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Joscho Stephan alternate picking?! La Gitana lick

cantzoncantzon Jeju Do, South KoreaNew
edited December 2008 in Gypsy Picking Posts: 90

A note on the D string

An up stroke!

Also, for the record, someone responded to post remarking the speed of Angelo Debarre's version of la Gitana. They said that such speed is made possible by the "rest stroke" technique. Well look, that's not exactly the case. That speedy lick is played with standard alternate picking which just so happens to be exactly the same as the rest stroke technique on that particular passage. There is no difference whatsoever. There are many other examples where the efficiency of the gypsy rest stroke is, in fact, a cool technique that allows for more efficient and speedy picking than alternate picking. But that passage of la Gitane is not one of them.


  • SorefSoref Brookline, MA✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 94
    The technique in question is about how you let gravity and momentum do most of the work, the pick direction facilitates that. Each down stroke Angelo plays is likely a rest stroke. The pick direction serves to help the way the body works more than anything else, so that sometimes means using consecutive downstrokes, sometimes not. The pick direction itself isn't evidence of the technique being employed or no. Of course there are times where a consecutive downstroke is employed purely for artistic choice to achieve a certain kind of articulation, but a lot of it is really so you can comfortably whip your hand back and forth with a minimum of physical effort.

    I believe it was Dennis who pointed out a year or two ago that Joscho Stephan alternate picks. He's got a great tone and watching him it looks to me like he's manged to take a lot of that same whipping motion into his alternate picking possibly with rest strokes on the down strokes, but maybe not. All those upstrokes work for him.

    Yorgui Loeffler is another guy in this camp I've been told. He definitely uses that gypsy picking motion and there are definitely rest strokes happening (though like many of the alsace guys I think he incorporates a bit more of his arm in the general motion.) However, I think it was once again Dennis, who pointed out that Yorgui will use a lot of up strokes on the same licks that Jimmy or Stochelo Rosenberg will play with down strokes. That being said I can't say that Yorgui's strictly alternate picking, but simply that he has his own idiosyncratic technique that definitely works for him.

    John Jorgensen alternate picks probably the majority of what he plays, and gets a nice tone.

    These guys all play loud and have a nice "gypsy jazzish" tone, so as I think I said in a different post everyone has there own viable solutions. John has also said that there are certain phrases that simply don't sound right unless they're gypsy picked. Yorgui and Joscho may prove him wrong. Maybe someone should do a study of their right hand technique to see how they nail that sound, with their own idiosyncratic approaches. I can say they definitely aren't using their right wrists in the same way as someone like Al Dimeola does, even in a case where their pick direction matches his.

    For myself, I've had plenty of passages where I've tried to sneak upstrokes in to make it easy for myself, and in almost all cases it just made things worse. In most cases, that approach won't work for me. It just makes me use a whole different set of muscles which makes for an awkward affair, or lousy tone. Working on alternate picking for completely non GJ applications is on my list of things to do. However Gypsy Picking opened so many doors for me, there is just so much I can play that I couldn't before adopting the technique.

    I have also always said that you shouldn't just change your technique because someone tells you to. If you're happy with the way you play, why change it? I wouldn't let the Gypsy Picking thing be an oppressive force for you. It's helped a ton for a lot of people on this forum, and even more in the larger landscape of this genre. But that doesn't mean everyone has to do it.
    If you're looking for people who do something different (technique-wise) within the style they're there. Serge Krief is another player that comes to mind. If you continue studying how players like Joscho do what they do I'd be interested to see what you discover.

    Really though, I'm more excited about what players are doing different musically. That always seems much more exciting.
  • CalebFSUCalebFSU Tallahassee, FLModerator Made in USA Dell Arte Hommage
    Posts: 557
    Hey guys maybe the link is wrong but Joscho isn't playing La Gitana in that video. Just an enclousure lick/ arpeggio on Am or major at the end. Is there video of him playing La Gitana? I love that waltz and I have been working on it off and on and still suck at playing :lol:
    Hard work beats talent, when talent doesn't work hard.
  • SorefSoref Brookline, MA✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 94
    I think there are two seperate musical examples up for discussion, one being the video of Joscho, and the other being a lick from the Angelo Debarre performance of La Gitana.

    That tune certainly is a workout though, whew.

