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Christiaan's Rhythm Video, "half-muting," and 3-note chord voicing.

PassacagliaPassacaglia Madison, WI✭✭✭✭
edited November 2021 in Gypsy Rhythm Posts: 1,471

Hey guys,

This is probably going to be tough to answer. Rhythm is just something I've always enjoyed. Though I feel like I've lost and forgotten so much, and this is going to sound like a mess, I've been prettily heavily influenced in terms of training rhythm by Denis Chang and Ted Gottsegen, with heavy "consultation" with Michael's book and a smattering of Adrian Holovaty here and there.

Let me clear that up. All of it coming down to what Ted taught as "the four T's," or technique, time, taste and touch. Pretty straight voicings, accepting and eve embracing standard major and minors (not 6ths, 6/9ths) etc., though totally at home with fuller "gypsy voicings." In terms of style, Nous'che is my model, so his sound and if there are any subs, embellishments (not many - even more now, just working on solid swing with good tone in the pocket), they'd be Nous'che's as learned on DC Gypsy School or, in its day, Christiaan Van Hemert's RA.

Some time ago I came across Christiaan's youtube vids and I have to be honest - everything but rhythm was way past me and his emphasis on a very limited house of chords (I think 8 or so) to play just about any song, his teaching "half-muted" LH and his description of the RH fingernail/pick hybrid playing seemed like it clashed with everything I'd been working on - mostly, fully voiced chording, if extremely short and dry. I used to play with the round of my picks but because I'm now not so religious about "mastering" rhythm before training in lead playing, I use the pointed end (of Nous'che's signature pick from Jokko's/Manouche Picks site) for all playing. I figure I should be able to play on the fly either, and don't want to have to rotate the pick constantly. Anway, it's borne fruit.

My question then is this. I'm totally smitten by Christiaan's playing and exhaustive teaching. I signed up on his Patreon site. With no judgments as to soundness or "right and wrong," in a word, how do you guys feel about Christiaan's notion of these bass-centric, 3 note chords, this "half-muting" of chords, basically, an extremely dry, background sound that drives but "offends no one. A pleasure to play with?"

I ask in part because the folks I've gone with, at least Denis and Adrian, probably Ted somewhere in my notes and I suspect Michael, and Nous'che himself all explicitly urge "clean" chording - fully pressed down, no buzzing, clean. With just as clean LH muting. So that's what I do.

That said, Christiaan's playing in these vid is awesome, imo. Just extremely background, almost totally percussive without much "guitar" sound, again, as I experience. Swinging and in the pocket, but dry as hell.

If this isn't just mud in the query, what do you guys think of these things

-Paul

pas encore, j'erre toujours.
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Comments

  • ChristopheCaringtonChristopheCarington San Francisco, CA USANew Dupont MD50, Stringphonic Favino, Altamira Chorus
    edited November 2021 Posts: 187

    DISCLAIMER: I honestly really enjoy Christiaan's videos, and have followed a lot of his advice. Working on his advice directly led to me getting to sit in with a local band very quickly while learning this style, and has straight up gotten me recommended for some gigs. I also had Michael's book, and watched many other videos (e.g. Gonzalo, Adrian, Denis and others all play rhythm on Coquette) - but his advice in particular helped the most.

    To answer your question - bass centric, 3 note half-muting chords is a great foundation, but not where you should stop. If you're waiting to start lead before "mastering" rhythm, use Christiaan's style to get a foundation and move on to learning melodies - your rhythm will continue to grow as you play.

    If a soloist / duo partner doesn't have a preferred style, I default to Christiaan's style for a few reasons.

    1. It's sonically out of the way of the soloist. Being bass centric, and only 3-4 notes leaves a lot of harmonic space unoccupied, allowing soloists to be easily heard.
    2. "Half-muting" chords leaves more open space sonically for the soloist.
    3. Using both "half-muting" and lower, 3-4 note voicings allow you to hit the guitar just a bit harder making your sound more percussive, but still unobtrusive. This helps you swing harder with the band.
    4. Using his limited voicings actually makes voice-leading on rhythm a bit easier, and can actually make you sound more musical.

    To be fair, no one has actually told me any of the above. These are my impressions from reviewing video recordings of my gigs. However, what I do hear from others is that they enjoy playing with me as I "drive the band really well" or they "feel really supported when they solo."

    PassacagliaLango-DjangoBucoWillie
  • BonesBones Moderator
    Posts: 3,319

    Paul, yeah that's my way (mostly 3 note chords and muting the other strings) for a couple reasons. First, you never have to worry about getting in the way of the soloist. Triads or 1,3,6 (1,3,b7 for dominant) stuff like that but never on the top 2 strings.

    Second, getting back to your post about arthritis, these grips are WAY easier on the left hand. Plus don't grip too tight which also makes damping faster/easier between beats and also is easier on the left hand.

