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In this essay, I examine how aspects of rhythm and metre play a fundamental role in shaping and defining Led Zeppelin’s musical style. At the same time, I will show how Led Zeppelin was able to modify, manipulate, and develop pre-existing musical models and forms through various rhythmic and metric strategies. Comparative analyses will be used in an effort to show how Led Zeppelin’s flexible conception of rhythm and metre enabled the band to put their own stylistic ‘stamp’ on (i) specific musical genres (‘The Crunge’ and the song’s relation to James Brown-style funk), (ii) their riff constructions (‘Black Dog’ in relation to Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Oh Well’), and (iii) their cover versions (‘Dazed and Confused’). Drawing upon my analytical points, I re-visit the complex issues that persist regarding the possibility that Led Zeppelin even has an ‘original’ or ‘unique’ style given their often overt reliance upon earlier musical models and forms. Therefore, in my conclusion, I argue that the development of any artist or group’s individual style necessarily involves the ability to assimilate and transform pre-existing musical features – features such as rhythm and metre – in novel ways and where issues relating to musical style intersect with influence.
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