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  1. #1

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    Rob very kindly posted CC‘s Solo Flight and I‘m trying to learn it.

    I stumble over the 4 string downward arpeggios that he likes to use a lot. How would you pick them? Downward swipe? Alternate? If it‘s true that CC played „mostly downstrokes“, surely that’s hardly the most economical way for a 4 string downward arp.

    Your suggestions?


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  3. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by docsteve
    Rob very kindly posted CC‘s Solo Flight and I‘m trying to learn it.

    I stumble over the 4 string downward arpeggios that he likes to use a lot. How would you pick them? Downward swipe? Alternate? If it‘s true that CC played „mostly downstrokes“, surely that’s hardly the most economical way for a 4 string downward arp.

    Your suggestions?


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    which measures? I’ll have a look (answer is likely yes, though)

  4. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by docsteve
    Rob very kindly posted CC‘s Solo Flight and I‘m trying to learn it.

    I stumble over the 4 string downward arpeggios that he likes to use a lot. How would you pick them? Downward swipe? Alternate? If it‘s true that CC played „mostly downstrokes“, surely that’s hardly the most economical way for a 4 string downward arp.

    Your suggestions?


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    Yes he supposedly used lots of downstrokes! As you say, it's the most efficient way to play across strings. However while it's obvious to use downstrokes for an upward 4 string arpeggio, it's a bit less so in the other direction.

    The key is knowing when to use upstrokes; I'd love to see a film clip of CC playing anything just to learn his exact picking techniques.

  5. #4

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    I'd love to see a film clip of CC playing anything just to learn his exact picking techniques.
    Wouldn't we all.

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by docsteve
    Rob very kindly posted CC‘s Solo Flight and I‘m trying to learn it.

    I stumble over the 4 string downward arpeggios that he likes to use a lot. How would you pick them? Downward swipe? Alternate? If it‘s true that CC played „mostly downstrokes“, surely that’s hardly the most economical way for a 4 string downward arp.

    Your suggestions?


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    you mean downward as in: from low string to high?
    or as in: from high note to low?

  7. #6

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    Thank you all for your answers; I'll try and make myself clear.

    By downward arpeggio I mean from high string to low. So it's not just an arpeggio from the highest to the lowest chord tone, but actually crossing four strings in what amounts to an upward motion from highest to lowest string. This is of course awkward to play using downstrokes or even rest strokes.

    Some examples are: bar 18, bars 66-69 (killer lick BTW), bar 78-80, in this transcription: https://www.jazzguitar.be/forum/atta...ght-guitar-pdf.

    Here is a video I found. He seems to use sweeps from high to low string in an upward motion; resp. a combination of upstroke-upstroke-upstroke-downstroke. I tried that and it seems to work fairly well, of course it depends what comes before and after.


  8. #7

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    I learned this as "reverse rest stroke".

  9. #8

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    People have different techniques, so this is my take on it based on the way I play. Not sure how helpful this will be!

    At first impression I can’t hear any need to use any upstrokes. If you are trying the downstrokes thing, make sure you do downward rest stokes into the guitar, with the recovery coming out of the guitar. You can play descending arps a lot quicker than you’d think with this technique; it’s counter intuitive. If you are used to playing alternate you might surprised at how fast downstrokes can be made to work.

    Also if you are trying to learn from music you might be trying to play things in unhelpful fingerings and positions. CC really doesn’t seem like position player to me; if you listen carefully you can work out where he’s crossing strings - it usually straightens out his ‘dot’ a little.

    A challenging one is the B of Air Mail. With the dim7s I play two notes on the top string and one on the other two. That makes it doable with down-up-down-down.

    If I really can’t execute a descending arp like this, alternate picking is a possibility provided you terminate the top string with an upstroke.

    And yes - if I must - I’ll do an upsweep. But I don’t think I’d need to here. I might try and learn this solo at some point and will get back to you
    Last edited by christianm77; 05-15-2021 at 09:54 AM.

  10. #9

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    There aren’t many descending arps in this solo, but IIRC I executed this one using Django style rest stroke picking. I find it a good fit for Charlie’s phrases, and it’s around 75% downstrokes.


  11. #10

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    I just listened to the original. I don't think it's too fast for downstrokes.

  12. #11

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    Yea... I guess you need to play it the way you can.... But just listening to both you and Christian, the articulations don't sound that great and the feel... might be results from picking. I generally use picking to imply articulations and help with feel. You both obviously have the parts memorized... so I would decide what the articulations are, or how you want them... and then experiment with your picking to see how to get the part to sound like you want... or if the part has articulation... pick as notated. ( generally that would be worked out before you go through the memorization thing). You both sound great and are obviously fine players... but results are from technique and when you do that memorization thing... sometime the articulation and feel thing needs to be worked out first

    Generally when you pick in one direction and either bar or finger like a voicing... you loose articulation control, and get that slur or legato sound. So if you want accents, you would alternate pick etc...