  • CalebFSUCalebFSU Tallahassee, FLModerator Made in USA Dell Arte Hommage
    Posts: 557
    I see. the fact that there is punctuation after one phrase should have been my tip off. I just turned in a research paper I had been working on for a month, in this musicology class I am taking this summer. So my brain is a little turned off by things like punctuation and grammer these days. Thats why it slipped by me. :lol:
    Hard work beats talent, when talent doesn't work hard.
  • cantzoncantzon Jeju Do, South KoreaNew
    Posts: 90
    I see the point about gravity playing a role but it's not like alternate pickers play in a vacuum. Gravity is factored in for us too. And really at the speed Angelo Debarre plays that lick and with the picking pattern he uses it ends up being identical to alternate picking.

    There is quite a bit of common ground between alternate picking and gypsy picking in terms of up and down strokes and I, like many alternate pickers, have never anchored my right hand.

    Actually, I have recently begun to incrporate some of the gypsy picking on specific runs and it works very well. The hard part is getting my brain to switch back and forth between picking styles.

    Some of you might be interested in Troy Grady's page.

    He's an electric guitar player but is doing research for a documentary called "Cracking the Code". It will include players from many different styles. I contacted him and suggested he look into the gypsy picking technique and he's on it. He seems to be a nice guy who is genuinely interested in examining the different ways we master the guitar.

    That Joscho Stephan link was just to point out that some of the Gypsy guys alternate and don't always strictly adhere to the down stroke on every string change rule.
  • dennisdennis Montreal, QuebecModerator
    Posts: 2,154
    tuck andress also did a study on picking techniques... but i find a lot of these studies are flawed because the whole point of using technique is to make music.... a lot of these studies are too technical in nature...

    there is no one technique that'll allow you to do everything, there is no one technique that is better than another (although there is susch a thing as bad technique)....

    everything is relative on the music and type of sound and phrase you want to achieve...

    a lot of gypsies today are a bit disenchanted with the django technique because for the most part it only allows them to play the licks they play (which we're all familiar with now), they've begun to experiment with different techniques such as sweep and alternate pickign...

    it's also true that left hand influences right hand.. in the django style, certain phrases definitely have to be played a particular way to achieve maximum efficiency... the same as true though for any other style... in bluegrass / country music, you traditionally try to use open strings as much as possible, if you play heavy metal shred, you try to favor 3 or 4 note per strings... if you play frank gambale style, you try to arrange things in odd numbers per strings.... if you wanna play SRV style blues, you hang your thumb around the fretboard which limits your flexibility but gives you greater control, and the right hand whacks the strings, which by heavy metal standards is "wrong technique"....

    in the end, you do what you do to get the sound and type of phrasing you're aiming to get.... no more no less... there's no point in arguing what technique is better, just play and do what you need to do

    i remember when i showed ritary that you could start a new string with an upstroke, it was a huge revelation to him, he told me he had never thought of it like that... hahaha
  • cantzoncantzon Jeju Do, South KoreaNew
    Posts: 90
    I teach English to High School kids in South Korea. At lunch we had spaghetti. The kids were all amused that I was having difficulty with the chopsticks. I've gotten pretty good with them but the kids can pick up individual strands of spaghetti. I finally went and got a fork. The kids were astonished at how easily I was using a fork. Some of them went and got forks and they were having little success. They didn't even know how to hold the forks properly.

    The point is the human brain is capable of learning different methods of achieving a goal.

    I've actually had Koreans ask me why we would use such an inefficient thing such as a fork to eat with. To then it is next to useless because you can only scoop things up or poke them. To them it is far easier to pick things up.

    So anyway, back to guitar. I was just analyzing the picking technique because this is a forum on picking technique. It seemed like the logical place to discuss that. On one level we are all studying how to make the brain send impulses to move our hands in such a way that music is produced.

    Then again, the previous comments made are accurate. Ultimately it's all about the music.

    I didn't intend to say alternate picking is good and that gypsy picking is bad. I was merely noting that there is frequently a lot in common between the two. Angelo Debarre's version of La Gitane being a primary example.

