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Author Topic: John Paul Jones and the Mellotron  (Read 11215 times)

PaulyD

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John Paul Jones and the Mellotron
« on: March 30, 2007, 12:58:22 AM »

I was just looking over the GForce Software M-Tron page. The demos really sound amazing and I will definitely be buying this.

However, typical of anything I've ever found online about Mellotrons, nobody ever notes John Paul Jones' work with Led Zeppelin as essential listening for Mellotron. This has always baffled me. I thought his work on Stairway to Heaven, Kashmir and The Rain Song were beautiful examples of Mellotron music. I was always particularly fond of The Rain Song and found out later that JPJ came up with the idea of using a volume pedal with the Mellotron on this track to give the strings a more natural attack. I thought that was pretty darn clever and innovative.

John Paul Jones, if you're lurking, you do great work, sir!

Paul

max cooper

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Re: John Paul Jones and the Mellotron
« Reply #1 on: April 20, 2007, 10:44:01 AM »

cool page about JPJ's keyboard habits:

http://www.geocities.com/jpjkeys/

Interesting historical note: the guitar intro on the Beatles "Bungalow Bill" is a Mellotron "sample".

So if I used that passage in a song, who would I pay?
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Jon Hodgson

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Re: John Paul Jones and the Mellotron
« Reply #2 on: May 01, 2007, 07:08:15 AM »

Just to let you know...

They'll be adding John Paul Jones and those tracks onto the list in the next update, once they've got Jimmy Page to answer a question about one of the tracks.
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Brian Kehew

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Re: John Paul Jones and the Mellotron
« Reply #3 on: May 08, 2007, 11:17:44 AM »

I did the page about JPJ's keys a while ago - it was an offshoot of an article for Keyboard Magazine in Japan, who are very cool and into so many classic things like this. Thy let us use the info for this weboage, and I wish there were morewebsites like it - on things I don't know about.

I was able to email John about his keys a bit for this article. One of the things he said was CRITICAL for the Mellotron parts to sound "real" was to play lines, not just block chords. If you listen to Rain Song, it's a variety of melodies tied together, not just block chords. And the volume swells - it's all great arranging.

I think the Mellotron is very emotional, no idea why. Consider the number of people whose most classic tracks have had Mellotron: "Freebird" "Space Oddity" "Court of the Crimson King" "Strawberry Fields" "Kashmir" "Dream On" "Nights in White Satin" etc....
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Brian Kehew

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Re: John Paul Jones and the Mellotron
« Reply #4 on: May 08, 2007, 11:22:44 AM »

FWIW - Kashmir mixes real strings (hear the cellos strum) with Mellotron. Stairway doesn't have Mellotron - just wood flutes recorders (which they did recreate live on a Mellotron...)
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compasspnt

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Re: John Paul Jones and the Mellotron
« Reply #5 on: May 08, 2007, 08:55:29 PM »

Good arranging is always the key, and of course, that's what John was before LZ...a professional arranger, usually of strings.

Block chords are almost always a bad idea for {EDIT: "real"} strings.
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jwhynot

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Re: John Paul Jones and the Mellotron
« Reply #6 on: May 11, 2007, 01:03:00 AM »

compasspnt wrote on Tue, 08 May 2007 17:55

Block chords are almost always a bad idea for strings.


Very true, although block chords can be very effective on Mellotron strings, especially when combined with other textures.  Sometimes I think of the string patches as an exotic ambience-stimulating component of a larger organ-like pad.

For example, "Watcher of the Skies".

Yes.  "Watcher of the Skies".

JW

PS - JPJ still knocks me out as a player and arranger.  Required reading for any bassist.
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J.J. Blair

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Re: John Paul Jones and the Mellotron
« Reply #7 on: May 13, 2007, 03:32:57 PM »

I got a call years ago that JPJ was looking for a Tron to use.  I called Jon Brion and asked if he were interested in renting it to JPJ, and as a favor, I went over grabbed the Tron and drove out to the studio, looking forward to meeting JPJ.  I wheel the thing in, set it up, and the first thing JPJ does is throw on the flutes and start to play the intro to Stairway.  Only issue is that the keyboad is being very wonky.  I had never been inside of a Tron before, mind you.  I open up the top and quickly try to decipher this Rube Goldberg contraption, and start adjusting the capstan idler pressure to try to make things better.  JPJ got annoyed that I didn't bring him the thing working up to snuff and told me to take it away.  Then he mentioned how he forgot how much work they had to do to make them sound good on Zeppelin records as he shoo'd me away.  I left in shame.

There.  That's my JPJ and Mellotron story.
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They say the heart of Rock & Roll is still beating, which is amazing if you consider all the blow it's done over the years.

"The Internet enables pompous blowhards to interact with other pompous blowhards in a big circle jerk of pomposity." - Bill Maher

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compasspnt

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Re: John Paul Jones and the Mellotron
« Reply #8 on: May 14, 2007, 10:25:43 AM »

And not an unfamiliar story.
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J.J. Blair

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Re: John Paul Jones and the Mellotron
« Reply #9 on: May 17, 2007, 07:07:12 AM »

Terry, is he a prickly pear?
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studio info

They say the heart of Rock & Roll is still beating, which is amazing if you consider all the blow it's done over the years.

"The Internet enables pompous blowhards to interact with other pompous blowhards in a big circle jerk of pomposity." - Bill Maher

"The negative aspects of this business, not only will continue to prevail, but will continue to accelerate in madness. Conditions aren't going to get better, because the economics of rock and roll are getting closer and closer to the economics of Big Business America." - Bill Graham

compasspnt

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Re: John Paul Jones and the Mellotron
« Reply #10 on: May 17, 2007, 10:28:17 AM »

I have said perhaps too much already.


But I think Jimmy preferred roses to cacti.
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J.J. Blair

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Re: John Paul Jones and the Mellotron
« Reply #11 on: May 17, 2007, 08:14:37 PM »

Hey, there's no crime in saying, "My friend is a genius, but he can be impatient and temperamental in the studio."  
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studio info

They say the heart of Rock & Roll is still beating, which is amazing if you consider all the blow it's done over the years.

"The Internet enables pompous blowhards to interact with other pompous blowhards in a big circle jerk of pomposity." - Bill Maher

"The negative aspects of this business, not only will continue to prevail, but will continue to accelerate in madness. Conditions aren't going to get better, because the economics of rock and roll are getting closer and closer to the economics of Big Business America." - Bill Graham

Ashermusic

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Re: John Paul Jones and the Mellotron
« Reply #12 on: May 18, 2007, 11:20:22 AM »

J.J. Blair wrote on Fri, 18 May 2007 01:14

Hey, there's no crime in saying, "My friend is a genius, but he can be impatient and temperamental in the studio."  



No it is not a crime but it can be bad politics.
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compasspnt

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Re: John Paul Jones and the Mellotron
« Reply #13 on: May 18, 2007, 03:11:35 PM »

Let's just say that some people are harder to work with than others, and this is no reflection at all on their talents.

Maybe they are on a higher plane, and frustrated with the rest of us.
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