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FranVac shaneb stylist

Keys and technique

edited January 2005 in Unaccompanied Django Posts: 14
I also really enjoy Django's solo work. It is interesting to note the way Django sometimes seems to be experimenting with pieces when he plays unaccompanied, such as playing nuages in F rather than in the usual key of G. He seems to favor certain keys most of the time for his solo work, Am being an obvious favorite. I sometimes get the sense that Django spent a lot of time playing and experimenting this way for his own pleasure and amusement.

When I play the unaccompanied pieces I usually play them fingerstyle, although I am asuming Django was usually using a pick, although there is a lot of string-skipping, usually more natural for fingerstyle. Does anyone know if Django ever played any of his unaccompanied pieces without a pick?

Comments

  • thripthrip London, UKProdigy
    Posts: 153
    "Improvisation N.2", "Naguine" and "Tea for Two" are all fingerstyle.
  • MichaelHorowitzMichaelHorowitz SeattleAdministrator
    Posts: 5,761
    Django also played Tears fingerstyle.

    Concerning keys....he actually performed Nuages in F as much or more then G. F is more comfortable for Clarinet players so he used that key when playing with them. Also, on the recording he has his guitar tuned down a half step or so. He must have wanted a "lower" pitched sound for that performance. Also, F lets you do some cool stuff with open strings for that tune.

    Most of the stuff in Am (like improv #3,#5, and #6) is very influenced by Spanish classical guitar music which uses the key of Am a lot. It's just good key for guitar!

    'm
  • Posts: 6
    :shock: And for variations on ideas and total reckless abandon , check out Bireli playing Nuages on LIve in Marciac , For the life of me I cannot believe how creative he is .
    its really amazing to see how Bireli has altered this great theme
    Happy playing to all T
  • PatrickPatrick Paris, FranceNew
    Posts: 29
    Hello,

    I just want to react to Michael's post and add the following precision:
    I think the fact that Django was mainly tuned a half-tone below the normal key has much more to do with the recording process of the CD's we have now through the remastering of the old recording supports. This is documented in a fairly detailed way in the booklet attached to the Fremeaux CDs "Intregale". It seems there is some speed differential in the way the old recording supports were supposed to spin and our current recordings. Plus, there were some remastering decisions at some point to improve the quality that led to some speed differences in some way.

    I have no more precise idea about the technical aspects of all this, but I doubt Django voluntarily tuned his guitar down a half-tone every time or close to it.
    Just thought it would be interesting to share.

    Take care,

    Patrick.
    Paris, France
  • MichaelHorowitzMichaelHorowitz SeattleAdministrator
    Posts: 5,761
    Patrick wrote:
    It seems there is some speed differential in the way the old recording supports were supposed to spin and our current recordings. Plus, there were some remastering decisions at some point to improve the quality that led to some speed differences in some way.

    I have no more precise idea about the technical aspects of all this, but I doubt Django voluntarily tuned his guitar down a half-tone every time or close to it.

    Thanks Patrick...yes, I'm aware of the speed inconsistencies of old cylinder recordings (you wouldn't believe what I had to go through to transcribe some of those early peices...wow and flutter all over the place!). However, the solo Nuages was recorded in 1950 and most likely done with magnetic tape, or possibly from an optical film system. Both of which are much more stable then the old cylinder system.

    I'm pretty sure Django chose to tune down. It's a very common practice for at least a couple of reasons (both Eddie Van Halen and Jimi Hendrix tuned their guitars down a half step.) 1) You get lower string tension which produces a different tone and is easier to play. 2) The obvious, you get to play in a lower key.

    -m
  • PatrickPatrick Paris, FranceNew
    Posts: 29
    Hi Michael,

    You're most certainly right. My point was just that some people do not get confused and try to play all of the pieces that are listenable a half-step below as such. But I do think also that Django did use some lower tunings on occasion (on occasion only then).

    BTW, thanks for the great forum.

    Patrick.
    Paris, France
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