Format: Instant Download, Printable PDF File, Drum Key Included.
“For Whom the Bell Tolls” is one of Metallica’s most popular and enduring songs. It begins with Cliff Burton’s distorted bass guitar cranking out a haunting melody line. The guitars and drums knock out a triplet based figure together (five times) before the drums settle into a solid 2-beat groove.
At 1:15 into the song, the meter changes from simple to compound meter; which means that the natural division of the beat changes from two eighth notes per beat to three eighth notes per beat. The metric modulation above the time signature change (12/8) states that the quarter note pulse becomes the new dotted-quarter note pulse in 12/8.
We normally use metric modulation like a gear change that affects the tempo, however in this case the tempo remains consistent, it is only the subdivision of the beat that changes.
Transition from 4/4 to 12/8 (1:15):
How is this transitioning to 12/8 better than staying in 4/4 and using triplets?
Triplets are modifiers which are used for notes that do not fit with the natural subdivision of a meter. If a whole section of music, or even the whole piece is littered with these modifiers, then perhaps a most appropriate time signature should be used.
After the transition to compound meter (and for the rest of the song), all of the notes flow within the compound time framework.
Bars 3 and 4 of the chorus:
Drummer, Lars Ulrich, punctuates the steady groove with powerful rhythmic phrases and fills. The relatively slow tempo makes the drum part more accessible for intermediate drummers than some of Metallica’s other, faster songs.