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Drum Cover – Genesis, “Dancing With the Moonlit Knight/The Musical Box” Medley

by Omar on February 10, 2012

in drum cover, Education

My infatuation with classic Genesis is a recent event.

For many years, I had heard of the so-called ‘classic Genesis’, but I never bothered to find out more.  The Genesis I knew was from Abacab on, and only a few songs from before that (“Follow You Follow Me”, “Misunderstanding”, “Turn It On Again”).  I thought that Phil Collins was a good drummer (he was at least the best singing drummer), but I was way into Neil Peart to notice.

Rush and Yes filled my progressive rock needs quite nicely, until Pandora opened my eyes (ears, actually) to what I was missing.  Once I heard “The Fountain of Salmacis” for the first time, I thought, “What’s this?”  The music was so creative, imaginative, and complex, that I was immediately drawn in.  I started checking all of the band’s music from 1971-1977 (an era I call the “Steve Hackett Era”), and I now had another band who I thought was on the same plane as Rush and Yes (at least by my reckoning).

My biggest revelation was the drumming of Phil Collins.  He was great –  definitely one of the best progressive rock drummers of all time, in my opinion.  His playing was so intricate, and always just right for the song.  He wasn’t just playing drums, but it seemed like the drum parts were as complex as the guitars and keyboards – they filled a lot of space.  And not only that, but if you watched him play, he played so effortlessly.  It seemed so easy for him to play with such complexity.  No wonder Neil Peart reveals in the "Rush - 2112/Moving Pictures Classic Albums" DVD, that hearing drummers like Phil Collins made him think that that was the level of playing he had to achieve.  I agree!

Eventually I decided that I wanted to cover Phil Collins from the “Steve Hackett Era” of Genesis.  There was so much to choose from, and all very difficult.  One day, however, I was perusing some Genesis-related videos on YouTube, and found an audio clip from a 1978 show, a medley of “Dancing With the Moonlit Knight” and “The Musical Box”.  Both of these are monstrous songs, and this live version was just some of the best music I’ve ever heard, period.  It was so majestic and epic, with a hard edge, very fast, and showcased Genesis at possibly their musical peak.  There was no turning back now – this is what I was going to cover (gads).

I knew that I was going to play to the studio version of “Dancing…” off of Selling England by the Pound, and I also knew that I would include the middle instrumental part of “The Musical Box”, till its end.  What I didn’t know was which version of “The Musical Box” I would use.  In the end, though, after much listening, I ended up choosing the following parts:

  1. “Dancing With the Moonlit Knight”, from Selling England by the Pound
  2. “The Musical Box” middle instrumental part from Nursery Cryme
  3. “The Musical Box” finale from Seconds Out

I used the Audacity audio editing program to put the three sections together to make the transitions seamless.  “Dancing…” has a quicker tempo than does “The Musical Box”, so I used Audacity to speed up the instrumental section to approximately the same speed as “Dancing…”, without raising the pitch.  Since the finale of “The Musical Box” is a slower piece anyway and a complete change in ‘atmosphere’ and mood, I didn’t have to tinker with that at all.

The drumming to these songs is very difficult (for me, anyway), so much so that I actually gave up on it for a time.  I recorded myself playing to it, but there were so many mistakes that I thought that maybe this was beyond me.  I spent the next couple of months letting the drumming fester in my mind.  When I approached it again from a fresh perspective, it seemed to make more sense, so I tried it again.

I opted to use one camera angle instead of multiple angles, and I also recorded the drumming with the Zoom H2 Handy Recorder.  I had few ideas in my mind as to how the end result was going to look, so this project was a little too much for Windows Movie Maker.

CyberLink PowerDirector allowed me to set up multiple tracks, and easily slide the different takes into the proper position so both audio and video transitioned smoothly.  Adding additional audio tracks allowed me to perfectly align the audio from the Zoom H2 with the video of the drumming.  I then muted the audio from the video recordings so only the H2 drumming was heard.  That’s the technical stuff (summed up).

