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TheR0ver

John Bonhams Drumming Explained

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That's an excellent reference.I learned to drum heel up by myself from the start and as you've mentioned one can achieve power and speed at the loss of true resonance that comes from the bass drum.But after watching a couple of those vids it proves that speed can be gained by finding middle ground.At this late stage,I'm 53,I don't know if it's possible to change but I'm willing to give it a go :) 

Thanks also to the other posters here for the in depth explanations,it's great to see "students" of JHB sharing their knowledge.

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Just did this raw take of Achilles Last Stand. Quality isn't amazing but it's a gradual process to clarity :) Oh and you can actually SEE me now.

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Great post Ro

John Bonhams Drumming Explained

 

Rather a heady title I admit. I don’t think anyone can fully explain him. However I have been playing the drums for roughly 38 years, and I started out wanting to be like him at the age of 5. (And Ringo). So I thought some of you might want some insight from a drummer who has studied a master. Because after all, to become a master one must study a master. This could well be a 100 page essay, but in the interest of brevity I have selected a few songs hopefully everyone has access to, and noted time marks where applicable to illustrate my examples.

 

John Bonham could play with feel, a deep enveloping feel. He was a drummer where “feel” came first, time second. Whereas, in the case of Neil Peart for example, time is first, feel is second. Bonzo also had the amazing quality of being powerful, yet nimble. He also had swing, as is evident in Candy Store Rock, Kashmir, Out On The Tiles, just to name a few. It is easy to see his jazz/swing influences such as Buddy Rich, Gene Krupa, and Joe Morello. In fact John Bonham borrowed a lot of of Joe Morello’s triplet ideas.

 

Dazed and Confused

 

Of course the most noticeable God like quality of his drumming was his speed. He could bend time. The good drummers can do this, our brains can move in nanoseconds, calculating what you just played, what you are playing, and what you are going to play all at once. The best example of John’s speed is the end of Dazed and Confused (from The Song Remains The Same). There have been fierce debates as to whether it is has been sped up, but I can assure it has not. The hand is quicker than the eye. I also know because I can play it.

 

Same song now, different example: Note at the 11:59 mark how Jimmy Page lets Jonesy and Bonzo take over in this rhythmic interlude. This is a great example of how fast and tight the rhythm section was, and how important it was to the success of the band.

 

Trampled Under Foot

 

Here is another example of the blistering speed at which he could play. And maintain throughout a 10 minute song. At the 4:36 mark we get a glimpse of John’s concentration, he is definitely “in the zone”, and as you can see, sweating and working very hard.

 

Moby Dick/Over The Top

 

Another great glimpse into the happiness and concentration on John’s face occurs at 4:56, 5:20, and 6:04. One of things I believe that made Zeppelin great was the happiness in their music.

G

 

The Song Remains The Same

 

The happiest and most swinging Zeppelin song, in my opinion: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=he6TQsU8d6k

John has an interesting approach to this song where alternates the lead beat of the bar between the snare drum and the bass drum. Just another example of his jazz feel, and his attention to detail.

 

When The Levee Breaks

 

Some more interesting attention to detail here at the 1:35 mark. At one time I thought this was tape noise, but I’m convinced it’s John making the sound of water bursting through a small hole. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wEKkJHSO8A0

 

Of course this is also one of the best known songs for capturing his drum sound. Although there were some interesting recording techniques used, the sound still came from the drummer. He played the first note on his bass drum with an accent (hitting it harder) then silencing his drum head with his bass drum mallet before striking the second note just after. Simple yet genius.

Here is a great example of his speed and nimbleness around the kit at 5:16, and his incredible foot speed at 5:26

We can also witness the sheer speed of his wrists with his machine gun drum rolls at 6:48.

 

In closing I want to say happy birthday to the most intelligent, powerful, soulful, nimble, quickest, passionate and and talented drummer of all time.

 Great post Rover, John Henry Bonham along with William Thomas Ward are two of my all time favorite drummers, no one comes close to them, not even a hair.

 

Edited by BledZabbath

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From one Canadian to another, great post rover!!! :)

Edited by mikey

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I only skimmed through this, I'm a drummer of 23 years. As a teenager, I'd play "Achilles Last Stand" a lot because it's so fun, lots of changes, things to remember, and I always wanted to play things note for note - at least until I learned it, and then I could change it to fit my style.

As for feel, I think his best is "Stairway to Heaven" - especially when he's on the ride.. Listen to those ghost notes, the playing the snare... perfect.. I don't like the robotic feel of Neil Peart. There's a lot more to dynamics and feel than starting quiet and getting louder. You can play 20 notes at different volumes, and hitting the drum in different spots to give a different sound.

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On 5/31/2013 at 4:37 PM, TheR0ver said:

The best example of John’s speed is the end of Dazed and Confused (from The Song Remains The Same). There have been fierce debates as to whether it is has been sped up, but I can assure it has not. The hand is quicker than the eye. I also know because I can play it.

Lots I could say here but there was a posted version on YouTube which was sped up, this one is not. Hence the debate. While this is impressive its not super fast, its just the way he is phrasing and scrambling it up makes it sound really fast. This is a really ass kicking example of his unique phrasing. There are moments in Moby Dick where he is playing faster than this but speed isn't what makes him special IMO. 

Cool post, thanks.

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This is my humble opinion.

In studio. Bonham was a literal minimalist, in concert he was over the top but in a good way. In studio He laid down a basic structure if you will (not saying his playing was basic) and in concert he expanded upon that structure any way he could.

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7 hours ago, juxtiphi said:

This is my humble opinion.

In studio. Bonham was a literal minimalist, in concert he was over the top but in a good way. In studio He laid down a basic structure if you will (not saying his playing was basic) and in concert he expanded upon that structure any way he could.

Well said.

The albums had so many layers of guitar overdubs and vocal harmonies, which couldn't be easily replicated live so I think he was helping to fill out the sound in concerts by being more aggressive and interactive. 

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In the late 80s, Robert was asked why Led Zeppelin didn't sound as dated as other bands of their era. 'Because Bonzo didn't play like he'd got eight arms', he answered. 

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Okay Im NO drummer but this is what I thought also happened. And please forgive my simplistic explanation. I believe it's just part of the whole picture, but tell me if I'm wrong.

I'm aware that he wasn't just interested in Pounding the drums as hard as he could he also had a lighter touch that was fantastic, I thought what also developed his Magic  and  fueled his intensity even more when the rest of the band kept hiding his other bass drum. so he was trying to compensate and found a lot of interesting ways to/ maybe compensate isn't the right word but also looking inwards and into more detail, focused more on other aspects of drumming! Is that also what happened?

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