Picture this: you’re in a car with your friends and they turn on the radio to their favorite station. You enjoy the songs coming on, but you reach a state of monotony. It’s all the same music you’ve been hearing for the past six months. You want something different, but not weird. There seems to be no way around it.
You are not the first person to feel this way. In 1930s in Paris, France, a man named Django Reinhardt heard jazz for the first time. He was so inspired by it that he put his own spin on the whole thing. Gypsy jazz was the result of his work. It was new, different, and wildly popular.
While gypsy jazz hasn’t withstood the test of time all that well, with many people complaining that it is “too repetitive,” it is definitely a style of playing that would be a badge of honor for any guitarist.
Being very similar to swing, gypsy jazz makes use of beats 2 and 4 in a measure, this strumming pattern is formally known as la pompe (above). That gives it an upbeat, fast-paced feel. Other techniques include using only major 6th and 7th chords, frequent arpeggios, staccatos, and ghost notes.
Playing gypsy jazz is no small feat, as you can plainly see. The notes fly quickly, and leave very little room for error. Getting right is tough, and teaching it is even tougher. Some of the best players learned by mimicking or picking notes apart by ear, and not everyone can do that.
Check out this cool gypsy jazz lick:
Fear not, though. In today’s society, there are many resources that can help one to learn this unique style of guitar playing. Some of the best ways to learn it is by familiarizing yourself with it, as well as watching videos on it. That way your ear will be tuned to it. Playing gypsy is undoubtedly a challenging task, but it’s one I’m sure many of you will be up for. Good luck.
I also want to recommend you to check out one of our best jazz guitar courses: