Gypsy picking for other styles of music?

edited February 2008 in Technique Posts: 2
Hey everyone
Anyone here play other styles like Irish/Scottish/"fiddle songs etc", Eastern European, Greek, other Oriental music etc, using the "gypsy" picking approach?
I started learning some traditional Quebec folklore songs (quite similar in a way to Irish stuff) and I find it TREMENDOUSLY difficult with the gypsy picking because there's a lot of string skipping, fast scales, etc...all the guitarists I've seen are flatpickers...I find flatpicking on an acoustic has SUCH a thin, twangy tone, no? not to mention it's not very loud if you're in a busy pub jamming with violins - then again, a lot of people these days are amplified...

The solution for me was to find the right fingerings, though it often requires large jumps on one string to end up playing an upstroke before changing to a lower (in sound) that clear?
It does work, however, and the advantage is that once you get the right fingerings down you can play as fast as you want (or can).
The disadvantage, however, is that learning a song takes a bunch longer because, well, you gotta dissect the fingerings for every new song!
Thank god these songs are often in keys where you can use open strings to great effect!

As for other styles, actually I find a lot of oriental stuff use pretty much the same technique for picking, and the melodies are often on a single string so it works quite well...

So, anyone has some thoughts on that? I do realize that a lot of people playing gypsy jazz nowadays come from a flatpicking background...


  • MichaelHorowitzMichaelHorowitz SeattleAdministrator
    Posts: 6,123
    I think you can play most things with Gypsy picking if you spend the time to work out the fingerings. Rest strokes will make some parts of fiddle tunes easier and other more difficult. You'll have to adapt, but I think it can work very well. I've played a few Bluegrass and Celtic tunes in my day and was able to adapt them to rest stroke picking.

    Keep in mind, rest stroke picking is the oldest technique for plectrum instruments and has been used in nearly every style: Arabic music, Latin music, jazz, etc. Even some of the early bluegrassers seemed to use a rest stroke type of picking.

    good luck!

  • WitchTiplerWitchTipler Montreal,QCNew
    Posts: 13
    Some Irish madolin players use rest stroke picking, it gives extra volume.

    There is a traditional Irish drum, called the Bodhrán, which is struck with a stick using a right-wrist rythme technique.

    heres a wiki link

    Bodhrán vids ... k_426.html

    monsieurloic if you like Quebec folklore bands check out Kíla, they're a contemporary trad band from ireland, some excellent musicians, their albums dont do their live gigs justice.
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