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Happy Birthday Bonzo! 3 Famous Grooves…

The legendary John Henry Bonham would be 65 today. (May 31st, 2013) As the driving force behind Led Zeppelin, he influenced and inspired drummers with his groove, creativity, and unique sound. Every track he played sounded as if he knew it would be his last day on earth. His grooves are as clever as they are pounding, and serve as hooks to enhance the songs. He achieved his signature sound by using big drums tuned high. Every drummer alive owes him a great debt as he practically wrote the book on groove.

As a small tribute to his legacy, I have chosen 3 of my favourite grooves for this video. The first is ‘Good Times Bad Times’ from Zeppelin’s debut album. The second is ‘The Crunge’, from Houses of the Holy. The final example is ‘Fool in the Rain’ from In Through the Out Door.

I have been looking forward to this project for some time; mostly because it meant I got to dust off the Ludwig Vistalites that had been packed away for over a year. I always feel just a little bit of the magic of Bonham whenever I play them.

I decided to do some experimenting with this video and came up with some interesting results. I switched camera positions so that the Q3 was capturing an in close shot of my right foot and the GoPro (fastened to the ceiling with a magnetic tripod) captured the top view. Switching camera positions presented a few challenges; it proved difficult to get a good balance of all the drums with the Q3 placed on the floor. Also, the Mic in the GoPro pales in comparison to those inside the Q3, so I had to take great care in mixing the two together.

The first clip has some technical issues. There is a buzz coming from the floor tom that the GoPro picked up with remarkable fidelity. I had to use less of the GoPro audio to compensate, but it is still there.

For the second clip, I actually played along to the track because I couldn’t keep the form of the song in my head. It took a few takes to sync up my first note with Bonzo’s.

The third clip involved a little more experimenting. I mixed in more of the GoPro audio because it added a certain lo-fi-ness that I felt was appropriate. I also put both audio tracks slightly out of sync in an effort to make the drums sound bigger. I am happy with the result.

I ended up not using the video from the Q3 because it was kind of redundant. The GoPro video offers a great view of the feet.

I hope you enjoy my tribute to Bonzo. There will be more in the future! Special thanks to lighting assistant and swell guy Jonny Grant. This is instalment twelve in the ‘Drummer’s Birthdays’ series.

Happy Belated Zig!

Categories: Media, Video
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Published on: February 1, 2013

Joseph ‘Zigaboo’ Modeliste turned 64 on December 28th, 2012 so I’m a little late posting this one. I’m still trying to catch up after an extended hiatus during the holidays. Zig is one of my all time favs and his playing with The Meters epitomizes New Orleans funk. He has influenced countless drummers, most notably Stanton Moore, who is a New Orleans funk expert in his own right. The video consists of demonstrations of three grooves including – ‘Cissy Strut’, ‘Just Kissed My Baby’, and ‘Hey Pocky A-way’, in which Zig uses a swampy second-line groove. I’ve added a little left foot cowbell in the latter as an extra challenge for myself! Zig’s playing is a perfect example of how to play ‘in between the cracks’.

The Evolution of Tony Williams….Part 1

Hello everybody and Happy 2013! I apologize for the extended hiatus but I am finally back up and running. I have been busy rearranging my drum room to accommodate more drums – more on that in a later post.
Having missed Tony Williams’ Birthday, I have decided to do a series of videos instead. The series will focus on Tony Williams’ development from child prodigy to the upper echelon of jazz/fusion drumming. The video below will be the first of likely three videos, each representing a specific time in his career. This one demonstrates a solo he played on a tune entitled ‘Seven Steps to Heaven’ from a Miles Davis record of the same name released in 1963 when Tony was the tender age of 17! Incidentally, I began to learn this solo when I was 17 in preparation for an audition to get into music school. The difference is that I STILL don’t have it mastered! : ) The video begins with 8 bars of time followed by the solo. Analytically, it is a very interesting solo as it contains some early evidence of Tony’s genius – polyrhythmic variety and unique interplay between the hands and feet. To me, it is not a typical drum solo in that the phrasing is very advanced, especially for the time – almost like that of a horn player. I hope you enjoy and stay tuned for part 2 of the evolution of Tony Williams!

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