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Thread: My understanding of Hey Joe by Hendrix

  1. #1
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    My understanding of Hey Joe by Hendrix

    Tonight, I decided that I wanted to have a look at the Jimi Hendrix composition Hey Joe. Initially, I didn't quite understand the which key siagnature the song was based on. Now, after listening to it a few times and browsing through different tablatures, I've come to the conclusion that the song is based on mixed key signatures. An important part of the song is a circle of fifth cycle.

    Here's my quick analysis:

    Intro: Em - borrowing a note of E Dorian near the ending part.

    Verse: C-G-D-A-E ("I-V cycle" following the circle of fifths from C through E)

    Solo: Em (might be mainly Em Pentatonic, but I noticed the presence of the 6th of Em (C), so there are notes that exceed the Pentatonic scale too)

    - There's also a a part between the circle of fifth cycle, which seems to be fairly rooted in E major.

    That's it, I think. If I have missed something, please enlighten me.

    Any inputs?

  2. #2
    fan of the G string curiousgeorge's Avatar
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    Not sure where you are getting the Em intro and such from...have another listen...it's definitely E major...
    Karma Chameleon...You come and go...You come and go, oh..........MAKE UP YOUR MIND!!!!!!!!!!

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    I mean the first three seconds. I am not able to identify the major third of E (G#) during the first 2-3 seconds, and the overall sound of the very intro lick is to me extremely bluesy/minor pentatonic-"ish".

  4. #4
    fan of the G string curiousgeorge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Apple-Joe
    I mean the first three seconds. I am not able to identify the major third of E (G#) during the first 2-3 seconds, and the overall sound of the very intro lick is to me extremely bluesy/minor pentatonic-"ish".
    Ah, the sliding unison lick...
    Karma Chameleon...You come and go...You come and go, oh..........MAKE UP YOUR MIND!!!!!!!!!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by curiousgeorge
    Ah, the sliding unison lick...
    Yes - that one. Do you agree on the rest of the song?

  6. #6
    fan of the G string curiousgeorge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Apple-Joe
    Yes - that one. Do you agree on the rest of the song?
    Yeah, I've jammed on it live a bunch of times...so I concur...It's good to learn that chromatic bassline part near the end on the guitar as well. I've had a few bass players mess that part up on me...I try and have an idea of bass parts in songs, so I can fill in or harmonize etc if need be...
    Karma Chameleon...You come and go...You come and go, oh..........MAKE UP YOUR MIND!!!!!!!!!!

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    Jimi does something really interesting with his root major chords in a few songs. He will play around the e minor pentatonic or blues scale, then settle on an e major chord. This is subtle, but he does it in the hey Joe intro as well as in songs like voodoo chile. The major 3rd actually works in the blues scale reasonably well, and it seems like he uses this major chord over the minor to brighten up the sound. I don't know the theory to know why this works and whether he is actually representing the major or minor when he does this, but it's not as easy as distinguishing between a major and minor pentatonic scale when he plays something like this.

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