How to Play Manouche

Manouche jazz, or gypsy jazz, requires an understanding of the elements of gypsy swing and jazz music. These two types of music combine to create a style of jazz manouche requiring substantial ability and technique on the part of the performers. Regardless of your instrument, jazz manouche requires an ability to keep up with quickly changing rhythms and extended melodies. Some basic guidelines for playing this style of music will greatly enhance your success.

Step 1 Learn to play swing style. This style of playing requires you to slightly increase the length of the first eighth note in a piece and shorten the second eighth note. For instance, a series of two eighth note played in swing style will sound like a dotted eighth followed by a 16th note.

Step 2 Develop the ability to improvise a musical line. Manouche music requires the ability to improvise based on a chord progression. Improve your ability to improvise by memorizing scales and keys; then practice creating melodies on the fly by practicing over a chord progression.

Step 3 Memorize chords that use only two or three pitches. Major and minor sixths intervals with ninths added are commonly used chords in manouche playing.

Step 4 Practice playing arpeggios to improve your ability to play manouche music; these techniques are used often and combined with various minor scales.

One big difference between traditional jazz and strict jazz manouche playing is the utilization of seventh chords. They rarely appear in manouche playing.


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