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Black Dog Musically Wrong?


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I have my friend here with me who is a guitarist of 8 years. He's not what you'd call a Zeppelin fan - I was playing Black Dog and he pointed out the riff that is played at 40 seconds in and ends at roughly 48 seconds.

He says, "The riff doesn't fit rythmically in to the song. It's about one note too long to fit properly."

I need your suggestions on this guys, because as a fan I've tried being unbiased about this and I've tried seeing it from his point of view, and I can kind of understand but unlike him, I don't think it sounds bad.

So be as unbiased as you can and give me your opinions.

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I have my friend here with me who is a guitarist of 8 years. He's not what you'd call a Zeppelin fan - I was playing Black Dog and he pointed out the riff that is played at 40 seconds in and ends at roughly 48 seconds.

He says, "The riff doesn't fit rythmically in to the song. It's about one note too long to fit properly."

I need your suggestions on this guys, because as a fan I've tried being unbiased about this and I've tried seeing it from his point of view, and I can kind of understand but unlike him, I don't think it sounds bad.

So be as unbiased as you can and give me your opinions.

Does the riff have to fit to the song? Maybe the song should fit to the riff. Or maybe it doesn't matter either way and it is fine the way it is.

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Does the riff have to fit to the song? Maybe the song should fit to the riff. Or maybe it doesn't matter either way and it is fine the way it is.

He says, "So you're suggesting the entire song needs to be re-written just to fit one riff?".

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The golden rule: If it sounds good, play it. I play guitar too and I could care less about theory (although I do know the basic stuff you are supposed to know). Instead of focusing on whether something is theoretically correct you should focus on playing with feeling and emotion. You aren't going to connect with your audience through theory, it's going to be through emotional quality of your playing. And although I do not know Jimmy Page, I'm sure he would agree with me.

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If all music adhered to rules it would be boring. The essence of rock is that it is anti rules, musical and social. That's what makes it different and exciting. Rock is supposed to be messy, angry and close to falling of the edge. When it's not it's safe and boring.

It took me a while to realize that, I've been playing guitar for 32 years. You learn music, develope technique and then toss the rules out. If you don't you can't be creative.

Edited by danelectro
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I have my friend here with me who is a guitarist of 8 years. He's not what you'd call a Zeppelin fan - I was playing Black Dog and he pointed out the riff that is played at 40 seconds in and ends at roughly 48 seconds.

He says, "The riff doesn't fit rythmically in to the song. It's about one note too long to fit properly."

I need your suggestions on this guys, because as a fan I've tried being unbiased about this and I've tried seeing it from his point of view, and I can kind of understand but unlike him, I don't think it sounds bad.

So be as unbiased as you can and give me your opinions.

LMAO...

Your friend appears to only know one time signature. Get him playing some odd time signatures and a whole new world will open up for him...that section is 5/8

Edited by mad dog
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LMAO...

Your friend appears to only know one time signature. Get him playing some odd time signatures and a whole new world will open up for him...that section is 5/8

Black Dog, a song that is like a complex fine wine.

This contains some complicated time signatures arranged by Jones, which Bonham ignored, playing a steady 4/4 beat instead (Jones thinks that is what made the song work). Jones wanted to write a song that people couldn't "groove" or dance to. The clever time signature does just that.

Zeppelin bass player John Paul Jones got the idea for this song after hearing Muddy Waters' "Electric Mud." He wanted to try "Electric Blues with a rolling bass part."

The start and stop a cappella verses were inspired by Fleetwood Mac's 1969 song "Oh Well."

The guitars are heavily layered. Four separate Jimmy Page guitar tracks were overdubbed. Page recorded the guitar directly into a 1176 limiter preamp (manufactured by Universal Audio), distorted the stages of it, and then sent that to a normally operating limiter. In other words, no guitar amplifier was used in the recording process.

John Bonham's drumming was patterned after Little Richard's "Keep a Knockin'."

The sounds at the beginning are Jimmy Page warming up his guitar. He called it "Waking up the army of guitars."

http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=334

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I still wonder how they come in after every verse live. IS there a count? Or do they just jump on it as soon as Robert finishes? Bonzo talks about how they had a count (in that rehearsal tape) but I'm still trying to figure it out. I think maybe they only listen to his last line to use as a count. Anyone know for sure?

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There was a quote by Nancy Wilson from Heart who said something along the lines that to play it right, you have to learn it wrong. :)

Exactly! :)

I thought the brilliance of the thing is that the drum eventually matches up? Hence "rolling bass part" - ?

What goes around, comes around...

When your friend wraps his head around Black Dog's rhythm, he may suddenly become a bigger Zep fan. :D

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I still wonder how they come in after every verse live. IS there a count? Or do they just jump on it as soon as Robert finishes? Bonzo talks about how they had a count (in that rehearsal tape) but I'm still trying to figure it out. I think maybe they only listen to his last line to use as a count. Anyone know for sure?

On the album, Bonzo clicks his sticks together as a marker for the band to come back in. Live, they came in when Robert finished the vocals line - much easier.

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Here is a quote from Chris Welch's book " Led Zeppelin Dazed and Confused, The Story Behind Every Song" concerning Black Dog:

An unexpected Latin funk groove from Bonham lifts the piece out of the rhythmic rut, while Page's guitar riff is astonishingly basic but entirely self'assured. In fact the piece chugs over an odd time signature (a mixture of 4/4 set against 5/4) and is full of unpredictable rests, which belie its apparent simplicity. John Paul Jones was responsible for the riff and arrangement, while Page overdubbed no less than four guitar tracks using a Gibson Les Paul guitar put through a direct injection box. Andy Johns recalls that they tripple tracked three rhythm guitars to get a satisfying stereo spread . Page later said that the band always tried to encourage the laid back John Paul Jones to write more material, and this was undoubtedly one of his most effective and powerful themes. The strange noise at the beginning of the piece was, as Page described it: "The guitar army waking up. Rise and shine!"

So the backing beat is in 4/4 time while the overlying riff is in 5/4 time, is my understanding of this.

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