SKF NOTE: In a recent post about Led Zeppelin’s song Black Dog, drummers on DrumForum.org commented on other songs with notable trick starts.
“I always loved how Misty Mountain Hop starts off. I still hear the main riff one way, but once the drums kick in, I realize I was hearing [the one beat] wrong. Heard that song…maybe thousands of times and it…gets me every single time,” writes one drummer.
“Hendrix’s version of Watchtower and the way it switches in the intro gets me every time. Apparently Hendrix wanted it that way and it took [drummer Mitch] Mitchell a while to catch on,” writes another DrumForum member.
The Doobie Brothers’s song, Minute by Minute, has a start that always tricks my ear.
Sometimes new songs — songs I’m hearing for the first time — trick me. Listening to the intro riff (A bass? Guitar? Drumset? Keyboard?) with brand new ears, I might start playing an accompanying beat on my car dashboard or in my mind. When the full song kicks in it’s obvious I was tricked. The downbeat isn’t where I heard it. Or my beat is in half-time. Or I was playing a Latin feel to the intro of a song that, once the trick start ends, is actually a medium tempo 4/4 rock song.
What is my normal reaction when I recognize my ears were tricked? I stop playing whatever beat I was playing. I mentally scold myself, “Aarrrgh! You were tricked! You were playing the WRONG BEAT.”
Was I really playing the wrong beat? I wasn’t hearing the song the way the musicians on the record were hearing it. But was my hearing WRONG? Sometimes — not often enough — when a song tricks me that way I keep playing my beat, my creation, anyway. And it often sounds great. Different? Of course.
I’m working on trusting my ears more often. If it turns out a song’s original feel or beat works better than what I was hearing — okay. But it cannot be good to train ourselves to automatically criticize and throw away as wrong every original idea that comes our way.
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