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How's my pompe?

scholziescholzie Rochester, NYNew
edited August 2006 in Technique Posts: 15
I have been playing in front of a mirror and it looks as though I'm doing it correctly compared to an old "Hot Jazz" video I have of Django and Joseph. I have a video (WMV only, sorry). Unfortunately, my camera had a pretty slow shutter speed, so it looks like I'm moving my arm more than my wrist, but it feels like I'm only using my wrist. If you look at my arm in the video, it tends to stay in roughly the same place.

I tried 5 times to get better lighting for the video to reduce the shutter speed, and this is the best that came out.

Comments appreciated. Here's the vid (2.2 megs).
Gitane DG-255 w/ upgraded DuPont bridge. Hopefully a new tailpiece and some new tuners, soon.


  • dennisdennis Montreal, QuebecModerator
    Posts: 2,121
    hi scholzie

    overall not bad, but there are few things that should be corrected.... first of all, when learning accompaniment, leave the effects for later (you did quite a few triplet rolls).

    there are different styles of accompaniment and i'm assume you're going after the old style (which is similar to the way a lot of the dutch sinti play it).

    let's start with the right hand:

    there are two schools for this ,

    1: on beats 1 and 3, you need to get hte bass strings on the up as well as the downstrokes, very important... (more common)

    2: on beats 1 and 3, some feel it is better to get ALL the strings (although this style of playing won't work too well on uptempo songs)

    beats 2 and 4:

    every good rhythm player i've seen whips all six strings (from the low E to the high E), regardless of style

    left hand:

    regarding how long you should hold the chord, it really depends on the feel of the song, for a swing tune, on beats 1 and 3, it needs to be short but clear... on beat 2 and 4, it needs to be released as the right hand is attacking the strings, resulting in a near (but not) muted sound (you should still be able to hear the chord)....

    in your case, i see the following problems:

    on the upstroke of the 1st and 3rd beats, the strings are muted, in other words, your left hand needs to press earlier

    another thing is your left hand voicings are too sparse... sinti rhythm players generally go for denser chord voicings, and try to utilize as many notes as possible ESPECIALLY on the bass strings...

    try these chords instead:

    3 5 5 3 3 x Gm played with thumb

    5 x 4 5 3 x D7

    6 8 8 7 6 x Bb with thumb


    now when u combine both left and right hands, it is extremely important to get the bass notes to come out clearly and to "growl" (listen to bireli's douce ambiance from the album 15, there's only one rhythm guitar and no bass so you can REALLY clearly hear the accompaniment) on beats 1 and 3... this has to do with how you strike strings, it must not be forced but it must not be too weak either (some rhythm players like to brush the strings with the flesh of their thumbs)... and it also has to do with the left hand, you need to push the strings and release them at the right moment... it cannot be quanitzed nor describred in words, you'd have to have someone show you......

    a good exercise is to use chord vocings that use all six strings so u can see if you are sometimes missing strings in your right hand (a lot of my students miss the bass and/or the treble strings) .... for instance:

    5 5 4 5 5 5 - D9

    anyway rhythm playing is extremely hard, and it's the first thing i get all my students working on, because your lead playing will never be better than your rhythm playing (endurance, tone production, tempo)... add the fact that the overall technique used for rhythm playing is the same for lead playing....

    the right hand should always be smooth and non-stop (like a pendelum), a lot of my students when playing songs will accidently (for a a quarter split second) stop the continuous flow of their right hand in order to switch to another chord on the left hand....

    so start with one chord, once you feel comfortable, try a chord progression.....

    here's an exercise that will help you with that problem:

    using this shape 3 x 2 3 3 3 Gm6...

