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Early hot club Rhythm Changes

any nerds on early hot club stuff have any ideas on what the idiomatic voicings might be on rhythm changes type tunes.

could just be the recording quality of the time but it seems like the early hot club rhythm guitars were using simpler and “thicker” chords than what most of use now a days.

Stuff like Belleville or R-Vingt-six hardly sound like there’s much chord movement at all in the A parts.


  • geese_comgeese_com Madison, WINew Martin Tremblay Grand Modèle Busato
    Posts: 209

    Calling @dennis to the Bat-phone

  • MichaelHorowitzMichaelHorowitz SeattleAdministrator
    edited November 2019 Posts: 5,886

    @King_Cardboard I transcribed many of Django's and his accompanists' chord voicings for Rhythm Changes types tunes for Gypsy Rhythm Vol.2 (which I'll actually release some day.) They are usually quite different than what you'll find in more mainstream jazz or even in most Django fakebooks.

    The very early Django versions of the tune I Got Rhythm reduced I-vi-ii-V to just I and V or I-bii dim-V. I actually have never seen the original sheet music for I Got Rhythm so maybe that's how it was originally played. Later in the 30s you start to hear the ii and vi chord resulting in the more typical I-vi-ii-V. It's also worth noting that Django often played Rhythm Changes in a bass/chord two beat sort of style, walking bass lines all up and down the neck.

    Some of Django's own tunes based on Rhythm Changes have their own idiosyncrasies. One that comes to mind is Swing 42 which replaces the typical I-I7-IV-iv with v-VI7-ii-V

    Of course, you can also play these tunes with more conventional changes. But often I prefer Django's harmony as it gives the tunes a unique character which is unique to the style.

  • Thanks @MichaelHorowitz! That confirms a few of my guesses on how those tunes were being played. It’s always tricky distinguishing the rhythm sections chords from Django’s busy rhythm playing. Especially on records from the 30’s. Good luck on the releasing the book if you even find the time.

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