How to Play Django's Chromatic Descending Run on Minor Swing 1937

Gtr_NjaGtr_Nja New
in Technique Posts: 2
I know this has been discussed in other threads, but I think the answers may be unsatisfactory. When I transcribed it a few years ago, I came up with the same solution as Dennis, I believe. I have been practicing it that way for a couple of years, and some days I can do it at tempo. Only some days.
I follow strict gypsy picking rules, which is where the problem lies. Listening today, it finally dawned on me that Django was probably using triplet picking. Or, that's how it sounds to me today. That would necessitate a different solution to the lick.
Currently, I play E String - Fret 3 2 1 0 B-String Fret 4 3 2 1 0 G-String Fret 3 2 1 0 D-String Fret 4 3 2 1 0 1 2 3 G-String Fr. 1 B-String Fr. 3 E-String Fr. 1 4 7 7 etc

This works fine with alternate picking, but isn't the sound he's creating.
Gypsy picking works, but creates the double down between string b and g.
Triplet picking is an impossible nightmare with this pattern.

But, listening, I'm pretty sure I hear Triplet picking D-U-D, almost throughout. Certainly for the first four triplets.
If this is so, then what might be the real fingering for this lick?

Does anyone else hear it as triplet picking? That fouth note just seems too strong to be an upstroke.

The triplet picking is more obvious at speed. Slowed down, to my ears it doesn't jump out as much.

So, any takers?



  • dennisdennis Montreal, QuebecModerator
    edited October 2016 Posts: 2,161
    I'll have to retranscribe this one! I ve transcribed this solo maybe 4-6 times over the past 16 years!! Every time I do it , I discover something new!

    My guess is that it's not a worked out line but something that came in the moment. His timing is definitely triplets until he gets to the open D, but then he sort of rushes a bit when he ascends with a super sloppy F diminished arpeggio thing.

    The one thing I remember that stood out for me is the switch from B string to G string, the tone of the strings definitely change, and he definitely hits Bb with a downstroke. I don't know if he does a down on every beat though, it doesn't sound too likely to me.

    Who knows! One possible theory for that E sounding different is maybe it's an open E string?

    I'll definitely have to retranscribe it one day though!
  • Gtr_NjaGtr_Nja New
    Posts: 2
    Yeah, I completely agree, the Bb definitely sounds like a string change and downstroke.
    I'm going to listen again tomorrow with new ears.
    Yeah, I've been over the solo a few times myself over the past few years and I catch subtle things I missed before which kind of dictate how it's being played. Often different than what I originally had. Same pitches, but done differently.

    I agree that this chromatic line may be unique in his playing. An in-the-moment kind of lick.
    I don't think I've seen anyone play the lick verbatim with gypsy picking. Most of the guys play four notes per string descending or if they do play the lick, it's with alternate picking. I've seen many variations that sounds great, some very, very different, like Dorado's.

    I'll have to listen again, but today I could have swore I heard triplet picking. I'm trying to hear string tone to figure the line. I'm pretty sure that it does start on string one, but I've toyed with other possibilities. It also sounds like the picking hand moves closer to the bridge on this lick, which changes tone a bunch.

    This lick is truly an enigma, I don't know if anyone truly knows.
    Or, we do know, but his right hand was so beastly that it can't be replicated.

    I found your transcription after I had worked out the whole thing. It was great to compare. Your transcription is probably the best out there.

    I want to redo mine again and add the fixes that I've discovered also.

  • JohnVBJohnVB PDX, Orygun✭✭✭ Gitane D-500 #051
    edited November 2017 Posts: 32
    I'm transcribing this tune also, and as everyone finds, this descending triplet business is a tough nut to crack.

    How did your experiment come with triplet picking?

    My observations so far, that seem to differ from transcriptions I've seen elsewhere (such as Denis's):

    a. After the bottom of the run, where he starts going back up, I'm convinced he's picking (upstroke, following downstroke on open D at end of descent) the D#, fingered with 1, then hammering onto E with 2 and sliding up to F, creating the ascending triplet. This phrasing seems to best match the sloppiness in the recording.

    b. Everyone cites a G# (1 on 3rd string). I absolutely cannot detect this note in the recording. I'm omitting it in my transcription for the following reasons:
    Given the pick-hammer-slide combination that just seems to have happened leading up to this sweep arpeggio, it would make sense that the next note would be a good, forceful downstroke, easily audible over the rhythm guitar playing the '2' of the bar. Instead, there's nothing audible (to my ears anyway) from Django's guitar. However, adding to the sloppiness of the timing on the ascending line, and the forcefulness of the attack on the D (3rd fret of 2nd string), it would seem that this is actually the next note after the triplets, and it's a bit rushed, as if it's jumping in as the start of a line, and not the second note of a triplet arpeggio that started on G# (1st fret of 3rd string).

    When I play the line in this fashion against the recording (slowed to a playable tempo), this phrasing comes out most easily matching Django's timing on his ascent.

    Anybody else come to this conclusion?

    E=Fb : The Theory of Relativity
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