5 months ago

BassPlayer 2017-02

BassPlayer 2017-02


TRANSCRIPTION LINK FACE TECH PLAY LEARN ? TRANSCRIPTION Led Zeppelin’s “Communication Breakdown” John Paul Jones’ Complete Bass Line By Stevie Glasgow | Photo By Greg PAPAzian Led Zeppelin was on a formidable roll when the band took the stage for a BBC In Concert recording session at London’s Paris Cinema in April 1971. Indeed, with three successful albums already in the bag and tracking recently completed for their game-changing fourth LP, Zeppelin could well have retired at that point and still gone down as one of the most innovative and influential rock acts of all time. Bassist/keyboardist John Paul Jones and his Zep cohorts—guitarist Jimmy Page, vocalist Robert Plant, and drummer John Bonham—helped redefine rock music, and to date, have notched up worldwide sales of close to 300 million albums, making Led Zeppelin one of the biggest-selling acts ever. The band’s recently released three-disc compilation, The Complete BBC Sessions [Atlantic]—an updated and expanded version of the 1997 release BBC Sessions—features eight previously unreleased recordings, including the Paris Cinema version of “Communication Breakdown” transcribed here. Typifying the band’s live approach, this is no mere regurgitation of the original studio version. “We’d make a record and that would be the blueprint,” Jones told BP in February 2008. “Then we’d go off and play the record live, and it would move on from there.” For the recording, Jones likely used two fingers to pluck his trusty ’62 Fender Jazz Bass strung with Rotosound roundwounds—his standard setup during that era. “I stopped using flatwounds during my session days; they were a bit too thumpy,” 54 / february2017

he explained in July 2003. “The Rotosounds gave me better clarity.” The track opens with a repeating, two-bar-long guitar figure that underpins most of the song. Jones bolsters the simple chords from bars 5–7 with a series of root notes, before a short break heralds the first verse at letter A. Here, Jones falls in with Page’s rhythm, punching out a single measure of tight eighth-notes followed by a meaty syncopation that emphasizes that latter half of beat one in the second bar of each two-bar sub-phrase. Note how JPJ invariably introduces a subtle downward fall from the 5th-fret D into the open-string A on beat three. Dig also how he slides boldly up from a B on the final quarter-note at the end of each twobar phrase over Page’s D chord, rather than opting for a straight root-note D. Letter B—the first chorus—moves through the IV and V chords of E major (A and B, respectively). Jones flavors this new section with a series of nimble and funky Jamerson-like syncopations built around the A major pentatonic scale (in bars 25–28) and the B dominant scale or Mixolydian mode in bars 29–32. Also worth noting is his nuanced use of open strings in bars 30–31, which help bounce the line along. The guitar-and-bass unison line in bars 35–36 concludes with a gritty quarter-tone bend that steers proceedings back to the second verse at C, where Jones reprises his lines from A. The second chorus at D (check out the snaking chromatic climb over the V chord in bars 57–61) is followed by the first guitar solo at letter E, with the bass echoing A and C. As Page’s pyrotechnics continue, Jonesy begins cutting increasingly loose (from letter F), introducing a variety of new patterns while still outlining the prevailing chord sequence. Letter G revisits the chorus, leading to H—a semi-improvised, half-time section that evinces Jones’ and Bonham’s funk influences. Here, JPJ enlivens the simple harmony via deft use of space and subtle ghost-notes. The dynamic level drops at letter I with the reintroduction of the vocals, before Bonham and Jones slowly begin to pick up the pace again, exemplified by the his increasing use of eighth-notes and ghostnotes from bar 159. By J, the half-time feel has all but evaporated as the players slowly build up a head of steam, prompting Jones to pick up Page’s E–D–B– E motif in bar 185, which he uses as a springboard for a couple of nifty E minor pentatonic fills in bars 186, 190, and 194. This leads to K, where Page begins to wrest control of the harmony by grinding out C and D chords over Jones’ insistent E-grounded line. The bass eventually teams up with the guitar chords at bar 204, helping transition back to a recap of the main riff at L, which this time serves as an outro, eventually culminating in a dramatic beat-four conclusion on a cliff-hanging D chord. After a rock-transforming 12 years, Zeppelin ground to a halt in 1980 following Bonham’s death. Post-Zep, Jones has steadfastly refused to rest on his laurels, continually stretching himself as a multiinstrumentalist, composer, producer, arranger, solo artist, collaborator, and full-time member of supergroup Them Crooked Vultures. But he is still most celebrated for Zep’s recorded output and adventurous live performances. “Playing live was the most fun for me,” he said in February 2008. “I think that was the best of Led Zeppelin.” BP “Communication Breakdown” (Paris Cinema, London, April 1971) Transcription by Stevie Glasgow = 190 Intro E D A D E H 5 7 5 0 5 7 9 A 1.2.3. 4. E D A D E D A D D A D S S 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 5 0 2 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 5 0 2 7 5 0 12 25 B A B S 5 5 5 3 4 7 4 7 7 7 4 7 4 5 4 7 4 5 7 4 4 7 4 5 7 5 7 7 7 7 7 7 6 9 7 0 9 COMMUNICATION BREAKDOWN Words and Music by JIMMY PAGE, JOHN PAUL JONES and JOHN BONHAM © 1969 (Renewed) FLAMES OF ALBION MUSIC, INC. All Rights (Excluding Print) Administered by WB MUSIC CORP. Exclusive Print Rights Administered by ALFRED MUSIC. All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission. / february2017 55

April 2017