The Doors And Their Many Different Rhythms

MortSahlFan

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John Densmore was one underrated drummer... I think this is another reason their music was great and distinctive. I've heard early demos (and early 1966 live London Fog recordings) with straight rock (4/4) beats, and what a difference it made. The first song on record (and the first song I ever heard) is:

Break on Through (Bossanova)
Light My Fire (Latin)
Moonlight Drive (Tango)
Cars Hiss By My Window (Blues)
Love Her Madly (Rock)
Wintertime Love (Jazz)
Roadhouse Blues (Shuffle)
Strange Days (Tribal)
The WASP (Military cadence?)
Spanish Caravan (consistent pounding 2nd verse)
Peace Frog - Disco beat
Wild Child - also has an interesting rhythm on the verse.
Five To One - again, Military-ish
The Changeling - funky
Love Me Two Times - rare to hear a verse with a shuffle on the snare with a roll and back to the snare.

Most of the unique rhythms are in the verse, with more traditional choruses..

Am I forgetting anything?
 

MortSahlFan

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As much attention as Morrison gets, the band was insanely good and deserves as much of the focus. Watch live clips and you can see they're a real rock band. It doesn't quite come across on the records.
I'm surprised none of the other three did anything great after 1971, though. I've listened to their solo stuff, even The Butts Band, but nothing was very good unfortunately.

I can't wait to read Robby's autobiography in 5 days though!
 

richardh253

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It's amazing that the other three put up with the narcissism of Morrison, who clearly believed in his own image (full disclosure: when I was 15 in 1968 I wrote adoring acrostic poems to "Jim"). But this thread did remind me of an article from, I think, 1968 in (I think) LOOK magazine (or LIFE) by Joan Didion, reprinted in her 1979 book "The White Album." Take a look and imagine what a 'day in the life of a Door" was like in 1968...good grief.

Waiting For Morrison

By Joan Didion


It is six, seven o’clock of an early spring evening, and I am sitting on the cold vinyl-tile floor of a sound studio on Sunset Boulevard, watching a rock group called The Doors record a rhythm track. On the whole my attention is less than entirely engaged by the preoccupations of rock groups (I have already heard about acid as a transitional stage and also about the Maharishi and even about universal love, and after a while it all sounds like marmalade skies to me), but The Doors are different. The Doors interest me. They have nothing in common with the gentle Beatles. They lack the contemporary conviction that love is brotherhood and the Kama Sutra. Their music insists that love is sex and sex is death and therein lies salvation. The Doors are the Norman Mailers of the Top 40, missionaries of apocalyptic sex.

Right now they are gathered together in uneasy symbiosis to make their album, and the studio is cold and the lights are too bright and there are masses of wires and banks of ominous blinking electronic circuitry with which the new musicians live so casually. There are three of the four Doors. There is a bass player borrowed from a group called Clear Light. There are the producer and the engineer and the road manager and a couple of girls and a Siberian Husky named Nikki with one gray eye and one gold. There are paper bags half filled with hard boiled eggs and chicken livers and cheeseburgers and empty bottles of apple juice and California ros’e.

There is everything The Doors need to cut the rest of this third album except one thing, the fourth Door, the lead singer, Jim Morrison, a twenty four year old graduate of UCLA who wears black vinyl pants and no underwear and tends to suggest some range of the possible just beyond a suicide pact. It is Jim Morrison who describes The Doors as “erotic politicians.” It is Morrison who defines the group’s interests as “anything about revolt, disorder, chaos about activity that appears to have no meaning.”

It is Morrison who got arrested in New Haven in December for giving an “indecent” performance. It is Morrison who writes most of The Doors lyrics, the peculiar character of which is to reflect either an ambiguous paranoia or a quite unambiguous insistence upon love death as the ultimate high.

And it is Morrison who is missing. It is Ray Manzarek and Robbie Krieger and John Densmore who make The Doors sound the way they do, and maybe it is Manzarek and Krieger and Densmore who make seventeen out of twenty interviewees on American Bandstand prefer The Doors over all other groups, but it Morrison who gets up there in black vinyl pants with no underwear and projects the idea, and it is Morrison they are waiting on now.

Ray Manzarek is hunched over a Gibson keyboard. “You think Morrison’s gonna come back?” he says to no one in particular.

No one answers.

“So we can do some vocals?” Manzarek says.

The producer is working with the tape of the rhythm track they just recorded. “I hope so,” he says without looking up.

“Yeh,” Manzarek says. “So do I.”

