Sweet Home Alabama is in G, no it's in D, no it's,,,,,

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by ASATKat, May 22, 2019.

  1. ASATKat

    ASATKat Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    65
    Posts:
    1,208
    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2018
    Location:
    next to the burn zone
    Round and round and round SHA spins.

    I'm not a fan of this song, I don't play it and don't listen to music like it. It's not like I can't walk into a grocery store and enjoy the song for what it is at the moment, wallpaper in the grocery store.

    But there is an oddity in this song, there are other songs that go D G/C etc. Can't Find My Way Home uses the device and resolves to D.
    I could fill up the post with songs that use the move. It became very very popular in the 60s folk scene and migrated to electric folk like CS&N and Creedence, Neil Young, and of course Bob Dylan, The Dead, The Beatles, The Animals, The Stones etc,,,

    But for some reason SHA stands out in defiance of the norm. And it's a mystery, sort of like the Laurel vs Yanny craze.
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2019
  2. jrblue

    jrblue Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,184
    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2010
    Location:
    Santa Barbara
    Who says it has to sit in the framework of a key? When a concept cannot be applied usefully, you have to wonder about the validity of the concept. Does identifying it as one key and not the other change the way you play it? Do you think about the key signature when you play it? And finally, why on earth do you play this old tired chestnut of a tune with its dopey lyrics anyway? Bama don't obey no pinhead music rules anyhoo. Also, it's obviously in G. It resolves to G, it's got the classic key of G chords, you can play over it all day in G. Sure, you can find some secondary rationales for arguing that it's in D if you want to be perverse, but say it's in G, play as though it's in G, and it's going to be just fine.
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2019
  3. schmee

    schmee Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    5,717
    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2003
    Location:
    northwest
    G, except when you are talking to a Bass player, then just tell him it's in D!
     
    SecretSquirrel likes this.
  4. Endless Mike

    Endless Mike Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    2,472
    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2016
    Location:
    Arlington, Texas
    You're right, the list of songs like SHA is long. Music theory is a human creation, and as such can only contain or explain so much.

    You're lucky you've never had to play it. I think every cover band I've been in (and it's a long list) has done it.
     
  5. Faceman

    Faceman TDPRI Member

    Posts:
    77
    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2018
    Location:
    Ohio
    Definitely D. The progression is 1, flat 7, 4. The notes being sung point to D being the key. The first solo is in D and the main solo is playing G major pen over D but also moves to D as a root.
     
    Tony474 likes this.
  6. warrent

    warrent Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    2,448
    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2009
    Location:
    toronto
    Skip to 6 minutes 30 seconds in the video below. It's the only appropriate response to SHA.
     
  7. Delta63

    Delta63 Tele-Holic

    Posts:
    517
    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2010
    Location:
    Canada
    G maj/E min. D minor also works nicely but it doesn't work with its relative major.

    You can play over it in any of these and it would work (remember it's only a 3 chord progression).

    In SWA everything fits nicely into G maj. For other songs with the same prog. it may differ.

    I think it's just an interpretation thing.
     
  8. galaxiex

    galaxiex Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

    Posts:
    929
    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2017
    Location:
    Edmonton, Alberta Canada
    I you want a real brain bender about what key a song is in....

    See if you can figure out the key to White Rabbit by Jefferson Airplane... Heh, heh, heh, (evil grin)
     
    stinkey and P Thought like this.
  9. sonicsmitty

    sonicsmitty Tele-Holic

    Posts:
    638
    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2012
    Location:
    Clarksville, TN
    Sorry, I just don't understand folks who say it resolves to D. I never hear that not even once. If it resolves to something isn't that where it ends up? It never ends up on D, it resolves to G every single time. You can't play a true D major scale over it without some clankers, but G major is perfect. With the exception of the occasional F in the progression the entire song is basically a blues turnaround starting on the V and repeated over and over and resolving to the I, or root, G. The song is in G.

    That's my worthless opinion anyway.
     
  10. P Thought

    P Thought Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

    Posts:
    8,917
    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2009
    Location:
    Plundertown (Gasville) OR
    I've wrestled with the same sort of question playing "I Know You Rider". I think it's in G, with a Maj b 7. . . .
     
  11. Deebs3

    Deebs3 TDPRI Member

    Age:
    52
    Posts:
    84
    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2018
    Location:
    Australia
    I agree but does it actually start on D (except for the Intro) maybe it starts on the second G so its in G. Think about that hey.. Boom. Yeah.
     
  12. AJBaker

    AJBaker Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    3,126
    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2010
    Location:
    Switzerland
    I think it's D mixolydian (D major with c instead of c# in the scale, i.e. the same notes and chords as G major).

    In mixolydian, the most common way of resolving is to go from the bVII chord to the I chord (i.e. C to D).