    PassacagliaBucoWillie
  • PassacagliaPassacaglia Madison, WI✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 1,471

    Thanks guys. I should just let go of pre-conceptions and try it. He sounds great and it makes total sense.

    -Paul

    pas encore, j'erre toujours.
  • edited November 2021 Posts: 4,736

    My very simple theory is you just copy who you like and do it a lot. You can spend some time breaking down and learning mechanics or have someone teach it to you but you're not going to spend a lot of time before you make a full circle. You can learn various voicings, ways of reharmonizing the progression, intros/outros but most of your time will be spent on just playing a lot and trying to copy someone. At least what was always my approach. And don't limit yourself, try to play rhythm in more than one way. So the title of this thread definitely falls into that. Very useful to be able to play 3 note voicings, especially midrange on the neck like bones said.

    Like somewhat recently, I found out about this guy, Boris Alexandre, excellent, really good rhythm player. Driving like a freight train. I sound 2 and 4 but he's playing more of a semi mute. However I liked his sound so much that I spent some time playing along with him trying to sound the same. I'm not going to change the way I play but would like to be able to sound like that when I want to, depending on song. Listen to this.

    But then he also can sound completely different, like here, still just as driving but much more of even four sound

    But the gist of all of that is whatever sounds good to you, spend time trying to sound like that.

    WilliebillyshakesPassacagliaBillDaCostaWilliams
    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • PassacagliaPassacaglia Madison, WI✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 1,471

    Thanks Buco. That's keenly insightful and helpful as usual. Not the first time, I'm overthinking this and trying to grab everything at once. The bottom line is I'm highly enamored of Nous'che, but have the nagging feeling he's like a paragon and using him as a learning tool is like running before crawling. So Christiaan's approach seemed(s) appealing.

    Let me ask this about Nous'che, and it's also a broader question, perhaps. On strict pompe, Nous'che's style is exactly how I would like to learn to play, and it's what I've worked on all these years (again, not that it matters - new, again). That said, as shown on the DC website stuff, and everywhere else, he's doing all kinds of embellishments and flourishes and subs and "Nous'che" voicings on common chords.

    How much of that is because he's the only other guy there, in performance - so essentially he's constantly comping while Stochelo is playing (though obviously, there's not a beat that is out of place or gets in the way or draws attention).

    v.

    Jamming, where if you had everybody doing "Nous'che" exactly as shown on the DC site, for example, you'd have a hot mess?

    v.

    I can see that the Hemert method as Christiaan demonstrates is perfect for jamming, and if you are one of a couple guitars - a sort of second rhythm, though offhand I can't think of any band setup like this? It's so straight and background I can see how it gives all kinds of sonic room and everybody anywhere would love to have you playing accompaniment. But it seems there is room for more on the part of a rhythm guy in a trio.

    So in a word, if working towards rhythm as an art unto itself - nothing wrong with Christiaan's approach, nothing wrong with starting off right away learning and trying to emulate Nous'che, nothing wrong with learning as many approaches as you can muster and practice well, with focus. Gotta' start somewhere so pick a way and go for it, then move on to try another.

    Thoughts?

    BucoWillie
    -Paul

    pas encore, j'erre toujours.
  • Posts: 4,736

    With Nousche, his playing is so fluid that it doesn't become apparent that his rhythm playing can be very complex. My guess is that he's keeping much more basic in a large jam. But bottom line, rule of thumb to me in a jam is play so that the group sounds as good as it can like a band. Now that can mean different things to different people but but make it sound smooth and uninterrupted and fluid is I think a safe way to categorize. Which doesn't mean you have to play robotic all time, changes in dynamics are a welcome thing. Listen to what's going on and embellish when space allows or music is asking for a lift.

    Yes, nothing wrong with all of those although I'd stick with one thing at a time until it's mastered. Well for the most part, you do need to try out different stuff that you like, otherwise it'd become boring. Mastered meaning relative to the person's current level, I suppose it's up to the person to decide when something is good enough to move on to something else for the time being. I follow a lot of advice from Effortless Mastery book by Kenny Werner. But what mastered means at his level, for me it would it take far longer and require far more effort. So it's not an absolute requirement. I really like how @ChristopheCarington put it, done is better than perfect. But even when you think something is mastered, there's a matter of maintenance. And in my experience, maintenance is by far the biggest problem in music: charts, head melodies, licks and phrases, cool and unusual voicings...what you can do well today, if it's not maintained, you find after a while you have to start not from scratch but you need to put in time all over again. It never ends...

