WWDjD: Nuits De St-Germain-Des-Prés

Wim GlennWim Glenn oƃɐɔᴉɥƆModerator 503
edited December 2017 in Gypsy Picking Posts: 1,100
(What Would Django Do?)

Has anyone here tried to tackle Nuits De St-Germain-Des-Prés with 2 fingers? What do you put, 2 notes on E string, or B string? Or both, perhaps? Playing over the top 3 strings, like several current players do, doesn't seem to give the right feel. I'm starting to wonder whether Django may have used "the claw" for the highest note, and put 2 notes on each of E and B strings.

In the past I've kinda faked it just by playing wrong notes, put minor 9th arpeggios instead of minor 7th, it does change the colour somewhat but still sounds alright. Now I'm starting to think it's rude to change a guy's melody just to make things a bit more ergonomic.

Anyway, interested to hear your thoughts if you've studied this tune


  • Wim GlennWim Glenn oƃɐɔᴉɥƆModerator 503
    Posts: 1,100
    Wow, check this out - put the speed down to 50%, and listen to the last A section of the head in (i.e. at around 0:22 seconds). When the horns are playing the descending G-7 arp Django "missed" and hit an F#-7 arp instead, clashing horribly ... oh boy, we all know that feeling :s He totally fat fingered it!

    Human after all .. =)

  • Ted GottsegenTed Gottsegen Rowayton, CTModerator
    edited December 2017 Posts: 615
    When I do it, I'm playing the second and third notes at the 13th fret, both fretted with the second finger. I just move that fingering up and down while always fretting the notes on the E string with my index finger.

    I'm pretty confident that this is way Django did it, especially when I hear the slide it in the fifth measure (F-7). The 4th note is Eb, which is held for two more beats, and the phrase ends with D, C and B natural which is the first note in the 6th measure. I hear that Eb to D movement (approx. 04:60 sec) as a quick but pronounced slide down (using the index finger).

  • MichaelHorowitzMichaelHorowitz SeattleAdministrator
    edited December 2017 Posts: 5,886
    I always played this in G until recently as that’s the key the Dutch Gypsies play it in which requires a different fingering. I recently learned it in Eb and I’m pretty sure Django played most of the melody on the top two strings. It totally works with two fingers and the picking is super efficient so you can play it very fast and clean. So, for example, the first Fm arpeggio starts on Eb on the 1st string followed by C on the first string, then Ab on the 2nd string followed by F on the second string, and then back up to Eb on the 1st string. All done with the two fingers and the pattern repeats for the other arpeggios. I do use my pinky to make it a bit easier but two fingers is totally doable.

    In general, I find that when struggling with a Django fingering, think horizontally. Most modern guitar playing is more vertically based so you have to get out of that mindset and accept that long horizontal shifts can be very effective.
  • Wim GlennWim Glenn oƃɐɔᴉɥƆModerator 503
    edited December 2017 Posts: 1,100
    Ted do you play 3 downstrokes in a row then? Or do you alternate pick that?

    @MichaelHorowitz yes I'm thinking that's what it has to be too, 2 notes on E and 2 notes on B, and rotate the wrist a significant amount so the left hand's palm is facing towards the bridge. Any other picking pattern doesn't sound right. The only thing is, to get it up to tempo I can't avoid the sound of a slur to get back up into the highest note in time. And I don't really hear that slide in the Django recording, he plays it clean. Makes me wonder whether he used the pinky too, I can get it fast and clean if I use the pinky for the high note (then index, middle, index for the rest).
  • MichaelHorowitzMichaelHorowitz SeattleAdministrator
    Posts: 5,886
    @Wim Glenn yes, it’s a little tough to play clean with two fingers but it can be achieved via some slow metronome work. With that said, I just use my pinky.

    Also, I think most of the second part of the head is also on two strings, save for the last three notes.
  • Ted GottsegenTed Gottsegen Rowayton, CTModerator
    edited December 2017 Posts: 615
    @";"Wim Glenn" , the gypsy player whose right hand I love the most uses a lot of alternate picking, so thats what I use. After seeing video of Matelo and Bousquet in the 1960's sweep picking I'm less picky about that.

    I've written out a PDF with both options. A is mine, B is the other way. After playing it both ways I'm convinced that Django used simply because it's the easiest, most comfortable, and logical way to finger it.

    Here's why I prefer the three string method:
    1. Economy in motion. There is no wasted movement.
    2. It falls easily under the fingers: most of the notes fall a fret apart and you never have to stretch more than 3 frets. So it's easy to keep clean.
    4. it's a nice cluster pattern. When you get the hang of it, it moves comfortably up the neck which makes it easier to play faster.
    5. The note quality is really strong because the string tension is high at that part of the neck, which means that
    6. I swear I can here the lowest notes in the melody the strongest.

    Even though they aren't playing this tune, I've seen video of both Jacques Montagne and Philippe Nedjar, both of whom used 2 fingers exclusively. Montagne was Django's nephew (his mother was Bella's sister) and learned from Django (he and Lousson would get lessons together) and Nedjar got some impromptu lessons from Montagne at La Chope in the 1960's. Not only did they play with two fingers exclusively but they were both able to create their own individual sound within that framework which I find fascinating.

    Anyway, just my opinion but a really fascinating subject. I've enclosed the PDF.
  • edited December 2017 Posts: 2,786
    I'm going to offer something from a slightly different angle.
    What I believe Django did a lot is to use the same finger to skip strings and sort of bar notes on two adjacent strings ( Wim, i think I mentioned something similar when you asked about that Minor Blues run played Django style). That would have allowed him to use the same fingering that would be used conventionally.
    I don't that he favored horizontal playing at all, actually I think this is a little bit of a myth.
    I recorded a quick video. There's a couple of hours of practice into this this evening, I never played this tune before, and that includes a little bit of time to transcribe it with ASD. Of course this is very rough and dirty but I think it does show that it wouldn't take a ton of practice to nail it playing it this way. And there are no uncomfortable stretches involved, everything is grouped together closely as it would be when played with 4 fingers.
    To me personally the bigger challenge here is the right hand:

    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • BonesBones Moderator
    Posts: 2,883
    Hey Buco, what setup do you use for recording?

  • Posts: 2,786
    Bones, this was just a cellphone recording.
    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • spatzospatzo Virtuoso
    edited December 2017 Posts: 731
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