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Left-Hand Strength and the Django Style

chip3174chip3174 New
edited December 2012 in Technique Posts: 135
Hi everybody,

So I just had some success, after nearly 6 months of practice--I finally nailed the middle part of 'Rythme Futur.' It is the spot where in Django's version, the clarinet takes the melody. SInce July(not kidding), I've been working on getting that down. I've been doing Stochelo Rosenberg's recomposition. Although it does work on the guitar, it is extremely difficult to nail it at the stratospheric tempo he plays it.

I have yet to perform it at the final tempo yet, and it may well take me another 6 months to a year to do that successfully. But it happened after I had been playing 12-string guitar for a different non-Gypsy side project I am involved in. It really hit home to me that I did it because my left hand has indeed gotten much stronger from playing the 12 string. So I already knew that in order to play Gypsy style swing music you need to have a strong and firm technique....but I guess this was just a reinforcement of that. I recently had a mini-lesson/jam with the great Stephane Wrembel and he told me you need a very strong LH, and he looked at me and played a C major-scale and said "Hanon."

Anyways, I don't know what all this rambling might be good for exactly, but I think it may point out something that is obvious to some of us that has been playing the Django style for a while but hit a wall. Do your 'Hanon," get a job lifting boulders, or play a lot of 12-string guitar...something that will make your LH strong. Then when you really do play on the gig---your physicality will disappear and your music will flow through.

Hope everybody had a great weekend,
Chip
«1

Comments

  • The gypsy picking classic at DIJ with Stephane turned out to be a class on just what you are talking about. It's something I didn't think about at all and was a turning point for me. Left hand strength and synchronization between left and right hand strength are all important things to develop.
  • klaatuklaatu Nova ScotiaProdigy Rodrigo Shopis D'Artagnan, 1950s Jacques Castelluccia
    Posts: 1,665
    Interesting that he mentioned Hanon, which I understand to be exercises for the piano. I had a class with Stephane at Django in June this year in which he recommended the Segovia scales for guitar. They really help to strengthen the left hand, especially the pinky, which we tend not to use. They're available here in pdf form:
    http://chordmelody.org/pdf/Segovia%20Scales/
    Benny

    "It's a great feeling to be dealing with material which is better than yourself, that you know you can never live up to."
    -- Orson Welles
  • chip3174chip3174 New
    Posts: 135
    Hi Klaatu,

    Yes in fact Stephane was playing the C major Segovia scale when he said "Hanon." Given his classical piano background (it's my understanding that he was a competition winner in that field as a youngster), I think he just meant to do your work on scales and exercises. In any case, he played 12-string is his concert later on and I think he just plays guitar everyday for hours and might use the scales to keep in shape.

    Chip
  • chip3174chip3174 New
    Posts: 135
    P.S.: Thanks for the chord-melody link! Looks like a lot of really great things there in addition to the Segovia scales!
  • klaatuklaatu Nova ScotiaProdigy Rodrigo Shopis D'Artagnan, 1950s Jacques Castelluccia
    Posts: 1,665
    Interesting - I didn't know about Stephane's piano background. He is a multifaceted person, indeed!

    At DiJ, he was responding to a question about how best to warm up when he brought up the Segovia scales. Said he spends a half an hour on them every day, first thing in the morning.
    Benny

    "It's a great feeling to be dealing with material which is better than yourself, that you know you can never live up to."
    -- Orson Welles
  • I stayed in the same dorm as Stephane at DiJ and you could hear him practicing the Segovia scales early in the morning with a metronome.
    DiJ pretty much helped me make up my mind to study with him. While we talk about a bunch of different things, he really got me to pay attention to the left hand a lot more. It is certainly feeling better for me, at least in that aspect.
  • For those interested in learning classical scales there are lots of fingering books.

    What is being referred to as the Segovia scales is actually the standard classic position scales but Segovia had a routine of practice of the scales in particular keys and positions for each day of the week. It took him about an hour a day and he did this virtually every day of his adult life.

    Once one has learned these positions I recommend Sal Salvadors Single String Studies. If one can play the scales and studies in all positions and all keys fluently then whatever you hear in your head single string-wise will come out fluently.
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • Follow the link for a printable version of the practice routine.

    http://www.schrammguitars.com/scales.html

    You can order the scales but they are usually in notation with the usual classical style markings for fingering where necessary.

    Pascual Roch....School of Tarrega.... 3 books are a good resource as Segovia followed on from the Tarrega school (using all four fingers to pick and not using apoyando or rest stroke technique) lots of newer ones that will have the same stuff.

    There may even be some out there for flat pickers.
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • BonesBones Moderator
    Posts: 3,138
    Hey Klaatu,

    I checked that link but can't make sense of the tab. (see below)

    What kind of notation is that. The tab doesn't seem to match the standard notation.

    Any ideas? What am I missing?

    Thanks
  • I think those are fingerings and not the frets.
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