There are many different ways of learning music. Many of the lessons at Mandolins Heal The World include standard music notation and tablature, but some do not. Some music is best learned by ear, video and imitating. Some music is simply very complicated to write out while being quite simple to play. Rock, blues, and some bluegrass notations would require a classically trained musician to read them while the original artists can't read music at all. The funny thing is, that while the classically trained person might be able to read the music, it will not have the right feel simply because they are reading it. When is the last time you saw a great rock, blues or bluegrass band reading sheet music? During the time that this video was on YouTube, I had hundreds of requests for tablature. What I have decided to do for this presentation of this song is included some printed material, but not a note for note transcription of what I am playing or of what was on the original recording.
I see this type of arrangement as a sketch that hints at the original recording but utilizes the strength of the mandolin as the featured instrument. The mandolin was used in the original recording but was not featured as the main melody as it was a vocal song and Robert Plant's vocal melody and lyrics were the main focus. The backing of layered acoustic guitars and mandolins made a perfect soundscape to support the vocal. Along with the YouTube video (which is fairly low-rez and fuzzy), I have included PDF printouts of the chord progression and the interesting form of this song which includes verses, two separate bridges, and a signature mandolin lick that I use to cue or lead into each verse. I have also included a second video that breaks down the picking pattern a bit more and explains a bit about the fills used in the YouTube video. Most of us baby boomers that know this song will automatically start singing the melody upon seeing the lyrics so I have included a lyric sheet.
The process I suggest for learning this song is to learn the chords and the picking pattern for the verses and bridges first. Feel free to sing along if you wish. Next try finding the main melody notes (don't worry about getting it exactly as Robert sang it) while maintaining as much of the rhythm picking pattern as you can. After a little practice, you will end up with an arrangement that includes some of the melody and some of the rhythm, but will sound great on the mandolin! Lastly I have included practice tracks so you can practice playing melody and the chords for this great acoustic Led Zeppelin song.