More news on the DeArmond control box front: I started making these more compact volume-only control boxes. Available in the store.
Why? The original DeArmond FHC pickups only had a single volume control knob. Minimalism at its best. After all, you can set tone on the amp. Personally, I don’t mess with tone much in the middle of my playing… too complicated. I’ll leave that sort of thing to Jerry Byrd and Danny Gatton.
Every gypsy jazz guitarist knows this video well. It’s 1939. Joseph and the fellas are getting a card game in before the show. Stéphane’s having a cigarette in bed (tsk!). And Django Reinhardt’s lounging on the couch playing just about the most beautiful intro to J’attendrai imaginable.
I used AI upscaling to bump this video up to 1080p. The AI also did a great job of removing noise, and a decent job sharpening up edges. I then used some old-fashioned video editing to enhance the colors. Nothing I could do about the fact that someone forgot to turn on the lights halfway through!
The audio was also processed. The source video was a bit out of sync. I did better, but it was tricky to get right for reasons I’ll get into later. Also amplified the audio, added some EQ, and removed the hiss from the background.
Anyway, I didn’t work miracles, but it’s still way better than any other version of it out there. It’s fun to see the furrow of Django’s brow as he plays his legendary solo.
A few realizations working on this video:
This video is not, in fact, live. At least not all of it. You can hear a clear splice when Django’s solo begins.
There’s also a part in the guitar intro that’s impossible to sync with Django’s fingers. My only explanation is that it’s dubbed.
Have you ever wondered what Django Reinhardt looked like in color?
I’ve been very fascinated with AI image processing, specifically upscaling and colorization of old black and white photos. Having looked into a few open-source libraries, DeOldify kept coming up with the most impressive results.
The first images I thought to throw at DeOldify were those of my hero Django Reinhardt, of course. There are few color photos of him. In my obsession with his music, I’ve stared at these images a lot and seeing them in color is truly surreal for me. I hope it is for you too. Enjoy!
First a couple of stills from the classic 1939 J’attendrai video: one of only two known live videos of Django. Fans know it well:
Next, some of my favorite shots of Django, where he’s uncharacteristically playing an Archtop in lieu of his usual Selmer petit bouche:
If you’re a jazz guitarist you’ve probably experienced this: a band member calls a tune, then casually looks over at you and asks, “got a little intro for this?”. In a matching casual tone you respond, “yeah, sure,” hiding the swift internal panic you are, no doubt, really feeling.
An “intro”? Now what? There’s an endless galaxy of possibility and now it’s your job to come up with a succinct, crystal-clear, improvised micro-composition before the band starts looking at their watches.
To be honest, I never really formally explored the matter until now. But having transcribed a few nice intros from the masters, I may have some suggestions on the business of starting a song.
In a Coronavirus pandemic world, working on guitar-related projects suddenly seems a bit… frivolous. Thanks to some cool 3d-printed life-saving solutions hitting the news during this time, my mind has shifted towards PPE (Personal protective equipment). Specifically, protective face masks which are difficult to come by these days.
Now before I get the lecture: no, these are no replacement for N95 masks, which are designed to filter airborne particles of down to .3 microns. I see this as more of a solution for people trying to navigate in public without infecting anyone else and lowering your chances of inhaling large droplets from other folks coughing or sneezing. Also, if you make your own masks, you don’t have to go out and buy them reducing stock that should probably go to medical professionals. Finally, it’s better than nothing.
There I was, minding my own business/not buying things when pal Nick Rossi. (who BTW, is a fantastic early jazz guitarist and scholar here in SF worthy of your internet stalking) sent me a Craigslist ad for this:
While I’ve never had a spool of filament run out mid-print, it was time to prepare for the inevitable. First, I would need a sensor to detect the scenario. Also, time is usually of the essence if you’d like to save the print and swap in new material, and I figured it would be best to get an instant notification via SMS.
I came up with a solution using my preferred 3D printer interface, OctoPrint. It was a bit involved, so buckle up! This guide assumes you have some experience with basic electronics, 3D printing, OctoPrint, and Raspbian (ssh, shell, GPIO).