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#2937136 - 07/10/18 11:03 AM Jethro Tull
GRollins Offline
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In the spirit of recent threads asking about how to play this and that...does anyone know of a reliable transcription of that long, winding jazz piano intro to Jethro Tull's Locomotive Breath? I looked around a few years ago and found several attempts, but even at my non-expert level (I said that so you don't have to point it out), I was able to see that the transcriptions were flawed...and if I could spot problems, you know it's pretty bad.

Being a masochist at heart, I'm considering making another run at the part. No, I'm still not competent to play it, but a guy can dream, can't he?

Grey
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#2937140 - 07/10/18 11:24 AM Re: Jethro Tull [Re: GRollins]
AnotherScott Offline
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I play it pretty accurately, but it would be a bear to transcribe. Anyone want to recommend a simple transcription program you can trigger in real time from a MIDI keyboard? This one could be a challenge because it's not in straight time, though I could "square it up" some just to get the notes in.
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#2937145 - 07/10/18 11:44 AM Re: Jethro Tull [Re: AnotherScott]
timwat Offline
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Is this close?
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#2937150 - 07/10/18 12:11 PM Re: Jethro Tull [Re: timwat]
El Lobo Offline
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I'm in a once-a-month-gig band and the BL always does Locomotive Breath. He likes to do a flute solo in it. I'm keys and sax in that band and the BL asked me if I could do the piano intro. I listened to it and told him no. He said if I just noodled around (which to my ear is what is happening in the original recording) it would be ok by him. I listened to it again, played along, and still said no, nobody will know the difference if I don't do the piano intro and I'm not going to waste my time to do an intro for 1 song for a once-a-month gig. Besides, I really dislike the song in the first place. So the BL does a flute intro and then we go into the song. Problem solved.

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#2937154 - 07/10/18 12:23 PM Re: Jethro Tull [Re: El Lobo]
Mark Schmieder Offline
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Hah, we did it at band practice last week, but don't have a keyboardist and our amazing lead guitarist blew me away when he played it effortlessly on his guitar! I'll ask him tomorrow if he did that by ear or via transcription.
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#2937157 - 07/10/18 12:30 PM Re: Jethro Tull [Re: El Lobo]
ChiefDanG Offline
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https://youtu.be/_PBNwHjZl2Q

If you're more of a visual type, this is pretty cool.
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#2937165 - 07/10/18 12:55 PM Re: Jethro Tull [Re: ChiefDanG]
Bobby Simons Offline
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Quote:
He said if I just noodled around (which to my ear is what is happening in the original recording). . . .

It may have been. But after you hear something a thousand times, noodling transforms into gospel, imprinted into our musical memory. And when you hear it even slightly off, you know.

And when you play it slightly off. . . we know. And the keyboard players in the audience catch each other's eye, shake their head grimly, turn and make their way to the bar to alleviate their disappointment with a microbrew.

And now, you have to sell your stuff.
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#2937172 - 07/10/18 01:20 PM Re: Jethro Tull [Re: timwat]
davedoerfler Offline
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Originally Posted By: timwat
Is this close?


looking pretty close, Tim. wink
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#2937173 - 07/10/18 01:38 PM Re: Jethro Tull [Re: Bobby Simons]
AnotherScott Offline
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Originally Posted By: Bobby Simons
Quote:
He said if I just noodled around (which to my ear is what is happening in the original recording). . . .

It may have been. But after you hear something a thousand times, noodling transforms into gospel, imprinted into our musical memory. And when you hear it even slightly off, you know.

Live, John Evan always played it the same way. So either it was composed, or he immediately learned what he'd noodled.

The youtube and the sheet music both look good to me (though I didn't play the sheet and wouldn't swear to each accidental, it just basically looked right).
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#2937183 - 07/10/18 02:27 PM Re: Jethro Tull [Re: AnotherScott]
Mark Schmieder Offline
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Yes, I was about to comment on that. It is interesting how that intro was always played the same way; whereas other stuff varied quite a bit, due to a mild jazz/blues influence within the group as well as changes in line-up over the years and also getting bored if things don't change up a bit.

Given Evan's background and training, I suspect it was composed, over the course of some home taping sessions and picking what worked best (or in the studio with the band, from some basic ideas that then got improvised over and committed to memory once the best take was chosen).
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#2937189 - 07/10/18 02:33 PM Re: Jethro Tull [Re: timwat]
jerrythek Offline
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Originally Posted By: timwat
Is this close?


Yes, very close (for the notes) much easier to just feel the rhythms than get them perfect-ish on paper. Is that a word?

