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What songs should I start out with?

So I knew about Django a few years ago and would ask my guitar teacher questions, and he'd be like "Oh yeah. Sure." That kind of gave me the sense of where he was in the mental encyclopedia of pro guitarists, however I didn't study his playing that much. Later, I heard Mark Knopfler and Chet Atkins doing a live acoustic version of I'll See You in My Dreams. I was into it and gradually learned how to do by learning Merle Travis's simple version first and then going for them. I heard my teacher remark in their solos, there was definitely jazz influence. (This included Brian Setzer.) So I thought Django would be a good place to start it out. I also learned that Mark Knopfler was kind of influenced by Django, and he learned from diversifying his guitar playing to different genres, which made me want to branch out. So I chose to do I'll See You in My Dreams by Django.

That Django version I have working on for a few months and it's, lol, not too easy for a starting jazz person. I wanted to learn mainly why certain riffs work and how I can improvise over that song, and songs like that. My teacher to start with arpeggios in jazz. I followed that instruction and I've also learned that I can use certain scales at particular moments. But the whole thing was pretty hard. (Those chordal changes, and the number of chords.) I also wanted to go beyond just boring arpeggios and find more color.

So is there something simpler you recommend? Any recommendations? You think Sweet Georgia Brown? Give out suggestions that would help me. What's a good one for a beginner? (I've been playing 11 years so far but my music theory, lol as you can tell, is a little behind.)
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Comments

  • I've also definitely looked at Django's other stuff, and some of it seems to complex for me to try, which I did have a go at. I'm wondering any of your recommendations because I think I'm missing something that I was supposed to look into first before learning some of his other stuff.
  • One of the most common sets of changes which are basic to learning are the 1 6m 2m 5dom sometimes referred to Rhythm Changes from "I got Rhythm" Another form to learn well is a standard blues form Lots of titles to choose from

    One thing that helps is to learn tunes that you either know already or ones that have special meaning to you.
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • Andrew UlleAndrew Ulle Cleveland, OH✭✭✭ Antoine DiMauro modele Django
    These are some I enjoyed learning:
    Swing 42
    J'Attendrai
    I'll See You in My Dreams
    All of Me
    Minor Swing
    Mire Pral
    Mr. Sandman
    Exactly Like You
    When Day is Done
    Djangology
    Douce Joie
    Bistro Fada
    Nuages
    Josechiky
  • Welcome to the journey. I kind of started on a similar path, where I thought that going to an "earlier" style would help me understand my instrument better and help me learn more about what I was listening to at the time. These are my thoughts on the subject and some might disagree with me, but this is how I might approach it.

    This forum pretty much speaks to folks that are really dedicated to the style, so you will get a lot of personal choices as to what people like and what worked for them. If you want to just learn this solo, I'd say go for it and spend the months that it will take to do it. What you seem to be asking are what are the idiomatic phrases you should learn. Well that solo has a lot of them. There are a few difficult passages but it is doable and (to me) one of Django's most melodic solos.

    So get a transcription, work on it with a teacher, or learn it by yourself. Figure out what the song form is. Why does it work? Stuart gave you a few hints, but that is going to be the key to understanding why certain phrases work. Learn that song form (the chords) until you get to a point where you don't have to look at sheet music. Bonus points would be to try to transfer it into another few keys.

    Now the solo...it starts out with an interpretation of the theme. Compare his theme to an original recording. Learn the original theme by rote and then compare Django's interpretation. Just from this step alone, you'll start to see little things in what HE hears. Whenever you hear something different from the original melody, learn that and if you've done your homework in step one, you should be starting to see...oh I can use this phrase of this chord or set of chords.

    Then do it for each chorus of the solo. There is a lot of work here, but you'll start to see things that he did and others then copied/adapted/built on.
    I'm simplifying this as it will take a long time especially if you don't have a background in this.

    Once you've done this, play a chorus of django's solo. Then break each phrase down and play it phrase by phrase in a number of different keys. Should you play it in all keys? Maybe. Or you can play it in four or five and move on from there. Figure out which phrases speak to you and write them down or memorize them. Going back to that first step, anytime you see a similar set of chords in a separate song, use a phrase you've learned from this song (in the key of the new song) and use it.

