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Right hand technique matter

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  • Elí SaúlElí Saúl Toluca, Mexico.New Dell'Arte DG-H2
    Posts: 104
    Well, I remember when I first started learning about Gypsy Jazz I was struggling to understand how the hell Django would get that nasal sound (specifically on his take on Sheik of Araby) and the obvious furious but joyful attack on the strings, I had been playing guitar for years but never really used a plectrum, I'd use my index finger nail as one for years and was pretty comfortable with that. At the time I was learning to do alternate picking (which to be honest I still never use cause it's very uncomfortable for me) and practicing over Dark Eyes when one of my teachers asked me what I was doing, eventually he told me that in gypsy jazz there was an specific technique so I looked it up.

    Once I understood the basic Dynamics I just realized I had been doing that for years with my thumb and just adapted it to my plectrum playing, that little conversation about the technique did a great deal of progress for me, I used to hate plectrums because I wasn't able to dominate alternate picking and now I don't go out without my Dunlop 5mm.

    I didn't get obsessed over the gj technique, it was just a matter of practice until I could play the things I wanted, I've always focused on playing something that sounds nice rather than how I play it, however I think it is really important to put attention on what are you doing and be comfortable with it. I had that obsession with alternate picking and had a lot of talks about it with my guitar teacher, he just told me that maybe I should find a way of playing that suits me, and GJ made that for me. As long you are not hurting yourself with the way you play, you're doing fine.
  • LeftyKevanLeftyKevan New DuPont mc-10g, Eastman PG1, D’Angelico NY2
    Posts: 10
    - Time's subdivision. this concept is largely determined by your picking handed
    - Intervals. This concept is executed by your picking hand
    - Clarity of the musical idea you are trying to express. This is mostly controlled by your picking hand
    - Internalization of forms. Cerbebral and not dictated by technique.
    - Tone and dynamics. Almost completely controlled by your picking hand.

    Sounds like picking technique is pretty dang important, if all of these qualities you value really highly rely largely on your picking hand.

    I’m a little new to playing gypsy jazz, but have noticed immense improvements in my archtop playing while focusing mostly on my picking hand for the last six months. Picking hand is the keys to the kingdom
    jonpowl
  • ChrisMartinChrisMartin Shellharbour NSW Australia✭✭ Di Mauro x2, Petrarca, Genovesi, Burns, Kremona Zornitsa & Paul Beuscher resonator.
    edited August 2018 Posts: 959
    Oh Dear, we have become such a boring, anal, bunch haven't we?

    These constant discussions about the minutiae of 'technique' are all missing the point. All I can say is it is just as well for history that none of the above 'experts' or 'teachers' were having their say when Django (or Jimi) were around.
    If we accept for now that Django was the main man in Gypsy Jazz (the style of music that has kept us all interested on here) let us have a little rethink on what he achieved.

    So, from starting out as a busker on banjo, then after a terrible accident had to reinvent his playing but was at the same time absorbing his new found love of Louis Armstrong to mix in with his assimilated gypsy traditions and his already familiar repertoire of dance and contemporary popular tunes.
    That he went on to create his own hybrid style from this is not disputed, but why do we get so hung up on 'technique' and the right or wrong way to do what?
    Playing for drunks in dance halls helped him create the style he was known for on all the classic pre-war quintet recordings; yes, post WW2 he did venture into other more serious styles, but his background was what made him.

    Some on here seem to be obsessed (yes, obsessed!!!) with over analysing and copying note for note evrything Django played.
    Why?
    What will that achieve anyway?

    Surely the one thing we can learn from Django is to go your own way and do what you want to try to create a new style, surely he was not put on this earth solely to give birth to a new generation of experts, teachers and a herd of copyists who have nothing new to offer but a slavish devotion to getting a theory on the correct way to play every note Django ever played.
    As with Hendrix, surely the one thing Django left us was the idea that we need to break all the rules to find a way to truly express ourselves.

    Copyist obsessives can carry on this thread, but for those who want to 'create' and at the same time, have fun should avoid any further well meaning, but often egotistical ("I know better than you") lectures and spend the time it takes to read this playing for fun.

    Yes, technique, whether right hand, left hand, or whatever, is part of what it takes to get the guitar to say what we want it to, a major part in fact, but we should all develop our own technique, that works for us, that helps us make our own music.

    For those totally obsessed about the right way to play how Django did it, all I can say is pour a pint of petrol on your left hand, light a match, and .........yeah, thought so, you haven't got the nerve for that have you.

    C'mon guys, lighten up, put the fun back in your playing; who are you trying to impress?

