Transcription and playback: 'The Best Of Django Reinhardt'

JojoJojo London UK


This is a Hal Leonard book from 2003 which I purchased today. The new way of listening to the recorded examples is by putting a code (found in the book) into the Hal Leonard website. All this is fine and modern.

I listened to a few of the songs (they're extended examples) of Django's original examples played by modern day players. BUT...I listened to the examples and thought they'd been played by a MIDI instrument as there's a 'weird' sound to them. The examples are given in two speeds, the normal speed of Django's recording and a slow speed but get this....the slow speed is the one recorded in real time by the guitarist, i.e he's playing Django's solo slowly. To get the speed at which Django was playing the solos, what do they do? Yep, they just speed up the recording hence the 'weird sound'. Now, I shouldn't be outraged as the notes are still there and there's some decent explanations of what is happening but can someone help me here in:

a) why couldn't they find anyone in 2003 in the US to play the solos at the speed Django recorded them?

b) why were they recorded on ordinary acoustic guitars, not GJ guitars, which I find odd?

Hal Leonard is the biggest sheet music company in the world. Surely it had contacts with GJ players...and in Europe too or would this have been too much to ask? It just seems very dismissive. Was 2003 'a very different place' with regards to transcriptions; maybe this was happening with other acoustic artists? I really don't think they would've got away with this if it was say, Van Halen.

If anybody can shed some light, thanks in advance :)


  • dennisdennis Montreal, QuebecModerator
    edited November 2019 Posts: 2,161

    Hal Leonard is a perfect example of a company run by people who had tremendous success in the past but still doing business based on outdated principles. They're not likely to be interested in changing unless someone else with an open mind takes over. It 's a company whose priority is to make money first and foremost . Quality is secondary . If people are buying it , and reviews are generally decent, they'll keep selling it and won't care to make the quality better. Such is the case. Keep in mind that the die hard gj fans are a minority in the world of guitar. Most people buying these books don't know any better, so for every 100 people that complain about the quality, 100,000 won't ;-) .

    Hal Leonard controls the publishing rights to Django's music in North America. They won't even grant licenses of his songs to other people who would want to make proper transcriptions. Why? because it would compete with the books they've already released and that are still selling well.

  • JojoJojo London UK
    Posts: 190

    Thanks Dennis for the reply (I was hoping you'd be the person to clarify the matter) and being diplomatic. I had a vague idea that what you say was what is happening, myself not being connected with publishing etc. I wouldn't say it was £17.99 too badly spent and it was a 'spur of the moment' purchase in a music shop, so it helps the shop stay in business but I think I'll delve further into Duved's stuff (I'm a big fan of your site, btw) to get round copyright stuff, I guess. Thanks again.

  • BonesBones Moderator
    Posts: 3,320

    I wouldn't bother with any transcription or method books unless they are done by a bonafide GJ player. Just my humble opinion.

  • ChrisMartinChrisMartin Shellharbour NSW Australia✭✭ Di Mauro x2, Petrarca, Genovesi, Burns, Kremona Zornitsa & Paul Beuscher resonator.
    edited November 2019 Posts: 959

    Sorry to divert things, being slightly pedantic here, but it may be useful to know for anyone here in business for themselves:

    I used to manage a busy service garage in London, England which was part of a chain owned by a multi-national. The company had done extensive research into customer satisfaction (or lack of) and feedback. The accepted figure in most retail businesses seemed to be 1 in 10 will complain, but less than 1 in 100 satisfied customers will let you know you did well.

    Of course the customer who got what he thought he should for what he was paying is unlikely to call back and say "well done" but it is the 9 out of 10 unhappy customers who did not complain that are the main concern because they are now lost to the competition, they can't be bothered complaining, they just take their business elsewhere.

    Following that example, your 100 'complainers' would indicate 1,000 that don't, not 100,000.

    Just a quick note on customer relations; ok, back to Django now....................

  • wimwim ChicagoModerator Barault #503 replica
    Posts: 1,459

    Heck yes, finding anyone in 2003 in the US to play Django solos at the speed Django recorded them is a big ask. Even today I think there's only a handful of people that could do the job convincingly.

  • JojoJojo London UK
    Posts: 190

    Thanks guys. All very good points. Chris, I'd imagine when it first came out folk would be none the wiser but as our knowledge of how Django played has increased, even at this late stage it may be good to drop them a line. Looking through the fingerings in the book, I think it could do with an update/revision and, like you say, if no one tells them how will they know?

    Kinda surprised that out of a 350 million population only a few would be able to emulate Django correctly, given the (formerly?) dominance of guitar playing in American music; Django was mentioned a lot in publications like Guitar Player in the 70s and 80s and I guess the problem back then was just finding his records!

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