This time i wonder if somebody has already transcribed Opa Tsupa´s "Jazz Manouche" for guitar (i just fell in in love with their music, you should also check out "Les deux Guitares") or if somebody would help me. Firstly, the rhythm section, the melody isn´t that hard to learn, but would be aslo mentionable. :-)
Swing on and cheers, Paul
The first melody is a comedic song written in 1917, called Je cherche après Titine. It's best known from Charlie Chaplin's version with mock-foreign lyrics in Modern Times. The curious part here is its use to evoke Eastern European, or specifically Russian Gypsy music, alongside Dark Eyes (the second melody). I'm guessing someone in this French band must have known its status as an "urban folk" song in Russia, where it's called "Big Crocodila Walked The Streets" (with the ungrammatical feminine form of the Russian word for crocodile). As I just learned, it was originally an unpatriotic send-up of a military march which became popular towards the end of WWI, but the words fit perfectly to the catchier Titine melody and with time this became the "krokodila" tune that everyone in Russia learns to play on guitar with one finger.
This is something of a sentimental subject for me, since it's one of the two melodies that my dad used to play on a miniature 7-string guitar we had at our place when I was little, and I believe it was the first piece of music I learned to play on any instrument. With one finger, of course.
I actually never thought about their songs meaning or their context in their gypsy tradition, but this is a subject to ellaborate on, definetley.
Оne can roughly distinguish two stylistic trends of Gypsy music in Russia. The first one is well known to Russian audiences, mainly from films, and is designed to appeal to them. It incorporates significant Russian music influences and its representation on screen tends to conform to a certain romantic ideal of Gypsies. Here's a typical selection from a 1968 movie called "Living Corpse". The great ballad starting at 3:00 is sung by the Gypsy singer Sonia Timofeeva (the role is played by Svetlana Toma):
Another stylistic trends is closer to Gypsy music from elsewhere in Eastern Europe. For example, this video shows members of the celebrated Demeter family enjoying themselves in a Moscow living room in the late 1980s. Although, one can't hear the guitar(s) very well, you can get the general idea of the characteristic rhythmic lilt, and you can see that it's achieved by a variety of right-hand techniques, depending on the volume and tempo. Timofeeva's album Gypsy Folk Songs is a great example of this less Russified Russian Gypsy style.