Join BIMM’s Ronan McCullagh as he looks at the bluesy side of one of the most significant and influential electric guitarists of all time.
Ronan McCullagh examines the bluesy side of Led Zeppelin’s genius mastermind, Jimmy Page.
Jimmy Page is a member of the guitar superhero squad and for good reason. Known for his work with Led Zeppelin, for his life as an in-demand session guitarist, his contribution to The Yardbirds, The Firm, and with David Coverdale and Paul Rodgers, Page is the ‘complete’ musician. As well as the ability to express himself on the guitar, his work as a producer, arranger and composer are groundbreaking. Even his iconic onstage stance is the blueprint for many a rock guitar hero: eyes closed, head back, guitar at his knees... that’s the Page vibe.
Jimmy’s style has many sides but beneath it all is that raw, dynamic blues vocabulary furthered by the language of rock and roll that took Jimmy’s ear as a youngster. “It was the obvious influences, Scotty Moore, James Burton, Cliff Gallup… and I began to hear blues guitarists Elmore James, BB King, and people like that. Basically, that was the start: a mixture between rock and blues.”
Jimmy’s ability to include chord tones gives him a melodic edge that carries your ear through the harmony. Yet he’s no stranger to holding a repeating phrase across a chord sequence or running through a Pentatonic box with one or two nice extensions. One thing that always stands out is his use of dynamics, as he would go from soft to loud with little or no warning. As you will find in this month’s study, Page loves to exploit the guitar’s ability to bend notes and has always found interesting ways to perform these.
Page has never been what you’d call a clean or tidy player; his style has always been daring and on the edge, but take this as a lesson in itself. You can obsess over a note or phrase until you’ve knocked the life out of it; it’s good thing to be accurate but balance it with embracing the imperfections that exists within music, as these are beautiful too. Don’t believe me? Listen to Jimmy Page!
As already mentioned, Page posseses excellent composition and arranging skills, and you need look no further than his rhythm parts to find examples. His orchestrations and ability to find a supportive part for the song never ceases to amaze. Although they often sound simple, when you spend time studying the parts you will find another level of intricacy: the way that the guitar transitions through the arrangements, switching from huge riffs to well-balanced chord parts to arpeggiated voice leading sections, and inevitably to the big solo. What’s not to like?
NEXT MONTH Ronan examines the powerful style of that great modern bluesman Kirk Fletcher
It was the obvious influences, Scotty Moore, James Burton, Cliff Gallup AN D blues guitarists. Basically, that was the start: a mi xture between rock and blues Jimmy Page
Jimmy Page playing one of his favourite blues guitars