What chords is Steve Cropper playing on "Green Onions"?

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by CaliTele, Aug 20, 2009.

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  1. CaliTele

    CaliTele TDPRI Member

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    Trying to figure them out is he playing a Bb triad over the Fm organ lick?
     
  2. klasaine

    klasaine Poster Extraordinaire

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    Good ears. Yeah he is. And an Eb triad over the Bb chord and an F over the C.
    Pretty cool, huh?
     
  3. warmingtone

    warmingtone Tele-Holic

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    Kind of...hahhaha

    I found this transcription that makes it a bit clearer...

    F............Ab Bb....F.............Ab Bb....F...etc

    |-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|
    |------6---4--3---|------6---4--3---|------6---4--3---|------6---4--3---|
    |------5---5--3---|------5---5--3---|------5---5--3---|------5---5--3---|
    |---3-(3)--6--3---|---3-(3)--6--3---|---3-(3)--6--3---|---3-(3)--6--3---|
    |-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|
    |-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|
    |
    |
    |-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|
    |---------------3-|---------------3-|---------------3-|---------------8-|
    |---------------3-|---------------3-|---------------3-|---------------8-|
    |---------------3-|---------------3-|---------------3-|---------------8-|
    |-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|
    |-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|

    Ok...so, the first line is the organ riff...see it is a kind of very common boogie on F...Ab..Bb. Being a 12 bar kind of thing, after these 4 bars it is going up to the IV so: Bb...Db..Eb.

    The interesting "twist" is that cropper is just giving a heavily accented off beat stab at this last chord at the end of the bars. The are also anticipating the harmony changes...so at the end of these 4 bars you can see the "stab" is already an Eb triad anticipating the next bars change of harmony.

    This all gives "green onions" it's pungent flavour...hahaha. Seriously though it shows how a simple technique can have very effective results. I guess many of us if booker T had come to us with this kind of riff would have been tempted to double the F...Ab..Bb riff thing or at least go for the F. Both approaches wouldn't have added a whole lot, maybe even detracted from the coolness of that organ riff.

    Well spotted though!
     
  4. woodman

    woodman Grand Wazoo @ The Woodshed Gold Supporter

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    another factor that makes it work: if i'm remembering the tune correctly, the organ figure suggests an F - Ab Bb progression, so the stab echoes the last organ note rather than the tonic — as warmingtone says, much more effective.
     
  5. Tim Bowen

    Tim Bowen Poster Extraordinaire

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    Use of the move is all about placing (or avoiding) the diatonic third. Note that the first grab in Cropper's famous riff doesn't contain a third. By including an Ab in the bass in the second chord, a complete Ab triad is represented. Many folks play that second chord as F-C-Eb, in which case it's functioning as *F7* with no third, meaning that it's in harmonic purgatory - the "chord" is neither major or minor by default. The IV-I resolution within the cadence is set up by the Bb triad (the IV chord triad can be implied/suspended over a I, or can actually include the root and be thought of as a proper IV).

    The bottom line (no pun intended) is to follow the bass line. Reference also Van Morrison's "Help Me".
     
  6. Budda

    Budda Tele-Holic

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    Also, I'd suggest checking out "Roy Buchannan with Booker T. & The MG's" version. Nice to hear SC getting into it a little more, guitar wise.

    My first 45! Still have the Booker T Disc.
     
  7. piaggio

    piaggio Tele-Meister

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    I GOT IT !!!
    at last...I tried and tried but I stuck on that Fminor position and could not figure it out...
    I new something was wrong !!
    god bless the tdpri forum.
    now I only need a band to play Green Onions...but not the whole song...I want to play the first 12 bars over and over and over...
     
  8. goldenstrat

    goldenstrat TDPRI Member

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    If you play that first chord in Warmingtone's tab

    -------
    ---6---
    ---5---
    ---3---
    -------

    like this

    ---1---
    ---1---
    ---x---
    ---3---
    -------
    -------

    it's easier to not to have to turn your hand around before the next chord

    fred
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2009
  9. Joe K

    Joe K Tele-Holic

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  10. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

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    This is the second time that I have lurked this thread. I still don't know what the complications are???
    The organ doesn't suggest F-Ab-Bb to my ear.....this is what is being played by the organ (during his rhythm behind Cropper) and the bass. AS Tim Bowen notes....follow the bass. Cropper at times tic-tac'd the bass line...followed it verbatim in fact. When the organ takes the rhythm behind Cropper's lead on the 1964 original, the organ clearly is playing the F without the benefit of the 3rd as noted above. Then, to my ear, he is playing Ab (on guitar...1st fret on the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th strings) and Bb (3rd fret on the same strings) and indeed catching that Ab infront of the 1 of the next bar to get that Fm thing/feel. When looked at this way....following the bass....things get simpler. YOu don't have to think of that Ab or Bb as some chord over the tonal center. IT is simplly a chord change...simple and brilliant in that simplicity. IF you get the intervals arranged, the sound is there.
    As for the intro chords that Cropper hits in the beginning...the stabs....I hear F, Bb and C. ...no thirds. thus leaving the minor/major thing unresolved and allowing the bass to establish the chord changes. I don't hear what is in essence an F7 for the second chord as noted by JOe K above. I hear Bb and then C.
    PErhaps the confusion of the OP is in thinking that the F is the only 'chord' for those 4 measures??? But it is not....

    F-Ab-Bb for 4
    Bb-Db-Eb for 2
    F-Ab-Bb for 2
    C-Eb-F for 1
    Bb-Db-Eb for 1
    F-Ab-Bb for 2 and go again.
    To my ear, the secret is in the formation of the second two chords in each phrase. They are full chords, and the second chord happens to be 3 of the notes that are found in the minor of the first chord of each phrase. IF one plays those chords based on the barre E form, the sound isn't there. IF one uses the notes that I showed above, then the sound is there. AS for 'playing a Bb triad over the F', I have to disagree....and the bass line disagrees, also. It is a Bb triad played over a Bb, and an Ab triad played over an Ab.
    The F is not a whole note, in other words.
     
