Django’s Castle – Solo Guitar Arrangement and Improvisation



Django’s Castle – Solo Guitar Arrangement and Improvisation

I love playing ballads. I love playing them slowly, letting each chord ring, testing new and familiar sounds, transforming my emotions into music and my ideas into realities.

I love creating beautiful arrangements for solo guitar playing, improving my chord vocabulary, and enhancing my improvisation skills. Playing the ballads in an open tempo (rubato), helps me learn and implement new ideas in a musical way. 

In this lesson, we’ll learn the beautiful ballad, Django’s Castle (Manoir de Mes Rêves), by Django Reinhardt. We’ll start from the basics so everyone can follow and move on to more advanced topics – melody, harmony, chord melody, tips for improvisation and practical, yet exciting, advanced musical ideas that you’ll learn to implement right away (such as substitutes, inversions, superimposed chords, augmented chords, the 13b9 sound, intro, ending and bass lines).

Ballads are a perfect opportunity to practice new skills not as a dry exercise, but with a lot of pleasure. Let’s get started-

Suggested Chords
The 13b9 chord

This song includes a very special chord – A13/Bb. Bb is the b9 of A7, so basically this chord is a dominant chord – A7, with the tensions b9 and natural 6 (or 13, because 7+6=13).

If you take a look at the F# Major chord- you’ll see that it gives us those two tensions. So, a beautiful way to improvise over the A13/Bb chord is to play the major chord that sits on the 6th degree of the chord A7. That means you can play an F# arpeggio over the A13/Bb and get the 13b9 sound.

F# over A7

F# is the 6th degree of A7. A# (=Bb) is the b9 of A7. C# and E are the 3rd and 5th degrees of A7; they belong to the A7 chord.

F# and F#7 both sound good over A7.

F# arpeggio: F# A# C#

F#7 arpeggio: F# A# C# E

The Whole-Tone Scale:

The Whole-Tone scale also sounds great over the Dom7. It is a scale constructed with whole-tone steps. Let’s look at it over E7:


E Whole-Tone Scale:

E Whole Tone Phrase:

For the entire Ballads course, click here

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  • Martin Lawson
    Posted at 18:29h, 04 April Reply

    One of my favourite recent lessons from you – partly because it’s a geat song, partly because I was about to go over it again pre Italy in July, partly because there were some great ideas simply presented!

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