Right hand struggle



  • billyshakesbillyshakes NoVA✭✭✭ Park Avance - Dupont Nomade - Dupont DM-50E
    edited February 2022 Posts: 1,322

    Hey Stefan,

    The book is great and has a lot of tuition & study put behind it. When it first came out, it was one of the few resources that really dove deep into this picking technique. Now, there are also instructors out there who have produced videos and courses to add a visual aspect. Depends how you learn. Certainly, using your ears to listen to the examples and then trying to duplicate them with your playing is important. However, seeing them can also provide an important element. Even better is if you get a chance to have feedback from one of these instructors through a live online session (group or individual) or in-person.

    Fillippo mentioned his course above. Yaakov Hoter is another instructor ( who has run a rest stroke live workshop recently.

    Like in the video above, Stephane Wrembel also mentions the similarity to oud picking style.

    Dennis Chang (@dennis ) from DC Music School also has run homestay options in Montreal pre-pandemic for in-depth learning. He's a regular instructor at Django in June too (which is a great place to learn and jam with others). Dennis has a series of videos where he talks about this picking style, the first of which is below.

    Hope that gives you a good start on your journey!

  • Posts: 4,787

    This is the most important ingredient by a long shot.

    Mirror as already mentioned helps definitely. For a while I was practicing by sacrificing the articulation and cleanliness for speed of pick movement. In other words I'd go through a phrase that I'd use as an exercise and play it sloppy as long as I got through it with the picking as planned. Just plow through then add articulation and clean it up.

    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • KlausUSKlausUS AustriaNew Cholet Intuition, Gaffiero Original, AJL Q&P
    Posts: 64

    There are also players who use very unconventional Picking techniques. Look how Robin Nolan holds his pick, Oli Soikolli uses very often alternate picking and Nando Reinhardts right hand position is pretty weired,.... Same with using the pinky or using an ordinary Dunlop pick - some like it , others do not.

    It is very good to know the basic rules but it is also important to find the technique that is best for you as long as it still sounds "gypsy".

  • ChrisMartinChrisMartin Shellharbour NSW Australia✭✭ Di Mauro x2, Petrarca, Genovesi, Burns, Kremona Zornitsa & Paul Beuscher resonator.
    edited February 2022 Posts: 959

    Nailed it.

    This push to master 'Rest Stroke Picking' is just another indication of how anal some people have become and totally misses the point of Gypsy Jazz. There are some, many on this forum, who constantly want everything tailored to a set of rules that are totally irrelevant. Rest stroke picking is just another technique that one can use, or discard, in the pursuit of making your own music, but to say it is compulsory is like saying you have to be playing a genuine Selmer to get it right, negating any chance of being an original.

    If we start with Django as the main reason GJ became a 'thing' and is still played today , if anyone wants to emulate Django you have two major problems.

    The first problem is he was the first, (ok, we will overlook Gusti Malha or whoever, they never reached the same heights) and popularised a completely new genre, a new way of playing that has inspired many since. There can only be one 'first'.

    The second is he was in a certain place at a specific time where outside influences all came together, from busking on the streets, to accompanying accordionists in noisy dance halls, all the while learning the pop standards of the day while being exposed to gypsy music around his family. Then he discovered Louis Armstrong and jazz, crippled his left hand, met Stephane and invented a new string swing sound that took him to more sophisticated night clubs and cabarets and then theatres. Later on classical and bebop influences were mixed in too. Sorry for stating the obvious there but this was all revolutionary stuff and Django was constantly learning and moving forward over that twenty-five year period.

    He was a pioneer, creating, inventing, changing and a combination of natural talent meeting circumstances and opportunities that can never be repeated.

    I have likened this accident of musical history to Elvis before, but it is a good example to use. Elvis had a mixed musical taste that gave him his own unique style, which combined with the right voice was exactly what Sam Phillips at Sun Records was looking for when he said he wanted to find a white kid who could sing like the local black R&B singers. The meeting of Elvis and Sam magically produced lightning in a bottle.

    One could apply the same accident of time and place theory to The Beatles or Hendrix etc, but you get the idea, there can be only one original. That The Beatles inspired Gerry and The Pacemakers or Freddie and The Dreamers is totally, and quite rightly, forgotten today although for some who took the cues and had a little talent of their own did create something similar, but their own; Kinks, Byrds etc, etc.

    Both Elvis and Django have spawned a legion of copyists, unfortunately most of the Elvis ones are just sad old men in spangled pyjamas with oversized shades attempting to mumble through some old hits, but what of the Django copyists?

    Some, like the Ferret clan, Tchan Tchou, Angelo, Tchavolo, Bireli or Stochelo, made their own mark by bringing something new to the genre, some, like Marcel Bianchi, Coco Biraval have been consigned to the bin labelled 'Soup'.

    While I understand the personal satisfaction of learning to play any piece of music one likes, and I also get that there are minor bar gig opportunities for 'soundalike' tribute acts I fail to see the point of copying copyists who learned from other copyists.

    And that is what a large part of the discussions on this forum come back to. It sometimes seems there are more teachers than students on here, all trying to make living stifling individual creativity by laying down strict rules forcing the student to forget any idea of creating something new in favour of mastering the correct technique (according to whichever teacher).

