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You're Playing It Wrong! "Whipping Post"

February 11, 2014

IN KEEPING WITH THE THEME OF this month’s Under Investigation, let’s set the record straight regarding those climactic chorus harmonies from the Allman Brothers Band’s “Whipping Post.” This is another case where everyone seems to have a slightly different take on this classic jazzwaltz figure. To my ears, Ex. 1, which references the original studio version from 1969’s The Allman Brothers Band, is definitely the way to go. The hybrid major and minor pentatonic-based harmonies—mostly thirds with an occasional fourth—can be played by two guitarists as written, or rearranged for a single guitar simply by relocating Gtr. 2’s high A to the 10th fret on the B string.

Note how Dickey Betts’ part (Gtr. 2) stays consistent, while Duane Allman (Gtr. 1) creates subtle variations during the second half of bar 2 by injecting phrases like the ones shown in Examples 2a and 2b. Of course, even the Allmans have strayed from the original figure over the years, but for total authenticity, there’s no better starting point. Hope that ties up some loose ends!

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