    play Gm6 Abm6 Am6 over and over again... changing chords on EACH beat.... in other words ,

    beat 1: Gm6 -boom
    , beat 2: Abm6 TCHACK,
    beat 3 am6 -boom
    beat 4 Gm6 TCHACK


    it usually takes my students about a month to get the hang of it , it takes a few years to get it to a high level..... (try matching nomi rosenberg's rhythm to china boy on jimmy rosenberg's trio album... you'll see what i mean)

    good luck!
  • dennisdennis Montreal, QuebecModerator
    Posts: 2,121
    btw your arm seems fine to me... some players believe it should almost never move (hono winterstein for example), others think it's what gives the extra punch (fapy, nous'che)
  • dennisdennis Montreal, QuebecModerator
    Posts: 2,121
    self promo... hehe maybe u should consider going to my masterclass in november ... all the info here: ... /index.htm
  • scholziescholzie Rochester, NYNew
    Posts: 15
    Wow, dennis, that's quite a post! I'll stop the rolls for now (but I like them!).

    A question:
    I'm using the smaller chords because the guy I'm taking lessons from told me not to use the voicings I was originally using. They were, incidentally, close to the ones you posted. So, is he wrong?

    I used to hold 1 and 3 a little longer, but I took the advice of another gypsy guitarist and I'm trying to make them a little quicker. Is this the right way to do it?

    I'm going to be in Oregon until the 21st of November, so unfortunately a master class is out of the question. I will be in Rochester, NY (back at school) after that.
    Gitane DG-255 w/ upgraded DuPont bridge. Hopefully a new tailpiece and some new tuners, soon.
  • dennisdennis Montreal, QuebecModerator
    Posts: 2,121
    I'm using the smaller chords because the guy I'm taking lessons from told me not to use the voicings I was originally using. They were, incidentally, close to the ones you posted. So, is he wrong?

    well.... i dont believe in "right" or "wrong" in music... i will just say that all the good sinti rhythm guitar players play in the way that i described... small voicings is more typical of the american swing style... but then the american swing style accompaniment (freddy green) has very little in common with the django accompaniment
    I used to hold 1 and 3 a little longer, but I took the advice of another gypsy guitarist and I'm trying to make them a little quicker. Is this the right way to do it?

    it really depends on the tempo and the style of the song.... for most swing tunes, it should be fairly short....... it also depends on where you are in the song... for example , if you're statign the theme, many rhythm palyers will sometimes hold the chords a bit longer and when the solo starts they'll switch to a more staccato style
  • aceace Buffalo, NY✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 70
    hey Scholzie,
    Good to see more Gypsy Jazzers in the upstate NY area. I know a few other players in Rochester playing GJ that also give lessons. Come to Buffalo and check us out too, and we'll pompe all night. Drop me a line.
  • scholziescholzie Rochester, NYNew
    Posts: 15

    I sent you a PM.
    Gitane DG-255 w/ upgraded DuPont bridge. Hopefully a new tailpiece and some new tuners, soon.
  • Posts: 22
    Hi! I really enjoyed that video clip, It would seem that I need to brush up on my rhythm playing! good stuff
  • trumbologytrumbology San FranciscoNew
    edited October 2005 Posts: 124

    On the upstroke, there was an interesting discussion under "La Pompe in America before Django" on the forum

    There, Phydeaux3, taking the minority view, wasn't so sure about the upstroke being used by QHCF on every "1" and "3" beat (the discussion I believe mainly focused on Django records), though he did point out that some songs used it more than others. I think Phydeaux3 actually modified his opinion a little in the course of the discussion, but anyway, his original position generated some good critical thinking on the subject. The downside of the upstroke, so to speak, to Phydeaux3 was the possibility that it could start to drag the rhythm into a shuffle feel, compromising the crispness.

    Here's what he came up with:

    [Begin quote]

    I've listened to the following tracks and come up with this conclusion.

    'After You've Gone' - 1936 (Rhythm Players Joseph and Pierre)
    'Limehouse Blues' - as above
    'Nagasaki' - as above
    'Georgia on My Mind' - as above
    'Shine' - as above
    ...No La Pompe played. Possibly 'flat four' but with more swing.