    To the guy who stated I don't understand the gypsy technique: In La Gitane, Angelo Debarre is certainly not resting his pick on the next string during the passage I was referring to. What exactly were you referring to that makes his playing of this passage any different from standard alternate picking? If you mean that his forearm is not resting on the top of the guitar then perhaps you don't understand how many alternate pickers, including myself, have always floated our right hands rather than anchoring them. This may be a part of the Gypsy technique but it is also part of many other techniques. You stated "I don't mean to sound condescending..." Well, if you are interested you sound specifically like a teenager who has learned one technique and for that reason thinks they are better than everyone else. But this is the internet and a lot can be lost in translation from thought to the printed word.
  • SorefSoref Brookline, MA✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 94
    cantzon wrote:
    This may be a part of the Gypsy technique but it is also part of many other techniques. You stated "I don't mean to sound condescending..." Well, if you are interested you sound specifically like a teenager who has learned one technique and for that reason thinks they are better than everyone else. But this is the internet and a lot can be lost in translation from thought to the printed word.

    It does seem like a lot is lost in translation. I certainly don't consider myself better than everyone else. Honestly I thought we were engaged in a nice dialogue. I didn't, and don't want to sound rude, I really don't. I'm sorry if that's how I came off.

    Certain questions you posed made you seem really confused about the technique in question. When you asked why gypsy pickers don't employ Gambale economy style picking directions on descending passages it seemed clear something was being missed. The answer to that question is kind of self evident if you're familiar with the technique. I tried to articulate the mechanics of how the wrist moves, in the style, to answer that question. It seems like I haven't done the best job.

    As I've said before from everything you've said you sound like you know a lot about playing the guitar, and can do it really well. I'm sure if I were in your area there's a lot you could teach me. I've no doubt I'd be much the better for knowing it. With gypsy picking it seemed like you weren't being provided with enough info based on your posts. I was really just trying to help clarify some things. I've gotten a lot a great info and help from people who know this style very well. I was merely trying to pass some of that on. I really hope I didn't seem like I was picking on you, or giving you the impression I'm talking from a pedestal or something.

    I'm aware that there are lots of players who float their right hand when they alternate pick. It still doesn't make the motion the same.

    I'm sorry this gets a little long here, so feel free to skip it, but it might help clarify where my statements are coming from.

    When I started attempting to play this music there was little educational info on the technique most professional gypsy jazz guitarists employ. It was also pretty hard for a kid to get a hold of footage of players at the time, so that was another teaching device I was more or less barred from. I caught wind that you weren't supposed to anchor your hand. I resolved to start playing with a floating right hand. Then later I heard from a guy that took a Stephane Wrembel workshop that in this style people played a downstroke when changing strings. I decided I'd try and incorporate that into my playing. Robin Nolan was the only Gypsy Jazzer who'd had come to my town at that time and he was very generous with pointers. He has his own style which I love, I ended up doing something a little like him. When I got to Samois that's what one of the British players said.

    Later with the help of a lot knowledgable people like Dennis, Michael Horowitz, and a bunch of others (as well as lots of playing, and watching videos) I feel pretty comfortable with this technique. Before I was playing with a floating hand and lots of downstrokes, but it was a completely different thing. The sound, the way the muscles in the body operate it really is quite different. You seem to be under the impression that if you're playing with a certain picking pattern, and a floating/unanchored hand then it's gypsy picking. That really isn't the case. For what it's worth, I don't think that makes it wrong. I'm jut saying, to the best of my knowledge, it's a different animal. If I've misundertood you, I'm sorry it's just that's really what you seem to be suggesting in your posts.

    I'd be very sorry if someone were turned off by this community because people were being impolite. I really don't want to contribute to that. It just seemed like maybe some more info on gypsy picking would be useful. So I dropped in my two cents.

    Sorry to write these long posts. I'll try and cut down on the posting.

  • cantzoncantzon Jeju Do, South KoreaNew
    Posts: 90
    I'm in Korea and have gotten into some terrible debates with people I normally get along fine with. It's not me and it's not them. It's the internet.

    Quite a bit of communication is in the delivery and the internet distorts things quite a bit.

    Anyway, thanks for trying to clarify things.

    I just bought Angelo Debarre's book and it is super cool. I highly recommend it to anyone who likes this style.
  • Teddy DupontTeddy Dupont Deity
    Posts: 1,234
    dennis wrote: the end, you do what you do to get the sound and type of phrasing you're aiming to get.... no more no less... there's no point in arguing what technique is better, just play and do what you need to do
    Agree 100%. There is far too much dogmatism around in gypsy jazz at the moment.
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