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Oscar Aleman "Blue Skies"

Lango-DjangoLango-Django Niagara-On-The-Lake, ONModerator
Pulling together comments from several threads... I've always loved the simplicity, sparseness and swing of Oscar's playing on this Irving Berlin classic tune, so today I decided to mess around with it a little bit and see if I could learn a few things from it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4HWqVzTtBKw

It seems to be real easy to play, except the recording is right in the middle between E minor and F minor.

I'm guessing Em is the right key...? Has anybody ever worked on this? please tell me if I'm wrong...

Will
Paul Cezanne: "I could paint for a thousand years without stopping and I would still feel as though I knew nothing."

Edgar Degas: "Only when he no longer knows what he is doing does the painter do good things.... To draw, you must close your eyes and sing."

Georges Braque: "In art there is only one thing that counts: the bit that can’t be explained."
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Comments

  • spatzospatzo Virtuoso
    Posts: 747
    I hear the key as being Fm

    mini_241076quinteto2manuelgavinovich.jpg

    The tune is nice indeed even if violinist Manuel Gavinovich is going out of intonation at 1:29 when trying to give a bluesy feeling to his nice solo. Further Eb notes also seem strange to my hears. A member of the orchestra also gives an approbation to this attempt with one of Django's famous shouts...

    I mean here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4HWqVzTtBKw&t=89s

    Here's an interesting document on Oscar Aleman:
  • Svanis1337Svanis1337 ✭✭✭
    Posts: 439
    And that shout is by Oscar himself. :D
    Dingalingdong
  • Lango-DjangoLango-Django Niagara-On-The-Lake, ONModerator
    Posts: 1,647
    Thanks, Spatzo, for that interesting bio discography.

    I've now had a chance to play around with adjusting the pitch, and both the guitar and violin do sound more realistic in Fm rather then Em... a bit strange because I've got the original sheet music and it is in Em, so I don't know what would cause Oscar and the guys to change it to Fm.

    So far I've just messed around with the first chorus, and it seems that Oscar basically just works out of a "C" shape between frets 8 and 11. All the nice little notes and phrases that he invents are quite easy to find in that position.

    Anybody who's worn out from transcribing Django--- check this out, it's like going on holiday!

    Will
    Paul Cezanne: "I could paint for a thousand years without stopping and I would still feel as though I knew nothing."

    Edgar Degas: "Only when he no longer knows what he is doing does the painter do good things.... To draw, you must close your eyes and sing."

    Georges Braque: "In art there is only one thing that counts: the bit that can’t be explained."
  • jimvencejimvence Austin, TX✭✭
    Posts: 73
    Thanks, Spatzo, for that interesting bio discography.

    I've now had a chance to play around with adjusting the pitch, and both the guitar and violin do sound more realistic in Fm rather then Em... a bit strange because I've got the original sheet music and it is in Em, so I don't know what would cause Oscar and the guys to change it to Fm.


    Will

    They may have very well played it in Em, and in the process of mastering it was sped up, and therefore changed pitched. I've noticed that issue on a few Oscar recordings, and as well in some of the transcription I've been doing with Luciano Zuccheri's Quintetto di Milano recordings from the 40s.

    Recording standards were most certainly less stringent and precise in the 30s and 40s than it is today. In some cases, a recording may have intentionally sped up from initial recording to mastering, or perhaps even recorded more slowly, to fit (literally) onto a 10 inch 78 rpm record.

    In one case, I transcribed a song that had to have been recorded in the key of G, due to the open strings used, but plays back as if in "almost" Ab (when tuning A=440, the tone center pitch was a semi-tone flat Ab).
  • Lango-DjangoLango-Django Niagara-On-The-Lake, ONModerator
    Posts: 1,647
    Jim, I suspect you are correct about the original key being Em, but since Oscar's arrangement doesn't seem to use any open strings, what-the-hey, we may as well call it Fm as Em now.

    I've been fooling around with this all afternoon now, and to my ear it sounds like he just stays right in position between frets 8 to 11 for the whole song, with just one brief foray up to fret 12 of the first string over the Dbm chord near the end.

    It's amazing to me how he does so much with so little, finding nice tasteful notes to play just using a few shapes inside that fretboard area.

    The very idea of doing that seems pretty lame by today's standards, and yet... Oscar makes it work.

    Reminds me of Django's solo on "Sheik of Araby", which is in the key of Bb, and he found all sorts of marvellous stuff to play staying right in first position...!

    Who would ever do that today?

    Nobody!
    Paul Cezanne: "I could paint for a thousand years without stopping and I would still feel as though I knew nothing."

    Edgar Degas: "Only when he no longer knows what he is doing does the painter do good things.... To draw, you must close your eyes and sing."

    Georges Braque: "In art there is only one thing that counts: the bit that can’t be explained."
  • jimvencejimvence Austin, TX✭✭
    Posts: 73
    The key word in my prior post is "may"...I didn't listen or try to transcribe Blue Skies yet, but I have observed that issue of recordings being sped up or slowed down in general, and to be aware of it.

    Good to hear from you, Will
  • spatzospatzo Virtuoso
    Posts: 747
    Hi Jim!

    I am interested in the transcriptions you've made of Zuccheri. I lived in Italy for many years and my good friend Fabio Lossani, guitarist and author of the excellent "Django in Italy" transcriptions gave me once the great opportunity to play on Luciano's guitar. Fabio was a friend of Luciano Zuccheri.

    Lossani's book is on sale here: http://shoppingcart.djangobooks.com/Item/fabio-lossani-django-in-rome

    Here's one example of Zuccheri's capacities on guitar



    and here's another one



    He is totally unknown today but he was an excellent guitarist obviously influenced by Django but that had an pretty interesting personnality

    Hi Svanis! I wonder if the shout is Oscar's one as he did it on his own solo also... but with Oscar everything is possible
  • spatzospatzo Virtuoso
    Posts: 747
    yes Sir!

    Django followers of those years are all (Aleman included) moreless 10 years late in fact they play in the late forties - moreless- as Django did in the early thirties.

    I am afraid that I have moreless 100 years of gap.... :shock:
  • Lango-DjangoLango-Django Niagara-On-The-Lake, ONModerator
    Posts: 1,647
    Zuccheri was a nice player with a sweet tone. Thanks for sharing those samples, Spatzo.

    Just curious but how did you manage to live in Italy for so song, and where do you live nowadays... For some reason I just got a strong psychic vibe that in real life, you are an international jewel thief sort of like Cary Grant in Monte Carlo in "To Catch a Thief"...

    Will
    Paul Cezanne: "I could paint for a thousand years without stopping and I would still feel as though I knew nothing."

    Edgar Degas: "Only when he no longer knows what he is doing does the painter do good things.... To draw, you must close your eyes and sing."

    Georges Braque: "In art there is only one thing that counts: the bit that can’t be explained."
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