    Finally start to adapt the phrases you like. Leave out or add notes. Change the timing. Try to learn them in different areas of the neck.


    To answer your other question about another song that MIGHT be a bit simpler, how about All of Me like Stuart suggested?

    One chorus, plenty of great phrases and not really difficult. And you can run this whole exercise through this song or ANY song.

    I've been playing this style for about 9 years. It is a lot of work, but be focused, work a little bit every day, set realistic goals, and you'll start to see improvements not only in this style but in your comprehension of your instrument.

    If you get really into this style, then you're really going to want to dive deeper. I don't think it is necessary for the casual enthusiast to dive into the picking style immediately unless they are really into this. It takes devotion to the style.


    BucoNylonDave
  • Minor Swing was the first one I learned. Yeah it took months of work back in '08.
    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • Jazzaferri wrote: »
    One of the most common sets of changes which are basic to learning are the 1 6m 2m 5dom sometimes referred to Rhythm Changes from "I got Rhythm" Another form to learn well is a standard blues form Lots of titles to choose from

    One thing that helps is to learn tunes that you either know already or ones that have special meaning to you.

    Hi Jazzaferri.

    Thank you very much for the help! Much appreciated. I will look into that and study what you said.

    stuart wrote: »
    Sounds to me like you are trying to run before you can walk. Unless you've got 8 hours a day to devote to this, keep it simple, focus on rhythm and technique and building a good basic repertoire. For songs, go here:

    https://www.dc-musicschool.com/store/beginner-gypsy-jazz-playalongs/

    And download the backing tracks (it's completely free and every tune comes in two speeds).

    Any of these tunes will be good for you to learn and you will eventually be expected to know all of them at any jam session, but to begin with I would suggest focusing on:

    Minor Swing - the entry point for all of us

    All of Me - the most universal of all jazz standards and also a good introduction to some basic swing motifs including the major 3rd chord and the 'Christophe' or 'Horse' change at the end. There are many, many songs which use some or all of these changes (see also I Can't Give you Anything But Love and Hungaria)

    Daphne - one of Django's many rhythm changes songs, again a fundamental chord progression adapted in many keys (see also Rhythm Changes)

    Dark Eyes - another entry point and Gypsy Jazz staple

    Coquette - a classic 2-5-1, another formulaic chord progression that is everywhere in jazz including gypsy jazz

    I'll See you in My Dreams - because you are drawn to it and that is always a good start (tip: these chords are really the chorus for the original tune and starts on the IV chord, the actual key is F)

    Don't worry about scales, none of the Gypsies play scales, the genre is arpeggio based - although if you do want to go down this road, the standard major scale and the harmonic minor scales are the ones to get comfortable with.

    Hi Stuart.

    Lol. You hit the nail on the head. Trying to run before walking.

    I’ll check into those songs. I just practiced the chord structure of All of Me.

    By the way, thank you for the help. Very much appreciated like everyone else, and THANK YOU for the help that the actual key is in F. I was so confused by that and thought there was something I was missing.

    These are some I enjoyed learning:
    Swing 42
    J'Attendrai
    I'll See You in My Dreams
    All of Me
    Minor Swing
    Mire Pral
    Mr. Sandman
    Exactly Like You
    When Day is Done
    Djangology
    Douce Joie
    Bistro Fada
    Nuages

    Hi Andrew.

    Thank you for your help! J’Attendrai is one of my favorites, but is that a good one to start with?

    Welcome to the journey. I kind of started on a similar path, where I thought that going to an "earlier" style would help me understand my instrument better and help me learn more about what I was listening to at the time. These are my thoughts on the subject and some might disagree with me, but this is how I might approach it.

    This forum pretty much speaks to folks that are really dedicated to the style, so you will get a lot of personal choices as to what people like and what worked for them. If you want to just learn this solo, I'd say go for it and spend the months that it will take to do it. What you seem to be asking are what are the idiomatic phrases you should learn. Well that solo has a lot of them. There are a few difficult passages but it is doable and (to me) one of Django's most melodic solos.

