“Sultans of Swing” is a song by the British rock band Dire Straits.
It was released as the band’s first single from their self-titled debut album, “Dire Straits,” in 1978.
The song was written by the band’s lead vocalist and guitarist, Mark Knopfler.
Ukulele Tutorial Video
Here’s a basic breakdown of the strumming pattern:
- Fingerpicking Intro: The song starts with a fingerpicked intro that includes picking the individual strings of the chords. The intro is played using a combination of the thumb and fingers to pluck the strings. The fingerpicking pattern might involve picking the bass note with the thumb and the higher strings with the fingers.
- Strumming Verse: The strumming pattern is a down-up-down-up pattern, with some variations to create dynamics. You can try something like: D D U U D U.
- Strumming Chorus: The strumming pattern here could be a more pronounced down-up-down-up pattern, emphasizing the downstrokes. You can try something like: D D D U D U.
Official Music Video
- Inspiration Behind the Song: The song’s lyrics were inspired by a live performance that Mark Knopfler witnessed in a pub in London. He observed a mediocre jazz band playing to a small and unappreciative audience, which led to the creation of the song’s narrative.
- Debut Single: “Sultans of Swing” was Dire Straits’ debut single, released in 1978. It gained them significant attention and helped establish their career.
- Long Guitar Solo: The song features a memorable and extended guitar solo played by Mark Knopfler. The solo showcases his signature fingerpicking style and intricate guitar work.
- Album Cover Misinterpretation: The single’s album cover shows a saxophonist, leading some listeners to believe that the song was about a saxophone player. However, the song itself is centered around a guitarist’s perspective.
- Commercial Success: While it didn’t initially achieve chart success in the United Kingdom, “Sultans of Swing” became a major hit in the United States, reaching the top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
- Re-Release: The song was re-released in 1979 after its success in the United States and went on to achieve higher chart positions in the UK.
- Band Formation: “Sultans of Swing” played a significant role in the formation of Dire Straits. The song caught the attention of music executives, leading to the band’s record deal and the release of their self-titled debut album.
- Time Signature: The song is notable for its complex time signature changes. It alternates between 10/8 and 12/8 time signatures during the instrumental sections, contributing to its unique rhythm.
- Cultural Impact: “Sultans of Swing” remains one of Dire Straits’ most iconic and enduring songs. It has been covered by various artists and has appeared in numerous films, TV shows, and commercials.
- Grammy Nomination: The song received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Rock Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group in 1980.
- Legacy: “Sultans of Swing” is often cited as one of the greatest rock songs of all time and a classic example of Mark Knopfler’s distinctive guitar playing and songwriting.
Text Version of Chords
You get a shiver in the dark, It's
raining in the park
South of the river
C Bb A
You stop and you hold everything
A band is blowing Dixie
Double four time
You feel alright
When you hear the music ring
Dm Bb C Dm
Well now you step inside
C Bb A
But you don't see too many faces
A7 Dm C Bb A
Coming in out of the rain they hear the jazz go down
Competition in other places
Bb Dm Bb
Uh but the horns they blowin' that sound
Way on downsouth
Way on downsouth
C Dm C Bb C
Check out guitar George
He knows all the chords
Mind, it's strictly rhythm
C Bb A
He doesn't want to make it cry or sing
They said an old guitar is all he can afford
When he gets up under the lights to play his thing
Dm Bb C Dm C Bb A
And Harry doesn't mind if he doesn't make the
Dm C Bb A
He's got a daytime job, he's doing alright
He can play the honky tonk like anything
Bb Dm Bb
Savin' it up, for Friday night
With the Sultans
C Dm C Bb
With the Sultans of Swing
C Dm C Bb C
And a crowd a young boys They're
foolin' around in the corner
A7 Dm C Bb
Drunk and dressed in their best brown baggies
And their platform soles
They don't give a damn
About any trumpet playin' band
It ain't what they call rock and roll
And the Sultans
C Dm C Bb C
Yeah, the Sultans, they play creole, creole
Dm C Bb C
Dm C Bb A A7 Dm C
Bb A F C Bb
Dm Bb C Bb
C Dm C Bb C Dm C Bb
And then the man
C Bb A
He steps right up to the microphone
A7 Dm C
And says at last
Just as the time bell rings
F C Bb
"Goodnight, now it's time to go home"
Then he makes it fast
With one more thing
We are the Sultans
C Dm C Bb C Dm C Bb C
We are the Sultans of Swing
Dm C Bb C Dm C Bb C
Dm C Bb C Dm C Bb C
Dm C Bb C Dm C Bb C
Dm C Bb C
Frequently Asked Questions about “Sultans of Swing” by Dire Straits
- What are the basic ukulele chords used in “Sultans of Swing” by Dire Straits?
- “Sultans of Swing” is typically played on the guitar, and while it can be adapted for ukulele, it may involve challenging chord shapes. The main chords are Dm, C, Bb, F, and A.
- Is “Sultans of Swing” considered a classic rock song?
- Yes, “Sultans of Swing” by Dire Straits is considered a classic rock song and one of the band’s signature tracks.
- Can “Sultans of Swing” be played on the ukulele with fingerpicking?
- It’s challenging to play the complex guitar solos of “Sultans of Swing” on the ukulele, but you can create a simplified version for the ukulele that includes fingerpicking.
- Who wrote “Sultans of Swing” and when was it first released?
- “Sultans of Swing” was written by Mark Knopfler and was first released by Dire Straits in 1978 on their self-titled debut album.
- What is the strumming pattern for “Sultans of Swing” on the ukulele?
- While there isn’t a standard ukulele strumming pattern for the song due to its guitar-driven nature, you can adapt a strumming pattern to match your ukulele version.
