Jazz Research Journal, Vol 13, No 1-2 (2019)

Grappling with Grappelli: Contemporary jazz violin pedagogy and the legacy of gypsy jazz

Tom Sykes, Ari Poutiainen
Issued Date: 14 Feb 2020


The violin has been played in jazz from the beginning of the music's history, and yet ithas, until relatively recently, been somewhat neglected as a significant jazz instrumentin terms of both performance and education. One style of jazz in which the violin is significantis so-called 'gypsy jazz', which originated with the formation of Le Quintette duHot-club de France in the early 1930s featuring gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt andviolinist Stéphane Grappelli. The success of this group led to Grappelli being consideredcentral to jazz violin and gypsy jazz, and the gypsy jazz style-initially a Frenchphenomenon-being equated with jazz violin as the everyday aesthetic of jazz violin.The number of successful French jazz violinists following Grappelli (including Jean-LucPonty and Didier Lockwood) has led to the idea of a 'French school' of jazz violin, and anumber of recently published jazz violin tutor books base their approach on the premisethat the Grappelli swing style is central to jazz violin, despite many contemporaryjazz violinists choosing to play in more modern styles. The authors critically considerthe existence of a 'French school' of jazz violin and whether teaching the Grappelli styleis an effective approach to jazz violin pedagogy.

Download Media

PDF (Price: £18.00 )

DOI: 10.1558/jazz.37944


Balmer, Paul (2003) Stéphane Grappelli: A Life in Jazz. London: Bobcat Books.

Bisharat, Charlie (1998) Beyond Classical Violin: An Introduction to the World of Improvisation. New York: Cherry Lane Music Company.

Blanchard, Pierre (2003) Le Jazz au violon: Méthode pour jouer et accompagner, Vol. 1 [‘Jazz on Violin: A Method to Play and Accompany, Vol. 1’]. Paris: Editions Henry Lemoine.

——(2007) Le Jazz au violon, Méthode vol. 2: L’Improvisation et ses développements [‘Jazz on Violin, Method, Vol. 2: Improvisation and Its Developments’]. Paris: Editions Henry Lemoine.

Borgdorff, Henk (2012) The Conflict of the Faculties: Perspectives on Artistic Research and Academia. Amsterdam: Leiden University Press. https://openaccess.leidenuniv.nl/handle/1887/18704 (accessed 8 December 2018).

Coker, Jerry (1989) The Teaching of Jazz. Rottenburg: Advance Music.

Cotro, Vincent (2012) ‘Violin and Bowed Strings in Jazz: A French School?’ In Eurojazzland: Jazz and European Sources, Dynamics, and Contexts, ed. Luca Cerchiari, Laurent Cugny and Franz Hershbaumer, 81–97. Boston: Northeastern University Press.

D’Addario Orchestral (2018) Jean-Luc Ponty. http://www.planetwaves.com/publish/OrchestralArtistDetails.aspx?ActiveID=4435&ArtistId=3019&ArtistName=Jean_Luc_Ponty&sid=65e92fe0-4d1a-47a9-ad64-9fd1a4874727 (accessed 11 November 2018).

Delaunay, Charles (1961) Django Reinhardt, trans. Michael James. Cambridge: Da Capo Press.

Dregni, Michael (2008) Gypsy Jazz: In Search of Django Reinhardt and the Soul of Gypsy Swing. New York: Oxford University Press.

Duncum, Paul (1999) ‘A Case for an Art Education of Everyday Aesthetic Experiences’. Studies in Art Education 40/4: 295–311. https://doi.org/10.2307/1320551

Geminiani, Francesco (n.d.) The Art of Playing on the Violin 1751. Facsimile edition. Edited and introduced by David D. Boyden. London: Oxford University Press.

Glaser, Matt, and Stephane Grappelli (1981) Jazz Violin. New York: Oak Publications.

Gräßer, Hanno (1991) Jazz Violin: Sound, Improvisation, Solospiel, Phrasierung, Technik [‘Jazz Violin: Sound, Improvisation, Soloing, Phrasing’]. Bonn: Voggenreiter Verlag.