I did notice that in bar 11 I would add a LH C above the D for that Dsus chord, and for the next C7 I would add the Bb above the C in the LH. The RH chord should have an E at the bottom... the F is a bit of a clash, but I strong the hear the E below it.

Bars 13-14 the LH should be tied/held across the barline. And the LH A and G should start right on the downbeat of bar 16.

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#2937192 - 07/10/18 02:41 PM Re: Jethro Tull [Re: timwat]
SteveCoscia Offline
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Originally Posted By: timwat
Is this close?

This is real good. Sure wish this was around in 1976. Better late than never. Thanks.
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#2937195 - 07/10/18 02:53 PM Re: Jethro Tull [Re: El Lobo]
sagetunes Offline
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Originally Posted By: El Lobo
I'm in a once-a-month-gig band and the BL always does Locomotive Breath. He likes to do a flute solo in it. I'm keys and sax in that band and the BL asked me if I could do the piano intro. I listened to it and told him no. He said if I just noodled around (which to my ear is what is happening in the original recording) it would be ok by him. I listened to it again, played along, and still said no, nobody will know the difference if I don't do the piano intro and I'm not going to waste my time to do an intro for 1 song for a once-a-month gig. Besides, I really dislike the song in the first place. So the BL does a flute intro and then we go into the song. Problem solved.


I'm in a band that does this--so I thought I'd learn it. That didn't last too long. So now what I do is tease some other totally unrelated tune for a minute or two, and just make sure I end in an Em, sometimes D. The teases so far--Backstreets by Bruce, Go Now by Moody Blues, Little Wing by Jimi, Paint it Black, Elenor Rigby, a few others.

Although the Youtube clip almost makes me wanna revisit doing it right.
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#2937214 - 07/10/18 05:07 PM Re: Jethro Tull [Re: sagetunes]
Jon G Offline
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Loc: Los Angeles CA
Nobody seems to like the mid 80s JT but I thought Peter Vitesse did a great job. The guitar intro is really heavy and I liked how they worked the Frankie Goes to Hollywood lick (on a Chroma?) into the chorus.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MtCWNp3Wjok

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#2937218 - 07/10/18 05:38 PM Re: Jethro Tull [Re: Jon G]
AnotherScott Offline
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Vetesse did a great job with Tull, probably their best keyboard player. He did great playing and composition work on the Ian Anderson solo album, Walk Into Light.

What Frankie Goes to Hollywood lick? If you're talking about the keyboard part I think you're talking about, it's kind of from "Saboteur", one of the songs on what was then Tull's current album, Under Wraps. But maybe it's similar to a FTGH thing? Here's the Tull song it's from...
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#2937236 - 07/10/18 11:23 PM Re: Jethro Tull [Re: AnotherScott]
Zalman Stern Offline
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Having once been a huge Jethro Tull fan, my first thought is very few bands want to be covering Locomotive Breath. More for the combination of it being iconic and there being little more to say than just because there's a bunch of stuff to get right. I'm sure Dream Theater could elevate it but... Availing myself of the vast access to piles of music we have now confirms this intuition.

Styx did it on a 2005 album of all covers I thankfully did not know existed. They of course omit the intro. The W.A.S.P. version isn't half bad in it's own way, though no keys intro just drums. A band called Bonfire has an modern heavy production keyboard intro. Of course a lot of the covers are because there's a flautist in the band.

I'm not sure the song gets better with all the words enunciated :-)

-Z-

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#2937244 - 07/11/18 02:28 AM Re: Jethro Tull [Re: Zalman Stern]
Markay Offline
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If you choose this song then you are trying to recreate a time in music when the classics met rock. Bouree from Living in the Past being a JT example. I am certain that most keyboard players could do a better job of this than me, but then they are likely never to be in my audience so I fudge it out to satisfy the punters.

If an expert comes along later I use my standard response to those who critique my guitar playinng, "I wanted to make it my own memorable performance". Buying me a beer?

But what I enjoy most about Locomotive Breath is after the intro switching to guitar, spreading my legs, letting my basic instincts lose, channelling my inner Malcolm, locking in with drums and sharpening up my palm muting.
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#2937278 - 07/11/18 06:34 AM Re: Jethro Tull [Re: AnotherScott]
GRollins Offline
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Yeah...this would be one of those occasions where you'd see "Freely" at the top of the first page, followed by changing tempos every other bar.

timwat,
Thanks for the PDF. I hope to get enough time to look at it in detail later today.

ChiefDanG,
Thanks for the YouTube link. With luck the kids will leave me alone long enough that I can compare it, timwat's PDF, and my notes (assuming that I can locate them...I think I know where they are, but I haven't looked yet and things tend to wander off).