It is a long while later. Morrison arrives. He has on his black vinyl pants, and he sits down on a leather couch in front of the four big blank speakers, and closes his eyes. The curious aspect of Morrison’s arrival is this: No one acknowledges it by so much as a flicker of an eye. Robbie Krieger continues working out a guitar passage. John Densmore tunes his drums. Manzarek sits at the control console and twirls a corkscrew and lets a girl rub his shoulders. The girl does not look at Morrison, although he is in her direct line of sight. An hour or so passes, and still no one has spoken to Morrison. Then Morrison speaks to Manzarek. He speaks almost in a whisper, as if he were wrestling the words from behind some disabling aphasia.

“It’s an hour to West Covina,” he says. “I was thinking, maybe we should spend the night out there after we play.”

Manzarek puts down the corkscrew. “Why?” He says.

“Instead of coming back.”

Manzarek shrugs. “We were planning on coming back.”

“Well, I was thinking, we could rehearse out there.”

Manzarek says nothing.

“We could get in a rehearsal, there’s a Holiday Inn next door.”

“We could do that,” Manzarek says. “Or we could rehearse Sunday, in town.”

“I guess so.” Morrison pauses. “Will the place be ready to rehearse Sunday?”

Manzarek looks at him for a while. “No,” he says then.

I count the control knobs on the electric console. There are seventy six. I am unsure in whose favor the dialogue was resolved or if it was resolved at all. Robbie Krieger picks at his guitar, and says he needs a fuzz box. The producer suggests that he borrow one from the Buffalo Springfield in the next studio. Krieger shrugs.

Morrison sits down on the leather couch again and leans back. He lights a match. He studies the flame awhile and then very slowly, very deliberately, lowers it to the fly of his black vinyl pants. Manzarek watches him. The girl who is rubbing Manzarek’s shoulders does not look at anyone.

There is a sense that no one is going to leave this room, ever. It will be some weeks before The Doors finish recording this album. I do not see it through.
 

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hefty

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Yeah for most people the Doors are pretty much just Jim Morrison, his lyrics, and Ray Manzarek's organ. I can sort of see how they aren't regarded as highly given all that. But yeah Densmore's stuff is cool and Robby Krieger is my favorite part of the Doors.
 

equipmentdork

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I dunno, that article sounds like the down time at most recording projects I have been present for. Someone is always missing, people talk about where we're going after the session is over, etc. It sounded like something was being prepared or perhaps there were technical issues the writer was unaware of.

Here's another thing that happens pretty much every time: trying to get a simple idea to someone in the control room, and there's either a conversation going on or the guy is having an ADHD moment. Either way, it's like the "I want you to stay here and make sure 'e doesn't leave" scene from Holy Grail. You can hear John getting exasperated. It's funny. And to me, Densmore was THE most valuable player and I steal from him all the time.


Dan
 

dcrigger

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I think one of the most interesting rhythmic trait of the Doors - and really quite unique, I believe - was their overt use of 1/4 note triplets. Not just set of 1/4 triplets - or a bar of them (though they did those things as well) - but big long strings of them, like Light My Fire.

I don't recall any band doing that, again, so blatantly.
 

MortSahlFan

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I think one of the most interesting rhythmic trait of the Doors - and really quite unique, I believe - was their overt use of 1/4 note triplets. Not just set of 1/4 triplets - or a bar of them (though they did those things as well) - but big long strings of them, like Light My Fire.

I don't recall any band doing that, again, so blatantly.
Can you give examples? I never took lessons. If someone says Pink Floyd's "Money" is in 7/4 timing, I can usually work backwards and figure it out, but luckily, I've never been asked to play charts, etc.
 

dcrigger

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Can you give examples? I never took lessons. If someone says Pink Floyd's "Money" is in 7/4 timing, I can usually work backwards and figure it out, but luckily, I've never been asked to play charts, etc.
But some quick basics to help explain...

you obviously get that that Light My Fire is in 4/4 - there are 4 beats to each bar and each beats is called a quarter note.

The main groove hit/cymbal part is in eighth notes - two per beat. 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &

Alternately if there were three evenly spaced in a beat, we would call them 1/8th note triplets - 1 ti ta 2 ti ta 3 ti ta 4 ti ta

Now if we were to only play every other 1/8th note triplet - we would call those Quarter Note Triplets - 1 ta 2 ti 3 ta 4 ti 1

3 notes over two quarter notes = quarter note triplets.

Now with all of that in mind - check out Light My Firearm 2:43 - 2:58 in the keyboard solo and the end of the gtr solo from 5:04 - 5:28

Lot's of quarter note triplets.

 

MortSahlFan

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But some quick basics to help explain...

you obviously get that that Light My Fire is in 4/4 - there are 4 beats to each bar and each beats is called a quarter note.

