Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Drumming diary: When the Levee Breaks

There has been a tragic lack of music on this blog thus far, so I've decided to start posting my drumming diary here.

I've been drumming for almost two years at the moment. I started on the advice of a therapist, who thought that it might help if I started hitting things on a regular basis. Since your mom wasn't available, I went with the drums. (*hi-hat sizzle*) Thank you, I'm here all night, and so's your sister.

Please to be noting that I am by no means an expert on drumming. Before two years ago, I had never known a damn thing about percussion, and I still know very little about music theory. I would eventually like to play in a band, so if anyone's in SE Portland and wans a jam partner, shoot me an email.

Previously on the drumming diary, I've learned:

"Back in Black" by AC/DC
"Rock and Roll Ain't Noise Pollution" by AC/DC
"Northern Downpour" by Panic! At the Disco
"Creep" by Radiohead (my favorite to play)
"Supermassive Black Hole" by Muse
"Violet Hill" by Coldplay
"Mr. Brightside" by The Killers
"Beautiful Day" by U2
"Fix You" by Coldplay

Obviously all well-known songs; I'd love to learn something more obscure, but those are the drumming tabs that I can find online, and that says nothing about their accuracy. (As I discovered when the "Rock and Roll" one had a screwed-up second bridge.)

I'm currently learning "When the Levee Breaks" by Led Zeppelin. Drummer is John Bonham, who was notable for both the drums and drinking, eventually drowning in his own vomit in 1980 after allegedly downing forty shots of vodka. Forty shots! Jesus. I like to imagine that after his death, Bonham's liver punched its way out of his coffin to seek bloody revenge on the Smirnoff company.

At the time that "WtLB" was recorded, Bonham's kit consisted of a 14x10 high tom, two floor toms (16x16 and 18x16), a 26x14 bass drum, a 14x6.5 snare, a couple of timpani's for good measure, and a single bass pedal. Bonham is notable for the speed of his right foot: using that one pedal, Bonham played fills and breaks that would take almost anyone else (myself included) a double-pedal to play. "WtLB" has a number of those moments, including a five-triplet fill on the kick in the back half of the song.

The song has one of the most distinctive grooves I've ever heard, for the all the fact that it's extremely simple. But therein lies the appeal: anyone who says they've never rocked the fuck out to AC/DC is a filthy liar, and that's about as simple as drums gets. It's also a LONG groove, with one measure being repeated up to 19 times. All drumming has trance-like qualities, but this song especially so. It's almost a shock when it's time for a break, like the snare's pop is my alarm clock.

Reading: "The Walking Dead" by Robert Kirkman
Listening to: This
Playing: This

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