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5th, 6th string roots - chromatic practices?

PassacagliaPassacaglia Madison, WI✭✭✭✭
edited July 2009 in Gypsy Rhythm Posts: 1,471
I am new to both formal theory, and chord work beyond what I knew a long time ago. Can anyone provide some guidance, in terms of GJ specifically, at this juncture, whether this is a reasonable approach to take when working the G. Rhythm book?

My daily training consists of:

Warmup;
Rhythm Training; and
Some limited picking/solo training.


I am warming up with:

-Stephane Wrembel's initial open-string exercises;
-Gypsy Picking, through Basic Exercises and Picking Patterns.

Then, going into Rhythm:

-Gypsy Rhythm:

1. Working the basic and intermediate chords. Basically, emulating what I had started in Mickey Baker's Jazz book, I am chromatically working these chords up and down the neck, as well as changing each between 5th and 6th string roots.

My basic question - sorry if it's a naive question to make - is there merit to doing this, or am I better off simply working the chords and songs? I ask, in part, because of what I've seen on the Manoucheries site re: chord voicings - talking about GJ chord shapes with roots "taking place mostly between" ) (say) F and C....which implies to me that it is rare to see certain chromatic chords. Because I am older, and have a lot of catching up to do, as much as I want to "learn it all," I also need to be realistic about a finite life, time, and what I can master over whatever stretch is left to me. Am I posing this clearly?

2. The basic Pompe exercises.

-Denis Chang's Accompaniment DVD.

I am following the rhythm work with more from Gypsy Picking, the Musical Examples sections; and general theory training.

The thrust of my question - is there good merit, in terms of training focus, to working the M, m, 6/9, 7th etc. chords chromatically, Fret 1 to Fret 12 and beyond?
-Paul

pas encore, j'erre toujours.

Comments

  • JazzDawgJazzDawg New
    Posts: 264
    Wow, you're doing a lot! You know, I'm mostly in the same stream as you. I'm a bit more comfortable with the chords, so I don't bother with chromatic practice up the neck with the chords. I think you just need to be comfortable with making the shapes of the chords when needed.

    The only thing, I'd add to your practice cycle is add some time, whether it's every day or every other day, to learning some tunes. You can learn a lot about your retention of chord shapes and get your fingers comfortable with the motions of changing positions by playing along with any of those play alongs.

    I feel the same about making the best use of my time, but I want to have some fun along the way, too! So, I'm playing along with those tunes, practicing those chord shapes. I see a lot of 'modern' GJ players using the full chords, which is nice to know, but I find that knowing the 3-note, or 2-note approach works to get into the groove. Django could not have played some of the chord shapes in some of the material I've seen, so I'm not as worried about using them, as much as I am about the picking and la Pompe.

    Great questions, and hope to see Dennis or other experienced players chime in.
  • bbwood_98bbwood_98 Brooklyn, NyProdigy Vladimir music! Les Effes. . Its the best!
    Posts: 601
    JD and Pass,
    So- Here would be my thought . . . Play less with the play alongs as a rhythm player, play with recordings of your favorite bands (Gonzalo's new ep, Zaiti acoustic, Selmer 607 are my current practicing records, though I just downloaded a lot of the live sets from tsf jazz at samois and will start on those soon). try to find the exact chords they are using on each song, and be able to put your pompe exactly with the recording (timing of the upstroke if there is one). The full chords with the thumb are what most rhythm players used- either with django, or with more modern players, though of course there are exceptions to that. (note- I play a 7 string, so I struggle with this a lot!)
    I would second the idea that along with learning "grips" or shapes; learning songs will put you much further on the path to playing with others . . . and so many of the tunes are similar- so that is a huge help to learning new tunes also. Playing with records will help you with this- plus unlike play alongs; the best rhythm players in the style are playing, and often the best lead players as well.
    Good Luck!
    Ben
  • JazzDawgJazzDawg New
    Posts: 264
    While I do occasionally play along with my favorite recordings some times, I have an issue that many may not encounter (hopefully) - I wear hearing aids, and without them I am deaf. That's not an excuse, just mentioning it because I have trouble 'hearing' the rhythm when the whole band is playing. It's virtual impossible for me to transcribe with my limitations, and unless I find an actual transcription of the chords that bands are using on a piece, I have to rely on what I feel is the best chord shape for the tune at hand. Again, not an excuse for not learning the 'full' chords, which I will play, it's just while I'm learning a piece, I opt for the simple chord shapes to get the structure of the song under control.

