Chord clashing

The first thirty years are the worst

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Chord clashing

Postby djangology » Sat Oct 18, 2003 4:00 pm

I am still in the process of learning much of this music theory stuff and so excuse me if the answer to this question is too obvious.

This question is really really important to me and I need the best answers that I can get. :-)

Basically, I have been using all the charts from the Robin Nolan books to learn many of these gypsy jazz tunes and to complement those charts I have been learning, as chord substitutions, the chords from the Colin Cosimini book as well as from Gadjo Drom and other places like the Cruishank book, etc. As you know many of these songs are done in the same key, which isn't a problem because then most of the chords are the same from one arrangement to another. The problem is that my ear hears many things that are not quite right and so I am experiencing a HUGE amount of pressure to stop learning the Cosimini arrangements and fall back to the easier Robin Nolan arrangements.

Can anyone comment on how I should approach using chords from other arrangements that do not match? If it sounds bad in a jam should I worry too much about it? I especially noticed a problem when using the chords for the Cruishank version of Djangos Castle while my friends played the very simplified Robin Nolan chords.

This is becoming one of the largest obstacles for me in learning this style of music and any help would be appreciated.

Thanks ahead of time! :-)
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Postby nwilkins » Sat Oct 18, 2003 6:12 pm

Do you mean that you think the Cosimini type chords sound bad by themselves, or simply that they are clashing with what others are playing when you jam (because they use the RNT book chords)?
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Postby justjack » Sat Oct 18, 2003 7:15 pm

I've had this same problem, and it seems the best and simplest solution-and almost a neccessity if you've got more than one rhythm guitarist- is just to agree on the changes beforehand. I think many people are reluctant to learn new changes to a tune they already know (especially if the new chart's more complicated), but if you think it sounds better, take the time to teach it to them; once they hear themselves playing it, most people will react well to a more musically varied chart. If you've got the time, working out your own changes as a group (taking what you all like from different sources, working up an arrangement) makes for a good feeling of camaraderie. Good luck!
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Postby djangology » Sat Oct 18, 2003 8:41 pm

i meant that, personally, i like the sound of the Cosimini chords but they clash with many of the Robin Nolan chords. thanks for the answer to my question. i guess that i am going to have to relearn a few tunes back to the old Robin Nolan way, although i wish i didnt have to... :?

i guess the morale of the story here is that it doesnt just matter that your playing in the same key, you have to have chord voicings that agree with each other and so every band should have their own personal arrangements that everyone follows...
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Postby Rich » Sat Oct 18, 2003 9:36 pm

I've had this problem as well. I guess the only way is as said; agree the changes before hand. It can also throw the soloist..so it would probably be best if they knew on which choruses that the alternate changes will be used. But get it right and it sounds very good.
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Postby justjack » Sat Oct 18, 2003 10:12 pm

One other approach (with regards to soloists) is to use the more complex chart with the melody, but move to a simplified set of changes when the usual rounds of improvisation begin. Some of Colin's charts are set up this way, I think, with the main result being that the soloist generally has more freedom to add color than he would if a lot of substitutions were already doing it for him (or against him).
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Postby Djazz Nomad » Sun Oct 19, 2003 7:54 pm

Some of Criuckshanks changes in Manoir are definitely dodgy and would clash with the way Robin Nolan played this tune. I've not seen his books but know that he has a I VI II V turnaround for the theme which will clash with the more traditional way of playing it.
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Chord clashes

Postby tonyguitar » Mon Oct 20, 2003 1:59 pm

I read these posts with interest as I teach jazz piano - the best thing is to learn the underlying theory of matching chords to scales which takes longer than slavishly copying chords and voicing. Then you can decide what harmony choices you can make. You would also use different voicings or subsitutions if you were A Soloing B Playing rhythm either alone or with another instrument or C Backing a singer

Learn the chord scales and the possible substitutions and then you can make your own choices. I never play the same tune in the same way twice unless I am backing a singer THEN you need to make it as simple as possible.