  11. jhundt

    jhundt Doctor of Teleocity

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    It's just an F chord (with damped 3rd string, as shown by goldenstrat ) followed by a 4th fret Ab (playing only string 2,3,and 4) ending on a 6th fret Bb (playing strings 3,4, and 5). It might be smoother to play the Bb by just barring strings 2,3, and 4 at the 3rd fret.

    Exactly the chords that the organ is playing.
     
  12. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

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    jhundt, that achieves exactly the same thing as my use of the 2,3 and 4 strings with the difference being that one doesn't have to move the hand to play it the way I do.....and the Ab chord is right under the F formation allowing those two quick hints at the Fm that brought this thread to life. IN fact, the organ hits the Ab formation with the F ringing and therefore forms the Fm chord very briefly before the bass hits the Ab bass note and transforms the thing to the Ab chord. As Tim Bowen noted....follow the bass....and all is revealed. The other hint we have already discussed....the one from Ab leading back to the F.
     
  13. warmingtone

    warmingtone Tele-Holic

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    Hahahaa...I wondered why this was coming back up again...as far as I can recall the guitar simply plays the "stabs" before the start of the bar, the top line that I tabbed (actually I pinched it...notice I said 'found') is just a representation of the organ riff arranged for guitar.

    It's not to bad to play, I know what 'wally' was kind of saying on hand positions, there a 'swings and round abouts' in all this, as I say I didn't "write" that arrangement, but it has benefits that I might play...there is a nice consistency of string sound and keeps all the note in the one strings set, something I like to do a bit, especially with the D,G & B strings...helps bring out the voice movement to keep each voice on it's own string.

    You can play it anyway you like and a good exercise to work out all the possibilities as that can inspire perhaps your own cool riffs or different versions of this one.

    ...

    As I always have a guitar in hand while at the computer...here's one I have come up with inspired by a few bits and pieces from the discussion and attempts to add a sense of both parts (the organ riff and the "stab" thing) with the guitar only...

    -----------1*-------------------6*----(11)---|---------------------
    -----------1*-------4-----3----6*----(11)---|-------------------------
    -----1h2------------5-----3-------------------|--------------------------------
    ------3-------3s6------3----------------------|-------------------------------
    ------------------------------------------------|------------------------
    ------------------------------------------------|-----------------------

    F...............Ab..........Bb....riff.......stab!...use (#) to change up to Bb

    -----------6*---------------------11*----------|---------------------------
    -----------6*---------9------8---11*--(11)---|------------------------------
    -----6h7------------10------8----------(10)---|--------------------------------
    ------8-------8s11------8-----------------------|-------------------------------
    ---------------------------------------------------|------------------------
    ---------------------------------------------------|-----------------------
    Bb...............Db...Eb....riff.......stab!...use (#) to change down to F

    It's not "green onions"...maybe the a 'warmingtone shuffle'...I didn't have a pick handy so I was playing finger-style but hybrid would work. Pull (almost 'pop') those e and b string stabs staccato! I included a quick slinky hammer-on with the on the third on the first chord and a quick slide up to the second chord. I kind of imagine this kind of thing like the two hands on a keyboard instrument bouncing off each other...so the aim is to make the high string sound short and sharp (as with croppers guitar) and the lower stuff kind of smooth and hold them under the "stabs" legato. In fact there is almost three parts, the bass voice (little finger on the left hand on a keyboard) a middle part (the rest of the left fingers making the chord) and the top part (the 4th in the "stabs")

    I don't remember if I mentioned it earlier, but one of the cool things about those cropper "stabs" is that they actually anticipate the chord changes...so I have included that move in mine with the bracketed notes...adding this (instead of the last stab) adds to the illusion of their being leading each other about and the anticipation that 'green onions' has also. It's these subtle details that make something ordinary have that little something extra.

    Anyway...there's another take and perhaps others can come up with their own variations as well.
     
  14. jhundt

    jhundt Doctor of Teleocity

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    wally - yes you are quite right, and your way of playing it is pretty cool. I also like the tone that warmingtone's first chord gives.

    I would try to use all the variations if I was performing this song.

    My comment was just me thinking out loud... I enjoy this theory forum but I get confused by some of the posts, having no background in that stuff. So I ususally try to strip down the part to the very simplest and most familiar positions/fingerings/inversions; then I go back an re-read and try the suggestions against the simple version.
     
  15. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Now, how do we play Stevie Wonder's 'Higher Ground'?
     
  16. jhundt

    jhundt Doctor of Teleocity

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    me... I don't!
     
  17. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

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    IT seems that if one can play Green ONioins, one can play Higher Ground, right? I have never played "Higher Ground" either, but if my mental jukebox is accurate, it sounds as if the basic chord changes are the same....just a funkier and more complex rhythm pattern.
    OR is my mental jukebox failing me?
     
  18. jhundt

    jhundt Doctor of Teleocity

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    you got a mental jukebox?... how much do you have to pay, is it still 3 songs for a quarter? As Buck Owens said: "won't somebody put a quarter in the jukebox, won't somebody play that certain hurtin' song..."
     
  19. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

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    jhundt, if you can recall that one, how about
    "don't play A11"......
    or somethin' newer...
    'Don't rock the jukebox...'
    or
    'Jukebox hero..."
     
  20. jhundt

    jhundt Doctor of Teleocity

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    A-11 - oh yeah, I know that one! Thanks Wally, this has been a very entertaining thread!
     
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