After the drumming and recording was done as best as possible (that is the most important part), I started thinking in artistic terms.  How could I make this just a little different from the typical drum cover?  It’s so obvious – I would sing!  I decided to sing the first two lines (of which I removed from the song to accommodate, well, me).  Crazy?  Of course!  ‘No guts, no glory’, as they say.

“The Musical Box” has been sung by both Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins.  When Peter sang it, we remember the desperate old man he portrayed lusting over his love.  But when Phil sang it, it felt more like a longing for a lost love.  The latter is what I tried to capture with my interpretation of someone longing for a lost love.  Of course, the finale is one of the best endings in all of rock.

As difficult as it is to try to play anywhere near the greatness that is Phil Collins, it is equally as rewarding when you see the final result, and it’s actually not bad!  So in your case, for your drum cover, feel free to embellish your video anyway you like, because, in the end, it’s about you, your interpretation, your take.  Take some risks.  But always have fun.  And remember:  it’s about the drumming ultimately, so once you have that down, you’re free to take your drum cover wherever you like.

If you have any questions at all on any aspect of the video, leave it as a comment below, so all can benefit from the dialog.  Well, you can leave kudos too.  🙂

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Radio Nitsuga January 31, 2013 at 6:11 am

Omar – I personally liked your article and your drumming A LOT. I’m a big fan of Phil Collins and the Genesis os the 71-76 period. He, along with John Bonham and Stewart Copelan (three very different styles) are my main influences. I’ve always tried to play a bit like them, within my technical and artistic limitations.
If you read Spanish, please take a look at this article in my Blog, you will like it:

Un abrazo. Te deseo todo lo mejor!


Bertrand April 2, 2012 at 9:15 am

From 1:20 to 2:00 was great. I’ve listened to that so many times and never was able to visualize it. Simple and yet complex. Cool.


Bertrand March 31, 2012 at 11:31 am

Well, I figure that losing two compared to one isn’t the real point. What’s more relevant is the manner in which I would allow them to be, uh, ‘harvested’.


Omar March 31, 2012 at 11:20 pm

Ah, ‘your point is well seen’. Then, 25% the player Phil Collins is? 🙂


Bertrand March 31, 2012 at 3:54 am

And let me qualify the ‘testicle donation’ comment. With your ability it would have to be a surgical procedure. For Phil’s ability I would give both testicles and they could be removed using the dull, rusty spoon attachment of an old Scout knife.


Omar March 31, 2012 at 11:17 am

Hey Bertrand.

So you’d give up one for me and two for Phil? Does that mean I’m half as good as Phil? Are you kidding I’m flattered!

Drum on.


Bertrand March 31, 2012 at 3:50 am

Glad you took my comment as a compliment. I should add that I would give either of my testicles to be able to play what you just did. Congrats.


Bertrand March 19, 2012 at 8:14 am

Not the best cover I have ever heard, but definitely worth listening to and definitely deserving of some praise. I’ve listened to Phil’s drumming for about 35 years now and there is just something that isn’t clicking in your cover. I can’t say for sure, but maybe it is partly due to the smaller kit that you are using. That and there are times when what you are playing just doesn’t sound much like what Phil played. But I still wish I could play like you. So hats off!!!


Omar March 27, 2012 at 8:21 pm

Hey Bertrand.

Thanks for the comments! Yup, not an exact replica, but I knew I wasn’t going to achieve Phil’s level of precision, so I added some distractions. 🙂

This is one of my favorite songs from Genesis, so I’m happy to pull off some semblance of the drumming. It was definitely for me an intense educational experience, which was ultimately the goal.

Thanks again!


Re' Read February 12, 2012 at 10:41 pm

Nice article & playing.
Please don’t forget about Phil Collins work with Brand X (Jazz Fusion).


Omar February 13, 2012 at 7:08 am

Oh I haven’t forgotten about Brand X – I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to play that stuff though. 🙂


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