Welcome to our Community!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Who's Online (0)

Related Discussions

Today's Birthday


Suggestions on Improvising

MusetteMusette New
edited June 2010 in Gypsy Jazz 101 Posts: 96
Hi everybody.
Latley i've been feeling like i can't improvise like i would like to.
My so called "improvisations" sound like scales and arpeggio exercises but not too musical, i want to get that gypsy flavor into my improvisations and sound like Django.
What do you think i should do?
I've been using Michael's Gypsy Picking, Romane's L'esprit Manouche and just started Stephane Wrembel's Getting into Gypsy Jazz, but i don't feel like progressing a lot in the musical sense.
I do feel that i have better technique and tone now though.



  • asd123321asd123321 ✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 119
    Have you you played through all the transcriptions of Django's tunes? After that, do all the ones from the Rosenberg Trio and report back. This will give you a better idea of how to do it.
  • MusetteMusette New
    Posts: 96
    I have not done that.
    I think i might check some transcriptions but i don't like to play all the songs by just watching the sheet music or tab, i think it would be much better to transcribe myself his solos, that would train my ears.
  • jovationjovation Austin,TXNew
    Posts: 21
    One suggestion to try...courtesy of Louis Armstrong and others.

    How about scat singing a solo in your head first?

    Record a rhythm track, then set down your guitar, and improvise a solo by singing
    it a few times as you would want to hear it. Then pick up your guitar and try
    to recreate it.

    You don't need to be George Benson or John Pizzarelli, and you don't need
    to be pitch perfect. Even if what you play in terms of note selection
    is different than what you scatted, this will at the very least give
    you more rhythmic ideas.
  • adrianadrian AmsterdamVirtuoso
    Posts: 493
    I'd echo what jovation said -- try humming a solo and transcribing that to guitar. The best solos (in my opinion) are the ones that are so melodic you can hum them.
  • MusetteMusette New
    Posts: 96
    Yeah thats a good suggestion and i'm gonna try it.
    Its like a path that your creativity follows: First it goes from your subconscious to your consciousthen to your mouth then you try to imitate what you hear but playing it on the guitar.
    Later when you become more experienced, you can avoid the singing part and just play what you think.
  • Actually a number of performers never tired of the habit,,,,, Glen Gould (best know for his classical piano skills) was a lifelong vocal noisemaker :lol: :lol: :lol: as we(a)re a number of jazz greats.
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • Lango-DjangoLango-Django Niagara-On-The-Lake, ONModerator
    Posts: 1,540
    Yeah, some good suggestions above,

    Yes, I've been feeling much the same way, Musette... Alhough the instruction stuff I've purchased here from Michael Horowitz, Andreas Oberg and Stephane Wrembel is all top-rate and I've learned a lot of imprortant basic stuff, lately I've decided it's time to go to the next level and have Django himself be my teacher, so I've been copying some of his music in great detail.

    First, I went over to a rival outfit called and bought six-buck transcriptions of "Honeysuckle Rose" and "I'll See You In My Dreams". I recommend both, by the way, although I did find some passages where I chose my own fingering over theirs! But it's incredible feeling to me, when I can occasionally play passages at full speed, or even if I can only play them at 75% speed, I still feel like I'm realizing a dream when I'm playing note-for-note along with Django.

    Additonally, I've posted a couple of things over in the "Licks and Patterns" section, a 75%-speed playalong version of "Rose Room"... no tab, but it's not too hard to hear what's going on, and there are lots of clever little licks to use elsewhere in your playing...

    Over there, I also posted a devilish machinegun pattern Django used in "Sweet Georgia Brown", among other songs, when playing over a D7 chord. I can't play that at full speed yet either, and probably never will...actually it baffles me how Django could have played it without some definite dexterity in his 3rd and 4th fingers. I've been hoping somebody at this forum would try it and tell me if they could figure out how to do it with just two fingers, or perhaps even three fingers, but nobody's bit yet... seems like a lot of guys here are the strong, silent type :lol:

    The thing that I want most and can't get in my own improvising is that elusive gypsy feel ... it's not really a matter of technique... it's more akin to saying some simple phrase like "Bonjour, comment allez-vous?" with a convincing accent instead of sounding like a tourist moron!--- this should be so simple, right! So, dammit, why isn't it?

