Age old Stairway question, is it Ab or G#?

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by ASATKat, May 11, 2021.

  1. ASATKat

    ASATKat Friend of Leo's

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    I think most people will say that stairways second chord often called the mystery chord is a G# bass note, G# being the 3rd of E+Aug

    Then there is the camp that looks at the progression as it's all Am "sounds" up to the Fmaj7, they hear it as all Am sounds. First A aeolian, then A melodic minor, then back to A aeolian. It then goes Am E Am to end.

    The difference being one you would solo with E mixolydian and the other being to use A harmonic minor, (aeolian w/raised 7th)

    Then there's the idea of looking at it in terms of the standard jazz term CESH chromatic embellishment of static harmony, the two static notes being the C and E, the CESH notes would be A Ab G Gb F.

    Share a thought?
     
    Last edited: May 11, 2021
  2. That Cal Webway

    That Cal Webway Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    yes
     
  3. Addnine

    Addnine Tele-Holic

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    I agree. Yes.
     
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  4. Edgar Allan Presley

    Edgar Allan Presley Friend of Leo's

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    G#, because it's a first inversion E+ chord. It sounds like a dominant in relation to the Am.
     
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  5. Fuelish

    Fuelish Tele-Holic

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    I dunno, I forgot all that crap... I can fake it pretty well, just don’t ask me what I’m playing ;)
     
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  6. drmordo

    drmordo Tele-Afflicted

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    It's a fairly common harmonic 'trick' to walk the root down to the b7 to create tension before moving the to the IV, and the IV moves to the bVI, which if you think about is awfully similar to a iv.

    I'd call it A- to A-/G# to A-/G to D/F#.
     
    Last edited: May 11, 2021
  7. SRHmusic

    SRHmusic Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    Paul Davids posted this just last week.
    Edit: So that's not very satisfying. I like thinking of the lines moving in the bass and melody, with the E and C notes held over from the Am and to the third chord. There are lots of tunes with moving lines, multiple voices, and the chord accompaniment doesn't follow every note, e.g with 4ths resolving to 3rds.
     
    Last edited: May 11, 2021
  8. BigDaddyLH

    BigDaddyLH Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    A descending (or ascending) bass line like that is called the "line cliche". I'd call it G# because the chord is in the A minor family, and having an Aminor chord over a Ab bass is weird.
     
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  9. drmordo

    drmordo Tele-Afflicted

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    I changed my "A-/Ab" to "A-/G#" because I think I agree that in the key of A minor that note should be called G#. Also, because the D/F# is most definitely a D/F# and because mixing flats and sharps is poor form IMO.
     
  10. BigDaddyLH

    BigDaddyLH Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    Even if you think (like Adam Neely) the "Stairway" chord is displaying a dominant function, so it's some kind of E chord, then the bass is even more so a G#.

    I think, in Jazz, when there is a minor cliche and the chords aren't moving quickly...

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    it's common for a solo line to alternate between an A minor and an E dominant sound.
     
  11. drmordo

    drmordo Tele-Afflicted

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    Yeah, I could see treating that A-/G# as a E+/G# if you were soloing over it.

    I definitely think the "minor cliche" (I've never actually heard that term) interpretation is spot on, except the D9/F# is just a D/F# in StH.
     
  12. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

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    AmMaj9 with the major 7 in the bass?
     
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  13. Addnine

    Addnine Tele-Holic

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    Play Haroinuic or melodic minor over such a structure. I do that all the time when the minor is working as a iim leading to the V7.
     
  14. TeleTex82

    TeleTex82 Friend of Leo's

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    It makes me wonder...
     
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  15. chris m.

    chris m. Poster Extraordinaire

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    This is putting a bustle in my hedgerow. I agree to think of this as simple stepwise movement of the bass-- very classic, found in many songs.

    Also Jimmy himself thinks of the whole song as being basically Am pentatonic with a few chord notes thrown in-- at least if you listen to his solo.

    Another thought is whatever you want to call that chord shape, as long as your solo's phrasing accentuates/ lands on the notes in that chord shape then you could play just about any others of the 12 notes to get there and it would sound A-OK.
     
  16. bsman

    bsman Friend of Leo's

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    You may want to ask Randy California, but he ain't talking! :twisted:
     
  17. Matt Sarad

    Matt Sarad Tele-Afflicted

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    When I play in F#, it seems to be G#
     
  18. Edgar Allan Presley

    Edgar Allan Presley Friend of Leo's

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    I'm mostly replying to tell you that your use of "bustle in my hedgerow" is funny! But also, it's not just stepwise movement in the bass because from the first chord to the second, the A goes to B. So A to G# and upper-voice A to B, with C and E as pedal tones. That suggests movement to the dominant and not simply a bass passing tone.
     
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  19. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Yes, that descending bass is present in many songs. I was playing ‘Summer Rain’ by Johnny Rivers before I heard Stairway. When I heard Stairway, I knew what the descebpnding bass was doing, but the other movements on the first string were new to me. There is a Dr.John song...”Rain”...that works out of Cm and descends. However, these two songs..as an example...maintain the rest of the first minor chord. Stairway does not do that but rather introduces movement on the high E string that imho forms other chords. C is the third chord there, imho. The fourth chord??? Am6 with the 6 in the bass? The D chord follows with the third..F#..in the bass which leads to the Fmaj7 chord, which is the IV to the C major...relative major of the Am.
    I do not know what Randy California may have thought of it. Derek and the Derivatives...my favorite band. Everyone knows every song they play. Eeeehaw..... occasionally they have to pay the piper for what the piper hath wrought...sometimes they don’t.
     
  20. hepular

    hepular Tele-Afflicted

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    come on. it's a bm6/flat9
     
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