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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Frank Hamilton Mystery of Django's Chords. oooooh! (38) RE: Mystery of Django's Chords. oooooh! 17 Dec 99

Django used a Selmer Modele which was developed after Maccaferri sold out his company to them. Macaferri was a famous classical guitarist who played a thumpick. He had an accident and was unable to play so he made guitars instead. His innovation was a frame inside (a kind of built in amplifier) that he incorporated into his design. His guitars are noted for the shape of the soundhole, a D form which is used in the Hot Club of France by the rhythm players, Joseph Reinheart and Roger (?) Django did not use Macaferri's design because the Modele version does not have the built in centerpiece and has a small round soundhole instead. Some of the guitars made has a slight arch very much like the early accoustic roundhole Gibsons.

Django was an excellent rhythm player as well as lead soloist. His chord forms would have included ninths using five strings and the flat part of his damaged fingers in the first three strings, a four string version of the 6/9 chord that he uses on Oriental Shuffle, a full sixth chord, a diminished seventh, a minor sixth chord that he uses on Tears. He did not use Freddy Greene's chord form shape exclusively which is what piano players refer to as "tenths" because the notes are an inversion of the major and minor and dominant seventh triads that span an interval of a tenth on the keyboard. These three notes are spaced apart so that when played at top volume they can cut through the band. Often the three notes have more carrying power than does the full four or five note jazz chords played on the guitar. This is what made Freddy Greene's voicings so useful for the Basie Band. Django employed these occasionally on such tunes as It Don't Mean A Thing.

It must be said that the major influence came from Eddy Lang and Joe Venuti who Django idolized and patterned his jazz style after until discovering his own sound. Eddy Lang is one of the greatest accoustic jazz guitarists who not only made the Paul Whiteman band swing due to the close mic development of the recording industry but made classic and memorable records with Bix Beiderbecke.

Every year there is a Django Festival in France at Sur La Seine where Gypsy musicians congregate to play the Hot Club music. I've never been much to my regret because many of them smoke like chimneys.

There are numerous Hot Club sites on the web. One I recommend is the Hot Club of Norway and they have a Hot Club record company which shows who is playing this music now.


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