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  • 30 Days to Better Guitar Playing

  • 30 Days to Better Guitar Playing

  • jimi hendrix

    Riff of the Week: Long Hot Summer Night by Jimi Hendrix

    by Simon James

    The riff of the week is the intro to Long Hot Summer Night from the 1968 Album Electric Ladyland and is one of my favourite of all Hendrix riffs. One of the reasons I like this riff so much is because it is so quirky and the track itself, like so much of Hendrix’s music, is so colourful. Hendrix was a superlative musician and like a true artist was able to mash together a variety of musical styles and make it look incredibly easy.

    Long Hot Summer Night is in the key of C# major but the intro riff is built around some cunning Dominant 7th chord substitutions by way of an F#7 and a G#7 and a number of runs from the C# minor pentatonic scale.

    The riff begins in bars 1 and 3 with a run up the pentatonic scale from the open E before jumping to the 5th (B) and the octave higher E played twice with a 1/4 tone bend. Play this run in the first position and roll the second finger on your frethand from the B to the E. This should allow you to play the run quickly and the bends more aggressively. Then jump into an F#7 chord using your second finger on the F#, 2nd finger on the b7(E) and 3rd finger on the 3 (A#).

    The run in bar 2 starts again from an open E before jumping to a 3rd after which we see some clever use of the open D and A strings. This use of the open strings is a common aspect in Hendrix’s work particularly in the intro to Purple Haze and Voodoo Chile, whereby he bounces between open strings and chords making the music feel all the more groovy. The chord that we are bouncing into in this bar is a G#7 chord, a clever substitution of a Cmin7b5, which is then followed by another F#7 by way of an open E.

    Bar 3 is a repeat of bar 1 and bar 4 begins with a slight variation of the pentatonic scale run into the G#7 before finishing off with a fast descending run through a C# blues scale from the E on the D string to the open E an octave lower before finally dropping into the tune. This use of the C# blues scale signals a chromatic run so typical in Hendrixs lower register almost bass line like guitar runs.

    The whole tone of the intro is one of an aggressive groove before an explosion into the colour bomb that is the main body of the song. The runs should be played with precision and the 7th chords struck with hard downstrokes. Spend particular time working slowly on the entry into the chords so that they sound clean and precise, as it is these that enhance the quirkiness of the introduction and they are not especially comfortable positions to play these 7ths in to begin with.

    As always start working very slowly and then gradually build the speed up and listen very carefully to the original recording so that you get a real feel for those bouncing Hendrix grooves!

    long hot summer night hendrix    
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