Vinnie Colaiuta transcription - Frank Zappa's Packard Goose - guitar solo


Platinum Member
OK, per a request the "Zappadan" thread, here's a rough draft of my new transcription of Vinnie Colaiuta's insane playing on Packard Goose, from Joe's Garage by Frank Zappa. It does need proofing- there are likely missing ghost/filler notes, and tom voicings and accents/articulations might not be 100%. A couple of the more rhythmically broken up spots need to be revisited- I get the feeling there's something going there that I missed on the first pass.


If you don't own JG, you can listen on youtube @:
Part 1:
Part 2:



Silver Member
Todd -- beautiful stuff; thanks for doing this transcription. VC is killing it here & i love this song & have been singing the hook the last few days.


Silver Member
This is a pretty massive transcription. How long did it take? Whats your method?


Platinum Member
Thanks you guys! It's kind of a nightmare, isn't it? I use the program Transcribe, and it took ~four hours. Maybe longer? I'm doing another pass now, and have not hit any critical errors so far. Duplicating his performance exactly may not be possible- a lot of the filler is almost hopelessly low in the mix. I'm ignoring the Synare stuff- he seems to always double it with the snare or a tom. If I can get it to a satisfactory state I'll see if Drum! or MD wants to publish it, otherwise I'll post the finished thing here.

Terry Branam

Official DW Chief Transcriber
Hey Todd,

This is a very difficult piece to tackle indeed. Zappa's Joe's Garage includes some of the most frightening drumming in modern times! I can't count how many times I've listened to and dissected these performances.

With that said, you've done a nice job overall. I'm hearing some more details in there than are included here, as well as a couple of spots where cymbals and snare are being played together, but not notated etc. Also, some of the accents might be missing here and there. Some of these details are important to really be able to conceptualize what Vinnie played and/or intended.

Some of this stuff can be subjective to one's interpretation, like the tuplets. Again, it's tricky, but I guess the idea is that if someone puts in the time to really work the stuff out, they would hopefully be able to read straight from the page and get a result that is very close to what is being heard.

I'd say keep tweaking it. These things deserve a lot of time before you go to publish it. Especially a masterpiece such as the Joe's Garage recordings. Also, what type of speaker(s) or headphones are you listening through? Sometimes listening through different sources can really change things. Also be careful when using programs like Transcribe to slow stuff down. A lot of the tiny details can get lost in there.

Keep up the good work, and best of luck!



Hey Todd,

I'm right with Terry on this one. Good job overall, but some things that I would find important are not really precise (esp. accents and ghost notes - maybe use different/smaller note heads for ghost notes instead?).

On the other hand: Vinnie is extremely difficult to transcribe (at least for me, for Terry it seems to be easy...) and you did a good job.

One more thing that might be subjective: I really don't like Jazz Inkpen for reading drum transcriptions. I think it makes things really hard to read and consumes way too much space. I like to use it when I create lead sheets but for drum notation I think it's just not working. Might be personal taste though.


Silver Member
Thank you, Todd! I'll hang this one on the woodshed wall for sure. There's a universe of knowledge in that solo.

The cosmic utensil, lol. Who else could write that?


Platinum Member
Hi Terry- Thanks for taking the time to read through it, and for your comments- this is definitely a work in progress! I also have a long relationship with this record- when I went through my Vinnie phase and transcribed several of the tunes in the 80's, this is one of the last ones I attempted. For obvious reasons- it's completely ridiculous. I don't know what the hell I was thinking- my big technological aid was the (I think) 15% slow down feature on my Aiwa casette walkman. One of the big challenges with VC is that he's expressive with very tiny rhythmic increments. The little tweaky things you might dismiss as slop with another player are probably Vinnie doing something really, intentionally strange.

Do you know anything about his set up on these sessions? I'm hearing four toms, at least two roto toms and some kind of Synare/Syndrum apparatus. I'd also like to get some of your thoughts on transcribing for general consumption- maybe in another thread. Just a moment...

Everyone: as you'd expect, I'm making more substantial corrections as I get deeper into the Vinnie out-freakage. Revised pdf coming soon...