    'Chicago' - 1937 (Marcel and Pierre)
    'Exactly Like You' - as above
    'Charleston' - as above
    'Ain't Misbehavin' - as above
    'Rose Room' - as above
    ...La Pompe definately played here

    Obviously I haven't been listening enough

    'Minor Swing' - 1937 (Joe and Eugene)
    ...La Pompe

    'You're Driving Me Crazy'
    ...No La Pompe

    Now maybe the recording techniques of the time couldn't pick up a very slight upstroke. But I think that 'After You've Gone', 'Limehouses Blues', 'Nagasaki' have got a very good sound quality and I don't hear an upstroke.

    I think that it's as I said before La Pompe is not played all the time and that different tunes, tempos etc will sit better with a rhythmic change.

    [End Quote]

    ('Stockholm' is, btw, another interesting variation on the QHCF's normal sound.)

    I'd like to know if you've heard the Dave Biller CD 'Leroy's Swing.' The rhythm there has been criticized as stiff; I'm not sure I'm in agreement, though I'll admit it might not be orthodox by today's standards.

    If the rhythm is more rigid and staccato, might it make a lead player with a lot of swing feel stand out in relief more? (I know we are venturing into the area of personal taste here...)

    Maybe the rhythm on this record is at one extreme, and a pronounced shuffle (a "Daa Dicky Daa" sound) is the other extreme.

    Anyway, I don't really know if Biller's rhythm players are using upstrokes. (Opinions, people?)

    I just wish I could have been a French-speaking fly on the wall at the sessions to hear if Django discussed the rhythmic feels, the changes, or chord voicings going on behind him.

    Comments (Dennis or anyone) on...

    1. the shuffle feel
    2.) the upstroke
    3.) how important the rhythm approach on the late 1930s Django records is to what you and others are playing today?


    Neil H.
  • dennisdennis Montreal, QuebecModerator
    Posts: 2,121
    hi neil:

    in case, i forgto to mention it , the upstroke and the downstroke need to be so close together that they form one tight unit... the problem is most people are unable to get that close hence the criticism of the shuffle feel.... they mistakenly think that's how the upstroke style is supposed to sound...

    i'd dare boldly say that 90 percent of people who are learning this music don't do it "right" or take it way too much for granted, it is extremely difficult and full of stubtle nuances...

    i had one student tell me he didn't have trouble with rhythm playing just lead... i popped in an uptempo tune from a bireli cd and had him match the rhythm player, within 10 seconds he had already slowed down considerably and the sound was all over the place.... although after about 2 months worth of lessons his rhythm playing is way better now.

    again i'll also remind everyone that there are different ways of accompanying mainly divided by 2 schools: straight and swing (w/ upstroke), even within these schools there are multiple variations.... some people believe the arm should never move, others believe it's what gives it a stronger swing feel.... some believe that all strings should be played on beats 1 and 3, others feel only the bass strings, etc.. etc....

    the one thing in common between all styles: emphasis on bass strings and dense chord voicings, hitting all strings on the 2nd and 4th beats...

    now about django's rhythm players... joseph and pierre both used the upstrokes... on all the tunes you mentionned, you can hear the upstroke (including the ones where phydeaux believes there isn't any).... it's so close to the downstroke, but you can clearly hear it although the recording quality itself is quite bad...

    hono winterstein does use the upstroke but his is actually much more subtle... in that he'll only do it on the bass strings (around E to A strings).... someone like martin limberger or fapy for example will do it on either all six strings or more bass strings (E-G)......

    i believe question 1 is answered

    question 2 is answered in my first post and further clarified here, ii'll just repeat, there are different ways of playing rhythm, but if you want to use the upstroke, just make sure you get it right.

    3) not sure how to answer this one; that style of rhythm playing as far as the right goes is still in use today, especially in holland... with regards to chord voicings however, it's a different story as django's accompanists used a lot of simple barre chords (yes they did!)

    at any rate though, like i said earlier, even if u subscribe to only one particular school of rhythm playing as most people do, different songs (tempo, feel) will call for a different approach....

    i have not heard dave biller's cd

    btw pompe doesn't refer to the use of upstroke, it refers to the style of accompaniment in the django style....
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