Minor Swing

This transcription dates back to a session in Paris on the 25th November 1937, the first of many Django recordings of this tune and the only Quintette recording to feature Grappelli on violin (subsequent recordings pair Django’s guitar with clarinet), but it is this version that is considered by many to be the quintessential take.

Whilst Reinhardt’s accompanying rhythm part behind Grappelli’s solo is simply sublime, I thought you’d appreciate the challenge of getting your fingers around some classic jazz violin vocabulary so I’ve presented Stephane’s solo in it’s entirety also. It’s incredible how guitaristic the phrasing and note selection actually is, and how similar in construction both Stephane and Django soloing styles from a rhythmic and harmonic perspective.

Minor Swing Transcription

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Minor Swing Audio

Minor Swing Backing Track

‘Léveil du Gitan’

I composed ‘Léveil du Gitan’ in homage to Django Reinhardt. Both harmony and melody for this piece are based around a variation of a 32-bar chord sequence that is fairly typical not just for Django’s compositions but for all swing music from this era. I’ve deliberately kept clear of anything too technically frightening as much of Django’s charm came not just from showcasing technical virtuosity. There was way more to his playing than just speed and chops. For my money, the beauty was in his superb note selection and the effortless swing and bounce to his improvised lines along with an advanced sophisticated harmonic sense all put together with flawless delivery and tone.

From both a melodic and improvisation perspective, the note selection is predominantly derived from decorated chord-tones. Arpeggios are much more powerful here than scales and a lot of the skill is in how you connect these basic musical tools in keeping with the underlying chord sequence. Of course, I’d urge you to learn the prescribed lines that are presented in this transcription that form the improvised breaks and of course the solo section, but I know that when I perform this tune live myself these areas with effectively be wide open for improvisation so ultimately feel free to do the same when you play along with the backing track, dipping into as much or as little of the written parts as you so choose. Hope you have fun…JW

Léveil du Gitan Transcription

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Léveil du Gitan Audio

Léveil du Gitan Audio Backing Track

Practice Feature – First published in Guitar Techniques GT150

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