John Jorgenson instructional cd/dvd question and "Dark

jayjayjayjay New
edited April 2007 in Gypsy Jazz 101 Posts: 29
I am just starting my adventure in gypsy jazz and am working out of the Jorgenson book/dvd/cd combo.

First of all, any comments on this book would be appreciated. Have people had any good experiences with it? Any bad? Is ia good overall introduction or should I look else where?

One specific question have is whether or not I should be getting used to playing leads with two fingers like Jorgenson seems to do. This is not natural for me as I have learned to play the guitar using more then just these two fingers as Jorgenson does, which I understand is how Django played the tunes due to his loss of finger movement. My question in short then is is it important to play Django style leads with just two fingers or is it okay to go on as I have been?

One more question, again concerning the topic of fingers. Jorgenson uses a lot of bar chords in the book and it has been my impression that Django used only the three note chords. Should I learn the chords both ways or just focus on the three note chords?

And last but not least, can any one give me the chords or direct me to the chords for "Dark Eyes"?

thanks a bunch!!! :)


  • JackJack western Massachusetts✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 1,911
    My memory of the book is that it's a really bare-bones introduction to the style; I think the "Gypsy Guitar: The Secrets" series along with Gypsy Picking and Gypsy Rhythm is probably going to give you more to chew on...the DVD is a nice touch, but there are now other options that go deeper into the style:

    I don't think you should adopt a two finger's kind of an interesting exercise if you're transcribing Django; it can give you an insight into why he chose one fingering over another, and sometimes lends a certain rhythmic bounce to a line, but to limit yourself to using only half your hand is foolish.

    Learn all the chords you can...the 3-note chord idea is a bit of a myth; most of the time rhythm players are playing much fuller chords (including bar chords.) Michael offers some great lessons here for download-check them out!

    Here are the basic chords for Dark Eyes. Welcome to the style!

  • nwilkinsnwilkins New
    Posts: 431
    as Jack said, three note chords are rarely used in this style of music. Here is the typical major voicing with root on the E string:

  • sockeyesockeye Philadelphie sur SchuylkillNew
    Posts: 415
    I am also a beginner -- I have the 1st Jorgenson book/CD/DVD and haven't gotten much out of it. The book has a nice set of rhythm changes -- that's about all I can remember taking away. (And I do really like Jorgenson's playing.)

    I would recommend getting the 1st Robin Nolan songbook and spend some time learning those arrangements and start getting the rhythm style down and the chords under your fingers. Then you'll at least be playing music. To me that's important, if practice is going to be any fun after a long day of work and parenting. Once you know some songs and are ready for the next step, get the Wrembel book to learn about improvisation in this style and Michael's "Gypsy Picking" to get your right hand doing the right thing.

    At least, that's more or less the approach I'm taking now. I'll probably get Denis's DVD and "Gypsy Rhythm" as well.

    Oh, and I really like Mandino Reinhardt's "Minor Swing 1937" DVD -- though it's in French w/o subtitles, it does a really good job of visually demonstrating how to play one of the all-time great solos.
  • BluesBop HarryBluesBop Harry Mexico city, MexicoVirtuoso
    Posts: 1,378
    Definitely get Gypsy Picking, Gypsy Rhythm and Gypsy Fire. It`s real hard work but will get you going in the right direction.
    And look here:
    and click "play alongs"
    And for rhythm charts this is good: and don`t miss the tune of the month feature of the repertoire section of this forum. Also the Robin Nolan Gig book is a good choice for a changes book.
    Good luck!
  • skiski Boston, USANew
    Posts: 86
    Jayjay - I used the Jorgenson book and thought it was ok, especially the DVD. The downside was that it didn't show actual Gypsy jazz tunes so I felt like I still lacked direction or a repertoire.

    I recently got the RNT songbook with play-along CD Volume 1 and it has really clicked for me. Very accessible charts and simple melodies that got me up and running with actual tunes in no time. I liked it so much that I went ahead and ordered the other books in the series since the Gig Book is not currently available. Good luck!

  • jayjayjayjay New
    Posts: 29
    Thanks for the help everyone!!
  • fretburnerfretburner Victoria BC CanadaNew
    Posts: 15
    I own both of the Jorgenson DVD/books.

    I actually like them quite a bit, although I primarily study the rythm DVD/book.

    He touches on some very important fundamentals, and he uses a teaching approach I like alot, that is having a student there, a bluegrass player with a dreadnaught guitar at first, then John shows him some techniques, points out the differences in strumming, flatpicking etc and slowly takes the student to a closer level of gypsy playing mainly based around major and minor blues.

    However the student is already an advanced player so its more about transferring abilities to another style and gives some insight to the 're learning' an already good player has to go through to nail the style.

    Dennis Chang's DVD takes the same approach but with a wider variety of student ability. (as he uses 3 students of differing ability vs. Johns one student of advanced bluegrass ability ) I like this approach because it keeps the teacher from forgetting who he is teaching at home and getting too technical too fast.

    I also like that the Jorgenson DVD's come with a book that outlines all his teachings in tab and notation and with chord diagrams and written explanations.. gives me chance to read back and absorb more of what he has taught, and to practice trickier parts without having to freeze frame or rewind the DVD so much.

    I also own Andreas Oberg's Gypsy Fire but Ive not given it the time it deserves as of yet!
  • TenorClefTenorClef UKNew
    Posts: 150
    +1 for the Jorgenson instruction Books/DVD's, they are a great way of introducing some one new to the style of GJ but without scaring them away from it. Some other books provide to much info to soon. Of course GJ is obviously not an easy style of music so i personally found the J J books great for me.
    Currently-Gitane 250M
    Previously-Gitane 255
    Previously- Gitane D500
  • WowBobWowWowBobWow Another Time & SpaceNew
    Posts: 221
    I must agree I think the JJ books are good for beginners and though they could have been much better, they are good as a foundation to branch out into more complex chords within Gypsy Jazz. There are some poorly transcribed riffs in the intermediate book (for example what JJ is playing for the Undecided solo is correct note wise, yet incorrect fingering-wise in the written transcription he supplies in the book)

    I'll probably by stoned for this but I first got into Gypsy Jazz instructional stuff via Paul Mehling's videos & Robin Nolan's playalong books and although I can now see how far away they are from playing like modern european masters (not that Mehling & Nolan aren't talented players in their gadjo fields), I think those teaching materials were good introductional aides into the style for myself. Then, of course, there's Gypsy picking and Gypsy Fire which I think are excellent stuff.

    As I like having things written down to practice later (which is a major reason I especially gather new things from the Horowitz books), the new books by Hypermedia don't really do it for me simply because they don't come with transcriptions (the 'mastering solos' book has a book but it is hardly a transcription to all of the good riffing). I think the instructors are great players and are very talented yet for some reason having no transcriptions was a letdown and if I were a beginner of guitar & to this style I wouldn't want to be glued to a dvd for long.

    Either way, some people are better visual learners, others aurally, and others like to read things on paper. I think it's good to find what is best and that works for oneself. Either way, practice is practice and the time you put into things is what's going to craft your style. Having a local music teacher and by playing with others is a big factor in learning how to become a good musician regardless of any teaching dvd/book/cd aide.
  • fretburnerfretburner Victoria BC CanadaNew
    Posts: 15
    good points.. My preference is visual on screen (ie: DVD) with a book to follow, on the spot, as Im memorizing chords etc. then when I feel comfortable with the memory, go back and practice once again with the DVD.
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