Swallowtail: A Closer Look


Ok. So it’s a bitch to play.

I will break it down the best I can in this video. It’s hard but it can, and has been done.

Go for it!

Quick link to the TABS

Check it..

And here are me and Jim Beasley in our big yellow kitchen tribute to John King and James Hill’s performance of Larry O’Gaff and Swallowtail medley. If there is serious interest, and I mean serious… I will TAB Jim’s part.

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6 responses to “Swallowtail: A Closer Look

  • alec

    Tim! These lessons are fantastic. All exactly the stuff I like to play but am struggling to play well. Hard and time consuming as crap but fun when you get it down.

    I have a question. I’m learning your version but I’m curious why (if you do) you play consecutive notes on the same string in the the first measure. It looks like John King plays something different, and messing around there seem like ways to play it more purely campanella style. Is that just because it’s slightly easier?

    Love the posts!

    • ukulelesecrets

      Alec – I actually thought I was playing what John played, but it has been quite a while. I am curious to see what your version would be. You can play that run in pure campanela but the right hand fingering will be even more hellish. I just tried it and I see why I made my choice. I can actually play it faster and cleaner with my right hand the way I transcribed it. I will take another look at the video out of curiosity but after burning it in the way I did, I am not going to change it now. =)

      Whether John did it that way or not, I have known him to play two notes consecutively on the same string. His Chopsticks waltz, comes to mind. If you have his book, Classical Ukulele, check measures 54-55. I think it is a phrasing choice. It just feels good to play it that way. Very crisp.

      Same with Larry O’Gaff. I tried the first measure in pure campanela but I like the way Al transcribed it. I just feels better (not that campanela is supposed to feel better, on the contrary, but that is not my point). Plus, from watching the video, I think Al got it right with what John did.

  • Alec

    Hey, just got this down after not playing for awhile.

    It’s easy I think to keep the first two measures Campanella by just exchanging the second and third notes: second note open A, third note fifth fret A (E string). Fingering is kinda easier cause then you’re alternating E and A strings (which is also easier than two consecutive notes with ring finger on A). I’m not perfectly sure but seems right.

    Off to learn Pistola. Thanks for these tabs a lot!

    • ukulelesecrets

      Agreed. That’s what I found when I went back to try it. Except when I play it I use right hand thumb, index and middle for that particular run. I still haven’t scrutinized the video to try to see what John did but I’ll get around to it someday.

      Glad you like the tabs! Not sure what’s next. Maybe some bluegrass or clawhammer.

  • Mark

    Tim, I haved revisited Larry O’Gaff after a few months away and have added the first half of Swallowtail – I will post a public performance when it happens. I have paired up with a friend from ukulele club to accompany me with some simple chords, but just can’t get it. What chords would you advise? Swallowtail is fine as chords are on the tab. Many thanks and a big hello from London. Mark.

    • ukulelesecrets

      Mark, one thing I want to point out about playing rhythm to these tunes. I (or my accompanist) uses the triplet feel or it doesn’t sound right to us. But yes, the chords are important, too. I don’t have a chord chart for this but if you can send me what you have I will take a look and offer some suggestions. Drop me a line on my contact page and we can go from there.

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