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What voicings did Chaput and Joseph use?

edited January 2012 in Gypsy Jazz 101 Posts: 13
I'm a beginner in Gypsy Jazz, deciding what chords and voicings to learn. For now, I'm kind of interested in learning what the backup guitarists of the Hot Club Quintet in the 30's did. And I'm in a quandary.
On the one hand, I have acquired Cosimini's Gypsy Jazz Chord Book, Horowitz' Gypsy Rhythm, Chang's Art of Accompaniment, Ailin Cola's Django Fakebook and Robin & Watremez' Django Reinhardt's 100th Birthday; and I take the occasional lesson from John Jorgenson's rhythm guitarist. On the other hand, I listen to the music. I have transcribed a LOT of dense guitar music in my time. I'm listening as closely as I can to the rhythm section while Django is soloing, and I can't for the life of me hear all these notes these sources -- except Cola -- are telling me are the gypsy jazz chords. Granted, I've just done this with maybe a dozen songs, but if that's any indication: mostly these guys are playing three-note chords -- straight triads (which you're "never" suppose to hear in Gypsy Jazz) and simple dominants and diminished. Once in a while a 6th or 9th. Apparently, not too concerned if there's no root on the 5th or 6th string. (Though very concerned about voice leading.)
I understand that GJ harmony has expanded since the 30's. And I understand that people want to play rhythm more like Django than like Joseph. So maybe that's what y'all are talking about. But am I right about the humble accompanists back in the day? If so I'm surprised they are not more of a model for backup rhythm. Or do you have reason to believe there are notes there that are just very, very difficult to hear on these recordings?


  • Paulius VolkovasPaulius Volkovas ✭✭✭
    Posts: 146
    Good topic, i am also interested in this. I often see those big fat 5 or 6 string voicings in gipsy books but are those really being used? Especially in fast tempos they seem to be quite inefficient? Or am i wrong? I'm quite new to this style so feel free to correct me.
  • Svanis1337Svanis1337 ✭✭✭
    Posts: 439
    I'm pretty sure they used standard chord voicings. Bar chords and the like, but as Gypsy Jazz evolved, so did the embellishments and pretty much everything else.
  • MichaelHorowitzMichaelHorowitz SeattleAdministrator
    Posts: 5,930
    Generally Django's accompanists played chords with little or no tensions in them. Sometimes three note voicings are used, especially on the fast tunes but more often five or six note voicings. Django played the voicings with all the tensions in them. The Gypsy Rhythm book has transcriptions of exactly what Django and his accompanists played on numerous tunes...the "Basic" versions have the simple voicings of the accompanists and the intermediate, advanced, and comping versions have what Django played.

    Hope that answers your question!

  • Posts: 13
    Yes, I take it back about Cola's chords being the exception. The chords you have in your basic sections are definitely about as simple as you can get. Maybe a string or two more than I hear. Let me ask you: how do you know -- with such confidence! -- that this is exactly what they played? Not that I doubt you. Just quite curious.
  • MichaelHorowitzMichaelHorowitz SeattleAdministrator
    Posts: 5,930
    that this is exactly what they played? Not that I doubt you. Just quite curious.

    Careful transcribing, peer review, as well the oral tradition handed down from the Gypsies. It's not 100% but probably 95% which is close enough.
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