Hi Everyone, this issue’s challenge is to play some Jimi Hendrix. I have transcribed the introduction to Purple Haze as Hendrix played it on a Strat but added a bass trick that will probably annoy your guitarist!
For this exercise, the iconic opening riff and melody start by being tapped by both fretting and picking hands. Both intervals are diminished fifths with Bb and E tapped by fingers one and two on your fretting hand followed by Bb and E tapped an octave higher by your picking hand in an alternative crotchet pattern.
In bars three and four, the melodic section starts and it might be a good idea to readjust the top line of the manuscript to get the figure under your fingers so you are familiar with how to play it. The actual bass line on the recording is a 4/4 crotchet pattern that was played by Noel Redding (although I have heard it said that sometimes Hendrix played some of the basslines of his songs himself) so this is quite a move away from the line with which you are probably familiar.
Bar seven has a very fast slide from A to B at frets 7 to 9 and there is a glissando (a downward slide at the end of the introduction before the vocals start. If you need to, refresh your memory with the track on YouTube.
Now we arrive at the tricky part. Having learned to play the line as it is notated, you will have noticed the same line in a smaller font that is notated on the line below. The idea here is that your fretting hand holds down the low note of the melody while picking finger one or two (up to you, whichever is easiest) taps the same note an octave higher (follow the high TAB in brackets). You only need to tap these notes quickly and don’t leave your picking finger on the string or you will kill the note. This technique will enable you to play the melodic line in harmonics in a higher register. You can use this technique on any riff–based line. Have fun!
Dr Rob Burns is a newly(!) retired Associate Professor in Music at the University of Otago in Dunedin. As a former professional studio bassist in the UK, he performed and recorded with David Gilmour, Pete Townsend, Jerry Donahue, Isaac Hayes, Sam and Dave, James Burton, Ian Paice and Jon Lord, Eric Burdon and members of Abba. He played on the soundtracks on many UK television shows, such as Red Dwarf, Mr Bean, Blackadder, Not the Nine O’Clock News, and Alas Smith and Jones. Rob is a member of Dunedin band, The Verlaines.