Musical Analysis – Jimi Hendrix

In the sixties the hippie culture was predominant, with the long aired youth of white middle class society experimenting with psychedelic drugs and trying to change the world with peace, love, and music.

As Cross asserts, London was the capital of the entire cultural world in 1966. Hendrix arrival came during the height of a sixties explosion of fashion, photography, film, art, theatre, and music (2005, p. 1 57) Form The Wind Cries Mary is 64 bars in length and has been composed using traditional formula of song writing.It follows a structure of Intro, Verse, Chorus, Verse, Chorus, Solo, Verse, Chorus, Verse, Chorus, Outer. Fig. IA shows the guitar riff in the intro to the song which is four bars in Engel. The Intro is then followed by Verse 1 which is six bars, then the first Chorus being five bars in length.

Fig. AAA [pick] After the first Chorus there is Verse 2 consisting of 6 bars followed by a Chorus of 5 bars (Fig.

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B) and then the guitar solo which has an 11 bar duration. Fig. B Verse 3 follows the solo which is 6 bars long, leading into a Chorus off bars, then Verse 4 which is six bars in length.The song finishes with another Chorus of 5 bars and then an Outer of 8 bars, which is shown in Fig. L C below.

Fig. ICC Melodic Devices Ism’s singing in The Wind Cries Mary is typical of his style of singing a ballad. The phrasing is syncopated, and the way that the melody line is sung throughout the song doesn’t vary drastically in pitch. The lyrics in the verses are phrased to allow a guitar lick to be played at the end of each sentence which is a form of Antiphons. This is shown in Fig. AAA below. Fig.

A He sings in a way that is melodic but also using spoken phrases, a style very similar to Bob Dylan, who was a major inspiration to Hendrix. In The Wind Cries Mary his subtle singing fits perfectly with the chord progressions and voicing that he plays on the guitar. Jimmy did not have the sweet, strong wide-ranging gospel-inspired vocal mound expected of singers in blues and R&B bands. Jimmy never had any confidence in what turned out to be his very evocative vocal style even when Bob Dylan proved you could buss through it with a voice like a blocked drain. Glibber & Shapiro 1990, p. 67) The other main melodic part of this song is the guitar solo (Fig. B).

Using a clean uninterrupted tone, Hendrix plays the F major pentatonic scale (F, G, A, C, D) against the I – ball – IV – bill chord progression in the first six bars, using notes common to this scale and the chords played underneath, similar to the way his vocal melody is during the erases. In the second half of the solo the melody takes the listener on a different path, with three key changes, the use of the G major and Db minor pentatonic scales and ends back in the key of F.This is a major contrast to the vocals and guitar melodies played previously in the song. Fig. B The Wind Cries Mary demonstrates that Jim could adopt an almost technical approach to the construction of chord patterns and embellishments. Where there might have been a wailing R&B sax solo, there is a clear, ringing compact guitar solo, played virtually straight with only one bend. (Cross 2005, p.

69) Harmonic devices The Wind Cries Mary is in the key of major.The introduction begins with an ascending chromatic movement of power chords, Ebb – E – r-5, with the fifth of each chord being the lowest note in the chord voicing. These chords are played in second inversion, with each note also being played an octave higher. In bar two the chords are played an octave higher as triads in first inversion, Be/G – E/G# – F/A as shown in Fig. AAA below. Fig. AAA [pick The chord progression in the verses is based demonically around the key of Major and is played descending using a V, IV, I progression C – B – F.

The chords are played using a root note on the sixth or fifth string with triads or four note voicing on the higher strings as shown in Fig. B below. Fig. B The verse modulates into the chorus from F to G. The chord progression used is G- B – Ebb – E – IF, with the guitar focusing on partial chords of G and B and then first inversion chord voicing for Ebb, E, and r-5. This progression is repeated and ends with a riff based on the F Major pentatonic scale (F – G – A – C – D) serving as a segue into the verse, as shown in Fig. C.

Fig. C A new chord progression is introduced in the guitar solo of F – Be The F and Be are played in 1st inversion and the B and ABA are played as single notes in unison with the bass as shown in Fig. AD. This progression repeats three times then modulates to G – b – Db – F. Fig. AD The outer chord progression is the same as the intro using the ascending chromatic movement of power chords played in second inversion. The bass is playing “five” chords in root position with an extra bar added to conclude the song.

Rhythm mimic Devices The Wind Cries Mary is a ballad with a laid back feel. The tempo of the song is moderately slow at 70 BPML, with a straight drum groove and bass line roving the backbone to the chord progressions and vocals. During the first bar of the verses the drums are playing a straight 4/4 groove with eighth notes on the ride, snare on 2 and 4 and the kick drum following the bass line playing on the 1, and 3, 4 and. In the second bar the kick is on the 1, a 3 and, 4 and, which accentuates what the guitar is doing.In the chorus’ the drums, bass and guitar shift into a sixteenth note feel played in bars 1 and 3, while in bars 2, 4, and 5, the drums play short fills and stops in unison with the band as well as accenting certain parts of the beat as shown in Fig. AAA below. Fig AAA [Pick] Rhythmically the song stays in the same format except for the guitar solo.

In bars 1 5 the drums play a syncopated 4/4 groove with more accents and extra hits on the snare which really emphasizes the solo and sets the section apart from the rest of the song.Bars 6 – 1 1 drops back to a straight 4/4 groove but with drum fills thrown in to add flavor to the key changes and the end of the solo as shown in Fig. B. Fig. B Textural Devices There are four distinctive musical layers in The Wind Cries Mary consisting of drums, bass, guitar, and vocals. This song is a homophobic archetype because f its structural hierarchy, all the parts move together and the instruments support the melody. The song has two parallel strands (bass and drums) being in the background, the guitar in the middle-ground and the vocals in the foreground.

When there is a break in the vocals, sonically, all instruments come to the foreground, with the focus shifting to the guitar part. A good example of this is evident in the intro, where these three strands play in unison and then the guitar part plays on its own, creating antiphonal music, shown below in Fig. AAA Fig. AAA Another good example of where call and response is evident is during the erases where the vocal line will finish a sentence or phrase, and the guitar will respond with a melodic riff (Fig. B).With this type of interplay, Hendrix is able to really express his emotions and keeps the listener constantly involved in the journey of the song both musically and lyrically. Fig.

B The most interesting musical interaction would have to be during the guitar solo. A rhythm guitar is brought in to play with the bass and drums, which thickens out the background and middle-ground section, leaving the lead guitar to be the predominant melody line in the foreground. Synthesis / Conclusion In 1 967 The Jim Hendrix Experience released Are You Experienced, their debut album which included the song The Wind Cries Mary.Through the use of a simple song structure and chord progressions, Jim was able to produce one Of the best ballads in his musical catalogue. With his unique style Of blues, distinctive quality of his vocal melodies and tasteful guitar embellishments and solos, Hendrix takes you on a journey with this remarkable blues ballad. To think that this song was written by Hendrix in one night, then later recorded in one quick session at the studio previously unrehearsed with the and is testament to how talented and amazing Jim Hendrix was as a song writer and musician.

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