Sippican Cottage

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A Man Who Has Nothing In Particular To Recommend Him Discusses All Sorts of Subjects at Random as Though He Knew Everything

Sultans Of Minor Swing

Some inside baseball: The boys have been sick since their last video. Nothing serious, but out of action for a week or two. Since our children don’t go to the petri dish, er, the public school, that doesn’t happen all that often. It’s very disruptive to have children sick if they’re learning.

About three weeks ago, the little one had recovered from his illness, but his older brother was still out of action, so I decided to teach him swing drumming. I cannot play the drums properly, but that doesn’t matter. I’m his music teacher. On Monday, I told him what each of his limbs was supposed to do. It’s more complicated than rock drumming, and subtler. We watched a video of a fellow wearing a ski hat and a short sleeve shirt indoors to hear the beat and see it demonstrated. Then my boy sat down and tried it.

He’s impatient, and wants to do it all at once, and it tested him. It wasn’t natural or easy for him, so we put it together, one limb at a time, until he could play it haltingly. All this took about a half an hour, which is all I have to give him. His mother teaches him all the rest of his subjects the rest of the day. The next day he played it competently. The third day he played it and kept good time. After that, he began to play syncopation on the snare, and fills on the toms. After a week or so, his brother could play again, and they started playing it together. This is recorded 20 days after that first lesson.

We purchased an input-output device with tip jar money last year. It
digitizes analog signals from microphones so they can be put into
digital recording devices. It broke. The kids can’t record multitrack without it in a
practical manner. It was still on warranty, but only
for parts. We had to pay labor, and it was a good bit of change, and then ship it to California and wait while they fixed it. By some form of
astral projection a kind reader sent me a tip jar donation just then, out of the blue. J
and M, you know who you are. You’re peaches.  It allowed us to get the thing repaired. Many thanks.

One of the their flip cameras died, too, so there’s only one camera, and no overdubs. I told them to set up the camera they did have, hang two microphones, and let it rip. It’s been a while since they did that. What possessed the big one to try Django Reinhardt in the first place is beyond me. I think he got tired of people asking him if he could play Sultans of Swing. I think this is his way of offering proof that yes, he could; and no, he won’t.

Friend Andy gave the kids the mic on the right, and we bought the one on the left with tip jar money last year, so thanks, everyone for that and a lot of other things, too.

It takes a lot of effort to set all this up, and they have to drag everything down to the dining room to do it. They did it all themselves, and asked my wife and me for nothing except to press the button to record, and…

It’s two microphones, a flip camera, and that’s it. We flubbed it. They played this song three times before they realized their parents hadn’t recorded anything. This take, which wasn’t as good as any of the ones we missed, will have to do.

[Update: Many thanks to Nicholas K. in OK for his generous hit on the tip jar.]
[UpUpdate: Many thanks to Cynthia R in CA for her generous hit on the tip jar]
[Continuing Update: It’s a mystery to me how Kathleen M, who is our boys’ most constant supporter, manages to walk around Connecticut all day with that big, heavy halo around her head.]
[Yet Another Update: Many thanks to longtime supporter Dinah in MO for her generous contribution for the boys]

10 Responses

  1. I know how dazzled you are by your youngest, and I can only agree.

    Still, it occurs to me that a little public awe could profitably be expressed toward the eldest, because he may be a genius.


  2. Yowza!
    Most excellent all around. And bravo to all for getting to know the nuances of swing/jazz.

  3. I think he got tired of people asking him if he could play Sultans of Swing. I think this is his way of offering proof that yes, he could; and no, he won't.

    Indeed he can. He has advanced far beyond garage band expertise.

  4. Kudos also to the Spare. I have not been able to find a Minor Swing video with a drummer. Which leads me to the conclusion that the Spare did not merely copy a drummer's rendition of Minor Swing, but applied principles he had learned about swing drumming to make his own drummer's interpretation of Minor Swing.

    Minor Swing was originally done by Hot Club of France: Reinhardt, Grapelli et al.

    Several decades ago I was fortunate enough to hear Stephan Grappelli in concert. That was one of the best concerts I have ever attended. He was a very soulful violinist. He also played piano at the concert.

  5. Well done! That kind of fine guitar work puts them well beyond the average garage band.


  6. Wonderful! They just get better and better and I love the swing….my kind of music. From watching them over the few years they've been performing for us, their skills have bloomed. Not everyone would tackle this!

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