Why the heck would you want to sound like Django

kungfumonk007kungfumonk007 ✭✭✭✭
edited December 2012 in Welcome Posts: 421
Okay - so I'm posting youtube lessons for HOMESCHOOLED KIDS, am only up to the 10th lesson, have only covered 1 scales so far (natural minor), and I have seasoned/professional gypsy guitarists criticizing my sound as not sounding like Django/Manouche. Excuse the rant but. . .

Why the heck would you want to sound like Django? First you never could, only Django sounds like Django, and second if I wanted to listen to Django, I'm not going to listen to some dude trying to sound like Django, I'm going to listen to the real Django! Jimmy doesn't sound like Django, he sounds like Jimmy. Birelli sounds like Birelli, Joscho sounds like Joscho and none of them sound like eachother. Really is it everyone's goal just to be able to produce the same sound, the same style, playing the same songs???? The only reason why anyone would want to listen to you is if you are doing something that has both ORIGINALITY and NOTEABILITY! That doesn't mean you throw away the past or don't learn from those who have gone before you. It just means you don't turn Gypsy Jazz into a stagnant snotty style where everyone sounds the same and plays the same songs over and over again and gets critical of anyone who steps out of bounds. I LOVE gypsy jazz but it is getting stagnant because so few are stepping out of bounds.

Note: Django sounded like NO ONE before him. That is one of the things that made him so great. He was influenced by Debussy, and Bach, and Ellington but he didn't just imitate them, or even try to. So really if you wanted to play like Django you would have to carve out your own sound, not just imitate him.


  • AurelienAurelien PARIS✭✭
    Posts: 58
    But have you ever wondered if it was only for the pleasure to play and so listen to django's phrases? This is absolutely not what i'm doing but I understand why people do this because it's a pleasure for me to listen to them when they are playing like Django !!! my 2nd album is free to download !!
  • fraterfrater Prodigy
    Posts: 763
    Wish I had read this before I chopped off two fingers of mine... :D
  • bopsterbopster St. Louis, MOProdigy Wide Sky PL-1, 1940? French mystery guitar, ‘37 L-4
    Posts: 513
    After listening to, meeting and playing with several players who have very unique and individual styles, the one thing they all have in common is that they know Django's solos note for note. No one reinvents the rudiments of music or a language when they are learning to speak, they construct phrases, sentences and stories based on common rules. In the case of Django, he created the vocabulary of his music from knowing the rudiments of various styles by ear. We Djangophiles want to play this music well, and we can't do this without knowing his vocabulary.

    Here in St. Louis, about 25 years ago, Wynton Marsalis was tutoring musicians in a masterclass, and a student asked how he could become proficient in improvising. Marsalis reply? "How many Charlie Parker solos do you know?"
  • kungfumonk007kungfumonk007 ✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 421
    But you are making a totally different point (a point I agree with by the way). There is a big difference between standing on the shoulders of someone like Django to develop your own sound, and simply going around criticizing people because you think they don't sound Django enough. I'm working on transcribing 365 licks from guitarists I admire for the very reason I think you need to study other guitarist, but then I'm going to take it and make my own sound of it, and I certainly wouldn't go around criticizing other guitarist because they play something that I don't think is "Gypsy Enough."

    I love the Marsalis' - they reference historical styles, yet have a distinct sound of their own as well. That is what Gypsy Guitarists need to do (and what alot are already doing).

    Thanks for the response - I appreciate what you said.
  • bopsterbopster St. Louis, MOProdigy Wide Sky PL-1, 1940? French mystery guitar, ‘37 L-4
    Posts: 513
    Kungfu - Keep doing what you're doing. Unless there are specifics as to what people are criticizing, and they are trying to be helpful, just do your thing.
  • kungfumonk007kungfumonk007 ✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 421
    Thanks bopster - I'm not usually a ranter :oops:
  • kevingcoxkevingcox Nova Scotia✭✭✭✭ Dupont MD50
    Posts: 298
    At the risk of hopping into a flame war here, most of the people you mentioned got their own sound while trying to emulate Django. Bireli reportedly learned some 200 Django solos note for note. If that isn't trying to sound like Django I don't know what is... but he still doesn't sound EXACTLY like Django, and that's all good! Better than good, actually.

