 'Gyspy Picking' has proven quite useful to me.

    For *edutainement* value, it's hard to beat 'Les Astuces de la Guitare Manouche' (book/CD also available in english - 'The Secrets of Gypsy Jazz Guitare') by Angelo DeBarre, one of the foremost exponents of this style today.

    Have fun!
     
  9. Kappy

    Kappy Member

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    I'd just use a slowdowner application and play along with Django at half speed (or even 35% if you have to). Shouldn't be too hard to transcribe all of it at that speed. And challenging yourself to hear the chords yourself will develop the kind of skill/ear you'll want to have if you're going to playing any type of *.jazz. Just MO, of course.
     
  10. michael.e

    michael.e Supporting Member

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    I have been a gypsy jazzer for a number of years [Psst! Hey! I've got a GJ guitar fer sale in th' emporium....] No, really, when I first started playing this kind of music, I had to start with learning the rhythm. Waay different technique than anything else that I had done. It actually took me a couple of months to even evoke a decent tone out of these specialized guitars.
    Biggest challenge? Full floating wrist and forearm. I do rest my forearm on the edge of the lower bout, but not when you are scooting along at a gallop, or running single note lines. I had to re-approach the way that I played guitar and it was a terribly frustrating endeavor. Unlike the modern rippers that are playing GJ today, I decided to keep the action on my instrument very old school and opted for an instrument with smaller, old style frets. The strings are higher off of the fretboard and ring with more volume and most importantly, clarity. With the combination of smaller frets and higher action, you hear more of the sweet wood tone, and you get some serious volume.

    So.....
    Keep that wrist arched and off the bridge
    Learn to play the various rhythm syncopations first! This will allow you to get a much better feel when you are ready to start exploring lead melodies.
    Play/pick near the bridge [for the most part]

    Instructional tools.......
    The best that I found for starters is the Instructional video from Paul Mehling. Homespun tapes has it.


    M.E.
     
  11. michael.e

    michael.e Supporting Member

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    But it IS Jazz! M.E.
     
  12. Kappy

    Kappy Member

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    Is *. the same as != ?

    I meant the * as the wildcard for "all" as in <all types>.jazz.
     
  13. Turbo Gerbil

    Turbo Gerbil Member

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    thanks for the suggestions guys, I'll look in to some of these for sure. Definately will be working on the "transcribing by ear" thing as well. I've done that in the past for other chord progressions so it's not foreign, but some of the progressions move by so fast it's nice to have an idea of typical chord movements as a starting point.
     
  14. tastylicks

    tastylicks Supporting Member

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  15. neve1073

    neve1073 Member

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    I met John Jorgenson a few years ago after a gig he did here. He showed me a tricky django riff which i then tried to play. I got all the notes and rhythmic phrasing "right" but it didn't sound or feel right. He immediately pointed out that I wasn't fingering it the way he was--with two fingers. I learned his fingering and it sounded better--not perfect of course--but much more like django.

    It's a real style and I've been interested in it for a while, but haven't had time to devote to learning it. Good luck. Check out the rosenbergs too if you haven't yet.
     
  16. Turbo Gerbil

    Turbo Gerbil Member

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    well, I went down to good 'ole Rockley Music, the only Denver Music store that seems to believe in having a good selection of books, and they had the John Jorgenson books there so I picked up the Intro one. Should be fun. :)

    Also just download John Jorgensons "Franco-American Swing" from Itunes music store. Great stuff.
     
  17. Ned B

    Ned B Member

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    I want to chime in on how good the Michael Horowitz books are. The story goes that he spent six months with the Sinti Gypsys emersing himself in the music and techniques that they have preserved. In addition to the picking book, he has a book of incredibly accurate transcriptions which include direction on the picking strokes. That is where you find yourself starting from the beginning again because the approach is so different and I don't just mean the non-anchored floating right hand. The first stroke on a new string is a down stroke which is pretty challenging when transfering from a higher string played with a down stroke. I have heard these players play fast descending arpeggios with all down strokes.
     

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