Brand New Cadillac...

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HAL9000HAL9000 Frets: 6155
edited May 13 in Theory
Despite the bass riff having a fairly prominent minor third the song definitely has a major feel. For soloing I would almost certainly be using a major scale. Ok, I know the rules are that there are no rules but I’ve always been led to understand that playing a major key solo over a minor riff isn’t going to go well. So how come it works here? I’m guessing it’s because the underlying chords are major? (Although listening to The Clash version I suspect the I and IV chords are A5 and D5 so neither major nor minor.)

I know I’m overthinking things but am genuinely interested to know the theory behind it.
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  • vizviz Frets: 6499
    edited May 16
    Not overthinking at all!

    One of the most important developments that rag, jazz, blues, rock and punk brought to classical music was to blur the line between major and minor, allowing both modalities in the same piece, even within a single chord (eg the Hendrix chord). A great way of demonstrating this blurring is to play major bar chords up the minor pentatonic scale:

    E major
    G major
    A major
    B major
    D major
    E major

    That is really the essence of the blues-rock sound. 

    For this song, I think they’re playing power chords in the E-shaped position, and, as you say the bass is playing a minor 3rd in the riff, as is the lead guitar on that repeating B-G motif. But when he plays the E chord in A-shape, he’s playing x7999x, so an E major. 

    So you can noodle away in E major or E minor. I think I would probably either play minor, or I’d bend or squeeze some G notes so they started G and ended somewhere between G and G#. I probably wouldn’t play true G# notes - it would sound too happy, to my ear anyway. 
    Misogyny ... enforces sexism by punishing those who reject an inferior status for women and rewarding those who accept it. - Guitartango
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  • WazmeisterWazmeister Frets: 6116
    Amazing story behind the song...

    The Clash, living in a squat, pissed up, drugged up... enter a cold studio at 10.30am to start recording London Calling. First day.

    The sound engineer asks them to play for levels.

    They play ‘Cadillac’. Once. 

    The engineers says “thats a take”, and apart from some bass overdubbing, it is the version that appears on the album.
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  • HAL9000HAL9000 Frets: 6155
    edited May 16
    Thanks. I think a few things were throwing me here...

    Brand New Cadillac doesn’t have an obvious minor feel to it whereas something like The Thrill is Gone is clearly minor. I think I was therefore assuming it was major. (Going by tabs/chords people have posted online it seems a lot of people think the same.)

    I know you can play minor key notes (such as a minor 3rd or a flattened 7th) over a major key rock or blues. However, what you can’t normally do is to play major 3rds or major 7ths over a minor key rock or blues. This song kind of feels it breaks that ‘rule’. Despite the minor 3rd in the riff there is enough ambiguity to get away with some major 3rds and 7ths - probably more so on the IV and V chords.

    I guess, a bit like EC’s ‘Tommy’ version of Eyesight to the Blind, this blurs the major/minor thing slightly more than some.

    (And that’s before getting onto that flattened 5th in the riff!)
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  • vizviz Frets: 6499
    edited May 16
    Sure. 

    And the reason it doesn’t sound as minor as Thrill is because it has a major IV chord, as you rightly point out, in other words it’s basically in E dorian, which has a major 6th, albeit a minor 3rd. So it’s “less minor” than natural minor. 

    This means still noodling in E minor throughout, but just putting in a major 6th not a minor 6th, particularly on that IV chord, to emphasise the fact that the IV is major. 

    Using the major 7th sounds good on the V chord (to make it a major V, which is common in most minor songs); it probably doesn’t sound great on the i. 

    Anyway, summary: avoid the C at all costs. 
    Misogyny ... enforces sexism by punishing those who reject an inferior status for women and rewarding those who accept it. - Guitartango
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