The main groove hit/cymbal part is in eighth notes - two per beat. 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &

Alternately if there were three evenly spaced in a beat, we would call them 1/8th note triplets - 1 ti ta 2 ti ta 3 ti ta 4 ti ta

Now if we were to only play every other 1/8th note triplet - we would call those Quarter Note Triplets - 1 ta 2 ti 3 ta 4 ti 1

3 notes over two quarter notes = quarter note triplets.

Now with all of that in mind - check out Light My Firearm 2:43 - 2:58 in the keyboard solo and the end of the gtr solo from 5:04 - 5:28

Lot's of quarter note triplets.

Thanks for explaining. I'll never understand any of that that (but I can play any Doors song with ease), but I had a feeling it would be those two sections. I know the first section, John keeps his bass drum steady.
 

wflkurt

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Thanks for explaining. I'll never understand any of that that (but I can play any Doors song with ease), but I had a feeling it would be those two sections. I know the first section, John keeps his bass drum steady.

It also happens in Love Me two Times as wells as When The Musics Over. I hate when I hear a cover band do Love Me Two Times and they play those accents as if they were all just 3/4 or just plain straight accents. The key to making it sound cool is to keep the bass drum straight while accenting the three part so that it gives you that three over four feel. I took a lot from John when I was in high school. I didn't know a whole lot about the Doors as I was mostly listening to groups like Van Halen and stuff like that. I loved all that stuff but up until that point, I never really thought much about my left hand. I mean I knew that I needed to keep steady backbeats and use it for ghost notes and stuff. It wasn't until I saw the Doors at the Hollywood Bowl on VHS that made me take notice. It had just come out and a friend let me borrow it.

You can see it especially in the light my fire sections where John is just accenting Ray with his left hand as he is cranking out the beat. I don't know why it didn't quite register with me earlier but that video made me realize how much weaker my left hand was compared to my right and I immediately started to really work on that. That video also gave me the first real glimpse of John's Mod Orange downbeat set and I have been obsessed with it ever since. It's pretty cool as that Hollywood Bowl video has been upgraded with the latest technology and will be shown for one night only in select theaters. I already got my tickets and I can't wait to see this on the big screen!



IMG_0741.JPG
 

Ludwigboy

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John Densmore was one underrated drummer... I think this is another reason their music was great and distinctive. I've heard early demos (and early 1966 live London Fog recordings) with straight rock (4/4) beats, and what a difference it made. The first song on record (and the first song I ever heard) is:

Break on Through (Bossanova)
Light My Fire (Latin)
Moonlight Drive (Tango)
Cars Hiss By My Window (Blues)
Love Her Madly (Rock)
Wintertime Love (Jazz)
Roadhouse Blues (Shuffle)
Strange Days (Tribal)
The WASP (Military cadence?)
Spanish Caravan (consistent pounding 2nd verse)
Peace Frog - Disco beat
Wild Child - also has an interesting rhythm on the verse.
Five To One - again, Military-ish
The Changeling - funky
Love Me Two Times - rare to hear a verse with a shuffle on the snare with a roll and back to the snare.

Most of the unique rhythms are in the verse, with more traditional choruses..

Am I forgetting anything?
I think you got most of them.....all is would add is "L.A. Woman" (maybe Jazz ?) and "People are strange" (Jazz) ..... (that's not on your list, is it?) I like Mr. Densmore's variety of style...I see so much jazz and blues influence in his playing
 

DrumTransit

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I read Densmore's biography (Riders on the Storm), and if I recall correctly, he talked about his influence from Blakey and Roach, and you can hear it in his playing. Lots of variety and nuance. Because I mainly listened to "classic rock" when I started playing drums, I took a lot of influence from Densmore. And then when I started getting more into jazz later on, I could hear some the Densmore things done by the original masters on the '50s recordings. Not just Densmore either--Mitchell, Bonham, Baker, etc.

My band plays a few Doors covers, and they're always fun to play. Peace Frog can trip us up due to all the changes, but I do love playing it.
 

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A little known fact but The Doors are the most popular opening band of all time.

Come see so and so in concert!
Doors open at 7pm!
 

MortSahlFan

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I think you got most of them.....all is would add is "L.A. Woman" (maybe Jazz ?) and "People are strange" (Jazz) ..... (that's not on your list, is it?) I like Mr. Densmore's variety of style...I see so much jazz and blues influence in his playing
L.A. Woman is straight-rock, until the Latin part, "I see your hair is burning", and then some jazz on "Mr. Mojo Risin'", which speeds up little by little.
 

JDA

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Riders On the Storm is kinda-Beboppy..
straight-eighth beboppy

 


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