    All this can get personal... but generally music has natural patterns of accents or stress... style and context etc...

    So I won't make choices for you, but picking makes big difference in articulation... of course depending on Tone etc.

    Anyway... I enjoyed the playing, was cool. Fun to listen to. Thanks

  13. #12

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    yea, sorry I missed transcription. I looked and read through.... alternate all of them.

  14. #13

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    My introduction to sweep picking was from Carl Barry, a great NYC based player. He got it from Chuck Wayne. The idea was for upstrokes and downstrokes to sound identical.

    Chuck's lines had a floaty quality which I later came to believe was due to the sweep picking.

    Later, I studied with Warren Nunes. He was an alternate picker, with pull-offs. He shaped his picks in a unique way and had some unusual left hand fingerings, all to faciliate the picking approach. He sounded like a jackhammer when he wanted to and said, "I can pop any note".

    I assumed this was the impact of his alternate picking.

    Still later, I heard Jimmy Bruno. Sweep picker, but nothing floaty about the sound. Chico Pinheiro too.

    So, now I'm less convinced that sweep is floaty and alternate is jackhammer.

    I think they can overlap -- that is, be done in a way that makes it hard to tell one from the other. They do differ at the extremes.

    Some of this gets into physiology. I'm not convinced that virtually everybody can do it either way with equal effectiveness given equal practice.

  15. #14

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    Yea Rick... I also think any way can work. But when looked and sight read through 1st pg of part, it said even 8ths and had accents and phrasings etc. ( not personal choice) And generally when you show up at gig and read the part, you would use whatever technique you have to follow the part.

    When one does the memorize and perform thing... natural articulations from picking are out the window. I mean the tempo was med. So one could play the entire part with any picking technique... all down strokes. (I guess that would be Stupid).
    He asked a question.... and I just said how I would have played.

    No thinking involved.

  16. #15

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    OK, so I think Reg is basically talking from the perspective of 'here is a piece of music, how would I play it' and I'm coming a bit more from the perspective of 'how do I think Charlie Christian maybe played these notes?'

    Both perspectives have value.

    For old school jazz guitarists, the phrasing does heavily come from the right hand articulation. So what Reg sees as a bug, I see as a feature. I think that's probably a hold over from acoustic guitar.

  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by Reg
    Yea... I guess you need to play it the way you can.... But just listening to both you and Christian, the articulations don't sound that great and the feel... might be results from picking. I generally use picking to imply articulations and help with feel. You both obviously have the parts memorized... so I would decide what the articulations are, or how you want them... and then experiment with your picking to see how to get the part to sound like you want... or if the part has articulation... pick as notated. ( generally that would be worked out before you go through the memorization thing). You both sound great and are obviously fine players... but results are from technique and when you do that memorization thing... sometime the articulation and feel thing needs to be worked out first

    Generally when you pick in one direction and either bar or finger like a voicing... you loose articulation control, and get that slur or legato sound. So if you want accents, you would alternate pick etc...

    All this can get personal... but generally music has natural patterns of accents or stress... style and context etc...

    So I won't make choices for you, but picking makes big difference in articulation... of course depending on Tone etc.

    Anyway... I enjoyed the playing, was cool. Fun to listen to. Thanks
    Reg, thanks for the flowers, but that wasn‘t me in that video. I‘m getting there, but on some parts I‘m not quite sure what works best.

    Right now I alternate pick the chromatic passages, and sweep the arpeggios up and down as required. Downstrokes on descending arps still feels awkward so I use „reverse rest strokes“ instead until I get the hang of it.

    I‘m starting from the assumption that CC used three fingers, lots of downstrokes, and position shifts. CC being largely self-taught, I imagine that most small licks and phrases are probably quite easy to play once you get the idea how he built them from the notes available in a particular position.

    BTW The music has no fingerings at all.


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  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by docsteve
    I‘m starting from the assumption that CC used three fingers, lots of down strokes, and position shifts. CC being largely self-taught...
    It's funny, when I listen to CC my impression is that his articulation, accents, and ideas suggest using four fingers, a kind of Chuck Wayne style economy picking, strict down strokes about 10% (slowest lines), and fingering beyond any mapping to position.

    If my impression were proved incorrect, that would just underscore CC's brilliance.

    Even self taught musicians stand on the shoulders of others... but CC emerged as the "shoulders" for generations, themselves upon which to stand.