    Good luck!
    NewcastleBudPaul Murray
  • PapsPierPapsPier ✭✭
    Posts: 426
    Words of wisdom Chris.

    (Regarding the history of Django, I think you took some shortcuts: the accident is said to have happened before Django heard anything about Armstrong, he knew some kind of jazz but it was the light jazz created by white orchestras as Jack Hylton (who was supposed to hire Django) I also don't think that Django and Stephane often played for drunks in dancehalls. After Django started to play jazz, he mainly performed in concert halls, after-hours joints and swanky cabarets. Anyway minor corrections regarding the righteousness of your post)
  • BonesBones Moderator
    Posts: 3,320
    Hey Jim, do you have any cool warm up exercises for technique that you want to share?

    thx
  • edited August 2018 Posts: 1,231
    I'll share one that has my attention right now that is super simple.

    Play a three octave major or minor arpeggio ascending from sixth string to first string in all 12 keys (run through a cycle of your choosing) at a relatively slow tempo. My variation is that I add different subdivisions without stopping. For example, maybe I set the metronome to 80 bpm. I play it in 8th notes twice and triplets three times then switch the key.

    Once I get through all twelve keys, I do it in reverse: descending - ascending starting on the fifth on the first string. Same work with subdivisions. Somethings I go two runs of eighth notes, three runs of triplets, and four runs of sixteenth notes.

    The purpose of this is to help me avoid making extraneous movements with my left hand, while attempting to pick without any tension and get the sound I hear in my head. It has nothing to do with speed.

    I'm trying to clear my head of all other thoughts when I do this and think about the following things:
    How much movement am I making with my right arm?
    Do I feel any tension in my arm while I do this?
    Am I forcing the note or am I letting gravity do it's thing?
    is the pick landing on the string below or am I swinging it into outerspace?
    Am I getting the sound that I want? I have a particular reference sound. I'm not going to share but for me, it's the sound I want to achieve.
    With my left hand, are my fingers reaching for notes or are they gliding to the note?
    How's my thumb looking? is it overpushing?
    How do my fingers look when they grab the note?

    This shouldn't take more than ten minutes a day. I endeavor to do the same thing with any extended arpeggio, with the entire purpose being related to getting a good sound.

    There's nothing earth shattering here, but I've decided that I'm going just try to focus on getting a good sound. Then I defined what a good sound is. Then I had someone guide me as to what I could do better to achieve that sound. I expect to work on this or a variation every day, before I work on whatever my goal is for the week.

    <EDIT>
    As an aside, this is one small thing. I try to practice something that will help me eliminate blind spots, absorbing a piece of language, and learning tunes every day. There are variations on how I do all of this stuff, too, but that's just how I'm doing it. I'm trying to eliminate all of the noise out there and stop jumping from thing to thing blindly. This seems to be working for me.
  • BonesBones Moderator
    Posts: 3,320
    Ok thanks. I'll try that. Sounds like a good way to warm up.
  • Yeah man. Anyone can do this one. It is very simple, but it's also very hard to be consistent.
  • ChrisMartinChrisMartin Shellharbour NSW Australia✭✭ Di Mauro x2, Petrarca, Genovesi, Burns, Kremona Zornitsa & Paul Beuscher resonator.
    Posts: 959
    PapsPier wrote: »
    Words of wisdom Chris.

    (Regarding the history of Django, I think you took some shortcuts: the accident is said to have happened before Django heard anything about Armstrong, he knew some kind of jazz but it was the light jazz created by white orchestras as Jack Hylton (who was supposed to hire Django) I also don't think that Django and Stephane often played for drunks in dancehalls. After Django started to play jazz, he mainly performed in concert halls, after-hours joints and swanky cabarets. Anyway minor corrections regarding the righteousness of your post)

    Yes indeed, I was taking shortcuts simply to give a brief idea of how Django developed his style from his early days; I had no intention of writing a historically correct biography as I am sure everyone here knows the story. The point being he learned to play how he did through a series of circumstances that the rest of us can not replicate, so why are people now writing 'rules' about how to play Django style the 'correct' way?
    I know there are many who deliberately try to learn Django tunes note for note using only two fingers of the left hand, but then some say he did use the other two damaged fingers sometimes for the chord shapes he could reach, so are they wasting their time too?
    Then there were the tales about Django wearing odd socks on stage, would that affect the tone of a SelMac?
    Sure he influenced us all, or we would not be reading this, but some folks seem to take it all a bit too far and at the same time are forgetting to have fun.
  • Jazzaferri wrote: »
    OK, @Darius-Scheider I will tell you, you are wrong.

    Thank you so much for your input Jazzaferi! :)
    I understand the first part of your statement, but I don't have a clue about your demonstration.
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