Django's hand technique analyzed in academic paper

adrianadrian AmsterdamVirtuoso
in Technique Posts: 546
I just came across this academic paper from the publication "Prosthetics and Orthotics International," published in 2015:

"More with less: A comparative kinematical analysis of Django Reinhardt’s adaptations to hand injury"

The authors, specialists in hand motion, did a frame-by-frame analysis of Django's "J'attendrai" video to determine how differently his hand moved from "normal" guitarists. They compared Django's hand movement to the movement of Robin Nolan, Stochelo Rosenberg, Angelo Debarre and a few others (see "Table 1" in the paper).

The result? "Django employed greater abduction of index and middle fingers (−9.11 ± 6.52° vs −5.78 ± 2.41°; p < 0.001) and more parallel alignment of fingers to the guitar neck (157.7 ± 3.37° vs 150.59 ± 2.67°; p < 0.001) compared to controls."

So now you know.


  • @adrian ...interesting ....certainly taking geekiness to the next level LOL
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • NewcastleBudNewcastleBud Erstwhile✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 124
    Actually, one of the authors comes to Samois pretty regularly.
    He's a great guy, and obviously a huge Django fan.
    They made a video presentation of this a few years back.
    I think, therefore I am......I think.
  • MichaelHorowitzMichaelHorowitz SeattleAdministrator
    Posts: 6,154
    I haven't read the paper, but the choice of "normal" guitarists are all players who have spent their life imitating Django's music. All of them have probably either consciously or unconsciously trained themselves to use their left hand in at least someways that Django would have. Seems like the study would have been more effective if they had comparisons to some non-Django players as well.

    Still interesting though!
  • edited December 2016 Posts: 88
    The specific research question can be narrowed down to whether/how missing 2 left fingers makes the guitarist play J’Attendrai’s melody differently compared with someone without missing 2 left fingers playing J”Attendrai’s melody.**

    The ideal study design to answer this question would be 2-finger Django vs. full-finger Django playing the same melody. With this design, the guitarist is no longer a variable but a constant, and the only variable that may cause anatomical compensation is the left hand situation.

    But this is impossible. Therefore the authors chose 2-finger TrueDjango vs. full-finger NearDjango while playing J’Attendrai’s melody. In a way, that the NearDjangos (Nolan, Santifaller and Smith) have imitated Django made them a “less confounding” comparison group because they are closer to TrueDjango than non-Django players.

    Nevertheless, your proposal is totally valid. It would be very interesting to compare 5-finger NearDjango with 5-finger nonDjango and see how they play differently while playing J’Attendrai’s melody. This is a different research question, though.

    (**The authors also chose Debarre, Lafertin and Rosenberg but not while playing J’Attendrai’s melody. By including them, the research question was how TrueDjango played A melody differently compared with when NearDjango play A melody.)
  • NylonDaveNylonDave Glasgow✭✭✭ Perez Valbuena Flamenca 1991
    edited December 2016 Posts: 462
    Mick Goodrick has lots of suggestions for practicing with predefined limitations as a way of creating new ideas.

    Here are a few.

    1. Play on a single string with one finger.
    2. Play with one finger on two adjacent strings.
    3. Play with two fingers on a single string.

    You can pretty much go on for ever.

    You might even compound some ideas to come up with a simple algorithm like.

    Play the principal notes with your second finger shifting frequently, play lower note decorations with the first finger and bend for higher note decorations.

    And of course you would not be the first to arrive at this.

    But that doesn't matter you could find another one that is new and helps you to make your own ideas come alive. And you might even notice that you have a few already.

  • PA-AndyPA-Andy Pennsylvania New Dupont md 100
    Posts: 14
    What this paper documents very systematically is what any Django obsessed player discovers eventually when they try to play his lines with 2 fingers- that to make the reaches that django did you need to abduct (spread out) your first two fingers more and deviate your wrist laterally in an ulnar direction (the ulna being the side of rhe hand where your pinky is- the side of your arm the ulnar artery is located). Really cool to see this represented in such a meticulous scientific way!
    Sick for Django
  • billyshakesbillyshakes NoVA✭✭✭ Park Avance - Dupont Nomade - Dupont DM-50E
    Posts: 1,337

    Didn't want to start a new post on Django's left hand, so figured I'd add to this thread. I happened to be looking at this picture and zoomed in to see his left hand. I always thought Django just used his ring & pinky fingers for chords such as a G6/9 or a D9, etc. In other words, I thought the two were more static that could just be used on the 2 high strings. But, it looks like he's playing a B major chord second inversion with the high B root on the first string. That's a nice stretch!

    I'll bet this was the same shape more or less he used to play his octaves.

  • Posts: 4,809

    I always wondered how much mobility he had in ring and pinky. He must've had some, at least in the knuckles joint. But did he have any mobility whatsoever in the first and second joints?

    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • scotscot Virtuoso
    Posts: 657

    Talking about hands and stretches... It's said that Ida Presti could grab this E chord as easy as any mortal can grab an Am7, posted here just because I am fascinated with this photo. Plus I love Ida Presti's playing. There's a book called "Django Resusscite" by a Dr Pierre Marty which goes into the medical aspects of Django's injury in some detail. Only in French, though.

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