ENTROPY: the tendency for a system to dissolve into its smallest, most stable elements. A highly ordered system can be described using fewer bits of information than a disordered one.
Music can be thought of as a living system, similar in many ways to the human mind. It has a syntax, a grammar, and is capable of communicating human experience. More strikingly, it evolves and adapts to its surroundings. As new genres are created and combined, a process of erosion occurs, the “system” of music seeks to reach a point at which only its most essential elements remain.
As a child I spent many nights in the desert gazing up at the sky, wondering what lies far beyond this terrestrial sphere. At that age of discovery, I was at first intimidated by the vast distance between me and the stars. I felt so insignificant compared to the beauty of the immeasurable heavens. Miles and millennia away, the priest-astronomers of ancient Egypt also looked to the sky with wonder—and they said: we are a part of this.
In ancient Egypt, these star-gazing priests were responsible for objectively interpreting the divine will of the gods, whose influence was thought to determine the fate of all mankind.1 The activities of the neteru, or universal principles of nature, were never hidden nor secret. Any person who cared to gaze up at the celestial bodies in the heavens could observe the motions and judgments of this Divine Government—thus allowing (clear weather permitting) an absolute administrative transparency. This was the royal art of reflecting the above to the below, the macrocosm to the microcosm, heaven to earth. This was the true and original purpose of ancient astrology.
My introduction to the art (read: obsession) of guitar tone initially began after discovering Jimmy Page’s work with Led Zeppelin during my teenage years. The palette of tones captured on those albums are exquisite. They range from clean, to harmonically rich overdrive, to raunchy fuzz… it was tasteful and moderate. Page’s guitar tone was organic, even downright messy, but it was so complex and unique.
Let’s look into the techniques and gear that Jimmy Page used to create the guitar sounds on the first two seminal albums, Led Zeppelin I & Led Zeppelin II, and how to recreate that sound with limited budget.