Rest Stroke "relax" - how? And a few other questions



  • altonalton Keene, NH✭✭ 2000 Dell'Arte Long Scale Anouman, Gadjo Modele Francais, Gitane DG-330 John Jorgensen Tuxedo
    Posts: 109
    As a normally strict alternate picker, myself, I've been recommended by people to get hold of the 'Gypsy Picking' Book by Michael Horowitz.

    Definitely buy the book! It has changed my life! I am sure that I am not the only one on here that will say that.

    And don't skip the open string exercises in the first half of the book. I did at first, and the techniques didn't come very fast. I just didn't want to sit there and pluck away at open strings. As a strict alternate picker myself, I spent a lot of time years ago working on that to get to the point where I didn't have to think about picking anymore. When I started the book, albeit halfway through with the fretted exercises, I kept falling right back into alternate picking habits. It was a bit frustrating.

    Then I went back and started over with the open string exercises. I found that it was very helpful to completely remove the left hand from the equation to focus on the movements of the right. It all started coming together after that.

    Then buy Gypsy Rhythm! You'll be busy for a long time!
  • dennisdennis Montreal, QuebecModerator
    Posts: 2,161
    this is probably the first time i spam my own product in a thread, but I did make a lesson that covers the Django and Gypsy technique in tremendous detail.

    The technique is actually not as strict as one might think it is, players such as stochelo for instance are more "by the book" but i think christiaan will agree that stochelo doesn't really put much thought into his technique, it just ended up being that way. Well he definitely put some thought into it, but nothing extremely pedantic like so many of us have. The same can be said for almost any other Gypsy player.

    Then you have Matelo Ferre and his brothers/sons who have a completely different technique but still somewhat based on downstrokes and rest strokes. Matelo was certainly Django's contemporary.

    The whole technique is about tone/projection and that in itself is subjective. Where does one want to have accents? That depends on you, and therefore, one player might do a downstroke here, and another might do an upstroke.

    And the faster you go, the more you might have to use an economical technique at the expense of tone (unless you are stochelo). The slower passages on the other hand can be played entirely with downstrokes.

    I demonstrate all of this here (again it feels bad to spam):
    HemertCharles Meadows
  • I hve Gypsy picking, and I also have Denis' set of Dvd's. They both gave me very valuable insights.

    When I decided to go to make the change to rest stroke playing, I spent the first few months playing everything downstroke only. That certainly broke my habits up a bunch. Now I still tend to play slow passages mostly with downstrokes.

    As Denis so wisely puts it....its the articulation you get that is important, the how is very much a personal thing.
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • Charles MeadowsCharles Meadows WV✭✭✭ ALD Original, Dupont MD50
    Posts: 432
    Spam away Denis. You've spent lots of time with these guys so you got the creds!
  • Charles MeadowsCharles Meadows WV✭✭✭ ALD Original, Dupont MD50
    Posts: 432
    It's interesting really. I'm sure Denis is right that Stochelo's technique is what it is, and not because Stochelo read Michael's book! Stochelo is likely a prodigious talent who worked very very hard and thus has learned to use his movements efficiently and in a relaxed manner, likely with a lot of that learning be subconscious (correct me if you think not Denis!)

    But it's tremendously useful when knowledgeable guys like Denis and Christiaan study and identify salient features of a great player's technique (like Stochelo) that the rest of us can then practice consciously. Small pieces of advice from Denis and Christiaan have helped me immensely.

    I will also put in a spam plug for Denis' lessons. They are dirt cheap and tremendously useful!
  • ScoredogScoredog Santa Barbara, Ca✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 870
    I am sure Denis and Christiaan share many of the same viewpoints. It seems there is a bit of a dichotomy in that Denis advocates a fairly forceful approach so the notes speak loudly while Christiaan mentions many good players have a lighter touch.

    With my advancing age picking extremely forcibly is probably not an option. I am finding for most situations with just one or 2 acoustic players w/o amps my light touch is fine, more and I'd be toast. With an amp or mice'd I am good to go.

    Just curious how this plays out.
  • HemertHemert Prodigy
    edited September 2015 Posts: 264
    Well, let me first say that Denis and I are good friends. One of my favourite gypsy jazzers to hang out with and discuss music and of course jam endlessly!

    We're probably saying the same thing only in different ways. The notes should all sound clear as bell, I'm just pointing out that you should achieve that with a light touch and correct technique.

    Another example: I'm also good friends with Tcha but we hilariously disagree about the value of ear training. He considers it to be one of the most important things, I see absolutely no value in it. Mostly because I believe your ears will develop naturally while seriously practicing your instrument. So in the end we're saying the same thing: "develop your ears". We're just coming at it from different directions!
    Charles Meadows
  • Charles MeadowsCharles Meadows WV✭✭✭ ALD Original, Dupont MD50
    Posts: 432
    I've spent enough time with Tcha to figure out that he has natural musical talent that I could only dream of. And I love listening to his take on things. That being said in a way I get more from you (Christiaan) and Denis in that you guys are able to say, "here's how that average Joe can best try to practice to make the most of his/her ability and practice time".
  • HemertHemert Prodigy
    edited September 2015 Posts: 264
    About Stochelo's technique. Denis is 100% correct that Stochelo never gave serious thought to his technique. He was just trying to copy the sound of Django he heard on records and he kind of watched the technique of great players that lived in his camp or came to visit (like Fapy).

    Curiously the last four years with the RA being a part of his life and me constantly bugging him and asking questions, filming close-ups and pointing out his sometimes "insane" picking patterns, he became more aware of it (just a little bit). He was also there to see me develop from guitar noob to someone he can jam with and he realises that there is a way to approach gypsy jazz from an "academic" standpoint. I had the advantage and great, great honor to basically study gypsy jazz guitar with Stochelo and I'm more than happy to share the information! There's so much more I could show you guys. For instance the way Stochelo sees the guitar neck and how that differs from the French style (which I'm getting into now). When you see me somewhere just ask me, I will always try to make time to show you some stuff I learned from Stochelo!
    Charles MeadowsnomadgtrMattHenry
  • edited September 2015 Posts: 3,707
    Well, while I only know Christiaan from his music, and from this forum, and I have the greatest respect for him....I have to respectfully disagree with one minor point. Where Christiann says you "should achieve....with a light touch and correct technique". I humbly point out that there have been some wonderfully fluent GJ players who have "the right hand of god" and very different technique from Stochelo. So I would argue that you "can more easily....etc." :)

    IMO its the sound you produce that I know that Christiaan agrees with.

    How you get there, well, I believe that following someone who has the technique you desire is pretty much a guarantee that years down the road you wont be spending years trying to correct or work your way around some limitation you developed.

    Then there are those among us, who just feel driven to reinvent our own wheel. If you choose that road, you had better be pretty good at analyzing your own sound and technique, or the possibility of extreme frustration exists.
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
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