Manouche (Gypsy Jazz)
Gypsy jazz (also known as gypsy swing or hot club jazz) is a style of jazz music generally accepted to have been started by the gypsy guitarist Jean “Django” Reinhardt in and around Paris in the 1930s. This is an area of personal interest that I have been studying and can teach to interested students.
Rhythm guitar in gypsy jazz uses a special form of strumming known as “la pompe”, i.e. “the pump”. This form of percussive rhythm is what gives the music its fast swinging feeling, as it emphasises beats two and four; a vital feature of swing. The strumming hand must make a quick up-down strum followed by a down strum. The up-down part of la pompe must be done extremely fast, regardless of the tempo of the music.
Another important aspect of this style of playing is based on the chord shapes Django was forced to use due to his injury in a fire in his caravan. Standard barre chords are not as common in gypsy jazz. Standard major and minor chords are almost never played, and are instead replaced by major 7th chords, major 6th chords, and 6/9 chords. Gypsy reharmonisation is often aimed at giving a minor feel even where a song is in a major key, for instance the substitution of a minor 6th chord for a dominant seventh. Dominant seventh chords are also altered by lowering the 9th and 13th scale degree.
Lead playing in this style has been summarised as ornamented or decorated arpeggio. Decorations often introduce chromaticism—for instance, mordents and trills. Particularly characteristic is a figure where successive notes of an arpeggio are each preceded by an appoggiatura-like grace note one semitone below. Other decorations include tremolo, string bends, staccato, ghost notes, harmonics, octaves, and double stops etc.
Commonly used scales, in addition to arpeggios, include the chromatic scale, melodic minor scale, dorian mode and diminished scale.
Gypsy jazz has its own set of frequently played standards, which are fairly distinct from the standards tunes of mainstream jazz. However, contemporary ensembles may adapt almost any type of song to the style.
Gypsy swing standards include jazz hits of the ’20s and ’30s, such as “Limehouse Blues”, and “Dinah”; Bal Musette numbers, often waltzes; original compositions by Django Reinhardt, such as “Nuages” and “Swing 42”; compositions by other notable gypsy swing players; and jazzed-up versions of gypsy songs, such as “Dark Eyes”.
Much of the repertoire is in minor keys, and the dorian and harmonic minor modes are frequently heard, lending a distinctively dark and modal sound to the tunes which contrasts with the uptempo and spirited performance style. One popular example is Django’s tune “Minor Swing”, perhaps the most well-known gypsy jazz composition. Slower ballads and duets may feature rubato playing and exotic harmonies.
Manouche is usually played on a special kind of guitar called a Maccaferri which can be seen in the image above however the style can be played on any steel string guitar.
Students are free to choose the instruments, songs, and styles of music that they wish to persue. Being able to follow ones musical passions I believe is the best way to excel in music, so I nurture those desires with the support of sound technique, theory, and well researched performance and compositional practices.
Lessons are individually tailored to meet the needs and goals of each student. This includes the hand transcribing of music that each student wishes to study.
To faciliate these approaches, lessons are offered on a weekly basis and are one hour in duration. They usually involve half an hour of technical and theoretical work followed by half an hour of musical practice, either playing or composing. Some students choose to see me for two hours a week to draw more benefit from both the technical and practical aspects mentioned, allowing an hour for each component, however this is up to the individual in terms of time and cost.
I am known for my unlimited patience and dedicated persistence to seeing my students attain their goals.
Whilst being friendly and encouraging I also strive for excellence with each student, striving to push them to the best of their abilities.
I am guided by the students’ unique musical journey rather than trying to steer them, however I can offer guidance when needed.
I understand that all students have different outside pressures and recognise that practise outside of lessons can often be difficult, if not impossible. I am happy to work with students who either practise a lot, little, or even not at all between lessons. The main thing is that my students should find their lives enriched by their involvement with music. Our approach, however, I believe should always be professional, no matter how much or little time we have, as the more we respect music, the greater the rewards.
Ages & Levels
I offer bass & guitar lessons for beginners as well as professional and experienced players that wish to improve and consolidate their musical skills and knowledge and teach all ages from around 10 years old and over.
Rates are charged at $90 per hour inc. GST which is slightly lower than the currently recommended rate by the Music Teachers’ Association of Australia.
My rates include preparation time which includes the transcription of music individually for each student and the sourcing and making available of materials needed for each students’ musical direction and development.
I aim to provide the highest quality in musical tuition with fine attention to detail in the areas of technique, theory, and practice. With over 30 years of experience and several qualifications and accolades under my belt, I believe my rates represent value for money.