    PassacagliaWillieBillDaCostaWilliamsChristopheCaringtonBones
    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • lorenzoplorenzop New
    Posts: 26

    Re Christiian's video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LLir8HXS4sc&t=505s

    AS a beginner this appeals to me as I'm on the lookout for way's to make easier the entry point into this genre. However I'm not sure how to put his '8 chord' 2-5-1 system into a song. I've rewatched his emample 'Lady Be Good' and I can't figure out what chords he's playing. The progression I have in Fakebook begins with Gmaj - C7 - Gmaj

    I'm assuming this is key of G Major and the C7 is a four chord so what does one play given a 2-5-1 inventory? My question is re any and all chords not 2-5-1, including diminished chords.

  • bohemewarblerbohemewarbler St. Louis, MO✭✭✭✭ Jordan Wencek No.26, Altamira M01D-12 fret
    edited November 2021 Posts: 243

    Plenty of great rhythm players on the GJ scene but it's far from easy to master. A really good rhythm player can make all the difference in a band, especially if there's only one rhythm player. Some of the very best almost always use an upstroke on the 1 and 3, but I have never mastered that on fast tunes. On medium fast and fast tunes I prefer the all downstroke approach with a snappy medium-light muted 2 and 4 and a more deliberate brush through the strings on the 1 and 3. On slower pieces I use the upstroke on the 1 and 3.

    I agree with others to find playing styles you like and try to emulate that. While practicing, I will often follow along with the Thomas Baggerman Trio recordings to hone the sound because I like the way Max Baggerman plays rhythm (generally all down strokes, as in this recording). When I last talked to him at Festival Django Reinhardt, he told me he uses a rounded pick, just as I do. I purchase my picks from Jokko "Manouche Picks." He will custom make them to fit your own inclinations. For me, it's a rounded button style (6 holes). I never feel like the pick turns in my hand, it stays put, and I can play with a relaxed wrist.

    Here is a straight forward example of Max Baggerman's technique. Straight up in the pocket.


    PassacagliaBuco
  • PassacagliaPassacaglia Madison, WI✭✭✭✭
    edited November 2021 Posts: 1,471

    I'm not versed enough in theory but that is a confusing part for me as well. As far as I can tell LBG is a standard I-IV-V blues progression, with the ii-V-I happening as Am7-D7-G. In terms of the vid's voicings choices, I can see the particular voicings Christiaan shows for the 2-5-1 making sense sonically, but not seeing how these, and the 5th and 6th string diminished chords are all you'd need to know for songs in general. I suspect there's theory here I'm almost certainly missing.

    Personally I've learned to go for fuller voicings, emphasizing bass growl ("crushing" the bottom few strings) on 1 and 3, and the fuller use of strings on 2 & 4. In a very brief time studying with Ted Gottsegen, the idea of fretboard fluency was brought up - i.e., when you get this all really down, you'll know to move up and down the fretboard and naturally choose voicings by what your soloist is doing. So sonic room was made by other things than staying solely on the bottom few strings in 3-note voicings. This was a long time ago so I hope Ted forgives me if I've mischaracterized his point of view.

    But the emphasis is "once you get this all really down." Ted strongly emphasized working the skeletal frame of a given song, no subs, embellishments, nothing but "your guitar, a chart, and a metronome." Memorize the basic chords then get to work on "The 4 T's," "Technique, Time, Taste and Touch." Get the changes down, "flowing through them seamlessly" and then and only then start to think about subs, etc.

    I think what Christiaan is doing is just giving a very simple way in to get playing, not necessarily a guiding principle of playing as an accompanist, down the road. With Lorenzo I'd love to get a better understanding of how these 8 chords will cover the repertoire for the most part. Is it common notes?

    -Paul

    pas encore, j'erre toujours.
  • PassacagliaPassacaglia Madison, WI✭✭✭✭
    edited November 2021 Posts: 1,471

    That's a great video. I've kept it as a fave a long time. +1 for Jokko's picks. I haven't asked for any custom picks, but absolutely love his Model Nous'che. (I also really like but haven't used much his Feigeli Prisor, with the thumb groove and holes).

    Edit: In terms of rhythm players - I have a tremendous admiration for Ted Gottsegen. No idea what he's doing now, but his dedication to rhythm as an art unto itself was really paradigmatic for me back in 2013-, and still is as I return to my notes from him often.

    Plus, there seems to be this pretty cool family of rhythm people. It was really great to sit with Titi Bamberger in the booth at The Green Mill in Chicago, in between sets he played as a guest with Alfonso Ponticelli as part of the Chicago Gypsy Jazz Fest (Kamlo Barre and Cyril Gaffiero were there and we hung out a lot. Once in a life experience for me). Titi was warm and gracious, and more or less embraced me as a "brother in rhythm." Not that I was any good, but he'd been told rhythm was what really got me going and that seemed to tickle him, as most guys want to "move on" to lead playing.

    Just came across this thread on being a dedicated rhythm player, and a video with Titi and Ulrike Haller.

    Buco
    -Paul

    pas encore, j'erre toujours.
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