Grateful Dead Music Forum

A place to talk about the music of the Grateful Dead 

 #149182  by mgbills
 Sat Oct 03, 2015 7:30 pm
So...I need some tutoring from the kids in the front of the Theory class. Tonight I was digging the Minglewood version from 5/7/77. Smokin' by the by.

Minglewood. I'm confused.
I hear the chord progression AGE, AGE, BE. 5,4,2 - 5,4,2 then 6,2. This is noted for the 70's versions by Strumminsix in another thread as being in A. So 1,7,5 progression???? Sure sounds like a resolution on the E to my ear.

My ears hear blues. Solos of E Blues Scale or E Dorian adding a major 3rd tastily.
But I'm not seeing anything resembling or related to 1,4,5 or 2,5,1 or any of the typical stuff. I don't see some tease off the 6 minor.

Resolving to the 2 chord (E).?.?

Can one of you sharp folks point me to some chord theory I'm missing? I'm trying to understand what gives this that driving blues feel. Maybe it's just a cool progression Bob & Company tried, but the fact that one can ride that E Pentatonic Blues scale for leads makes me believe I'm missing something big here. It doesn't fit into any 12 bar scenario I've studies, or 7 chord stuff I know (but I'm just a guy who does this for fun in the evenings for the last 10 years).

I will say that I had 3 too many pints of Fresh Hop Ale (Elemenal Santiam for those who love beer, made with whole hop cones fresh from the fields) last night, so the bucket may be needing a tune up.

Thanks in advance. Please send me down a new theory path I need to explore.
 #149186  by Lephty
 Sat Oct 03, 2015 8:00 pm
Your ears don't's in E, not A. It's SORT OF a 12-bar blues, and in fact if you count the bars in the pattern, there are 12 of them. And the lyrical phrasing matches a 12-bar blues in the sense that a line is sung, and then repeated, and then is followed by the "turnaround" line on the V chord (B). But it's a non-standard 12 bar blues because the progression actually starts on the IV chord (A), and then passes through the b3 (G) on the way down to E.

That G chord doesn't technically belong to the key of E, but it's a common blues/rock "move" to use the b3 chord. Technically, it's "borrowed" from the parallel minor--a G fits perfectly well in the key of Em. And that's partially why the Em pentatonic/blues scale works so well over these chords. Generally it's kind of a common blues thing to mix major & minor like that--it defies conventional music theory in the Bach/Mozart kind of sense, but it happens left & right in blues & rock.

The main point being, don't worry too much about the theory of it...just rock it out in E.
 #149188  by chipperj
 Sat Oct 03, 2015 11:57 pm
Just as a very general concept, I would say that it's never really about playing scales at all. It's all about melody, and phrasing, and how they are tied together. Obviously, knowing what are a good list of notes (scales) to use in your melodies is key, but that list of notes isn't just static throughout a song. That list changes a bit as each chord changes. So..... When you improvise over a 12 bar blues in E, don't just play E blues or an E pentatonic scale the whole time. As you would help spell out an 'E' sensibility during that chord, also help spell out the 4 and 5 chords (A & B) when they happen too. Learn the notes in those chords - A,C#,E and B,D#,F#(A), and work those notes into your melodies. Notice how an 'E blues scale is different than an 'A' blues scale (and how they are similar). How does it differ from a 'B7' scale? (hint: play D#s instead of D naturals during the B chord).

The order of the progression might be different, but Minglewood is still a blues song in E.. Just don't play E blues scales all the way through it; The verse starts pretty strong at that 4 chord (A), so help spell that out in your solos by stressing As and C#s as well as Es in your melodies. These notes all exist in an E blues scale too, but if your'e thinking A instead of E during that chord, it's going to fit better.
Once this concept becomes more comfortable, you can apply this thinking in a big way when a song has a bunch of different chords.
 #149190  by Charlie
 Sun Oct 04, 2015 2:34 am
Aside from the g chord, this is a common blues progression. Four chord for two bars, one chord for two bars, repeat, then five chord for a bar, four chord for a bar and one chord for two bars. A lot of versions of Little Red Rooster and King Bee for example follow this progression. Taj Mahal uses it on Good Morning Miss Brown as does Tina Turner on her version of Rock me Baby. The Dead are throwing in the G chord to add a bit of colour.
 #149191  by wolftigerrosebud
 Sun Oct 04, 2015 7:50 am
I'm hearing 1-4-b3-1, 1-4-b3-1, 5-1 for the entire song.

One of the things Jim Hall used to do when students would come in and not be able to think outside of scales and other really "inside" sounding playing is he would detune their guitar and tell them "play now!" That probably doesn't help with the Dead, but I guess I'm trying to agree with everyone else who's saying it's not really about the scales/chords on this one as much as it is about the vibe.
 #149193  by mgbills
 Sun Oct 04, 2015 10:29 am
Right On!
I totally see what you all have presented. I've been driving my playing toward "chord of the moment" style soloing, but as Chipper eluded to a scale "center" can paint a pattern of options. I'm still over-reliant on scales, but those patterns just like the modes, can help when the brain and hands freeze. I've spent a lot of time turning chords into arpeggios and chords into scales, and thinking about the 3, 5, 7 and 6 for some added Jerry goodness.

Someday I'll happen upon a practice routine that drives this strategy, the melody, and jam motif's deeper into my skull. But for now, that's where I am. I have noticed that the longer I play, it becomes less about the tools and more about the ear.

Thanks for the help.
 #149225  by gr8fullfred
 Tue Oct 06, 2015 10:04 am
This is basically an E Blues tune.
Therefore you can use the E minor pentatonic scale.
The only deviation is the G chord.
This is not really a problem since the G note is in the E minor pentatonic scale.
Therefore, you can simply use the Em Pentatonic scale.
It is not the only thing you can use, but everything you need to solo is in the Em pentatonic

If you are having trouble soloing over this tune, just use the Em pentatonic, and learn to hit the right notes thru the chord progression.
(Hint: hit the G note on the G chord)
After 10,000 repetitions you will have it down.

 #149233  by gr8fullfred
 Wed Oct 07, 2015 6:48 am
Thanks for that video. In Jerry's first solo you can see and hear that he is mostly using Emin Pentatonic at the 12 fret E position. While Jerry looks terrible in this video, he is playing great.

In the second solo, you can tell he is in "B" during the 5 of the song sometimes.

Also please note the great stuff Jerry is doing while Bobby is singing. It is not really rhythm playing, but he is noodling on the bass strings and playing some cool stuff.

And once again, notice Bobby's slide playing. It obvious from the video that even Bobby knows that his slide work is terrible. Bobby's slide solo actually sounds OK at first, but then he messes with the guitar controls, makes it sound badly distorted, and proceeds to lay down a slide solo as only Bobby can do.

great closeups of Jerry playing the solo. So often the video director shows us everything except what we want to see.