Transcription: Led Zeppelin's Black Dog


When I was a kid I made it my mission to learn every Led Zeppelin song there was. In fact, you could probably say Jimmy Page taught me how to play the guitar as I played nearly nothing else (except maybe for a little Deep Purple, Aerosmith and Yes (yes: Yes)) thrown in until I was about 15.

There was nothing more satisfying than being able to figure out and play one of Jimmy Page's riffs. Turns out it's still pretty damn satisfying.

I was recently teaching a new student the Pentatonic scale and after having played it for a bit we reached the "so what now?" point. Black Dog is what.

This song is like a dissertation on how to make music from that scale. Sure, it has a few approach notes but in essence it's pure Pentatonic.

Funnily enough, this one was written by John Paul Jones who said "I wanted to try an electric blues with a rolling bass part. But it couldn't be too simple. I wanted it to turn back on itself."

I think he succeeded on this count. This thing is slippery as hell between the shifting rhythms of the riff and what John Bonham is doing. It's easy to interpret the instrumental sections in varying ways but as I transcribed it I went with what seemed to make the most sense taking into account the drums, harmonic motion and the phrasing.

No matter, the point of this transcription is to get the notes under your fingers so you can play along with the record (mp3?) or with your cover band. It's a good way to start.


This transcription is through the first chorus. I've notated the vocal line as well for reference but did not include the first one.

You can download a PDF of the chart here.

1 comment:

  1. I love Led Zeppelin. I grew up with it. When I had my first guitar lesson my teacher asked me what I want to learn first I told him "Stairway to heaven!" I learned the first 25% of it and gave it up. But I think 25% of Stairway is not that bad for a very bad guitar player like me.
    :-)))

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