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Jimi Hendrix

In: Film and Music

Submitted By lotesky
Words 1586
Pages 7
Anthony Xiong Professor Applegate AEP2
25 December 2013
Jimi Hendrix: The God of Guitar
“Everybody come alive, everybody live alive, everybody love alive, everybody hear my message.” Although died at 27, the golden age for an excellent genius, Jimi Hendrix will always stay alive in the music world. The Experience's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame biography states: “Jimi Hendrix was arguably the greatest instrumentalist in the history of rock music. Hendrix expanded the range and vocabulary of the electric guitar into areas no musician had ever ventured before. His boundless drive, technical ability and creative application of such effects as wah-wah and distortion forever transformed the sound of rock and roll.” Despite a relatively brief mainstream career spanning four years, he is widely regarded as one of the greatest and most influential electric guitarists in the history of popular music, and one of the most celebrated musicians of the 20th century, not only for his unique music style, but also for his spectacular instrumental performance.
Rock’n’Roll or Blues? Does not matter!
Jimi Hendrix was born in the era of intense change on rock and roll music. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, either the piano or saxophone was often the lead instrument, but these were generally replaced or supplemented by guitar in the middle to late 1950s. As guitar redefined the beat and style of this emerging genre, there
Xiong 1 came a new form of rock and roll band, usually played with one or two electric guitars (one lead, one rhythm), a string bass or (after the mid-1950s) an electric bass guitar, and a drum kit. A great number of rock bands at that time, for instance, the Rolling Stones, the Shadows and the Beatles, were known for their flexible forms and passionate musical rhythms, and thereby loved by young people all around the world.
Among these brilliant bands, The Jimi Hendrix Experience was a special one. It was an English-American rock band composed of singer, songwriter, and guitarist Jimi Hendrix, bassist and backing vocalist Noel Redding, and drummer Mitch Mitchell. Recognized as hugely influential in the development of the hard rock and heavy metal music genres during the late-1960s and beyond, the Experience was best known for the skill, style and charisma of their frontman, Hendrix. He held a concurrent post as lead and rhythm guitarist, which provided more room for musical creation. All three of the band's studio albums, Are You Experienced (1967), Axis: Bold as Love (1967) and Electric Ladyland (1968), were featured in the top 100 of the Rolling Stone list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, at positions 15, 82 and 54 respectively.
His rock and roll style is impressionistic, with strong symbolization and rich expression of beautiful things. In an interview with Dick Carvett on September 9, 1969, Jimi performed “Izabella & Machine Gun” in a “heterogeneous” style, integrating African tribal rhythms for better live performance. In his mind, different styles showed a diversity of melodious symbols. Cavett called the style “unorthodox”, but Jimi commented that the song was "not unorthodox" and that what he played was
Xiong 2 beautiful. In the meantime, unlike the Beatles who used unusual instruments such as copper tube and Indian sitar, Jimi described distinct voices only in guitar. In his rendition of the US national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner”, he simulated the sound of war with guitar (including machine guns, bombing and people screaming), which revealed the general wave of anti - Americanism. This piece of impressionist techniques also became the inner monologue of many Americans in turbulent times.
Influenced by blues artists such Muddy Waters, B.B. King, Howlin' Wolf, and Robert Johnson, Jimi Hendrix absorbed elements of blues in his masterpieces. On one hand, in order to achieve a greater sense of emotional outlet, he inherited the “call and response” scheme, commonly found in African and African-American music. On the other hand, improvisation accounted for a large proportion in his music, representing a free, unconstrained spiritual level. With a perfect fusion of root music and modern forms, Jimi made a great contribution to the development of blues rock music.
After his death, Led Zeppelin, Bod Dylan and Stevie Ray Vaughan found a lot of inspiration from his work and gave salute to him in many occasions. Eric Clapton, another legendary guitarist commented: “He played just about every style you could think of, and not in a flashy way. I mean he did a few of his tricks, like playing with his teeth and behind his back, but it wasn't in an upstaging sense at all, and that was it ... He walked off, and my life was never the same again.”
Distortion or Feedback? A Piece of Cake!
