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Sweet Home Alabama

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by ElectroVibe, Mar 6, 2013.

  1. ElectroVibe


    Mar 2, 2013
    EDIT: My original question was regarding songs like those of Bad Company like "Feel Like Makin Love." I didn't know about the controversy with the Lynyrd Skynyrd song, and that is what the thread turned into a discussion of.

    UPDATE 1: The song has a D tonal center (to my ears). It uses the chords D, C, G, and F. Or some variation of them.

    UPDATE 2: Blues Scale in "D" sounds right.

    UPDATE 3: I should have used Bad Company's "Feel Like Makin Love" as the example for the question. Neither song uses the V chord.
  2. Well first I would not be playing modes. Modes are melody notes and I play chord tones or notes of the chord. So here is what I would do.

    I first find the chord progression on the song by asking Google for: Guitar chords, Sweet Home Alabama -- and got this. http://tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/l/lynyrd_skynyrd/sweet_home_alabama_crd.htm

    OK now that I have the chords I next want to know the key. Why? So I can place the root note of my Major Scale Box Pattern over the note found on my fretboard.
    Bass Patterns based upon the Major Scale box.
    Major Scale Box. 
    G|---2---|-------|---3---|---4---| 1st string
    E|-------|---R---|-------|---2---|4th string
    Want to build a bass line around the Cmaj7 chord?  Place
    The R in the box over a C note on your fretboard.  The one
    at the 4th string 8th fret is what I would use.  Then play
    the R-3-5-7 found within the box.  Those are the notes of
    the Cmaj7 chord.
    Next thing I would do is decide what key is being used in that fake chord sheet music. Notice how all the verse lines end with the G chord. That tells me that this song is to be played in the key of G. Key of G major chords are; G, C & D or D7. It is here that I use the Nashville number system and on the fake chord I substitute Nashville numbers for chord names, i.e. ......
    Key of G has these chords: G, Am, Bm, C, D, Em, F#m7b5
    Nashville numbers for that..1..2.....3.....4..5..6.....7

    I put a 1 over the G chord notation on the fake chord, and yes a 4 over the C's and a 5 over the D's. Then I place my major scale box so it will have the notes of the key of G in them. Forth string 10th fret and then play from the fake chord.

    Lyric syllable - one note per syllable. Big wheels keep on turn-ing. OK Big gets one note and I'm going to play just roots for now - so D chord is what Nashville number? Yep, it's a 5. So in my box I grab a 5 for one beat. Now up comes the C chord over the lyric word "wheels" so I sound the C chord or 4 on my box. Now the lyric words "keep on" each need a beat of the 4 and then the word "turn-ing" is going to need a G chord and that is the 1 Nashville number, so I sound the 1 in my box twice, why twice? because "turn-ing" has two syllables.

    That's it. Keep going with all the verses of the fake chord.

    Gotta go, will check back later.
  3. Winfred


    Oct 21, 2011
    +1 on the chord charts. They're all over the web, and they're *usually* right. That'll give you the framework you need to experiment. But, and this is just my opinion, when playing it live I play it very close to the original. That song is still wildly popular, and Skynyrd got it right the first time.

    But own your own time, yeah, have fun playing around with it. :)
  4. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    My opinion too.

    I also realized that most people who complain about playing this song, never learned it properly. If played the way it was recorded there are a lot of nice, well thought out changes going on, and the bass is locked in with everything incredibly well. Most people just improvise over the 3 chords throughout the song, and well... That's a little sad to me. I'd learn the song as recorded if you haven't already, and then start thinking about modes.

    I also much prefer listening and feeling when I'm playing, than thinking and getting scientific about what I'm doing. Whle the theory behind the music is a definite asset to know, I don't think it should be the first thing we consider. Takes away from the "art" of it, for me.
  5. ElectroVibe


    Mar 2, 2013
    The song is actually in D (not G). It uses the chords D, C, G, F. Or some variation of them. There is no 5 chord. G is the 4 chord, not the root.
  6. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

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

    This is where you learn that all the theory in the world won't help if you don't use your ears. The tune is in D.
  7. ElectroVibe


    Mar 2, 2013
    Well, I think the closest scale is D Pentatonic. That helps narrow things down a little.
  8. ElectroVibe


    Mar 2, 2013
    True! I even saw a piece of sheet music that showed one sharp. Most "theory" types would assume that it was in that key as a result.

    But if you can't trust your ears and all you know is theory, what good is theory, really, for people who can't hear it.
  9. ElectroVibe


    Mar 2, 2013
    I guess I answered my own question with D Pentatonic.
  10. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    It seems odd to me, for someone to be thinking in modes for a comparatively simple song like "Sweet Home.." :confused:
  11. Trayster2


    Aug 13, 2012
    Palm Coast, FL
    Can someone please just post the tabs?!
  12. ElectroVibe


    Mar 2, 2013
    The more I think about it now, I agree.
  13. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    Write out the chords to the song and know them well.
    Playing along with just roots won't help at all.
    All bass players should play a chording instrument,i.e. guitar, piano.
    As Joe Nerve states this tune has a nice bass line and most of the time
    you hear someone just jammin over it.
  14. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    Glad you are now seeing it this way. :)

    IMO you are making things harder for yourself by thinking in terms of modes for songs like this. Much simpler to think in terms of chords. Read Malcolm's post above again.

    You could also develop your ear by working things out by playing along to the song.
  15. Or maybe the op is just trying to take it apart to figure out why something so damn simple could be so popular. I say don't discourage the OP efforts in learning. Not to mention it was said it could be any song this one was used as an example.
  16. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    I accept your point. However, I dont think anyone is trying to impede the OP from learning. They are just trying to point out that generally speaking, for songs like this, chords are the way to go. :)

    The OP asked...."how do you approach this song if you don't know the theory behind the different modes?"

    IMO, people answered his question completely and honostly.
  17. although Sweet Home Alabama uses what seems like one of the most boneheadedly simple, over-familiar chord progressions ever, i too remember noticing its "theory vs. ear" conundrum when i first learned it.
  18. Yes there are many songs that seem simple in there writing but it fact are very complex I think a very good example of this is "What I like about you" there are many things happening in that song and many people do not play it correctly although to the ear in sounds very simple but when you look at the inner works of it it is something.
  19. I like the next track on second helping, "I Need You". I was going to transcribe it. Anybody want to take a stab at what the time signature should be?
    Btw, I've got a transcription of "Am I Losin'" in the tab forum section. Comments are welcome.
  20. etoncrow

    etoncrow (aka Greg Harman, the curmudgeon with a conundrum)

    3/4; or you can count it in 2 at 6/8

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