Author: denischang

Choosing the right guitar for Gypsy Jazz – Part 1

I get quite a lot of emails from people all over the world asking me for advice on which Gypsy Jazz guitars to buy. While it is true that Gypsy Jazz guitar construction is unique and quite different from what the majority of guitar luthiers are used to, I feel that some of the advice I would give would be the same for just about any kind of acoustic instrument. Unfortunately, the answer isn’t so simple. The good news is, nowadays, while still a niche market, Gypsy Jazz guitars are now mass-produced at very attractive prices. There are a few competing brands out there and, in my opinion, not only are they quite decent for the price, they have excellent resale value. I would almost always recommend buying one of these guitars to start out […]

The art of transcribing – Part 4

As always, be sure to read parts 1, 2, and 3. In this fourth part, we will be focusing on transcribing solos where the timing is not always in sync with the rhythm section. This can prove to be a huge challenge. It requires a strong foundation in music theory, and a strong knowledge of the idiom, which in this case, is straight ahead jazz. When I mean that the timing isn’t in sync with the rhythm section, I don’t necessarily mean this in a negative way. When it comes to good musicians, this floating time is often intentional. In this particular instance, we will be looking at a solo by Swedish jazz guitarist Ulf Wakenius. This is from volume 3 of his lesson series available at DC Music School. Ulf Wakenius is known for playing […]

The art of transcribing – Part 3

As always, be sure to read parts 1 and 2. In this third part of the art of transcribing, I want to show you one of my processes of transcribing directly from a video source. In this instance, I am transcribing directly from my video editor (Final Cut Pro X). Any video player that can slow videos down without changing the pitch will do. I’ll admit that there are way better softwares out there for transcribing than FCP X but I’m just lazy! One of the major advantages of transcribing directly from the video is that you can get the fingerings as you are figuring out the notes. In my previous article, I imported the audio portion of the video into my DAW. When would I use one workflow or the other? I generally transcribe […]

The art of transcribing – Part 2

Be sure to read the first part of this article series. Click here. In this article, I will focus on the transcription work that I do for DC Music School (I’m the owner, in case you haven’t figure it out). I am starting to be able to afford a small team of transcribers and hope that one day my business grows enough that I can hire an even bigger team of sub-contractors! For anyone that is interested in potentially working for me, I can’t guarantee work but I’m always happy to expand my list of potential transcribers. Just so that no one’s time is wasted. I can only hire people who are very familiar with Sibelius, and have a strong knowledge of notation conventions. Otherwise, please read this article and watch the video below to see if […]

The art of transcribing – Part 1

Hello folks! This year, I’ve pretty much been transcribing every single day. As many of you know, I am the owner of DC Music School, where I produce videos for many wonderful musicians. I get them to play a bunch of stuff, and then I transcribe it. The vast majority of people using this site are incredibly patient and understanding that making transcriptions is an extremely long and mind-numbing process. To these people, I say THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! I can’t say it enough times, how much I appreciate your support and your patience. Many of you know that I have sacrificed a huge chunk of my personal life and musician career in order to transcribe. However, there’s also the 0.1% who send me messages asking when the TABs will be ready. I […]

Gypsy Jazz Guitar Technique: Wasso’s Waltz

Would you like to live in Montreal and study guitar with me? click here! Click here to watch a performance of this waltz. It’s not often that I have time to practice guitar, but I was hired to create a backing track for a waltz by Dutch Gypsy musician, Wasso Grünholz. So I took the day off yesterday from my usual routine to practice and record this challenging piece. I went the extra mile by recording the twin lead parts so that I can share my transcription with you guys. For those who don’t know him, Wasso Grünholz is the uncle of Stochelo Rosenberg (the brother of his mother). He is related to many of the best Gypsy musicians; his father was Latscheben Grünholz, whose brother was Piotto Limberger. Piotto’s grandson is Tcha Limberger. In Gypsy […]

iRealBook: the double-edged sword

We live in an incredible era for musicians, where we have instant access to an incredible wealth of information that wasn’t available just 15 years ago. All this, thanks to various technological advancements. I can only wonder what further innovations await us! Every previous generation of musician uses the same line with the latest generation: “back in my day, we had to do X to learn to do Y”. For instance, a 35 year old musician today would tell a 20 year old: “when I was learning music, there was no YouTube, I had to learn from CDs”. The previous generation would say: “In my day, there were no CDs, I was learning from cassette tapes”. The one before that would say “I kept wearing down my records from repeated use”. There’s a famous story […]

Happy Birthday Django Reinhardt

Hello from Taipei, Taiwan! Today is Django Reinhardt’s 106th birthday! I was hoping to have the time to transcribe a lot of Django solos this week, but unfortunately, that didn’t happen. Nonetheless, I managed to wake up earlier today to transcribe one of my favorite Django solos from his rome sessions in 1949. The song is “It’s Only A Paper Moon” (you can download the transcription at the bottom of this post). Django Reinhardt. The man to whom I owe my entire career (OK, my family too). Truly one of the rare geniuses of 20th century. He called himself a jazz musician, but I think he was selling himself short (and he wasn’t exactly Mr. Humble); while he mainly used jazz to express himself musically, he was far more than just a jazz musician. He […]

Charlie Christian Lesson Project

Before I begin, I would like to give a big thanks to the fine folks at Lollar Pickups for providing me with a CC pickup, and a big thank you to my luthier Martin Tremblay for providing me with an ES-250 style guitar. Also, thanks to Michael Bauer for lending me a Gibson ES-150 and the Gibson EH-150 amplifier. DISCLAIMER: It’s a few hours before Christmas 2015, and in less than 48 hours, I will be flying to Taiwan for 3 months. The last few months have been incredibly hectic, and the last few days even worse. Balancing work, and holiday social obligations have left me with very little time to do the video linked below. I was supposed to start working on a Charlie Christian lesson project for DC Music School in August, but for […]

Producing Bireli Lagrene’s instructional videos

I spent the past month preparing the lesson materials for the official Bireli Lagrene instructional videos, which will one day (please don’t ask when) be available at DC Music School. It was a bit of difficult task considering the number of styles and instruments that he plays. Furthermore, we are dealing with a 100% self-taught musician with very little knowledge of music theory, if any. When producing “In The Style Of” videos, my goal is to stay true to the personality of the artist. I avoid making them talk about things they wouldn’t really say. Nonetheless, I usually spend some time coaching the artists on how to communicate their ideas, or I gently push them in a certain direction. Bireli’s musical development is without a doubt more than impressive; however (and the interviews confirm it), behind all […]

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