Blues Theory

Nov 11, 2019
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Hey guys, I have a question about some theory. There’s a song called Cissy Strut by The Meters. The main lick is played in C Minor pentatonic, but the chords behind it are A# major and F major. How are they able to play a C Minor pentatonic over a IV to I chord progression that’s in F major? In the key of F, the C is the perfect fifth, making it Mixolydian (a major sound), not any type of minor sound. Does anyone have any insight on this?
 
Nov 11, 2019
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Unless the key is A# major? Then it’d be a I to V chord progression, and the C would be C Dorian, which makes more sense to me.
 

Jak Angelescu

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Well, I know that C minor scale has an F and an A# in it, but I think the A# chord in c minor would have to be diminished. I’m not smart with theory but you asking this question is making me dig into it to try and exercise what I DO know. But from my experience is that minor scales can have major sound depending on what they are played over and how they end. And major scales can sound minor for the same reason. Hopefully someone can ge better answer. But your logic of A# major sounds logical!🤗
 

Holly Lingle

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Nov 11, 2019
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Hey there! There’s a good chance the song is in E flat major. Which would make the A-sharp major the 5th , which can also be played as a 7th chord. That tends to happen with blues comment so what happens is if you play that 6th Scale as a pentatonic it will work and get a bluesy sound because the C minor is the 6th period You could be playing the Dorian if you played the F Scale. But what most likely is happening is the song is probably in E flat major or C minor. Give that a try and let me know what happens.
 

Holly Lingle

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Nov 11, 2019
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OK just got to check out the song! I’d say that’s more of a jazz tune, and I would probably say is most likely in F. That C minor could work for sure because of the notes it omits. So you’re not exactly playing a full C minor so the pen atonic would work . Especially because it’s the 5th Pretty cool song though!
 

Ids Schiere

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To me it seems like for that particular chord progression A# is the I and F is the V. In this case C would be the ii making is C dorian. Dorian has a minor feel and also contains all the notes of C minor pentatonic and c minor pentatonic has the root and the fifth of both the A# and F in it.you could also use F major over this chord progression but that explains why you can use c minor pentatonic
I don’t know the rest of the song but that’s the explanation for for those two chords
 
Nov 11, 2019
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Thanks guys, I watched a video of John Mayer play it, and he made it sound more bluesy then the original track. But anyways, thanks for your explanations, very helpful! Modes can get confusing sometimes
 

Christopher Lonski

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Nov 11, 2019
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Yes, this is definitely C Dorian. The bass and main riff is centered around a C Blues lick, so that’s kind of solidifying the overall sound around “C”. Also they are bending the Eb up a little to add that extra blues flavor. And then the chords are Bb – F which kind of a I-V in Bb Major. But again, since they are centering around “C” in a Bb major harmony, it comes out to which mode? That’s right, Dorian.
Another SUPER easy way to identify Dorian is when you have a minor key/lick and then you have a MAJOR IV chord. The IV in C is F major. So a C minor lick, Bb Major in a C minor sound is diatonic, and occurs naturally in a C minor scale. The F major chord raises the Ab (which is normally in C minor) to an A natural making it Dorian. Normally the F chord in a C natural minor scale is F minor.
C minor w/ flat 6 (Aeolian) C D Eb F G Ab Bb C
C minor w/ natural 6th (Dorian) C D Eb F G A Bb C
 

Christopher Lonski

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I always half-joke that Im a psychic or clairvoyant. This is the reason why. I posted my response on here last night^ and then was watching boxing videos this morning and lo and behold-
 

Brian Haner Sr.

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I didn’t hear The Meters version, but the Mayer version is pretty straight ahead. C Dorian. Cm-F (Key of Bb) Once in a while he plays a Bb/C which is just a sub for Cm.