Magazine article Guitar Player

You're Playing It Wrong! "Purple Haze"

Magazine article Guitar Player

You're Playing It Wrong! "Purple Haze"

Article excerpt

"S'CUSE ME WHILE I KISS THIS GUY." It only takes getting one or two words wrong to completely change the meaning of a phrase. Similarly, the difference between playing a musical phrase correctly or incorrectly can boil down to a single note, as is often the case with the main instrumental theme from Jimi Hendrix's "Purple Haze." We'll get to that in a minute, but first, let's unravel the mystery surrounding Jimi's famous tritone intro.

Ex. 1a erroneously depicts pulsating quarter-notes alternating between octave Es and octave B[sharp]s played a flatted fifth higher, which seems to be how many guitarists perceive the figure. Ex. 1b gets us closer, but still no cigar--the tritones here are incorrectly inverted. Ex. 1c is about as close as you can get to playing the figure on a single guitar, but it still sounds off. Why? The truth emerges in Ex. 1d, where the flatted-fifth intervals are actually formed by Hendrix playing broken B[flat], octaves and bassist Noel Redding playing octave E's. …

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