Cantina song from Star Wars on a Chapman Stick

Dustin sez, "Musician Guillaume Estace plays a rendition of the famous "Cantina Theme" from Star Wars IV on a Chapman Stick, a guitar-like instrument designed solely for finger-tapping. It's really cool the way it lets him play the bass and melody simultaneously - I want one!" This is my wife's ringtone (the original, not the Chapman Stick version) and so I hear it a lot; this guy does a GREAT job with it!

Star Wars "Cantina Band" on Chapman Stick (Thanks, Dustin!)


  1. Nicely done. John Williams recycled this music – he originally used it in Goodbye Mr Chips, the one with Peter O’Toole and Petula Clarke. Was watching it a while back and when the Cantina Theme started up during a jazz club scene near the beginning, I splorfed my tea. English World War 2 Boarding School movie meets Tatooine. Brilliant.

  2. Oooh, the Chapman Stick!

    This has been my favorite axe to jones for, for years. Before I die I will own one, even if I can’t play it well enough to do it justice. (Although I think I’ll go for the Stick Bass.)

    Guillaume Estace nicely demonstrates its abilities across the full range. And it’s the best “Cantina Theme” cover I’ve heard! Thanks for the link!

  3. Is anyone else surprised by just how Nintendo that melody sounds when not played by the Cantina band?

    PS. Anyone have any clue who wrote that song?

  4. heh, to have someone special in ones life that has a melody like that as a ring tone…

  5. The Chapman Stick was invented before I was a teenager.

    How come I’ve never heard of it before? How come everyone isn’t playing one?

    ::shakes head::

  6. #4 You’ve heard it, you probably just didn’t realize it. Tony Levin of King Crimson (2.0) used it on either albums in the early 80’s.

  7. #4 : Because it’s bitchin’ hard to play. I mean, you are basically playing a guitar and a bass at the same times, finger-tapping. Plus, the technique has nothing to do with any other instrument (sort of a crazy mix between a piano and a guitar).

  8. #7 – I’ve had mine for about twenty years and IMHO it’s no harder to play than a piano. Your left hand still plays the bass notes, your right still does the melody. It’s probably easier to make the transition if you’ve played keyboards than it would be if you were a bassist or a guitarist. The sound is unmistakeable, and I love it.

    Guillaume is a really talented guy, but it’s also worth tracking down Jim Lampi, Trey Gunn, Greg Howard, Don Schiff, Guillermo Cides, Steve Adelson on Youtube (to name just a few of the great players out there). They’re all just as talented as Guillaume and the stuff they do with the thing will blow you away.

  9. Oh, and dig out your copy of Pink Floyd’s “A Momentary Lapse of Reason” – Tony Levin plays stick very prominently on “One Slip.”

  10. There’s lots of EwwTube junk out there but, dammit, I watched this clip three times and when I hit SUBMIT I’m probably gonna watch it again. Wish I could see his face, though. If it was me I’d HAVE to close my eyes to have that much left-right syncopacity.

  11. I think the answers to #2 and #4 are related: you haven’t heard a lot of Chapman Stick because, although it makes possible things that can’t be done on a guitar, it has a pretty thin tone across its entire range, and a lot of things sound pretty Nintendo-y on it. Of course effects can make up for a lot, but then the characteristic sound of the instrument is buried, and you might as well be playing a keyboard. It’s a remarkable toy.

    Of course, serious Stick players are doing pretty damned impressive things. I just don’t care to listen to any of it more than once.

  12. A bit of research tells me that Tony Levin also played it on a couple of early Peter Gabriel albums that I’ve always loved.

    I wonder if it has failed to catch on partly because, in these days of studio overdubs, the ability to sound like a bass and a lead guitar at the same time has pretty limited value. Shame.

  13. He’s got all the notes, and he’s got the talent, but that one x-factor is missing. Groove. He’s ahead of the beat. The ability to lay back just a hair behind the beat is the key to making it swing. Listen to the playing of the guy who invented swing, Louis Armstrong, and listen to Tony Levin’s solo work.

    As for why the Stick or its spin-off, the Warr guitar, haven’t made a bigger impact, I believe it’s because they lack dynamic range. The difference between loud and soft is compressed, which is fine and even desirable in the bass range, but robs lead and chord work of its life. Good solo work demands dynamics, and the Stick will always be an accompaniment instrument for that reason.

  14. Anyone know: is this music 100% from the movie? Or do you think he did this from a soundtrack.

    I know at least 95% is from the movie. Just some of the transitions sounded new to my ears, e.g. 1:33 – 1:36. (And, of course, the ending, but that’s understandable.)

    And while I’m generally down with the “got all the notes, but missing the groove” critique, au contraire to poster #13, I thought this guy had the groovy x-factor no doubt!

  15. The song is different in the movie but not much- mainly due to editing. This would be the version found in the official sound tracks, and in factwhat you get when you buy the sheet music. Which would make it pretty definitive IMO.

  16. Re #21

    Personally, I prefer the chapman stick.
    I’ve tried both. To each his own however.

    As stated by #21, many people do prefer
    the Warr guitar. It’s worth looking into
    both if you want to do the “tapping” thing
    on an instrument.

  17. The most touching part is that nobody has ever told me that I “sez” something before. That’s almost better than having my link featured.

  18. I still have a shirt from a Gabriel show in ’82 at the Capitol Theatre in Passaic NJ, & have an image of Tony Levin playing burned in my brain. He played both bass & stick in those shows, for some the flow & the melodic range he got on the stick worked for the songs. Plus being as tall ^ having huge hands, as I recall, helped make it easier for him to play the stick.

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