- What is the song’s significance in rock music history?
- “Sultans of Swing” is considered one of the classic rock songs of the late 1970s and is known for its intricate guitar work and storytelling lyrics.
- Are there alternative chord progressions for “Sultans of Swing” on the ukulele?
- Some ukulele players adapt the chords and simplify the song to make it more playable on the ukulele while maintaining its essence.
- What is the tempo of “Sultans of Swing”?
- “Sultans of Swing” has a moderate tempo, making it suitable for showcasing guitar solos and intricate playing.
- Is “Sultans of Swing” known for its guitar solos, and can they be played on the ukulele?
- Yes, the song is famous for its guitar solos, especially the one played by Mark Knopfler. These solos are challenging to replicate on the ukulele due to the instrument’s limitations.
- What is the overall mood and style of “Sultans of Swing”?
- “Sultans of Swing” has a laid-back and bluesy rock mood with a storytelling style in its lyrics, telling the tale of a struggling band playing in a jazz club.
- Can you recommend any tutorials or resources for adapting “Sultans of Swing” for ukulele playing?
- There are online tutorials and chord sheets available for learning to play “Sultans of Swing” on the ukulele. However, be prepared to simplify the song to make it playable on the ukulele.
- Is “Sultans of Swing” suitable for beginners on the ukulele?
- Due to the song’s complexity, it’s better suited for intermediate to advanced players who are comfortable with challenging chord changes.
- What is the story or inspiration behind the lyrics of “Sultans of Swing”?
- The lyrics tell the story of a struggling band playing in a jazz club and the diverse characters who visit the venue. It captures the essence of the music scene.
- Is “Sultans of Swing” often covered by other artists, and are there notable renditions?
- Yes, the song has been covered by various artists, but it remains closely associated with Dire Straits and Mark Knopfler’s distinctive guitar style.
- Can “Sultans of Swing” be played on different types of ukuleles, such as soprano, concert, or tenor?
- Yes, “Sultans of Swing” can be played on different types of ukuleles, but some chord shapes may be easier on larger ukuleles like tenor or concert.
- Are there any ukulele arrangements that capture the essence of “Sultans of Swing” without the need for complex guitar solos?
- Yes, you can find ukulele arrangements that simplify the song while retaining its core melody and feel.
- What is the role of the saxophone solo in “Sultans of Swing,” and how can it be interpreted on the ukulele?
- The saxophone solo adds a jazzy element to the song. While it’s not typically played on the ukulele, you can incorporate melody lines or improvisation to capture the saxophone’s spirit.
- What are some other songs with a similar rock and bluesy style that can be played on the ukulele?
- Songs like “Knocking on Heaven’s Door” by Bob Dylan and “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd have a rock and bluesy vibe that can be adapted for ukulele playing.
- Is “Sultans of Swing” suitable for solo ukulele performance, or is it better suited for a band arrangement?
- While it can be adapted for solo ukulele, “Sultans of Swing” is often performed with a full band to capture its intricate guitar work and dynamics.
- What is the impact of “Sultans of Swing” on guitarists and musicians worldwide?
- The song is admired for its guitar work and has inspired many guitarists to study and emulate Mark Knopfler’s distinctive fingerpicking style.
- What are some common challenges ukulele players might face when attempting to adapt “Sultans of Swing” for their instrument?
- One of the main challenges is simplifying the complex guitar parts to fit the ukulele while maintaining the song’s recognizable melody and feel.
- Can the iconic fingerstyle guitar technique used in “Sultans of Swing” be replicated on the ukulele?
- The fingerstyle technique used by Mark Knopfler can be challenging to replicate on the ukulele due to the instrument’s smaller size and different tonal characteristics. However, you can adapt the song with fingerpicking.
- What are the key signature and scale used in “Sultans of Swing,” and how can ukulele players utilize them in their arrangements?
- The song is primarily in the key of D minor, and the D natural minor scale is used for many of the guitar solos. Ukulele players can use this knowledge to create their own adaptations.
- Are there any well-known covers or reinterpretations of “Sultans of Swing” on the ukulele that are worth exploring?
- While the song is not commonly covered on the ukulele due to its guitar-centric nature, some creative adaptations exist on platforms like YouTube.
- Can “Sultans of Swing” be played on a baritone ukulele, and how does the tuning of a baritone ukulele affect the song’s playability?
- “Sultans of Swing” can be adapted for a baritone ukulele, but the different tuning (D-G-B-E) will require adjusting chord shapes and fingerings.
- What role does storytelling play in “Sultans of Swing,” and how can ukulele players convey the song’s narrative elements in their playing?
- The lyrics tell the story of a jazz band and its audience, and ukulele players can emphasize storytelling through expressive strumming and dynamics.
- How does “Sultans of Swing” incorporate elements of jazz and rock, and how can ukulele players capture these genres in their renditions?
- The song blends jazz and rock elements through its chord progressions and solos. Ukulele players can experiment with jazz chords and rock strumming patterns to capture these genres.
- What techniques can ukulele players use to create a sense of dynamics and build tension, similar to the guitar solos in “Sultans of Swing”?
- Ukulele players can employ techniques such as palm muting, slides, and dynamic strumming to create a sense of dynamics and tension in their adaptations.
- What are the main themes and emotions conveyed by “Sultans of Swing,” and how can ukulele players express these in their playing?
- Themes of nostalgia, music appreciation, and the struggles of a band can be expressed through expressive strumming, chord choices, and dynamics.
- Can you recommend any ukulele resources or instructors who specialize in teaching complex adaptations of songs like “Sultans of Swing”?
- While specific resources may vary, you can search for ukulele instructors and tutorials on platforms like YouTube or dedicated ukulele lesson websites that focus on intricate adaptations of popular songs.