Gypsy Rhythm: How loud should it be?



  • jamming with a few people is OK for me.....I find the big circle jams to be too overwhelming for me.....too many odd things timing wise and harmony wise and I just feel like going and having a drink :shock: :lol:
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • Addressing the subject at hand (and it's variations), I'll agree with that a loud rhythm player increases the arms race, so to speak. As a soloist, your hand is forced if someone is being loud in a smaller band or jam setting and you have to match the dynamics of the rhythm player. In one of my first small jams outside of my band (my comfort zone), I was immediately made aware by the other players that I was entirely too aggressive and loud with the rhythm and it was evident when I dropped out to take a solo....the entire thing got sucked in volume wise. This was one of the great lessons I've really have to take stock of who you are supporting and get a sense of where they like the rhythm. I'll ask if I'm unsure.

    With regards to hitting the strings, I worked with a local guy who I think is a pretty swinging rhythm player on improving my GJ rhythm. He gave me a simple tip to check out if I am somewhat getting it...your eyes. Once you have the muscle memory intact and know the harmony for the tune your are working one, you can focus on your right hand and look down at your strings as you are hitting executing. Which strings are vibrating? I have a tendency to arc in and out in my stroke and noticed that I was missing the 6th string at times on 1 & 3 and was arcing away on 2 & 4, entirely missing strings 2 and 1.

    Some thoughts I've gotten from some great players at DiJ and master classes:
    Tommaso Papini best said some great things about rhythm (paraphrased) in DiJ. As rhythm players, we must be entirely devoted to what the soloist needs in this style. Second, the bass and rhythm should try to lock in as one instrument. Third, if you are predominantly a rhythm player, you can add the cool little tricks if he tune calls for it and you are not killing the swing. But if you do, try to make them tasteful and try to avoid the "Hey look at me...I'm doing the rhythm trick!"
    Kamlo Barre said that our volume zone on a scale of 1-10 as rhythm players is from 1-4. The soloist gets the prime space...unless you are Kamlo Barre. Rino said basically the same thing in his first rhythm class.
    In my first lesson with Stephane Wrembel, I was asking all of these questions about rhythm. He made me focus on one chord and said to ask yourself "does it swing?" If it doesn't, you're doing it wrong.
    Benoit Covert said to record yourself, force yourself to listen to it, and learn.
    And finally, Denis said to me "don't be a manouche bag."

    I'm no great player either, but I just don't want to be that guy that plays too loud, plays a gallop, or is just kind of clueless about the setting. Denis and Paul have a lot of great things to say here and the video by archtop eddy shows that there are a number of different ways that really good players do it.
  • guit-boxguit-box ✭✭
    Posts: 47
    I can see in the side-view videos of Denis that he is getting to all 6 strings on 1 and 3. I'll have to work on that. My hand gravitates towards playing more like Gonzalo is demonstrating on the lower 4 strings. His voicings with the 5ths on the low strings are nice, but a little heavy sounding sometimes. I like what Hono is doing and I also like Nous'che a lot. I tend to do a moderate choke on 2,4 like Hono is doing, but I really like the sound of a full choke on those beats like I hear in some of the videos in this thread-- have to work on that too. The full choke makes for a really clean and swinging rhythm.

    I find myself in a lot of practical gigging situations that are very far from a concert setting--restaurant gigs or receptions or wallpaper gigs where we need to be background music. Sometimes even a soft traditional pompe can be too overpowering for me. I'm seriously thinking that modified, modern swing rhythm Hono demonstrates might be a good alternative in these situations. I can play heavy rest strokes close to the bridge and project as good as anyone, but I really don't like playing like that all the time. I want to play with more sensitivity and dynamics. I've always felt I should play rhythm quieter than the soloist and melody and that good and balanced musicality was more important than any technique. So I always try to remember to get soft for guitar solos and play a little louder for violin and accordion. The accordion can generally get very loud, but interestingly, the accordion player mentioned one time that he was playing fff for everything and would like the rhythm to be softer, so it's not just us guitar players who are struggling to be heard. I'm also very lucky to play with a bunch of really great bass soloists. I learned a technique from the other guitarist in my band to play a really light hi hat or metal brushes sound with the side of the pick and that really lets the bass solos shine.
  • PassacagliaPassacaglia Madison, WI✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 1,471
    Hi Guit-

    I think it's cool you're investigating all this. Just one note, then I'll leave it be - this has also been discussed here quite a bit by others a heck of a lot more qualified than I - the notion of a full mute on 2 and 4 is also a bit deceiving, when listening to tunes or watching them on vids. It can be very hard to hear - but Nous'che, just as an example, never mutes fully. He may sound like it at 300+ bpm, but he's not. I used to play highland pipes a bit, and thought the grace notes there were fast...but the sound on 2 and 4, man....less than a grace note, sometimes, substantially so. Someone actually said that, might have been Dennis.

    Anyway, again, taste. Gonzalo and a lot of younger players do indeed fully mute; many leave it "wetter," with a longer sustain. I try to be open to any of it, though my practice is almost entirely based on Nous'che's style. It's very dry, but beats 2 and 4 never mute fully.

    pas encore, j'erre toujours.
  • PassacagliaPassacaglia Madison, WI✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 1,471
    (Still can't edit, no idea why, sorry, guys). Jim, thanks for your post. I'd forgotten Kamlo's comment, great thing to keep in mind. I'm taking my rhythm section (2 other guitars, contrebasse) and working on our rhythm sound, great thoughts to keep in mind.

    pas encore, j'erre toujours.
  • dennisdennis Montreal, QuebecModerator
    Posts: 2,161
    it s totally fine to hit just four strings on 1 and 3 as long as the wrist is loose and you have a smooth range of motion... i just figure if u can do the hard stuff, u can easily do the easier stuff...

    i ve taught tons of people to do it very successfully and the end result is that none of the, have bad habits as far as technique goes
  • guit-boxguit-box ✭✭
    Posts: 47
    Just wanted to edit my typo in my last post I wrote: "I can see in the side-view videos of Denis that he is getting to all 6 strings on 1 and 3" but I meant 2 and 4. (editing capability would be nice)
  • anthon_74anthon_74 Marin county, CA✭✭✭✭ Alta Mira M 01
    Posts: 561
    Okay, on this topic of how loud the rhythm player should be I couldn't RESIST posting this video of the GREAT Bireli Lagrene playing Django's tiger with thomas dutronic, in which Bireli's rhythm COMPLETELY overpowers Thomas Dutronic's attempts to play the "head"....
    Is this a case of Dutronic's lack of good gypsy picking technique, OR Bireli simply not giving a crap that he was overpowering Dutronic ???

  • PassacagliaPassacaglia Madison, WI✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 1,471
    Hey Anthony,

    I remember this was talked about before. I agree with Ben, and you.....too loud. The question of possible "whys" is discussed in that thread. Camera angle, Thomas on a nylon string...a field recording...Bireli might not have heard what it sounded like "out there." The Live at Vienne DVD...I think he's an awesome accompanist to Florin.

    pas encore, j'erre toujours.
  • BonesBones Moderator
    Posts: 3,320
    might be that Bireli was just closer to and/or facing-projecting toward the mic and Thomas wasn't???
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