DjangoBooks.com

Welcome to our Community!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Who's Online (0)

Related Discussions

Today's Birthdays

jasson NiallConroy

Straight Ahead Jazz vs. GJ on the Banjo

So as the title suggests I'm exploring playing GJ on the five string banjo, with finger picks. This term at my university I'm in a jazz theory & aural training class. The theory we're learning is basically how every chord has a corresponding scale of which you can freely improvise over (this course is followed by two other classes focused on improvisation). Do GJ players think this way while improvising?

I want to start working on a foundation for jazz, I'm just curious if there are any major differences when it comes to improvisation in these genres.

Thanks!
«1345

Comments

  • Lango-DjangoLango-Django Niagara-On-The-Lake, ONModerator
    edited November 2015 Posts: 1,475
    OK, hate to be Debbie Downer here, Logan, but I'm going to advise you not to waste any time on this idea.

    I played the five string banjo with finger picks for a number of years, so I know a bit about it. It's a whole different conception from gypsy jazz.

    If you really want to play something akin to gypsy jazz using a banjo, I would advise you to take up tenor banjo and start working on your arpeggios in every key.

    Or you could do what Django and some of his contemporaries did and play a four-string banjo tuned like a guitar's top four strings aka "Chicago tuning".

    I could waste a lot of electrons trying to explain why five-string banjo and gypsy jazz don't fit together, but I'm just going to ask you to trust me on this.

    If gypsy jazz could be played on a five-string banjo, some banjo genius like Bill Keith or Bela Fleck would've done it a long time ago.

    Sorry to sound so negative.

    I'm pretty sure there are some others like me at this forum who play or played five-string, and my hunch is that they will tell you the same thing.

    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."
  • Posts: 3
    I understand basic banjo technique is not akin to how one would play gypsy jazz. But a Chicago tuned four string is really similar to normal five string banjo tuning, so I can only imagine you're saying that playing with a pick is what matters here. I'll have to disagree, as single string technique with three fingers is quite remarkable. Take a look into Ryan Cavanaugh.

    So arpeggios, that's a start. Let's just pretend I'm playing a Chicago tuned four string banjo and go from there.

    What kind of arpeggio excersizes would be a good place to start? Major minor and dominant chords going up to the ninth and back down maybe?
  • NylonDaveNylonDave Glasgow✭✭✭ Perez Valbuena Flamenca 1991
    edited November 2015 Posts: 446
    It just isn't how music works. Improvisation methods that don't talk about tunes but instead talk about scales are useless.

    Ask your nerdiest tutor to play you a solo on a standard, if it don't suck too bad maybe you can believe some of what he says.

    The thing about the chord scale relationship dogma is that it takes the chord as the smallest meaningful unit in jazz. It isn't. The phrase and the cadence are.

    It is like language noone speaks in letters, actual people they use words. Letters seem to look like they make up words when you see them written down but in actuality they don't.

    Playing and arranging tunes, melodies and breaks is a whole lot more useful than learning scales out of context, and also a great way to learn scales in context. And close attention to the melodic construction of tunes will really help you to get the gist of any style be it bluegrass or classical or anything else.

    Why not try a and arrange a few GJ tunes Skruggs style ? At the very least you will get a couple of novelty pieces to get a response from an audience.

    But if you were to sit down and play through scales for more than a very short space of time that same audience might just ignore you while thinking
    'When is this warm up going to be over an when is this guy going to play a tune".

    And I think I have an answer to their question, usually about six to twelve years of scale based musical non sequiturs before, in mine and indeed most cases, too late....some tunes.
  • Posts: 3
    The man teaching this jazz class I'm in went to Berklee and Eastman. He's an insanely good musician with an unbelievable ear and he can play the tenor sax beautifully.

    Jazz isn't about chord-scale relationships, I agree. But music theory is about learning a bunch a rules to gain a foundation on understanding what works and sounds good. Transcribing is where one learns most, I would say. That's what my professor tells me at least.

    I'm not going to play gypsy jazz with Scruggs technique, that would sound pretty bad. I'm not looking for novelty, I'm looking to play this awesome music. Can we get away from the negativity and start talking about things that would be a good starting point to play gypsy jazz?

    I'm currently working out Django's recording of I'll see you in my dreams, I'm having a lot of fun doing that.
  • NylonDaveNylonDave Glasgow✭✭✭ Perez Valbuena Flamenca 1991
    edited November 2015 Posts: 446
    I did indeed advise you to arrange some tunes. Start Skruggs style or not. I have seen a lot of Berklee material and while I am sure they have many fine tutors they are clearly a commercial outfit and their teaching materials are trite simplistic and mostly useless. This means anyone can complete their course.

    How do you know the Skruggs would sound bad ? Wouldn't that simply suggest that the arrangement was bad.

    Anyway it is easier to fool someone than tell them they have been fooled. So I guess you and I shan't be talking again. My advice is to arrange tunes and youll learn quickly and that will put the info in context. And you can do that In the style of any banjo player you have ever heard.

    And let me reassure I have every respect for novelty banjo arrangements, Scott Henderson ...... not so much.

    I would also recommend Buddy Wachter's excellent DVDs is you want to switch to tenor. Mostly he focuses on arranging.

    D.
  • NylonDaveNylonDave Glasgow✭✭✭ Perez Valbuena Flamenca 1991
    Posts: 446
  • pickitjohnpickitjohn South Texas Corpus, San Antonio, AustinVirtuoso Patenotte 260
    Posts: 936
    @MrLoganLang

    Have fun, listen to Django tunes you like, and go for what SOUNDS GOOD TO YOU.

    Couple of interesting old post you may look at...

    Gypsy Jazz on Banjo?

    http://www.djangobooks.com/forum/discussion/5561/

    gypsy jazz banjo

    http://www.djangobooks.com/forum/discussion/3793/



    :)>-
    Bob Holo
  • normjohnsonnormjohnson ca
    Posts: 8

    "Or you could do what Django and some of his contemporaries did and play a four-string banjo tuned like a guitar's top four strings aka "Chicago tuning".


    Django played a six string Banjoguitar.


  • Lango-DjangoLango-Django Niagara-On-The-Lake, ONModerator
    edited November 2015 Posts: 1,475
    True, he started out with a little six string banjo when he was a little boy, but I was talking about the four string banjo he is shown with in this picture.

    http://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/showthread.php?47502-Happy-Birthday-Django-Reinhardt/page2
    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."
  • Lango-DjangoLango-Django Niagara-On-The-Lake, ONModerator
    Posts: 1,475
    Alison Brown plays nice jazz on 5 string banjo...

    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."
Sign In or Register to comment.
Home  |  Forum  |  Blog  |  Contact  |  206-528-9873
The Premier Gypsy Jazz Marketplace
DjangoBooks.com
USD CAD GBP EUR AUD
USD CAD GBP EUR AUD
Banner Adverts
Sell Your Guitar
© 2020 DjangoBooks.com, all rights reserved worldwide.
Software: Kryptronic eCommerce, Copyright 1999-2020 Kryptronic, Inc. Exec Time: 0.044922 Seconds Memory Usage: 3.450798 Megabytes
Kryptronic