I want to make clear that this isn't a band situation. As I've said elsewhere, I have no band and (at least in this area) have close to zero chance of putting a band together that would do anything other than Country, Southern Rock, or religious music, none of which appeal to me. This is entirely, purely for my own education and enjoyment. Some people want to learn Bach or Beethoven and spend hours perfecting a piece, even though they'll never play it where anyone other than family members can hear. I want to learn the intro to Locomotive Breath simply because I love the song. It's rare to hear an extended piano entry to a rock song and when I do run across one, I don't necessarily like them. This one I adore, partly because of the jazzy aspect.

Elton John has a song with a long intro (Love Lies Bleeding...? something like that) and I like that, too, but that's another day, another thread. Tull first.

I have an Aqualung CD that has bonus tracks, one of which is Ian Anderson talking about the making of the album. He specifically addresses the difficulty he had with Locomotive Breath, in that he had a concept in mind, but couldn't get it across to the band. He doesn't directly address the piano intro, as to whether it was composed or improvised, but I get the sense that it was probably patched together from a number of improvisations, then learned by rote after it gelled. I've read that Yes would glue bits and pieces of songs together, then learn the song from the final recorded version in a manner not altogether different from the way that we would approach their music. Locomotive Breath apparently had a difficult birth and there was some tugging and negotiation involved. I'm not sure that it ended up being the way anyone--including Anderson--originally envisioned.

Be that as it may, I'm just interested in using the intro to torture myself as I learn keyboards. Learning something like Chopsticks is abhorrent to me. I can't stand the music to begin with. I need something that I actually like so I can get through the piece without puking.

Then there's the fact that I'm fascinated by the structure of the piece. It's not a "standard" rock song in any sense. To begin with, the piano intro is roughly half the length of the song, it's solo (close enough, anyway), and it wanders, rather than following some boring, predictable formula. I'm sure that there are any number of people who hate it for precisely the same reasons that I like it, but I'm right and they're wrong...so there!

Grey
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#2937324 - 07/11/18 09:06 AM Re: Jethro Tull [Re: Mark Schmieder]
Tonysounds Offline
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Originally Posted By: Mark Schmieder
Yes, I was about to comment on that. It is interesting how that intro was always played the same way; whereas other stuff varied quite a bit, due to a mild jazz/blues influence within the group as well as changes in line-up over the years and also getting bored if things don't change up a bit.

Given Evan's background and training, I suspect it was composed, over the course of some home taping sessions and picking what worked best (or in the studio with the band, from some basic ideas that then got improvised over and committed to memory once the best take was chosen).


Meh to "always played the same way". He/they grabbed the main themes, but in actuality, if you youtube it, or peruse some bootlegs, they DID NOT stick to the intro, and rarely doubled it exactly.

Great footage exists of the Bursting Out tour, and you'll see...he goes there, but he doesn't GO THERE. grin
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#2937337 - 07/11/18 09:22 AM Re: Jethro Tull [Re: Zalman Stern]
AnotherScott Offline
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Originally Posted By: Zalman Stern
I'm not sure the song gets better with all the words enunciated :-)

The lyrics are a bit odd! One thing to keep in mind is that the entire second side of the Aqualung album (where you'll find LB) has its own name, "My God" and consists of 5 songs all somehow about our spiritual beliefs and man's place in the bigger picture, though LB is the song where it is the most obtuse. This is what Ian Anderson had to say about it:

Quote:
Despite the title, it’s actually about the problems of population explosion and the demands society puts on us as a consequence. We’re on a train heading in the future, whatever that might lead, and we cannot get off. The song is meant to be a bit scary and threatening.


from https://www.loudersound.com/features/ian-anderson-s-favourite-jethro-tull-songs
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#2937347 - 07/11/18 10:15 AM Re: Jethro Tull [Re: AnotherScott]
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I used to do Locomotive Breath as a single keyboardist/one man band. Didn’t sound terrible. I enjoyed the flute solo. I did a bastardized version of the intro. I still play ‘Living In The Past’ occasionally. Fun to play.
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#2937356 - 07/11/18 10:45 AM Re: Jethro Tull [Re: Synthaholic]
tarkus Offline
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Very helpful... I always fudged it but the old band swapped it out for Hymn #43 and later that was swapped for Cross Eyed Mary.
Learn that piano part on Hymn #43 they said... I said uh no dice! Great structure to improvise around though!

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#2937377 - 07/11/18 12:15 PM Re: Jethro Tull [Re: AnotherScott]
El Lobo Offline
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I downloaded the transcription and watched the utoob tutorial. I'll work on it. Thanks everybody.

