1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  

Little Wing - What's with the F?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by t77mackie, Aug 4, 2012.

  1. gigslut


    Dec 13, 2011
    St Louis, Mo
    I believe the major/minor ambiguity of the song was intentional on Hendrix's part to reflect the story. In the second verse, he's down ( starts minor) but she lifts him up (shifts to major).

    And minor doesn't have to mean sad, it can convey a dreamy quality (think "Moondance"). "She's walking through the clouds ... butterflies, moon beams, fairy tales" sung over minor section then to "uplifting" major as she's "riding with the wind".

    Which illustrates my point. The song is about Jimi needing a hug :bawl: , and getting one :hyper:
  2. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Whammo! End of thread.
  3. pnchad


    Nov 3, 2005
    It is a sad tune - its the mood of the tune, not the lyrics- I haven't heard it in at least 10 yrs but played it a 1000 times starting right after Hendrix wrote it - I'm old lol

    Try Death Metal in major keys - hard to be angry & pretty at the same time

    Music is Art - Art is meant to evoke emotions - major tunes are happy - minor tunes are sad or angry or tense.

    You don't read music right? If you did you'd know that the key signature is there to tell you how many sharps or flats (accidentals) are in the general melody/harmony - a beginning road map - but that can change too and often does in GOOD compositions

    It's not to say you can play more major scales or modes as long as theyre complimentary - there are no hard & fast rules
  4. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    For a guy who says no rules, you sure have a lot of rules. And yes, I read music and do it on gigs quite often, thank you.
  5. gigslut


    Dec 13, 2011
    St Louis, Mo
    Or dreamy, like "Moondance" ... "It's a FANTABULOUS night ..."
  6. ryco


    Apr 24, 2005
    It's kind of hard trying to describe a rock progression using olde classical diatonic "rules". Any music coming out of the "blues" family; rock, country, jazz, folk, to some extent pop; has chord progressions of their own. In these genres bVIIs and bIIIs and even bVIs (note: upper case means major triads) are really common.

    I agree with JimmyM it starts off as an Emin mystical blusey progression, but in the second half sounds like it modulates to G Maj pivoting on the C chord. The sound of G Maj is reinforced by the turnaround of the last four chords G-F-C-D7. And he really stands on that D7 for a couple of bars. Normally this would resolve to G, but Jimi takes it back to Emin - which is the first chord of the song. This is really cool because resoving a Dom7 to vi is a standard deceptive cadence. It's kind of surprising to the ear when Jimi takes it back to Emin - but then ya think "Oh yeah, well that's the beginning chord!"

    I'm going to agree with those calling the key E minor. But this song is theoretically fun because it uses some common diatonic devices. Also the fact that G Major and E minor are highly related, so switching back and forth between the two as key centers is easy because of all of the common chords.

    So about the F. In Emin it's the bII (note: major) which is semi common, you don't hear it a lot, but is used in jazz, blues and metal. sometimes a bii is diminished (sub for VI7).

    In GMaj F is the bVII and that has been gone through already in this thread and this post. Also I'm using the term G Maj, but seeing as it's a blues progression it is Mixolydian (G7), which is a Major triad w a flat [minor] 7 . Usually in blues songs major chords are usually Dom7 -- Maj7s are sometimes used for color/effect. Common terminology though on the bandstand if asked "What key?", the band leader will simply say "G" or "G Major".

    PS > Mozart & Handel are the founders of Music Theory, so dang right Mozart knew exactly what he was doing at all times. But theory is just describing what ya hear. The guy above that quoted Ellington's "if it sounds good, USE IT!" quote is right on. Or the saying: "Theory is used to describe what has already been played" is a good one.
  7. t77mackie


    Jun 13, 2012
    Wormtown, MA
    I'm going with that^

    Let's see if I can start another fire.... :bag:
  8. Febs

    Febs Supporting Member

    May 7, 2007
    Philadelphia, PA
    Ironically, under this rule, the songs "Sad Eyes" and "Sad Songs" are happy songs, while the song "Happy Together" is a sad song. :D
  9. GroovinOnFunk


    Apr 30, 2008
    San Diego, CA
    Endorses Cleartone and SIT Strings
    Exactly! It's definitely not G mixo. That much I think most of us can agree on. If it were G mixo, then the C would feel right throughout the entire tune. I see it as Em/G that changes to Am/C when the Bm rolls around.

