The ideal instruction book for beginners?

andyandy New
edited January 2005 in Gypsy Jazz 101 Posts: 80
Hey folks,

What would the perfect instructional book look like? An instructional book, for the sake of argument, that was based in Django’s playing rather than more contemporary practitioners of Gypsy Jazz.

I ask, because over the past year I’ve been trying to get started in this style, I’ve brought practically everything there is on the market. The most valuable lesson I’ve been taught is that there’s no golden bullet, and you have to work hard and practice often. Nonetheless, some books are better than others, so I’ve stitched together a Frankenstein’s monster of what I consider the best bits to offer an absolute beginner like me.

By the way -- I’m not trying to be controversial, only conversational, and I have the greatest respect for anyone who's putting their stuff out there, often for very small financial rewards.

Here’s what mine would look like.

Django in the place of jazz music. His legacy. Something like the introductory articles in Acoustic Guitar magazine’s ‘Private Lesson’ series, or a short piece by Michael Dregni. Includes abbreviated discography.

Part One: Chords and Accompaniment
i. ‘Basic’ Chords: Diagrams from Colin Cosimini’s 'The Gypsy Jazz Chord Book', and Charlton Johnson, 'Swing and Big Band Guitar' (Ok, not a GJG book, but someone recommended it on the Yahoo group, and it’s an excellent introduction to 4 to the bar comping, and three note chords that really clicked with me).
ii. ‘Advanced’ Chords: All those chords that use the thumb, or a painful little third-finger barres, taken from (amongst others) Romane’s 'L’Espirit Manouche', Angelo Debarre’s 'Gypsy Jazz: The Secrets', and Wrembel’s 'Getting Into Gypsy Jazz'. Discussion of the different applications and various merits of these two sets of chords.
iii. Pompe: What the world needs more than anything is a genius of technical prose to pen the definitive explanation of how to achieve this difficult but essential skill. In my opinion, none of the books have successfully nailed it, yet somehow most of us know we’re probably doing it wrong. This is where a PC enhanced cd would be useful featuring various clips.

Part Two: Solo
i. An essay on how Django approached his solos, similar to Stan Ayeroff’s at the back of his 'Jazz Masters' volume.
ii. An essay on Gypsy Picking by our own Michael Horowitz (the ones in 'Just Jazz Guitar' are ideal).
iii. A ‘toolkit’ for the soloist: All the arpeggios and diagrams from Wrembel’s book, and the studies that go with them .
iv. Licks from Robin Nolan's 'Gypsy Jazz Licks', that take the toolkit and turn it into something melodic. His stuff is superb for giving crystal-clear practical examples of how to sound ‘gypsy’ over changes.
v. Gypsy flash: A few examples of the kind of runs, licks, and tricks that come up again and again, and which may be used to impress one’s friends.
vi. Jam tracks on CD for practice.

Part Three: Tunes
The final section would have four or five complete transcriptions from in both notation and tab. That these are freely available is as generous as it is genius. I’d pick the kinds of tunes you’re most likely to find on your average Verve ‘Best of’ album that the beginner might have lying around the house. No book’s going to have everyone’s favourites, but for me it would include at least Minor Swing, Swing 42, J’Attendrai, I’ll See You in My Dreams, and a chord melody version of Nuages.

So that’s it. Anyone wanna to buy a copy? :D More importantly, what would you put in?



  • CalebFSUCalebFSU Tallahassee, FLModerator Made in USA Dell Arte Hommage
    Posts: 557
    Andy, that would be a big expensive book :wink: . The thing I tended to notice while reading your post was that with a little diging most of that stuff is available on-line (not that that was your point). One thing I would include is techniques for improvising a la L'Esprit Manouche. It should include some theoretical information and tips for improvising. Maybe as an addendum or a different book; a disection of one of Django's(or another playesr) solo/s. to see how it fits together.

    My two cents.
    Hard work beats talent, when talent doesn't work hard.
  • andyandy New
    Posts: 80
    Hi Caleb,

    Good point about going online. For a while I've been printing out or xeroxing the best things I've found in books and on the net and collecting them in a folder. I guess I miss a lot that way, but it also reinforces a lot of stuff and helps it to sink in.

    What spefic bits of L'Espirit Manouche do you mean? I can see that that book is bursting with essential information, but the translation is, er, unique, and the organization somewhat counter-intuitive. Both are off-putting to the beginner -- especially one whose theory is sketchy. I really wish I had fluent French.

    Page numbers would be helpful here if you happen to have a copy to hand.

  • ramsezazramsezaz Paris, FranceNew
    Posts: 90
    Don't worry it's quite the same in french :) You spend hours on a single sentence trying to figure out what Dreek Sebastien is talking about :)
    my lutherie blog : http://ramsezaz/
  • andyandy New
    Posts: 80
    LOL! Perhaps we should collect our favourite quotes:

    "When this scale was used in a chorus, Django Reinhardt, the master, used open strings. And to be honest, the use of those last ones let you play a very convincing lead. It is impressive when you play some type of 'rolling' notes, as a virtuoso, at a very convenient speed, and with irreproachable articulation." (ch.4, p.2).

    Now I think about it, this explains a lot. I have often heard it said that while my ariticulation is beyond reproach, my speed is frequently inconvenient.

  • ramsezazramsezaz Paris, FranceNew
    Posts: 90
    this one seems ok in French :

    "Lorsqu'il plaçait cette gamme dans un chorus, le maitre Django Reinhardt utilisait les cordes à vide. Et en vérité, l'utilisation de ces dernieres permet de faire sonner le trait de manière très convaincante, en produisant une sorte de "roulement" de notes virtuose, très impressionnant lorsqu'il est executé à une vitesse qui convient, et avec une articulation irréprochable."

    Well i think that's better french than your sentence is english... but.that's many words just to say "Using open strings on a chromatic run sound like it's rolling, and that sounds great when played fast and well" :)
    my lutherie blog : http://ramsezaz/
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