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. jrblue

    jrblue Tele-Afflicted

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    Not talking about licks. Of course you can solo in D -- or G -- on this one. And yup, it starts on D and naturally feels like aD tune at that point. But to me, the story is that it resolves to G. You can do whatever you want getting there, and you can even think of it as a tune where the key changes back and forth, but at the end of the day -- the end of the song -- it wants to resolve to G. Since there are different ways to define a song's key, this can be argued forever, but for my money it's the resolution that is most fundamental, so that's what I'm going with on this one. It's amazingly catchy how the G wants to flip right into D to just keep going 'round.
     
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  2. EsquireOK

    EsquireOK Friend of Leo's

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    The G is not a resolution, to my ear. It leaves you wanting to resolve. How much time it hangs there does not determine the key. The melodic center of the song determines it. Listen to what notes the singer is hitting during the melodies and the choruses. According to the G folks, the melody of the song is going natural 7, 6, 5, pretty much the whole time. According to the D folks, the melody is going 3, 2, 1 pretty much the whole time. For a dumb radio rock/pop song, which of those melodic patterns would be totally normal, and which would be far out in space?

    And yes, it is easily believable to me that the guy who wrote the song, and/or anyone in the band, did not understand this in the slightest. Even someone being the best race car driver in the world doesn't mean that he fully understands how to engineer a car himself. And a dumb '70s southern rock band ain't no race car driver. I would guess that many of my favorite songs/compositions were written by people who couldn't tell you a stitch about the musical theory behind them.
     
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  3. klasaine

    klasaine Poster Extraordinaire

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    Yes and no.
    For the record, the guy who played the solos, Ed King (RIP), wasn't from the south. He was from Glendale CA, a suburb of Los Angeles and was in the Strawberry Alarm Clock prior to Skynyrd. He played the cool fuzz part on Incense and Peppermints. He also played sessions out here before joining the Jacksonville Florida outfit.

    You'd be surprised what some seemingly "ignorant" musicians know about the structure of music but don't necessarily let on.

    I know a $h1t ton of music theory and I've played professionally since the early 80s (late 70s if you count my first paying gigs) and SHA is a bit of an enigma to me. In my opinion and how I approach it (in order to not step all over my dick when I play it) is to think of the vocal sections in D and the solo sections in G. In my opinion the different sections are tonally weighted that way.

    One can have a gestalt attitude about this stuff.
     
    Last edited: May 27, 2019
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  4. ndcaster

    ndcaster Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    they all end on G

    this is a great vid, thanks for sharing it. it makes it clear that we have a good way to make sure our solos sound distinct: someone think D minor pent (emphasize the flat 3 or bend it up a half-step to make the min/maj blues lick in D and someone else think G major pent (bend up 2 to 3 before coming down)

    and then some smartypants should come along and blend it all together

    everyone's happy
     
  5. zeoy

    zeoy Tele-Meister

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    Kid rock's version sounds like they believe it's in D (listen to the solo ... if you dare) and it sounds totally wrong to me.

    The song is in G. Resolves in G, it's full of standard G major pentatonic licks (or E minor pentatonic if you prefer). There are a couple of F#'s here and there (due to the D chord in the D,C,G,G progression) but other than that solos are mostly in G maj pentatonic. Goes for a moment in G mixolydian (the F,C,D thing) and I think sometimes there are some Bb to B bends (typical play between G maj and min pentatonic).
    You can think of it as being in D mixolydian but if you start thinking in D min/pentatonic, D major/pentatonic or D whatever in your soloing, it will sound wrong.
     
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  6. jbmando

    jbmando Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    Did you even listen to the video I posted? Gaines uses D major and minor pent in his solos and they sounded better to my ears that the solos in G maj. pent on the same version by the other guys. FWIW, the solo on the Kid Rock vid sounds okay to me, but the soloist dwelled on the min. pent too much - too many F naturals. I would use D maj. pent more.
     
  7. ndcaster

    ndcaster Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    ok excuse the playing but here are some examples of each scale over these changes



    D major, G major, min/maj bends, G majorish, then both mixed

    whenever you hear major sevenths, you're in Dickey Betts territory
     
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  8. ASATKat

    ASATKat Tele-Afflicted

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    I said the same thing, D maj and min pents along with that pesky little b5 blues tone. Works for me =)

    The relative minor of D major (B minor) is mighty nice to solo in, just another way to play D major but with very familiar minor pent fingerings and bends.
     
  9. zeoy

    zeoy Tele-Meister

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    I hadn't listened to the video you posted when I wrote my post but now I have. You are right that Gaines plays obviously in D. Still sounds wrong to MY ears. The other two guys play in G and although their solos are not as flashy as Gaines' they sound at least correct to me.

    It seems the issue was not clear even within LS. Note though that the two original members played in G (the pianist too) and the new one in D.

    It all comes down to what sounds good or has stuck in mind. Some people hear G some hear D. The odds are 3 to 1 in LS (based on the video you posted; there's no D soloing in the original recording) and without counting one by one the responses, it seems similar in this thread.
     
  10. klasaine

    klasaine Poster Extraordinaire

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    Often not noticed is that the original piano solo is weighted to G as well.

    As for the solos in that live version (that JB posted), they all have their own character. The Explorer solo (Allen Collins?) is so out of tune that it doesn't count. Gaines' solos are cool because he's got the Strat tone going on which harkens to the original, his time is really great ... and he's in tune. I like Rossington's solo - he plays a lot of the Ed King licks. In fact, they all sound best when they cop the Ed King licks ;)

    *The Kid Rock thing is pretty awful. The groove and chord voicings are closer to 'Werewolves of London' than SHA. The guitar solo is exceedingly amateurish.
     
    Last edited: May 28, 2019
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  11. ASATKat

    ASATKat Tele-Afflicted

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    Amazing, it goes on and on and on,

    When I've taught this over the last 30 yrs most often l leave the "theory" out and just get the kid up and running with the R&R dream. In fact forums are the only place I talk about the song.
     
  12. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Listening to that live cut from 1977 reminds me why I never much cared to listen to much less play that song. I listened to this version long enough to hear that solo on the Explorer.......that solo was indeed not worth hearing. I heard one musician that I cared to hear in that cut....I liked the Strat solo as well as his rhythm playing.
     
  13. klasaine

    klasaine Poster Extraordinaire

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    It's the only place anybody talks about the song ;)
     
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  14. jbmando

    jbmando Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    BTW, the piano solo is not in G, if you ask me. It is a series of licks over chords. D licks > C licks > G licks > rinse, repeat.
     
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  15. klasaine

    klasaine Poster Extraordinaire

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    During the piano solo, even if he is playing licks over the changes, I hear the resolve as G.
     
  16. TokyoPortrait

    TokyoPortrait Tele-Holic

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    I have no idea if the song is in G or whatever. But after watching that video, I feel like I need a Neil Young tee shirt and a big belt buckle. :)
     
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