    So, I find playing along with just a rhythm ensemble better suited for me as I learn. I think the rhythm playing on the Stephane Wrembel site, http://www.stephanewrembel.com/rhythmtracks.html, well played, as is Greg Ruby's playing on the Pearl Django Play-Along package. I know that playing along with actual records is a good thing, that's the way I learned my Beatles, Stones, Clapton, Steely Dan, and so on...

    I would prefer to play with live musicians, if I could find some that played this style, as that's how I think a musician learns best. For now, I plug my GJ music into my small combo amp, and jam on at regular speed. Of course, this points out all of my flaws, which helps me to focus on the points I need more work. The picking style is very demanding. I do think without a GJ teacher at hand, makes things much more difficult, as there is no one to help see the faults in the technique before it becomes a bad habit, though.

    I remember learning rock and roll from watching local bands, and then jamming with others. As I moved forward on the learning curve, I always tried to find players who were either at my same level or better, so I could learn from them. I think that's the best way, and probably how this GJ technique is passed on so well among the gypsy players.

    So, while I'm at some disadvantage with my limited hearing capability, it in no way is diminishing my passion for learning. My advice for younger players, would be to treasure your senses and protect them. Above all learn and play with passion as if this were the last day you could do so.
  • PassacagliaPassacaglia Madison, WI✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 1,471
    Thanks, guys - away from town and on the road, but wanted to thank you for the replies. As things have been turning out, knock on wood, I'm pretty pleased with the memory - mind and body - that has been coming back. After warming up per the above, I'm getting pretty deep into Gypsy Picking's Musical Examples, working on ease, relaxation, and speed - so long as I'm staying clean. Beyond Denis's DVD and the techniques sections of Gypsy Rhythm, I am working on the "basics" to intermediate versions of Michael's transcriptions, then playing theory by changing roots/inverting, seeing connections between chords (i.e., m6 and 1/2-diminished, etc.), chord substitutions, etc., all to try to train my harmonic ear and put my hands to what I'm thinking and studying. I'm getting about 4 -5 hours a day of actual playing practice, plus reading, study, listening. I guess I'm just in love with all this, and only stop from time to time to marvel that it took so long to return. I am working on staying alive with recorded music, and have the hope to get enough in me to be able to jam (and credibly learn) at the festivals/workshops coming up this late summer/early fall (as a very background rhythm player!).

    In da U.P., but looking forward to getting back home - my GJ guitar is in a luthier's shop, and though I'm still enjoying my BR-40, can't wait to get the DG-300 back in my hands!

    I posted on another thread - anyone from the Midwest going to Crested Butte in September?
    -Paul

    pas encore, j'erre toujours.
  • PassacagliaPassacaglia Madison, WI✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 1,471
    Back home, wanted to more fully consider and respond. Jazz, I was really sorry to read of your hearing loss, but kudos to you for pushing past it with passion, in the way you have.

    I spent some time while away working on Stephane Wrembel's shapes, Michael's shapes from Gypsy Rhythm (and Denis's DVD - really helped nail the various rhythms!).

    Having never learned anything as a kid other than a panoply of barre and open chords, the idea of shapes, and knowing chord structures (or rather, why a Min. 7 flat 5 is what it is), was totally new to me. I guess I've patched together a "way" forward - not really tapped the CAGED system, but looking at somewhere over 40 different shapes for all the chord "types" I'm seeing in GJ...I know I'll start to more easily see relationships between them, commonalities within given positions, but for now it's coming along just playing, and visualizing, say, a given key and chord in the many ways to do a major, minor, major 6/9, minor 6, Dim. 7, etc., as I've learned them from Michael's and Stephane's books.