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#2937479 - 07/12/18 02:02 AM Re: Jethro Tull [Re: AnotherScott]
Jon G Offline
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Registered: 12/03/09
Posts: 81
Loc: Los Angeles CA
Originally Posted By: AnotherScott
What Frankie Goes to Hollywood lick?


In the you tube video I posted of Locomotive Breath from the 1984 Under Wraps tour, Vetesse plays a little of the synth brass lick from FGTH's Relax and Dave Pegg plays a little of the Relax bass line at the end of the chorus(?) "And the train—it won't stop going etc..." Pretty funny.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MtCWNp3Wjok

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#2937596 - 07/12/18 11:29 AM Re: Jethro Tull [Re: Jon G]
AnotherScott Offline
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Originally Posted By: Jon G
Originally Posted By: AnotherScott
What Frankie Goes to Hollywood lick?


In the you tube video I posted of Locomotive Breath from the 1984 Under Wraps tour, Vetesse plays a little of the synth brass lick from FGTH's Relax and Dave Pegg plays a little of the Relax bass line at the end of the chorus(?) "And the train—it won't stop going etc..." Pretty funny.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MtCWNp3Wjok

Ah. Yes, I saw that video when it was posted earlier, but I had never heard (or even heard of) that FGTH song, so I didn't get the reference. As you may have seen, I posted a link to "Saboteur", another Tull song from that same year... and it's basically got the same lick. So I don't know if Vetesse was quoting Frankie, or quoting himself, or quoting himself quoting frankie (intentionally or not) in another song!
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#2937668 - 07/12/18 09:09 PM Re: Jethro Tull [Re: GRollins]
waygetter Offline
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Originally Posted By: GRollins
I want to learn the intro to Locomotive Breath simply because I love the song.

That's all you need. When you nail it, play it for someone, you'll give them (and yourself) a great moment and a great memory.
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#2937682 - 07/13/18 01:24 AM Re: Jethro Tull [Re: waygetter]
GRollins Offline
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Originally Posted By: waygetter
Originally Posted By: GRollins
I want to learn the intro to Locomotive Breath simply because I love the song.

That's all you need. When you nail it, play it for someone, you'll give them (and yourself) a great moment and a great memory.


When I nail it?
Surely you jest!
I managed to eek out a couple of hours for music yesterday and spent my precious time...soldering cables. Oh, well.

I'm rewiring my studio preparatory to trying to get some recording done. Finally got some compression and reverb in and that's got to be patched into the rest of the system. While I was at it, I figured that I might as well go ahead and replace some of the old mismatched cables with new stuff. Ugh. Lotsa fiddly messing around that didn't produce music, either recordings of existing stuff or new material.

I told my wife that it's like planting a garden, then spending all your time weeding. Necessary, yes, but it's not the same as food on your plate. I try to be patient, but it ain't always easy. I've been trying to get to this stage for several years. I've got some tracks that will be solo piano or guitar; I'll start with those. The more complex tracks will take a while to build since it's just yours truly as "chief cook and bottle washer." Still have no inkling what I'm going to do about drums. I'm thinking that it will be easier to shop for other musical folk if I have something I can play for them to show them the direction I want to go.

Anyway, back to Tull...my hope/intention is to spend a few hours today elbow deep in bees before the heat hits full force, then attend to a few smaller tasks, then...maybe...if I'm lucky...spend a few moments on Locomotive Breath. I looked for the notes I took a while back and was unable to find them. I've got one more place I can look and if they aren't there, I'll spend a couple of minutes cussing and fuming, then rebuild with the resources that you folks have kindly provided. That other stuff was flawed anyway--mostly based on the best transcription I could find at the time, followed by me painstakingly trying to correct their mistakes using The Amazing Slow Downer. Tedious and frustrating. However, I wanted to be able to compare what I had with the PDF timwat provided, which may or may not come to pass.

timwat,
What's the source of your transcription?

Grey
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#2937833 - 07/14/18 12:16 AM Re: Jethro Tull [Re: GRollins]
GRollins Offline
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Registered: 09/01/17
Posts: 1208
I managed to find part of my notes from my previous attempt to transcribe/correct the intro to Locomotive Breath. There are differences almost from the start when compared with the PDF timwat provided, but it will be a while before I get a chance to work with them. The transcription file I found wasn't as long as I'd remembered. I knew it was incomplete, but it was actually about half the length I thought it was, leaving me wondering if there's another version lying around hereabouts. If so, I'm running short of places to look.

Oh, well.

The weather wasn't suitable for checking the bee hive, so I spent a while cleaning and reorganizing my studio area. Made some progress...yay! It was during the cleanup that I discovered the Locomotive Breath file, so maybe I should spend some more time cleaning.

Grey
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