Black Dog whats the time

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by bill h, Oct 9, 2002.

  1. bill h

    bill h

    Aug 31, 2002
    small town MN
    I hope this is posted in the right spot?

    Black Dog by Led Zepplin has got some strange timeing to it! Is the song in 7/4 time or what
    Just got the best of my cueriosity (sp) any info would be cool thanks
  2. Oysterman


    Mar 30, 2000
    It's 4/4, they just move the accent of the unison line around. The beat remains steady.

    (I think, been ages since I last listened to it.)
  3. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    i thought it was 5/4 over a 4/4 drum?

    i've never played it btw, that's just what i thought.. for some reason. ignore me.

    Oysetrman, you look a lot like AliG :D
  4. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I think it is 4/4 but the middle part of the riff has fast triplets and the pattern goes across the bar line.
  5. gweimer


    Apr 6, 2000
    Columbus, OH
    We had a big argument on this over at the FDP. There seems to be a split on this one. The school's of thought are:
    A. The song is 4/4, with clever riffs running around it.
    B. The song has several time changes, with Bonham forcing a 4/4 "foundation" underneath it all.

    I'm one of those who feels that the main thrust of the song lies in the phrases of the guitar/bass, and Bonham's drum beats always sound like the odd man out.
  6. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    So what time signature or pulse are you hearing?
  7. gweimer


    Apr 6, 2000
    Columbus, OH
    I hear what many say - several different time signatures, in different parts of the song. I still haven't taken the time to count it.
    What I found odd on the FDP discussion on this is that of the varied sites people referenced for either tabs or charts, it seemed that the drummers favored the notion of varied time sigs, while the guitarists tended to be in the 4/4 camp.
  8. Why don't you ask the man who wrote the thing?

    Go to the lessons section. Look down the bottom and you'll find a series of annotated lessons with John Paul Jones, among which is one which discusses that very riff. Very good reading, too.

    You even get some..... tab. :)
  9. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Yes very interesting - I liked this part :

    "I then came up with the bridge riff, which is in E (see Figure 3). This riff is rather tricky-sounding, as it's built from a repeated phrase that is four-and-a-half beats long. Each time the phrase is repeated it's displaced by half a beat. Notice how the E note, which falls neatly on beat one the first time the phrase is played, falls on the second eighth-note of beat one the second time around, on beat two the third time, and on the second eighth-note of beat two the fourth time. This technique of repeating an odd-length phrase in an even time signature such as 4/4 is known as hemiola and is a very effective compositional tool. "

    He does explain that the "riff" is basically four bars of 4/4 but that the 3rd bar has an extra beat in it - "It just felt natural to hit the A note an extra time before Robert [Plant] came in again with the vocal."

    So you could see this a bar of 5/4 as he writes it - but to me it is just carrying one note across the bar into the next one - which fades out before the end anyway?

    But the definitive answer from JP-J is that it has 3 bars of 4/4 and one of 5/4 - well that's how he thought of it.

    I think the debate around this shows that notation is very much a personal preference thing...?
  10. bill h

    bill h

    Aug 31, 2002
    small town MN
    wow Behinnd t m you are right there with all the info thanks :D :D :)
  11. If you had the tab for it this whole time signature topic would be invalid.
  12. :) Amazing what you find on the internet, isn't it? And in the damndest places.

    Um... how is it that tab would render time subdivisions irrelevant? In the sense that when following tab the music would become a series of notes to be rattled off with little or no concern for the accents, perhaps?
  13. JPJ is amazing. Very cool lessons. Don't you guys find it ridiculous that when Page and Plant put together their little Zeppelin-esque thing, JPJ wasn't invited? He's so under-rated. :/
  14. lermgalieu

    lermgalieu Supporting Member

    Apr 27, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA
    IMO he's only under-rated by page and plant, who in turn are over-rated by themselves. JPJ was the engine and the brain.
  15. I know I am 4 years late, but is there an archive somewhere?
  16. fraublugher


    Nov 19, 2004
    ottawa, ontario, canada
    music school retailer
    i look at it this way , it took an entire orchestra to replace him:smug:
  17. hey, me and my guitarist friend is trying to play this song.

    I have problems doing the counting for the first round of vocals + first riffs. But my guitarist friend say the drummer gave the cue in the recording right before the riff starts after the vocal ends, but I don't think so and thought that everyone in the band must have counted in their head and came in at the same time. Which is it?

    Any of you who have performed this live can share some tips?

  18. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999

    JPJ explains that's it's a 4 1/2 beat phrase played in 4/4 (called a 'hemiola')...that's probably why it's sounds 'odd'.
    Anyway, if you start counting (1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4) when Plant begins singing...& keep counting when there's that pause pre-riff: Note in the above link that the riff begins on the "& of 3", i.e. NOT on "1".
    Maybe that's what's throwing you off?

    And it's usually a good idea if EVERYONE keeps track of 'the time'.
  19. matrok


    Jan 10, 2005
    Ferndale, Michigan
    If you listen close to the studio recording, you can hear a stick click before the riff comes in. On the live DVD it's very straight and easy time. When my band did this song, they wanted to keep it "loose" and an have the drummer count it in. That meant we all had to be watching him every time and I thought that was kind of a hassle as we all had to be facing him, instead of the audience.

    It's a tough song. We had a sub guitar player for a couple gigs who could not get the bridge, drummer and I had to hold it together and let him catch up. I'm glad we don't do it anymore.