    Sorry for the jumbled mass - but I'm hopeful Jazz, BBwood, others with more experience may chime in.

    What I was doing was interval counting, basically, with every chord I was playing - seeing the major or minor basic shape, counting off these to get the 6th, 9th, Dim., etc. While it was cool for me after all these years to get some of the theory in place as to why certain chords work they way they do, I just wonder whether relying on others' constructions was more useful - in other words, whether simply noting the shapes given in Michael's Rhythm book and Stephane's book, and memorizing them, was a good way forward. Bottom line, I guess I'm trying to say that it seems easier for me to simply, literally visualize the various shapes than to count off intervals for all the chords I'm working on.

    Ugh...sorry for the ugly post. Long trip, blown back (Jazz - I feel for you - nerve roots blown in several places, and with legs and arms that go numb from time to time, there are adjustments I need to make, as well). But I hope what I've said makes at least some sense, and if any have some thoughts on whether the above is a decent way of proceeding (for a guy who has the fingers to play decently, but otherwise a noob in so many ways), I'd appreciate it.

    Paul
    -Paul

    pas encore, j'erre toujours.
  • bbwood_98bbwood_98 Brooklyn, NyProdigy Vladimir music! Les Effes. . Its the best!
    Posts: 601
    Paul,
    Yeah, memorizing grips is good- but then learning to alter them is also good . . . and that either requires a bit of theory or really great ears and some guess work. Steph's system is great for both aproaches. Knowing the three major shapes and then learning where the ninth's are is a great way to start. also using "interval counting" is good, but do it on the guitar- 1st fret 1st string F, 4th fret 1st string ab 8th fret 1st string C, 10th fret 1st string D . . . this is a fm6 arpeggio- and you can use it to solo as well as develop inversions on the chord . . . useful but a mite tedious!
    for me it has always been about the sound- getting a good bark; deep bass and still swinging. The exact chords and stuff are lose enough to start- just be adaptable in case you play with someone who does them different!
    Good luck,
    Ben
  • PassacagliaPassacaglia Madison, WI✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 1,471
    Ben - thanks for the thoughts, great advice.

    I do tend to be very visual in both my learning style and in memorizing things, so oddly enough, simply writing out and playing the 45+ chord voicings I've looked at so far, with their fingerings and intervals above and below the fretboard diagram, has already started to lock in my mind's eye. I also find myself naturally counting off intervals, so it seems we're on the road. What I have to war against is my own impatience, which has always been an issue.

    "Impatience" brings up another notion....I mention above that I am dividing my practice time about 40/40/20 between rhythm training (Gypsy Rhythm, Denis Chang's DVD), lead training (Gypsy Picking, Stephane Wrembel's book, some of Romane's Manouche book), and straight theory. I think I've made the difficult decision (for me), to really halt all lead work for at least a year or so, until I feel really well-heeled in rhythm playing. Probably an obvious choice, but as I said, I tend to impatience. It seems to me that there is an entire world inside rhythm playing - perfecting the rhythms learned from Denis's DVD, Michael's book alone can wonderfully consume for the foreseeable future - that it behooves me to slow down, and perfect this first rung of the ladder, accompaniment.

    Many thanks again.

    Paul
    -Paul

    pas encore, j'erre toujours.
  • BluesBop HarryBluesBop Harry Mexico city, MexicoVirtuoso
    Posts: 1,379
    The Wauwau DVD is great for working on rhythm!
    You put it on and watch Dennis accompaniment all the while listening and trying not to drown the DVD sound.
    He plays the tunes a few times over and often changes the voicings each time. In the end you get a "jam proof" rhythm going at the same time you absorb bits and pieces of Wauwau's lead playing.

    Anyway that's just my opinion I've been doing it and seems to be working great.
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