I play guitar and I enjoy gypsy music but I would not be bound by anyone's choices of chords they are guidelines not the Bible
Large hairy type teaches in E17
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Postby djangology » Mon Oct 20, 2003 3:26 pm

i wonder if this ever happens to any of the elite gypsy jazz players, like Bireli for instance. Bireli comes from a jazz fusion influenced background as well and it would seem that some of the things he might try would clash with some of the traditional guys, doesn't it? is that why i never see photos of Bireli sitting in jams at Samois? mabye is this why I never see the elite players play together as much as I would normally expect, because this logistics of the chordal textures?
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Postby woodshedder » Mon Oct 20, 2003 4:02 pm

(imho) i'd bet the 'elites' rely much more on their ear than patterns, and would probably hear what to play given the situation. in any case, a little clash might be good for some tension...just typing over here...don't mind me.
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Postby Scot » Mon Oct 20, 2003 5:38 pm

About 12 years ago, I learned to play the chords to many of these tunes either from listening to quintet records or by being shown by players in France. And all I could think when I saw the Robin Nolan books was "Whaaaat?" His chords are OK I guess, but not at all the choices I would make. And in fact when I am playing among people who do play these chords, someone must adjust because substitutions that work OK by themselves (substitute Bbdim for A7 for example) don't always work well together.

As an exercise, some of the debutantes might try playing tunes from Peters or from fake books with nothing other than basic chord symbols and try to chord them in the gypsy manner. Or try to figure out as many ways to chord a tune as you can, keeping with the traditional economy of LH motion. If you are used to starting out with a major chord or a 6/9, try starting out w/a Maj7 on a different string. Learn all the triads on the 5 -3 -2 strings. Excellent training for the ear/hand coordination!
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Postby Meshugy » Mon Oct 20, 2003 7:26 pm

Scot and Wood shedder brought up some good points.

I think that a lot of people are learning songs from only one or two (mostly unreliable) sources. I see this all the time with students or people at jam sessions who learned a song of the internet or a sketchy book. To really know a tune I feel you should learn it in the following way:

1) The composers original.

More often than not this is not the most commonly played version. However, it?s the best starting point in understanding the song. In the case of most standards written by people like Cole Porter or Gershwin, the original changes have evolved into a more jazz friendly version.

For Django's songs it?s really important to do your research. It?s particularly important to listen to what the original rhythm section was doing. It?s often very, very simple. Three or four basic chords. This is for a reason: to avoid too much dissonance. Django usually plays all the tensions and the other guys stay out of the way.

2) The most common "jam" version.

Gypsy jazz is a tradition which has evolved certain standards in performance practice. There are some regional differences, however there's an amazing degree of unity in the way the traditional repertoire is played.

However, figuring out the "jam" version is not always easy. Sometimes it?s the original Django version. Sometimes it?s a Rosenberg version. And in the States it?s often the Nolan version. Samois vids of heavy duty Gypsy players are a good way to pick up the Euro jam versions....

3) Advanced but idiosyncratic versions.

There are recordings with virtuosic changes for many of the standard tunes. It?s cool to learn some hip variations as played by Django, Stochelo, Nous'che, Bireli, etc. However, you have to be careful when you use these, because they'll most likely clash with the more basic versions.


Once you've learned numerous ways to play a tune you can then use your ears to react to what's going on during a jam or performance. That's when you begin to really start playing jazz. Not just bashing out chords without listening to what anyone else is doing, but really reacting to the communal sounds.

So the following might go through your head as you play at a jam:

Tune starts:

"hmmmm, they're playing the 37 version of Minor Swing. Better use the simple changes."

The soloist plays an E7 b9 arpeggio over E7:

"Better sub E7b9 for E9"

Another rhythm player plays the turn around as: Am6 Ddim Am7 Bdim

"Better not use the Am F7 E7....try to follow the other guy."

The bass player plays a bass line which outlines the second 8 bars of the tune as Dm7 G7 CM7 FM7

"Oh....the Autumn leaves thing! Better not play the straight changes."

Anyway, hopefully this silly example makes my point clear. You should be able to listen AND adapt. Then you really know a tune!

-Michael

http://www.djangobooks.com/
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Postby djangology » Tue Oct 21, 2003 9:42 pm

so in other words, i shouldn't keep trying to play my chords louder than the guy next to me and instead i have to do it the hard way?

*just kidding*

thanks for the great answers to my dilemma i was having here. i look forward to getting another lesson from you Michael... i'll be in touch...
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Clashing chords

Postby tonyguitar » Wed Oct 22, 2003 9:15 am

I have those reprints for piano of the songs of the 20's - 40's The chords are different because sheet music was what composers made their money prior to the 1950's

Most houses had a piano and bought the sheet music to play their favourite tunes

Most original harmonies used a lot of passing chords because of the styel of writing and also were in "popular keys" ie those that the average singer could manage C F G E flat Aflat were most popular

You also get sequences such C or variant followed by an aug or dim chord 11 V 1 sequences

I would look at those orignal songs for inspiration thats were Django went
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