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by pauln
    It's funny, when I listen to CC my impression is that his articulation, accents, and ideas suggest using four fingers, a kind of Chuck Wayne style economy picking, strict down strokes about 10% (slowest lines), and fingering beyond any mapping to position.

    If my impression were proved incorrect, that would just underscore CC's brilliance.

    Even self taught musicians stand on the shoulders of others... but CC emerged as the "shoulders" for generations, themselves upon which to stand.
    Well, I was drawing on the wisdom of the Three Finger thread as much as my own ears that tell me that he does use downstrokes a lot, but certainly not exclusively. Anyway, I don‘t want to be known as the guy who has the CC technique down (who could really argue that, anyway) but I want to play this piece as fluently as possible. Hence my initial question - how would you play arpeggios that cross four strings from highest to lowest. If CC did it the same way, well, I don’t object Downward arpeggio picking technique


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  20. #19

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    I’m really gonna have to learn this aren’t I?

  21. #20

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    When I look at the transcription of Solo Flight, I don't find the fingerings to be obvious.

    Some of it looks like he's working out of chord grips (like a bar C at the 8th fret and some minor triads), but he uses a lot of diminished sounds that require shifting or stretching.

    It's very impressive, especially in light of the gear he was using. Strings were heavy and action tended to be high, by modern standards. I don't hear any buzzing, so I'm guessing he didn't have really low action.

    Of course, maybe this is true of any good player's solo -- they have their own ways of traveling the fretboard which may be idiosyncratic.

  22. #21

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    Downward/sidewards, whatever. There has to be some kind of movement of the player's torso an/or legs to get the swing feel or it sounds like some kind of clinical exercise. IMO.

  23. #22

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    Here's the thing... I had the record album "Solo Flight" about 45 years ago. It was engineered so that CC's solos from his scant recordings were combined into additional choruses of single versions of the tunes.

    It was listening to his solo on "Stardust" that converted me from three to four fingers way back then. There is a part of his solo where he takes off, starting with an octave hop, then a maj7 hop, then an octave, maj7, dom7 descending chromatically from there... the only fingering that made sense started with fourth finger on the A string and first finger on the B string lower down the neck a few frets; and that hand orientation continued to support the subsequent phrases quite well, which had more chromatic series. Also obvious that the picking technique for this fast string skipping was advanced.

    This version I had is hard to find, but so superior to the other two ubiquitous versions there. The solo starts right before 1:30, what I mention above proceeds from about 1:50... (the first solo verse - what follows is "added", what is heard alone on one of the other versions...)


  24. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar
    When I look at the transcription of Solo Flight, I don't find the fingerings to be obvious.

    Some of it looks like he's working out of chord grips (like a bar C at the 8th fret and some minor triads), but he uses a lot of diminished sounds that require shifting or stretching.

    It's very impressive, especially in light of the gear he was using. Strings were heavy and action tended to be high, by modern standards. I don't hear any buzzing, so I'm guessing he didn't have really low action.

    Of course, maybe this is true of any good player's solo -- they have their own ways of traveling the fretboard which may be idiosyncratic.
    Tal Farlow made the same observation about CC working basically out of mainly chord grips. Tal said he reached the next level when he stopped using CCs chord grip method of improvisation in later years.

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by docsteve
    Well, I was drawing on the wisdom of the Three Finger thread as much as my own ears that tell me that he does use downstrokes a lot, but certainly not exclusively. Anyway, I don‘t want to be known as the guy who has the CC technique down (who could really argue that, anyway) but I want to play this piece as fluently as possible. Hence my initial question - how would you play arpeggios that cross four strings from highest to lowest. If CC did it the same way, well, I don’t object Downward arpeggio picking technique


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    I've performed SF several times with big bands, and I use alternate picking on all the diminished arp lines with some position changes in the Barry Galbraith style of going up or down the fingerboard diagonally, with position changes every two notes. I use all four fingers, all the time.

  26. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by docsteve
    Reg, thanks for the flowers, but that wasn‘t me in that video. I‘m getting there, but on some parts I‘m not quite sure what works best.

    Right now I alternate pick the chromatic passages, and sweep the arpeggios up and down as required. Downstrokes on descending arps still feels awkward so I use „reverse rest strokes“ instead until I get the hang of it.

    I‘m starting from the assumption that CC used three fingers, lots of downstrokes, and position shifts. CC being largely self-taught, I imagine that most small licks and phrases are probably quite easy to play once you get the idea how he built them from the notes available in a particular position.

    BTW The music has no fingerings at all


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    When part says "play even 8ths" ... it's implied that the accent pattern is natural strong weak accent pattern or stress.
    With straight feel or subdivision... no swing.