    For this purpose, I've decided on my next project while in hospital for the past few days recuperating from an annoying infection and spent some time listening to Django on my iPod.

    There's a HCQ recording I fell in love with called "Viper's Dream" in which Django takes two choruses of twelve-bar blues.

    He doesn't do anything technically dazzling or acrobatic, just some cute little blues riffs, but with that wonderful gift he had of floating up above the rhythm and the chord changes.

    So my plan is first to learn and copy those two twelve-bar choruses and then attempt to see if I, too, can "float above the chords" like Django.

    For me, this is going to be a make-or-break thing which is going to show me for once and for all if i can ever actually improvise in authentic GJ style--- or perhaps it's time to give up all this hard work and go bark up some other musical tree--- like maybe back to my old axe, the plectrum banjo... perhaps a lesser instrument than guitar, but then at least when you play it, there is the advantage that nobody ever compares you to Django!

    Anyway, I'll report back with my progress in a new posting over at "Licks and Patterns" probably with some sound clips at different speeds for you to try the same if you want to develop your "Django accent" on "Viper's Dream".

    Will Wilson
    Paul Cezanne: "I could paint for a thousand years without stopping and I would still feel as though I knew nothing."

    Edgar Degas: "Only when he no longer knows what he is doing does the painter do good things.... To draw, you must close your eyes and sing."
  • MusetteMusette New
    Posts: 96
    Dear Will, that really inspired me and i think from now on, i'll try to transcribe by ear daily at least a couple of measures of Django's choruses because who could be better GJ teacher than the man?

    I also feel that sometimes too much theory and exercises are contraproducent and maybe we should take a break and start playing just to enjoy music.

    I'm aware its a long long journey but i can tell you that i'm never gonna drop it or give up, and i don't think you should either.
    Because i dream of the day i can actually improvise over any tune knowing the changes and applying my arpeggio, scale , excersises, licks and tricks, harmony, etc knowladge to make it sound like i was a gypsy but with my own interpretation and feel, and little by little we are getting closer to that day.
  • One thing to reflect on IMO one can never be someone you aren't ...... you will never ever ever phrase improvisations quite the same as a gypsy ... unless you were brought up in that culture ... it is quite possible to copy and get close but to a good ear one sounds like one is copying even if one is very good at it. :shock:

    If one is passionate about music then let the melody lead the way and listen to the music inside you. That is as real as it gets. That doesn't mean one doesn't imitate to some degree what you like that others have played or how they play it ... it is the most sincere form of flattery to do so....and if the learning is diverse enough and the required 10,000 hours to master the instrument is reached one ends up with one's own style. :wink: Hopefully others will like it :lol:
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • Lango-DjangoLango-Django Niagara-On-The-Lake, ONModerator
    Posts: 1,540
    Jazzaferri, insightful comment, you are one wise dude.

    I notice you live in Victoria BC... it's hard to tell from your little picture but you look kinda like my old guitar buddy Don Ogilvie from Vancouver; ever met him?

    Don's a great player. I haven't talked to him for a long time now, but I understand that he and Michael Dunn do a lot of gigs together as a duo in the Vancouver area.

    You guys should get togther, I bet you'd have fun.

    Will Wilson
    Niagara-On-The-Lake, ON
    Paul Cezanne: "I could paint for a thousand years without stopping and I would still feel as though I knew nothing."

    Edgar Degas: "Only when he no longer knows what he is doing does the painter do good things.... To draw, you must close your eyes and sing."
Sign In or Register to comment.
Home  |  Forum  |  Blog  |  Contact  |  206-528-9873
The Premier Gypsy Jazz Marketplace
Banner Adverts
Sell Your Guitar
© 2021, all rights reserved worldwide.
Software: Kryptronic eCommerce, Copyright 1999-2021 Kryptronic, Inc. Exec Time: 0.045985 Seconds Memory Usage: 3.450798 Megabytes