    Saying "can't we just say he used that chord because it sounds good" is a simple way to dismiss the question but is in no way any help to the OP in figuring out what to play under/over those changes. His solos or baselines could become so much better by making an effort to understand it (which he is doing)

    At it's simplest, I would say to think Am/C when the Bm comes around until the C. After the C, when it goes to D(7) you would go back to Em/G.

    Also, I agree there is a difference between Am and C and Em and G (keys) but let's keep it simple and not deviate from the intended purpose of the first post. He probably wants to know what to play.

    Finally: an Fadd9 sounds much more colorful than an F there. By adding that 9th, you are playing the 5th of the next chord and the temporary key you have changed to (C) or b7th of (Am)
  10. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification

    And you deride the "uneducated?" Really?
  11. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    The Beatles "A day in the life" is major not minor, but it is a sad song.

  12. pnchad


    Nov 3, 2005
    I give up
  13. Not quite sure how you reconcile those two statements.

    To me, Little Wing is a nostalgic song - that's neither a sad nor happy feeling, and neither is the feeling I get from the song.
  14. Alvaro Martín Gómez A.

    Alvaro Martín Gómez A. TalkBass' resident Bongo + cowbell player

    That's the way I understand it. Can't use better words to explain it.
  15. t77mackie


    Jun 13, 2012
    Wormtown, MA
    Hey! Let's not give me too much credit here... :smug:

    Would not the add9 be the v-of-v which is spoken of in my 2nd thread of this series? Am I actually learning something??? :hyper:
  16. joebar


    Jan 10, 2010
    a lot of smart cookies here:)
    a very enjoyable and educating thread.
    some say it is a dead horse but some of us like the mental stimulation:p
    tons of good points here.
    the interesting thing about this thread is the song itself; i would never have thought that such a basic straightforward song would create so much interest and debate.
    i cannot wait to see the next song that we break down:bag:
  17. dougjwray


    Jul 20, 2005
    Let's just see how the song resolves when there is actually an ending, shall we? :)
    The studio version on "Axis : Bold as Love" fades. But here's Jimi's truly magnificent performance of it live at Royal Albert Hall, with an ending (obviously):

  18. pnchad


    Nov 3, 2005
    first off - rules are meant to be broken especially in music (art)

    it is hard to describe - here in written form the 'tone' or the 'vibe' or the (major/minor) 'sound' of a piece of music.

    it's not about the lyrics or the story or the sentiment that is referred too - in fact, another WIDELY used device is to write a 'up' type lyric against a minor sound or a 'darker' lyric against a major sound - exactly because of the contrast

    but, you can sense the 'quality' (major or minor) simply by the 'vibe' without knowing anything else about the tune.

    And, oh BTW, many, many minor tunes resolve to a major or a 6th sound even though the whole tune was minor - almost every jazz arrangement uses an alternate or altered chord ending - again for the contrast

    my point all along is to stand back and just listen to the feeling the music gives you - adjectives leave a lot to be desired trying to describe these things
  19. dougjwray


    Jul 20, 2005
    Then there's the classical "picardy third":
    "The raised or major third of the tonic triad as the final chord in a work otherwise in the minor mode. Its use begins by about 1500 and is very nearly universal in late Renaissance and Baroque music." (New Harvard Dictionary of Music, c1986, p. 637.)
    The Beatles used it at the end of "And I Love Her."

    Also, you're right about the common practice of combining the "sad" minor sound with "happy" lyrics, and vice versa. It's extremely effective.

    I would notate "Little Wing" with one sharp, but I wouldn't worry too much about whether it's in E minor or G major. Whatever it is, it works.
  20. DHowardAir


    Apr 26, 2009
    Tulsa, OK

Share This Page

  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.