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Help w gypsy feel!

Jez TanJez Tan SingaporeNew
edited May 2006 in Gypsy Jazz 101 Posts: 39
Hi, I am a rock blues player tryin to convert to gypsy style of playing. I feel that my improvisation is heavy on major scale shapes and I seek help to break out of it! I understand that I need to throw in more arpeggios and gypsy runs but sometimes e chords fly by so fast that I gotta resort to using scale shapes, any tips?

Btw, I tried to play along with a jamming track of 'All Of Me' here...maybe someone can guide me along to achieve some authenticity?

Tough time doesn't last, tough man does. Practice!


  • Posts: 145
    These are some of the approaches for developing your jazz chops:

    -Transcribing (or learning from a transcription) is VERY important.
    -Listen to gypsy jazz 24/7
    -Learn your scales and arpeggios (overrated, usually, but important none-the-less)
    -Learn some theory
    -Learn licks
    -Write out your own solos and then memorize them

    My comments on your playing: You definately sound like a rock guitar player (not that it's bad), but this is jazz. Forget about flashy pattern based runs for now. They'll complement your solos later on, but you have to learn to become melodic (not necessarily playing prettily, but playing something that makes musical sense) first or solos will not sound like anything worth listening to.

    About playing the changes: This is where a lot of beginners are fooled into believing that people actually make up stuff on the fly that works over different progressions. This is absolutely not true. You have to work out different ways to play the changes and practice them until they're integrated into your hands, before you actually play the tune! Much of what is "improvised" isn't really improvised. They're precomposed ideas that have become second nature to a person (much like your blues licks), which enables them to spontaneously execute them over chords that work with the lick.

    Some books I recommend are "Gypsy Picking" for technique, "Getting into Gypsy Jazz Guitar" for theoretical stuff like arpeggios and embellishments, and "L'Esprit Manouche" for a ton of stuff that are actually applied to songs. There are tons of great info in books (but there are some bad ones so watch out), and especially on the web.

    Hope this helps.
  • Jez TanJez Tan SingaporeNew
    Posts: 39
    Thanks for e great advices! In my country (more economical than musical), nobody know what Gypsy music is, it's difficult to learn by osmosis in this instance. Guess it will take a tremendous deal of effort to learn something that doesn't wasn't part of the culture, I will keep the pointers in mind.

    Thanks for breaking e myth for me, about improvising on the fly. I always thought that Bireli or whoever could just switch to auto mode and let their brain power dictate their fingers. Guess it's all a matter of playing over the few standard changes till it's as mindless, like typing this reply. The hell training starts todae! haa. THanks again!
    Tough time doesn't last, tough man does. Practice!
  • V-dubV-dub San Francisco, CA✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 267
    Great advice from capilano-gypsy. Listen, Transcribe, repeat.

    I probably made the most progress once I started transcribing solos note for note from some of my favorite recordings. Its just a different musical vocabulary, once you get a few solos under your fingers, it gets easier and easier to figure them out and hear them in your own playing.

    You don't have to necessary derive all the theory behind the phrases. Its helpful if you can, but its more important to understand how certain phrases fit over chord changes and chord shapes. Its pretty clear that Jimmy Rosenberg, for example, tends to start lots of phrases in the same part of the neck as the chord shape. Its very visual, and thanks to the layout of the guitar, easy to transpose.

    Pick out some common changes and turnarounds in gypsy jazz songs and concentrate on discovering exactly what gypsies do over them. For example, the turnaround at the end of "All of Me" is very common. See this idea I transcribed for it (note that in all of me it starts with an F chord):

    http://anouman.net/blog/index.php?title ... &tb=1&pb=1

    Then figure out how to transpose it up and down the neck and use it in other songs.

    Here is another one for the ii-V-I that works great when a ii-V-I is used to end a section:

    http://anouman.net/blog/index.php?title ... &tb=1&pb=1

    I like to keep a nice arsenal of these types of transciptions organized by the cooresponding chord change. Its helpful to write them down because its difficult to remember them later once you learn too many!

    PS Great to see some gypsy jazz players in Asia!
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