Music Report on Jimi Hendrix’s “Fire” Performance at Stockholm, Sweden in 1969

Jimi Hendrix is best known for being one of the most innovative and influential musician of all time. He has had a long lasting effect on the music industry with new age artists still drawing inspiration from his works and compositions. During his short life, he was successful at influencing a number of genres; rock, jazz, and most notably blues. For Hendrix, exploring possibilities that lay hidden in his electric guitar led him create to a unique sound, second to none.  He later went on to add Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell who played bass guitar and the drum set respectively. In his 1969 European tour, he visited the Scandinavian country of Sweden, performing an hour-long high-octane show in Stockholm. From the purpose of this report paper, the focus will be on “Fire”, the fourth song performed in the concert with an in-depth analysis of the theme in his work, the harmony in this composition, story in the  structure of his movements and my personal opinion on his performance.

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On stage, Jimi Hendrix stands accompanied by two other musicians, namely Mitch Mitchell on the drum set and Noel Redding on bass guitar. Hendrix’s instrument of choice is the electric guitar which he was known to play with unmatched virtuosity. All three instruments were in use during the show with expert coordination implemented throughout the performance. A flamboyant Hendrix was the star of the gig, stepping into the open with his guitar strapped to his shoulder. The remaining members of the band were at arms distance serving as accompaniment while Noel Redding, the bass guitarist, also doubling up as the background vocalist.

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Fire” has a psychedelic rock feel to it with drumming that distinctly borrows from the jazz genre. At the opening line of the song, Hendrix employs the use of octaves and the intervals are played harmonically possibly by muting the string at the middle then striking the remaining three together.  The harmony features aspects of dissonance as there is always tension created by the intervals that desires to be resolved by a consonant interval. Rhythm seems to be an integral part of Hendrix’s composition as he finds continuity in its repetitive nature. There is evidence of fluctuations in the song’s beat duration within a single take which gives rise to distinct outlines of tension and relaxation as the song progresses.

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As a listener, the song somewhat creates a Technicolor experience for me, perhaps due to the dissonance that is present in the composition. The octaves in the song have a thin texture while the waveform of notes that can be considered as being higher fitting perfectly in the lower ones. From the rather innocuous origins of the song, it seems to be telling the story of a musician longing for the warmth of a fire after a cold gig. Hendrix’s lightning bolt lyrical prowess merges well with the modular structure of the movements.

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Personally, I was enthralled by Hendrix’s combination of feedback, fuzz and the meticulous use of controlled distortion. He is a leader in his game since he decided to take a musical risk of some sort, with his song not following the standard harmony, using distortion instead to disrupt it. My overall assessment is that he was a musician who seems to have been way ahead of his time, applying an eccentric take to music that would lead to the strengthening of the blues genre that was at its nascent stages during the early sixties.

 

Personal Opinion Report 

Is the melody easy to remember?

Fire is a Jimi Hendrix classic rock which was performed live in 1969 in Stockholm Sweden. The song stanzas are in spoken word while the one line chorus is repeated for about four times after every stanza. The song melody is defined by guitar tune which is easy to recognize once you hear it again. The tune is consistent for the entire song and hence easy to remember. However, it is only easy to remember chorus by words since it is repeated severally. The stanzas are sung once and hence one may need to listen severally to understand the actual words and memorize them (MindsiMedia Home, 2015).

Can you hear more than one major themes in this work? If so, could you elaborate a bit

While listening to the song without digging out to its context, it is easy to relate it with romantic love. It is like Jimi is ready to be the one to handle the lady’s sexual needs, “let me stand next to your fire”. Another theme that is coming out is taking control and surety of his personal desire. Jimi shows his courage and readiness to take over and promise not to harm “baby” or her mother and neither does he needs her money. But she should not act crazy or try to harm him since he only wants to stand next to her fire.

Is the harmony consonant or dissonant?

      The song has intervals that can be regarded to be agreeable and pleasant and hence it has a consonant harmony.

Does the harmony determine how one perceives the music or it is determined by other elements? Please elaborate

Harmony can highly determine how one perceives this song. Other than harmony, individual perception on this song can also be influenced by the rhythm and melody created by the song. All these aspects play a great role in determining the genre of a song and hence individual perception of a song. In addition, individual perception of a song can also be influenced by the song content, message or the theme.

Is the rhythm an important part of this piece?

Rhythm is an important part of any classical music, fire included. Rhythm in this case acts as a structural element of music. Rhythm is used in this piece to develop the identity of the piece with a sense of rhythm development from simple to more advance level. There is recurrence of rhythm at different points in the piece.

What colors (emotions) you can described as you listen to this movement?

The music piece demonstrates the state of calmness and peacefulness. This can be described as serenity kind of emotions.

Is the texture (the instruments used) rich or thin at some points? Please elaborate

The piece can be regarded to be moderate; not thin or in excess. This piece demonstrates the kind of homophonic texture that is characterized by clearer and lighter texture compared to hard rock and clear melody line.

Can you hear an underlying story to the music?

Yes the story underlying this song is audible, however one need to be keen and attentive to hear everything being said. The instrument seems to overshadow the singer voice and hence for a person hearing the song for the first time, one may need to strain a bit to grasp the words. Otherwise it may be hard to understand the story underlying the music.

Can you hear a basic structure in this movement?

The piece basic structure is clearly audible. It starts with an introduction where the instruments introduce the melody and rhythm of the song before the words or the first stanza starts. Then there is the stanza, pre-chorus which the soloist is using to finish every stanza and then the chorus after every pre-chorus. The instruments part is then used to end the song.

What is your personal opinion on this musical clip?

The performance was great well organized and well presented. The only thing that I feel could been improved is individual sounds especially in the stanza. The instruments seem to be at a higher note compared to the voice sound, making it hard for an individual to clearly follow the story without straining. Jimi need to be more audible than he is in this piece.

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