    So get a transcription, work on it with a teacher, or learn it by yourself. Figure out what the song form is. Why does it work? Stuart gave you a few hints, but that is going to be the key to understanding why certain phrases work. Learn that song form (the chords) until you get to a point where you don't have to look at sheet music. Bonus points would be to try to transfer it into another few keys.

    Now the solo...it starts out with an interpretation of the theme. Compare his theme to an original recording. Learn the original theme by rote and then compare Django's interpretation. Just from this step alone, you'll start to see little things in what HE hears. Whenever you hear something different from the original melody, learn that and if you've done your homework in step one, you should be starting to see...oh I can use this phrase of this chord or set of chords.

    Then do it for each chorus of the solo. There is a lot of work here, but you'll start to see things that he did and others then copied/adapted/built on.
    I'm simplifying this as it will take a long time especially if you don't have a background in this.

    Once you've done this, play a chorus of django's solo. Then break each phrase down and play it phrase by phrase in a number of different keys. Should you play it in all keys? Maybe. Or you can play it in four or five and move on from there. Figure out which phrases speak to you and write them down or memorize them. Going back to that first step, anytime you see a similar set of chords in a separate song, use a phrase you've learned from this song (in the key of the new song) and use it.

    Finally start to adapt the phrases you like. Leave out or add notes. Change the timing. Try to learn them in different areas of the neck.


    To answer your other question about another song that MIGHT be a bit simpler, how about All of Me like Stuart suggested?

    One chorus, plenty of great phrases and not really difficult. And you can run this whole exercise through this song or ANY song.

    I've been playing this style for about 9 years. It is a lot of work, but be focused, work a little bit every day, set realistic goals, and you'll start to see improvements not only in this style but in your comprehension of your instrument.

    If you get really into this style, then you're really going to want to dive deeper. I don't think it is necessary for the casual enthusiast to dive into the picking style immediately unless they are really into this. It takes devotion to the style.


    Hi Jim.

    Thank you very much. Very much appreciated. Thank you for really going into detail. Very much appreciated.

    And yes. I just practiced All of Me, at least the rhythm.

    Buco wrote: »
    Minor Swing was the first one I learned. Yeah it took months of work back in '08.

    Hi Buco.

    Thank you, and for the insight.
  • I also went into this not only to express myself more, but to understand more about early jazz guitar, which in turn will also help me understand one of my favorite guitar players, Snoozer Quinn. He was way before Django, but his last album is the only proper album we have of his. Snoozer to me seemed the type that would absorb anything, so why not some of Django? I’m thinking it will open many doors to understanding the guy, and what you can play and what you cannot. I’ve also gained an understanding for Snoozer already, listening and learning Big Bill Broonzy stuff, Blind Blake, and some of Scrapper Blackwell’s stuff.

    For those who do not know Snoozer Quinn, give him a check-out, and see what you think. He also had other recordings where he was jamming to a fast tempo to Clarinet Marmalade and such. The cornet is his friend who did not touch the instrument in a while, but played it to put his dying friend on an album. The cornet is loud, but when the guitar solos kick in, make sure to turn it up quite a bit to really hear him. I believe its just the two of them. The album is called The Magic of Snoozer Quinn. Les Paul also said Quinn was the “forerunner of Eddie Lang”.
    BucoNone
  • Another great source of early jazz phrasing that is not too often copied is Sidney Bechet. Soprano sax mostly but one of the greats of the Django era.
    pickitjohn
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • Elí SaúlElí Saúl Toluca, Mexico.New Dell'Arte DG-H2
    Jazzaferri wrote: »
    Another great source of early jazz phrasing that is not too often copied is Sidney Bechet. Soprano sax mostly but one of the greats of the Django era.

    That's an amazing suggestion, Last year Vincent Peirani and Émile Parisien came to my city and gave a little clinic where they introduced me to Sidney, they're and interesting duet BTW.

  • Sidney and Django are my go to for jazz listening most of the time.
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
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