    The fact that someone will never accomplish such a lofty feat as sounding like Django (and I suppose you'd have to pick which Django, since he definitely had different phases in his musical growth) doesn't mean they shouldn't try, nor does it mean that they can't eventually find their own path and make meaningful contributions to music through this pursuit.

    As for the comments on your videos, maybe if you were billing them as part of your own journey through the music rather than as lessons for other people then reactions would be different. I took a quick glance through some of your videos, and I must say the comments were pretty tame. Maybe I missed something, but the only real comment I saw was from lesson 10 where someone said your improvisation didn't sound very manouche but encouraged you to continue. As far as youtube comments go, that is about as constructive and positive a criticism I have ever read. I also happen to agree with the person, your solo didn't sound very manouche to me and you should continue to play in whatever style you love and/or choose.

    That doesn't mean you have absolutely nothing to teach a beginner player, because you seem to know a lot about musical theory and to be a decent guitarist, but go back and listen to that solo again with an objective ear and ask yourself if that little snippet of music has the hallmark sound of gypsy jazz. And I'm not talking about picking technique, I'm talking about the approach.

    In short, I would say focus on your stated objective of learning licks, keep developing in this amazing style and keep your skin pretty thick when it comes to comments. I will never sound like Django, or even Tchavolo, but dang it if I'm not going to have a hell of a good time trying until the day I die. And maybe someday some kid will hear me playing and think "wow, I wish I could play guitar like him" and do the same thing all over again with entirely different result.

    Just enjoy the music, man!
  • kungfumonk007kungfumonk007 ✭✭✭✭
    edited December 2011 Posts: 421
    Again, The lessons I'm doing are totally different from the licks-a-day. Again that is only the 10th lesson on a series meant for young, homeschooled beginners, and in my playing I am limiting myself only to the scales and techniques which I had covered up unto that point, which only includes the natural minor scale by lesson 10. I'm building up my lessons technique by technique, concept by concept so a BEGINNER can progress and UNDERSTAND what he's playing instead of just copying notes without understanding where those notes come from. I don't even say at any point in those lessons that I'm trying to teach only gypsy jazz.

    What you said about Birelli I agree with, read the above discussion. I never at any point suggested we should cut ties with the past, but instead said specifically at several points that we SHOULD NOT do so. I am making a different point.

    And I'm not ranting about comments on my youtube, it is something I've been thinking about for months now (and to some degree years now) before I even created those youtubes.

    In fact an even better example can be found on this great video of Joscho and Jorgenson.

    After both ripping totally sweet solos here are some of the comments:

    "sounds more like country than gipsy jazz."

    "his just doesn't have the right feel---check out Wawau Adler or Bireli Lagrene--thats got the true sound--this just sucks"

    "Richard seems to be the only who doesn't pretend to be a gypsy"

    See what I'm mean! I appreciate what you are saying though - I agree with what you said about Birelli, hope those specific examples give more clarity about what I mean. Also this is just a silly rant so just take it as such though I guess how I titled my post might be taken the wrong way :)
  • kungfumonk007kungfumonk007 ✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 421
    Here is another example. Joscho dose some GREAT playing here:

    and here in the comments:

    "dude, wtf do you think? he don't refuse to do so. They refuse to play with him (speaking of other GJ players). Because what he does is cool but has nothing to do with gipsy swing"

    Joscho is my favorite player, and you especially here a lot of this attitude getting directed at Joscho.
  • Posts: 38
    @kungfumonk007 - since your lesson videos are for a specific target group, maybe consider posting on vimeo instead? There's a much more respectful audience over there. Are you working for a home school organization? you can create a group on vimeo and give students an access password etc.
    -just a thought.

    I agree with what another poster said above.. if you are going to post your videos on youtube and open the comments section -you must have thick skin when it comes to those comments. keep it all at arms length and just keep doing what you do.

    btw- i like that the videos are lefty 8)

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