Guingamp, Pierre (2011) Michel Warlop (1911–1947): Génie du violon swing. Paris: L’Harmattan.

Haigh, Chris (2010) Exploring Jazz Violin: An Introduction to Jazz Harmony, Technique and Improvisation. London: Schott.

Holborn, Matt (2018) ‘Episode 11—Tim Kliphuis’. The Jazz Violin Podcast. https://jazzviolin.podbean.com/e/episode-11-tim-kliphuis/ (accessed 28 December 2018).

Kliphuis, Tim (2008) Stéphane Grappelli: Gypsy Jazz Violin. Pacific, MO: Mel Bay Publications.

——(2012) Grappelli Licks: The Vocabulary of Gypsy Jazz Violin. Pacific, MO: Lowland/Mel Bay Publications.

Kupfer, Joseph H. (1983) Experience as Art: Aesthetics in Everyday Life. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.

Leddy, Thomas (2005) ‘The Nature of Everyday Aesthetics’. In The Aesthetics of Everyday Life, ed. Andrew Light and Jonathan M. Smith, 3–22. New York: Columbia University Press.

——(2012) The Extraordinary in the Ordinary: The Aesthetics of Everyday Life. Peterborough: Broadview Press.

Lieberman, Julie Lyonn (1995 [1984]) Improvising Violin. Revised edn. New York: Huiksi Music.

Lockwood, Didier (1999) Personal interview with Poutiainen, 4 November. Helsinki.

Lockwood, Didier, and Francis Darizcuren (1998) Cordes & Âme: Méthode d’improvisation et de violon jazz [‘Strings & Heart: A Method for Improvisation and Jazz Violin’]. Paris: Éditions Salabert.

Martin, Daniel J. (2017) Electronic correspondence with Sykes, 15 August.

Norgaard, Martin (2000) Jazz Fiddle Wizard: A Practical Guide to Jazz Improvising for Strings. Pacific, MO: Mel Bay Publications.

——(2008) Getting into Gypsy Jazz Violin. Pacific, MO: Mel Bay Publications.

——(2015) Jazz Viola Wizard Junior, Book 1. Pacific, MO: Mel Bay Publications.

Oldenhove, Joseph, and Jean-Marc Bramy (1992) Stéphane Grappelli: Mon violon pour tout bagage [‘Stéphane Grappelli: My Violin as the Only Luggage’]. Paris: Calmann-Lévy.

Oliver, Paul (1970) Savannah Syncopators: African Retentions in the Blues. London: Studio Vista.

——(1998) The Story of the Blues. New, updated edn. Boston: Northeastern University Press. [Original edn: London: Random House, 1997.]

Perchard, Tom (2015) After Django: Making Jazz in Postwar France. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. https://doi.org/10.3998/mpub.5838566

Ponty, Jean-Luc (2017) Personal interview with Sykes, 29 July. London.

Poutiainen, Ari (2009). Stringprovisation: A Fingering Strategy for Jazz Violin Improvisation. Helsinki: The Finnish Musicological Society.

Prouty, Ken (2012) Knowing Jazz: Community, Pedagogy, and Canon in the Information Age. Jackson, MI: University Press of Mississippi. https://doi.org/10.14325/mississippi/9781617031632.001.0001

Reiner, Dave, and Glenn Asch (1982) Anthology of Jazz Violin Styles. Pacific, MO: Mel Bay Publications.

Saito, Yuriko (2007) Everyday Aesthetics. New York: Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199278350.001.0001

Tournès, Ludovic (1999) New Orleans sur Seine. Paris: Fayard.

Whyton, Tony (2006) ‘Birth of the School’. Music Education Research 8/1: 65–81. https://doi.org/10.1080/14613800600570744


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Equinox Publishing Ltd - 415 The Workstation 15 Paternoster Row, Sheffield, S1 2BX United Kingdom
Telephone: +44 (0)114 221-0285 - Email: info@equinoxpub.com

Privacy Policy