Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Book Review: Led Zeppelin: Easy Guitar Anthology by Alfred Publishing Staff
The Led Zeppelin: Easy Guitar Anthology from the Alfred Music Publishing Company is just about the perfect gift for the budding guitar player/ Led Zeppelin fan in your life. The Anthology contains words and music to 20 classic Zep tunes. Better than that however is the fact that besides being given in the traditional form, the songs are also broken down into the easily read diagrams called tablatures.
Standard sheet music consists of the notes of a song represented on the score - which one needs to know how to read for it to make any sense. The upside to this is that no matter what instrument you are playing - be it guitar, piano, sax, etc., the sheet music applies. All the player needs to do is transpose the notes to their particular instrument.
Guitar tablature features the notes written out in relation to their exact placement on the string and fret of the guitar. Rather than the five lines on a standard bar of music, with tablature we have six lines - one for each string. Tab also gives the chords that one is playing, which makes it even more convenient to pick the individual notes from. All the player has to do is memorize the positions, and get the rhythm down, and suddenly they are Jimmy Page.
For example, the famous opening strains of “Stairway To Heaven” are plucked to the A minor chord. This is established by placing the index finger over the first three strings on the fifth fret, and the ring finger on the fourth string, seventh fret. Once in position, the Tab diagram tells us to pluck strings four, three, two, and one in order, then switch to an E+/G# chord and continue in this fashion.
It actually sounds much more complicated than it is. When you are holding a guitar and being shown exactly where the notes are, it makes perfect sense. In fact, it is quite empowering to the new guitar player (especially) to be able to work out a classic Zeppelin melody in this way. People have varying success learning to play guitar - but nobody ever said it is a particularly easy instrument to learn. Being able to play something recognizable is a bit of a treat, and should translate into a desire for further study for anyone serious about learning to play.
With a group like Led Zeppelin, picking just 20 songs to reproduce in this format is hard. I think the people at Alfred chose well, although every Zep fan is going to have their favorites which did not make the cut. Besides “Stairway,” some of the others featured include, “ Whole Lotta Love,” “Kashmir,” “Immigrant Song,” “Black Dog,” and “Rock And Roll.” Total classics to be sure.
The final page has a “Guitar Tab Glossary,” which completely explains how to read tablature with examples that make perfect sense. Besides the notations of which strings at which frets to play, there are also descriptions of how and in what manner to bend notes, to articulate notes, to use harmonics, and at what rhythms one is to play.
In short, Led Zeppelin: Easy Guitar Anthology contains everything you need to know to play those great songs. Now get your Jr. Robert Plant, John Bonham, and John Paul Jones guys together — and get with it. The age-old siren song of the garage is calling, and this Anthology holds the magic key.
Article first published as Book Review: Led Zeppelin: Easy Guitar Anthology by Alfred Publishing Staff on Blogcritics.