Invented in 1931, the electric guitar became a necessity as jazz musicians sought to amplify their sound in the big band format. After years, the electric guitar
Xiong 3 became the most important instrument in pop music. It has evolved into a stringed musical instrument that is capable of a multitude of sounds and styles. It served as a major component in the development of rock and roll and many other genres of music. When Les Paul designed the first solid electric guitar that relied solely on electronics around 1940, what he did was experiment with ways of removing the distortions and he succeeded. The solid body eliminated the vibrations, and thus the distortions. Whereas Les Paul’s goal was to remove the distortion, later musicians wanted to produce it. And by the time Jimi Hendrix came around.
Essentially, Hendrix reinvented the electric guitar, in the sense that he created amazing effects and vibrations that changed the sound of rock and roll completely. Although some of the musicians before him, such as Dave Davis (the Kinks) and Pete Townshend (the Who) had applied the distortion effect to rapid solos, Jimi was the first guitarist who established a system of techniques for overall performance. The timbre of his electric guitar was shaped from distortion amplifier circuit and sounded like roaring, deep and sharp, which had higher frequency, more elaborate melody and more powerful force when compared with pure sound of traditional acoustic guitar. Different from conventional concepts on distortion, many rock and roll fans preferred that tone because it brought possibilities for remixing. For example, John Mayer covered “Bold as Love”, a famous song of Jimi, in a more comfortable way with blues finger style, which received a widespread high praise. So what about the evaluation of the original? Shadwick described it as “possibly the most ambitious piece on Axis, ...suggesting a growing confidence”. His guitar playing throughout the
Xiong 4 song is marked by chordal arpeggios and contrapuntal motion, with tremolo-picked partial chords providing the musical foundation for the chorus, which culminates in what musicologist Andy Aledort described as “simply one of the greatest electric guitar solos ever played.” Aledort called another track “Machine Gun” as the pinnacle of Hendrix’s career, and “the premiere example of [his] unparalleled genius as a rock guitarist ... In this performance, Jimi transcended the medium of rock music, and set an entirely new standard for the potential of electric guitar.” This track demonstrated Hendrix’s cutting-edge use of high gain and overdrive to achieve an aggressive, sustained tone, as an extension of distortion.
As a guitarist rich in skills, feedback is one of Jimi’s signature techniques. In terms of electric guitar, feedback is a phenomenon that sound waves resonate after a response back. Jimi Hendrix utilized feedback as artistic approaches: vibrations, harmonics and time delay. For instance, appropriate use of vibrations makes the music more beautiful, improving the appeal of art. Through his efforts, modern guitar solos are able to draw nutrients from classical music and get much more energetic over time. A perfect example of feedback can be heard on Jimi Hendrix’s performance of “Can You See Me?” at the Monterey Pop Festival. The entire guitar solo was created using amplifier feedback. “He changed everything. What don't we owe Jimi Hendrix? For his monumental rebooting of guitar culture ‘standards of tone’, technique, gear, signal processing, rhythm playing, soloing, stage presence, chord voicings, charisma, fashion, and composition? ... He is guitar hero number one.”
Xiong 5
Conclusion
“An artist, if in his heart not burning the flame for love, the art works he creates will not reflect the dazzling, vitality sparks.” Jimi Hendrix is the master of fusion style, while combining his music with skill-based guitar performance with distinctive personal style. He is the emperor of his music kingdom: he came, he saw, he conquered, eventually he became the god of guitar.
Xiong 6
Works Cited
Aledort, Andy. Jimi Hendrix: A Step-by-Step Breakdown of his Guitar Styles and
Techniques. Hal Leonard, 1996. Print.
“Biography of the Jimi Hendrix Experience”. database of inductees. Rock & Roll
Hall of Fame. Retrieved. Nov. 15, 2012.
Cross, Charles R. Room Full of Mirrors: A Biography of Jimi Hendrix. Hyperion,
2006. Print.
GP staff. “Hendrix at 70”. Guitar Player May 2012: 46. Print.
Hendrix, Jimi. Axis: Bold as Love. Experience Hendrix, 1967. CD.
Hendrix, Jimi. Band of Gypsys. Capitol, 1998. CD.
“Jimi Hendrix” Wikipedia. Wikipedia Foundation, 19 Dec. 2013. Web. 21 Dec. 2013. Morello, Tom. “Rolling Stone: The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.” Rolling
Stone 8 Dec. 2011: 1145. Print.
Shadwick, Keith. Jimi Hendrix: Musician. Hal Leonard Corporation, 2012. Print. Vulliamy, Ed. Jimi Hendrix: “You never told me he was that good.” The Guardian, 8
Aug. 2010. Web. 21 Dec. 2013.
Xiong 7…...

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