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

AAT65

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G#, because it's a first inversion E+ chord. It sounds like a dominant in relation to the Am.
G#, sure... but I’m not sure you can say it’s an E+ chord: yes it has the #5 (C) but it also has a plain 5 (B) in the top string.
I’d go with it still being an Am (with only an implied root!), decorated with a B and over a G# bass... since there’s no G# other than the bass I’d rather call that B note an add 9 or add 2 which should make the chord name Am add9/G#.
However it’s not a naming that really helps you play it right... what you need is a bigger kid to show you how to play it when you’re 14 or 15...
 

oldunc

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It seems to me that people cause themselves a lot of unnecessary agony trying to explain linear phenomena in horizontal terms.
 

AJBaker

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I would call that note G#.

Reasons:
- If possible, you want to avoid mixing sharps and flats within the same song. Stairway has sharps, since it's in A dorian (=A minor, but with F# instead of F).

-Also, because E major/E7 is a common dominant chord in Am, I would consider G# to be a note from that key (borrowing from A harmonic minor).

Ab just looks wrong next to the other notes and chords in the song
 

kilroy6262

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You're way over-thinking this, IMHO. It's art, not science. I'm betting Jimmy Page never lost any sleep over it.
 

Larry F

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Check out Dido's Lament for a chromatic descending bass line that supports the melody.

.

It is by Henry Purcell from the 1680's.
 

AJBaker

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You're way over-thinking this, IMHO. It's art, not science. I'm betting Jimmy Page never lost any sleep over it.
Of course it's art, but that doesn't mean we can't be a little bit scientific in describing what's happening.

A lot of music theory is just conventions that allow musicians to more easily communicate how a song is played, or what function a chord is fulfilling. Sometimes there's a 100% clear way of describing it, and sometimes it's hard (like here).
 

klasaine

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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.

This is exactly it - "Line Cliche" and that's what that movement has been called since the 50s (My Funny Valentine has exactly the same motion.
Calling it an E+ in this particular case is misdirected because it's not functioning as a V7 chord.
G# because it's an A minor 'type' of chord and a G of some sort, not Ab, is the seventh degree of any A minor or A major scale.

I have no idea if Pagey called it a line cliche but I do know that we was thinking A minor for the whole thing (especially if he stole it from Spirit ;)).
 

LOSTVENTURE

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Assuming you are playing "Stairway" in the privacy of your own home, which is where it belongs, go with the A minor configuration.
However, if you are looking for something to play at the local GC, JUST DON'T DO IT.
 

ASATKat

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Line Cliche or CESH?

This example mentions Stairway


Line Cliche mentioning Stairway



Are the names interchangeable?

The name CESH Chromatic Embellishment of Static Harmony is definitely more informative of what's going on with the musical line than Line Cliche imo. I still don't understand the usage of the word cliche. But without a definition of CESH I wouldn't have a clue what that meant either.

So most often I turn off my brain and turn on my ears, external and internal, my creative choices of notes etc...
Theory has no place in the process of my playing, either the music is freely in me or it's not. And since I don't like the feeling of playing music weakly and not believable, I learn concepts in and out so well I don't have to think about it when playing.

It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that 2nd nature zing.
 
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