Friday, March 03, 2006

Django


(image courtesy of ANABlog)

SteveAudio on Django Reinhardt: While My Guitar Gently Weeps (post complete with video clip of Django playing!––via Crooks and Liars):
But there is one thing he had that is missing from the repertoire of many of today's otherwise fine players: line. Melody line.

Since the development of blues playing and all its descendents, there has been a tendency to play "positions" or "forms." Blues, based on simplistic Pentatonic scales, provided plenty of variation for most guitarists, while allowing the use of standard fingerings and positions, and "licks" or "riffs.". Upon learning some basic vocabulary of licks and riffs, guitarists could solo in any key merely by moving the riffs up or down the fretboard. Play at the 3rd fret, it's in the key of G. Move to the 8th fret, you're playing in C.

Nothing wrong with this. Listen to Stevie Ray, Jeff, Eric, Jimi, Jimmy, and even today's Pentatonic devotees like Slash, Jack White, or even Prince, and there are plenty of spine tingling riffs to absorb. But listening to Reinhard, who played with a freedom dictated by complete grasp of melody and chords, one is struck by his very inability to play from within positions because of only being able to only use two fingers. He had to move to where the notes were that he was hearing inside his head, rather than play the notes that fell under his position-based fingers.

In other words, Django was oddly forced, into having something to say, (to refer loosely back to comments made here, and here).

• Derrida on Joyce, (impromtu, briefly).

• Mechanization, inevitably, "currupts the pure and reduce[s] the sacred to the profane". Some merely resist it (and cliché) more reflectively than others; the earned discomfort from within is what marks their poetry, and art.

4 comments:

Aenesidemus said...

Django is the man. Or one of them at least. The comment apropos of melody lines is dead on as well. Melody is a difficult thing to do well. Pat Metheny has said (in an interview in Musician) that to solo well is to be able to vary the melody interestingly -- not to noodle up and down scales.

Matt said...

Yes, that's a good way of putting it. Chet Baker only had so many licks, but he had it.

Wynton Marsalis not so much.

Bill Evans on a rainy night, with Scotch, hearing each note before he played it.

Chick Corea could never quite hold my attention; Jarrett and Brubek only sometimes..

Aenesidemus said...

Bill Evans and Chet Baker are among my favorites as well.

Oddly enough, Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio once reported that the height of his experience as a musician was to see the notes before he played them.

If one cares for people still alive: Drums: Dejohnette; Guitar: Martino; Bass: Hollins. Honorable mention to John Scofield.

Matt said...

That may be an entirely other matter, seeing things. Those guys...

Thanks for the suggestions; I've heard of Scofield but not the other three.