Soloing over Douce Ambiance

MikeKMikeK Asheville, NCNew Altamira M-30, Altamira M-10
in Technique Posts: 389
I'm struggling to create good solos over the changes on Douce Ambiance. The guys I play it with play it really fast. I can play the head, and alter it a bit to solo, but I'm not really happy with that. I can also use triads with enclosures, but the changes are so fast that it's hard to create anything really musical. I would appreciate any help. I've been playing GJ for around a year and a half.


  • spatzospatzo Virtuoso
    edited October 2017 Posts: 768
    what is the chart you're playing on?
  • MikeKMikeK Asheville, NCNew Altamira M-30, Altamira M-10
    Posts: 389
    It's from the Django Fakebook. Let me know if it would be helpful for me to post a copy of it here.
  • edited October 2017 Posts: 4,816
    Use app like iReal so you can slow down backing track.
    Or you can find the backing track you like, (Stephane Wrembel has them on his website) and use app like Amazing slow downer to slow it down.
    Make it as slow as needed to where you can keep your place in tune and give your brain enough time to process everything and be able to play.

    Go through the song step by step and compose the etude. From it you can pull out some of your own licks that you can practice to use over those specific chord progressions. Play them in different keys, maybe not all but at least the most common ones.

    Take those licks and try to change them into different tonalities: major, minor, dominant. Then practice them again.

    With the slow backing track go through the tune and target 3, 5 , 7s only on chord changes.

    When you speed up the backing track to the performance speed don't think about the changes, just play, let your intuition lead the way, record it and listen to it critically and decide what needs extra help.

    Don't expect fast results. If you practice your butt off 4 hrs a day or more you'll hear results in months time, otherwise give it a few years.

    PS and dig through the forums, there's a lot and more of great advice on the same subject, sometimes given by professional educators.
    ScoredogMichael S Harringtonbillyshakes
    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • Buco summed it up. I'll add that listening and transcribing what other players are playing on the same song helped me a lot in figuring out how to solo over songs.
  • What Buco wrote is spot on. I'd say practice in all keys all the time. At first it can be daunting, but after awhile, it becomes pretty easy to do.

    I'd also go a step further with transcribing. Just don't be content with learning it in one position. Meaning if you have some kind of minor lick that starts on the 5th string, figure out how to start it on other strings. You're going to have to modify fingerings and even some of the phrases in the lick. That's where you start to learn the fingerboard and how this stuff works.
    When I learn a solo, I break it down into licks and run each lick through this process.

    Django's solo on this particular tune is a good place to start.
  • PetrovPetrov ✭✭
    edited October 2017 Posts: 125
    are you having difficulty on the A or B section? or both?
  • MikeKMikeK Asheville, NCNew Altamira M-30, Altamira M-10
    Posts: 389
    Thanks so much to all of you who responded here, this is a great community. Buco, your suggestions are excellent. I will take your advice. Michael and Jim, thank you for your insights as well. Petrov, the B section is less challenging for me, since the chords dont change as quickly as on the A section. I'm going to slow down my backing track and build etudes and start working up some solos that way. The triads with enclosures have been very liberating for me, but I need to be patient, like Buco said. Especially when it comes to fast changes and fast tempos. Thanks everyone.
  • NylonDaveNylonDave Glasgow✭✭✭ Perez Valbuena Flamenca 1991
    edited October 2017 Posts: 462
    Hi Mike, sorry to arrive late to the party.

    I think what may be throwing you is the move from the tonic Minor to the Relative major (GmF7BbBdim to Cm). If you sing the tune you will notice that all you NEED here is a G minor chord. What is really happening is that you are going from Gm(i) to Cm(iv).

    You CAN work real hard to make all those extra changes but you don't need to and it might make your lines short tight and selfconscious and, especially at fast tempos, pretty incoherent.

    I listened to DJango a few times on the track to check and he makes `ZERO effort to outline the extra chords. He sounds great just thinking Gm. Maybe try and do what he did then and just think two bars of Gm going to Cm. Here is a hint drop a B natural at some point to herald the Cm.

    Work on composing complex lines but try and keep your harmonic thinking simple if you want to sound like Django.

  • edited October 2017 Posts: 4,816
    What Dave said.

    I'm still working to acquire the skill of truly outlining the changes. It's a good goal to chase but not always necessary and sometimes it's a hindrance especially in the beginning. Christiaan van Hemert has a video on YouTube (I can find it later) where he demonstrated that it still sounds nice if over 2 5 1 you play by staying on the 1 chord all the time and then he did it with 2 chord and then 5 chord.
    It works and sounds good.

    I composed a small etude over this song that follows the changes which I used for a while but mostly forgot it since (I have also to get better following my own advice) and today when I play over this song, just as Dave said during the A part I mostly play over Gm.
    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • NylonDaveNylonDave Glasgow✭✭✭ Perez Valbuena Flamenca 1991
    Posts: 462
    Gm and Bb are functionally the same in this tune, both are tonic chords. The F7 links one tonic chord to another and the Bdim is really G7b9.

    The harmony is actually static here so there is no need to outline it. It would be different if there was more time spent like say if it was four bars not two then you might do something like this (GmG7CmF7BbF7BbG7 to C) in which case your would tee up the two five one to Bb (Cm-F) and this dominant pair would become functional and would want to be outlined.

    Like with Buco's example of Rhythm Changes, when the harmony is going nowhere (or from one home to another home) then you can pretty safely ignore the passing chords. And with good reason as any attempt to touch base on them will make it impossible to develop an idea effectively.

    It is a good idea to see what is happening in the melody first. Harmony is there to flatter the melody and we can get into trouble when we look to play from the harmony in all instances.

    My pet hates are

    1. Seeing all major seventh chords as equal, they aren't sometimes they are tonic and sometimes they are subdominant.
    2. Seeing all dominant chords as equal. They aren't, they always have a relationship to the key.
    3. Seeing all two fives as equal. They aren't sometimes they are an embellishment of a dominant chord and sometimes a subdominant chord. In each case the melody will tell you which and if you play from the more basic structure you are far more likely to sound like the tune or at least not to violate it's spirit.
    4. The presumption that the seventh note from the root should be the the first choice for harmonic embellishment. Especially in minor keys.

    It would seem pretty reasonable to blame Jamey Aebersold for most of this. But it is also everyone else who wrote a book with the assumptions embedded ever since.

    Any way sorry if this seems ranty. I hate poor logic to be canonised. Especially when the result is to stand between generations of players and freedom.

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