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Did Django use his Ring finger for soloing

elias t.elias t. ATHENSNew
in FAQ Posts: 23
Hi guys , it's been a while since my last post , i was listening to this recording of Django
Around 1:40 he starts playing triplets on a C major arpeggio , is he using his ring finger ? If yes , are there any examples of other recordings ( after his fire accident) where he is using his other fingers for single note soloing ?


  • nicksansonenicksansone Amsterdam, The Netherlands✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 258
    I don't think he could move them well enough after the fire to play accurate single note runs; they look pretty much stuck in place.
  • elias t.elias t. ATHENSNew
    Posts: 23
    I don't think he could move them well enough after the fire to play accurate single note runs; they look pretty much stuck in place.

    Thanks for the reply , They do look like stuck in place , but , the recording of this tune suggests that there's no way he played this line using only two fingers , in fact it might prove that his third finger could be used for soloing to some extent , any thoughts ?
  • elias t.elias t. ATHENSNew
    Posts: 23
    Thanks Stuart , I haven't watched that lecture yet but I'm definitely going to , I believe he could use his 3rd finger to some extent, if you listen to this tune " Pigalle " from the Rome sessions around 1:40 he starts playing triplets on a c major arpeggio then moves to a c# aug , I think there's no other way of playing this but to use 3 fingers
  • nicksansonenicksansone Amsterdam, The Netherlands✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 258
    by stuck I mean not able to stretch the shrunken tendons. I know they weren't fused into place.
  • Posts: 2,909
    I've heard before that he able to use his damaged fingers for soloing to a certain extent.
    This came from people who witnessed this, is what I remember.
    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • dennisdennis Montreal, QuebecModerator
    Posts: 2,116
    Like a true nerd, i ve spent time analyzing lots of django s playing, analyzing all the videos and pictures that exist. I ve even attempted to transcribe some of the silent django videos (unfortunately those werent very insightful, thus far anyway).

    Al this to say, in a few pics, u can clearly see that he was able to wiggle his 2 damaged fingers in more ways than most people thought possible. For instance he can put his pinky on the b string and his ring finger on the e string. He can do all sorts of chords.

    At the end of the j attendrai video, he is cleary using his damaged fingers to play octaves.

    For single note soloing, witness accounts seem to suggest that it s pretty much two fingers. However, who knows? Maybe there are exceptions such as your example!

    There is really no convenient way to do it w two fingers at that speed. Furthermore the playing isnt super clean so maybe he reallt did it with the damaged finger
    elias t.Bill Da Costa Williams
  • elias t.elias t. ATHENSNew
    Posts: 23
    Thanks for all the replies, I think it's fascinating the fact that he could use his damagd finger for soloing to some degree, I think I have also read a statement somewhere where Louis Fays claimed that Django used his third finger to play a certain lick , i think i read it in Ian Cruickshanks book but that was many years ago and i can't be certain
  • Lango-DjangoLango-Django Niagara-On-The-Lake, ONModerator
    Posts: 1,472
    I've long had a suspicion about this very thing when trying to copy the fast triplets in his Rose Room solo, starting around 1:03....
    Paul Cezanne: "I could paint for a thousand years without stopping and I would still feel as though I knew nothing."

    Edgar Degas: "Only when he no longer knows what he is doing does the painter do good things.... To draw, you must close your eyes and sing."
  • Teddy DupontTeddy Dupont Deity
    Posts: 1,184
    He could clearly hook his two damaged fingers onto the fretboard but there is no way he could move them rapidly in a single string context unless it just involved clamping them on in a fixed position and moving his hand up and down the fretboard. This has been confirmed many times by people who actually played with him or saw him play.
  • dennisdennis Montreal, QuebecModerator
    Posts: 2,116
    I spent the last 20 minutes practicing that arpeggio in various two finger combinations. What is very clear is that it is played in a very specifc position: Two notes on E string one note on B string.

    There are two ways to play it with two fingers:

    1) middle finger on the first note, index finger on second note, middle finger on third note, and then jump back up with middle finger

    2) index finger on first note, slide down with index finger, then middle finger

    In both scenarios, it is extremely difficult to play that up to speed. OF course, by then Django had 20 or so years of experience playing with only 2 fingers so maybe he was able to do certain things that seem absurd. However, even in practicing this way, i noticed that the faster i go , the more likely there was some sort of sliding sound as a result of having to use one finger to cover two frets... In this recording, unless i didn't hear correctly, i don't hear any slides... Furthermore , the playing is really not clean at all, so it's very well possible that he did use his damaged finger (ineffectively).

    elias t.Bill Da Costa Williams
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