Saturday, November 7, 2009

Jimi Hendrix - What Was His Contribution to Music?

By James Mckenna

Technique is often mistaken for musicality. Flying fingers connected to a gigantic stage presence can be blown out of the water in one magical moment when a musician brings that mysterious something, the strange essence that moves our soul and makes us laugh and cry and dance and peek though a new door.

We may not even get it at first, or even really like it, but we are enticed by that wild promise of adventure, a suspicion that the view from the summit will be worth the scramble from the valley.

There have been countless guitarists since the death of Jimi Hendrix who have dazzled us with their style and speed; in some cases possessing seeming complete mastery of the instrument. And while we love what they are doing, when comparisons start being made (he is faster, she has better technique) the point is lost.

What Jimi brought to the table was far more than his innovative approach or flashy swash buckling manner. He invited us on a journey. He opened up our ear to new possibilities, what was once dissonant became a larger palette. Like a crazy jazz player he introduced the whole scale to our ear and even the possibility of micro-tones. He drew us out of the bland and the beige and gave us a taste of new possibilities and lands to conquer.

Of course the foundation was built on after he was gone. But Jimi opened a gate that the next generation of guitar players ran through. Pioneers make the cities of the next generation possible. We are well aware he was not alone, Page, Van Halen, Vai have all been door openers in their own way but I would wager JimI Hendrix has a lot of musicians standing on his shoulders.

What Jimi Hendrix accomplished (apart from those licks that send shivers down your spine) was the inspiration of thousands of the next generation of guitarist. A huge and thunderous army. It must be said we may or may not be grateful for all of those ambassadors of rock who came after; some shine and some make us search for the mute button.

After Jimi was dead there where many who wanted to continue his sound and keep his dream alive. But in many respects they missed the point. He lit up the way to new sounds, opened the door to new possibilities. No one will ever sound just like Jimi Hendrix, who would really want to?

Jimi Hendrix was a wonderful musician, an inspiration and a pioneer. What he left us apart from his amazing songs, was a bigger canvas to paint on and larger wings to soar on ... fly on.

G'day, There would not be many guitarists I know who don't have a soft spot for the music of Jimi Hendrix. Check out my blog for some more guitar inspiration or source some great stuff at Thanks for reading ... James.

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  1. I agree he was a pioneer

  2. I've always thought Hendrix was the best. For a good reason...His originality. He paved the way for other guitar players to follow.

  3. Hendrix contributed most of the present day rock that we listen today... he definitely may be less on skills or techniques, but he is the originator, the pioneer of Rock guitar playing ... His contributions were priceless and gigantic!