    In major, the most common way of resolving is the V7 to I cadence (in G major: D7 to G).

    SHA has the C to D cadence typical of D mixolydian, but it doesn't have the D7 to G cadence that would indicate G major.

    Let's experiment. We'll play the riff, then take/borrow a V7 chord to resolve either to D or G and see which sounds 'right'.

    Example 1: if SHA is in G.

    //: D C /G D7 /G ://


    Example 2: if SHA is in D (borrowing the V7 chord from D major)

    // : D C /G /A7 ://


    Example 2 makes more sense to me. Although A7 sounds a bit out of place (because of the c# note), it resolves in a way that makes more sense in the context of the song.
    It's a similar progression to 'Don't Stop' by Fleetwood Mac which is also in mixolydian, (but occasionally borrows the V chord from the major key).


    One final example to drive home my point: imagine if before the solo in SHA we replaced the F to C part with a measure of A7 instead. It doesn't sound as cool, but it works. It shows how the song wants to resolve to D and not to G.
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2019
  13. GGardner

    GGardner Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,013
    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2017
    Location:
    NJ
    teleaddicted likes this.
  14. AJBaker

    AJBaker Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    3,126
    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2010
    Location:
    Switzerland

    Attached Files:

  15. AJBaker

    AJBaker Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    3,126
    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2010
    Location:
    Switzerland
    For comparison, there are some other songs with similar progressions:

    Don't Stop
    Sympathy for the Devil
    Hey Jude (only the ending)
    Handle with care

    In all these examples, the first chord is the root. Sweet Home Alabama is no different in my opinion.
     
    Tony474 likes this.
  16. jbmando

    jbmando Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

    Posts:
    5,619
    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2009
    Location:
    Plymouth Meeting, PA
    A Major. Uses 6 major, b7, 1, b3, 4 and 5 chords.
     
    Last edited: May 25, 2019
  17. sonicsmitty

    sonicsmitty Tele-Holic

    Posts:
    638
    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2012
    Location:
    Clarksville, TN
    I'm not that familiar with Don't Stop so I can't speak for it. As for Sympathy For The Devil and the Hey Jude outro they both start on the root and finish the progression on the root, so they are not like Sweet Home Alabama at all. Handle With Care is in G the same as SHA.
     
  18. ASATKat

    ASATKat Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    65
    Posts:
    1,208
    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2018
    Location:
    next to the burn zone
    G minus D = C

    C for the win,
     
  19. EsquireOK

    EsquireOK Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    2,325
    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2011
    Location:
    U.S.A.
    It's in D mixolydian, with a few out-of-key elements (like when they hit the b3 chord, F, in passing, occasionally).

    Listen to the melody. It's based around D, resolving there practically every line of the song. The "It's In G" camp must explain why the singer's melody is going natural 7, 6, 5 in G, and the 1 is never once contained within the main melody phrases of the song. That's B.S.; I can't think of a melody in a "standard" pop/rock song that basically only includes the natural 7, 6, and 5. Sorry, but that band were not "out there" composers that would write an oddball melody like that. The melody is going 3, 2, 1 in D, not natural 7, 6, 5 in G.

    Confusing things more is that their guitarist who took the solo thought the song was in G...so the solo sounds more like it's in G than do the verses and choruses. Nobody ever accused this band of being incredibly musically literate, AFAIK.

    Werewolves of London is in G major. Again, listen to the melody. It is based around G (3, 2, 1 in G, not 7, 6, 5 in G).

    These circuitous songs in relative modes can be confusing...but in the end, the melodies tell you all you need to know.
     
    Tony474 and AAT65 like this.
  20. ASATKat

    ASATKat Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    65
    Posts:
    1,208
    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2018
    Location:
    next to the burn zone
    I thing the lock at the end of the chord riff is the problem. It breaks the common agreed upon rules of tension to resolution.
    ? ? ?. . . . . . . . . . . . . .G
    ------------------------------|-----
    ------------------------------|-----
    ------------------------2-0-|---0
    -------0-2------0----------|-----
    -0-2---------------2-------|-----
    ------------------------------|-----

    The last note , the highlighted note is G, in my opinion that G note on the & of 4 ruins the tension/resolution. To my ear it sounds like that G wants to resolve to the D chord, and in dozens of tunes it does resolve to D.

    To resolve cleanly into G with proper phrasing you have to put phrasing above the lick they used,

    this resolves to G nicely,
    -----------------------------|----3
    -----------------------1----|----0
    --------------------------2-|----0
    ------0-2-----0-----------|----0
    -0-2-------------2--------|----×
    -----------------------------|----3

    There,,, I fixed SHA,
     
    Last edited: May 25, 2019
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.


  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.