The Music Of JC Harris

positively the most intelligent progressive rock on this here planet

positively the most intelligent progressive rock on this here planet


Cartoon Time Signatures Part I

A couple of gigs into Fall Tour 2014 Post gig response. We discuss Led Zeppelin and odd time signatures in lots of musics.

RCGood show?

JCHYou’d know better than me. 😀 You never know how people really feel, right? Everyone showed up.

RCEveryone I spoke with seemed knocked out by the bass solo. Although I must say I was surprised. You doing a cover? Using loops? Anyone who has read your rants would be quite shocked.

JCHWell, that’s not a ‘cover’ really. I have no objection to ‘loops’ as a seasoning. I just can’t stand a whole evening of that stuff. I think three minutes is a good limit.

RCCome to think of it, it was sort of an Jaco homage.

JCHI always said: the album I wanted to hear was “Robert Fripp joins Weather Report!” Or “Jaco joins King Crimson!” So there you have it.

RCCome to think of it, it was sort of an Jaco homage. There was one weird thing. People tried clapping along to the loop thing and it just didn’t work. There was something odd going on.

JCH(Laughs) That’s what I call Cartoon Time. You were showing me that transcription of Stairway To Heaven, right? I mean, it’s been 40 years and people still argue about that. So let’s talk about Led Zeppelin.

RCI thought you weren’t a Zep fan?

JCHIt took me a long time to appreciate their greatness. I always thought they were the greatest riff machine of all time. I loved the grooves. But I thought the lyrics were stupid beyond belief. And the guitar solos were so sloppy. But something grew on me and I’ve come to think it’s because of the gigs I played: blues, ethnic gigs. circuses. Cartoon time.

I played a lot of old-time blues gigs starting in college. Old school. And old school guys don’t count.

Ever go to a blues jam and you hear how long every chorus can take?


The old guys don’t worry about that. The verse lasts as long as they wanna sing. If their line only needs 10 bars? That verse is 10 bars. Or nine and a half bars. You have to watch. And they were really insular. They couldn’t stand anyone who’d say, “that’s not right.” And timing?

And when I played a lot of circus gigs and that’s also a deal where there are starts/stops. The reading is ri-DONC-ulus.

Now listen to a Bugs Bunny cartoon.

See the thing about all these is that they’re musics that sound perfectly natural… so long as you don’t try to clap along.

I am certain that Zeppelin really internalised a lot of this sort of thing. The real old blues for example. I think that was intentional. Stairway To Heaven has tempo changes, time signature changes but it doesn’t sound like it. It’s completely natural.

RCBut then there are the songs like ‘The Crunge’.

JCHOh sure. Bonham also liked to be challenged. That’s part of being a drummer. But what I’m talking about was, I’m sure, Page and Plant who dug the blues; creating drama. I haven’t heard it in a long time, but The Crunge kills me because it goes through a bunch of time changes as Plant is singing his gobbledygook.

What I’ve always seemed to do, and this is completely unintentional, is sort of the same deal. A lot of stuff I do has a couple of extra beats here or there. I want a phrase to have a few extra words, so that bar is seven beats instead of four. But it’s not like I’m trying to come up with a beat in seven. I have some words and I make the phrase fit the words. I’m not trying to fit the words into the phrase. That’s just the blues.

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