    So, learn whatever techniques and tricks suit what you are trying to play but don't become a slave to it, there are many so called teachers out there who use the same old emotional blackmail methods to get money out of you, by telling you that you are a failure so you have to pay them to steer you on the right path. Ok, waste your money that way if you like, but I would rather just listen and learn from everything around me and try to work out my own way of achieving what I hear in my imagination.

    Ahhh....sorry....have I hit on something missing there? You have no imagination? Oh well, ignore the above and follow the herd.

    Is there any chance we can have a useful discussion on here to encourage individuality and creativity instead? If the genre is to have a chance of breeding any really new music it will come from someone who has listened to Django AND Hendrix, Debussy AND Miles, as well as the ability to put their own ideas onto the frets, someone who has the imagination to take the style forward.

    Like Django did.

  • Russell LetsonRussell Letson Prodigy
    Posts: 360

    There are multiple paths to the goal of making idiomatic Django-style music, so it's good that so many practitioners have analyzed their own technical approaches and managed to present them. I've been able to observe the techniques and teaching approaches of players in a number of traditions (bluegrass, blues, Piedmont fingerstyle, slack key, swing), and I've come to the conclusion that whatever works, works. (This is also what many of these players have told me.) For every rule there will be an exception or a work-around.

    There is certainly a center and a periphery to any given body of technique, so I look for the areas of overlap. Thou-shalts and thou-shalt-nots are tricky, and I've noticed how often one teacher's "always" can be contradicted or minimized by another's advice. But then, I'm lazy and impatient, so I'm inclined to buffet-style snacking rather than any really rigorous, disciplined approach, which may be why it took me so long to achieve solid mediocrity as a player.

  • bbwood_98bbwood_98 Brooklyn, NyProdigy Vladimir music! Les Effes. . Its the best!
    Posts: 674

    Some great advice here!

    @MichaelHorowitz 's Book is great (both Gypsy picking and Gypsy Fire are solid), Stephane W is an amazing teacher (and I will vouch for him - he certainly brought me a long long way), and has blazing technique! @filippodallasta is a great player who is certainly from what I have seen becoming one of the great teachers as well.

    My advice, find a teacher who's sound you like, study hard for a while until it makes sense; and then adapt your own ideas. To continue Russell's analogy, I Would recommend finding a chef; eating their food a few times, and then working in their kitchen for a year or so, after which you can start to develop ideas on your own.

    Finally from me - 2 other bits of advice: Make sure your teacher can help you emulate your preferred players; also - IMHO, decide now if you want to be a generalist or soloist, or rhythm-ist - and work toward that goal.

    Good luck! can't wait to jam someday soon!

  • AndyWAndyW Glasgow Scotland UK✭✭✭ Clarinets & Saxes- Selmer, Conn, Buescher, Leblanc // Guitars: Gerome, Caponnetto, Napoli, Musicalia, Bucolo, Sanchez et. al.
    Posts: 601

    six minutes into Denis’s video and I’m hearing the un-muted or pulled-off strings still ringing and sounding in sympathetic resonance, as opposed to when they are palm muted / stopped. I’m not really clear how this is the big difference that gypsy picking / rest stroke makes??

    Also like that idea in Stephan Wrembel video to use as much rest stroke as possible where the speed of phrase allows, feels very much like my own (limited) experience, - I’ll usually switch to alternate picking for the fast stuff. Old dogs and new tricks, I suppose.

  • ChrisMartinChrisMartin Shellharbour NSW Australia✭✭ Di Mauro x2, Petrarca, Genovesi, Burns, Kremona Zornitsa & Paul Beuscher resonator.
    Posts: 959

    I fail to see how "Make sure your teacher can help you emulate your preferred players;" will achieve anything other than promote more copying. Are there any 'teachers' who know how to encourage creativity?

  • Posts: 4,787

    It's simply a matter of how you want to make the guitar sound. All of the players mentioned above by @KlausUS have a very good tone. How they arrived there, who cares. I mentioned recently how I love Howard Alden's solo on I'll see you in my dreams on Sweet and Lowdown soundtrack. I love the playing and have listened to that album to death but the guitar tone is far from favorite. All of the Gypsy masters have the tone I enjoy, attack where the notes pop off the guitar. To get that you gotta drive the string into or towards the top. And easiest way to do that is by using the rest stroke. It's not end-all of picking techniques but it makes my guitar sound how I like it, when I play this style. On a rare occasion I pick up my Martin, the pick is flatter to the top, on the electric I use a completely different grip and so on...but on my Ivanovski, rest stroke is the way to go. For me...

    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • JSantaJSanta NY✭✭✭ Dupont, Gaffiero, AJL
    edited February 2022 Posts: 262

    I completely agree with finding a good teacher. Michael's books are a huge help and I am incredibly grateful he has made these wonderful resources available to us, but having someone watch you and make corrections and suggestions are (IMO) important. I started taking lessons with Stephane almost two years ago and I have made what I think is strong progress. In another few years, I hope to have some level of competency. He is very dogmatic with his technique and honestly it's something I really appreciate, at least while I am learning. And he's a fantastic teacher, even when dealing with a mule like me.

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