Deconstructing Jimi Hendrix’s “Manic Depression” Riff

Deconstructing Jimi Hendrix’s “Manic Depression” Riff

“Manic Depression” is one of several original stand-out tracks on Are You Experienced, the 1967 debut album by the Jimi Hendrix Experience.

The song is built on an ascending riff that move along relentlessly using major arpeggios and chromatic runs. It’s also performed in a triple meter, making it, in essence, a hard-rocking waltz.

In this Riff Deconstruction, Sean Daniel digs into the “Manic Depression” riff to reveal its underlying techniques. He runs through each step and in the process reveals that the riff is built not on A minor pentatonic—as you might expect for a blues-based tune—but A Mixolydian.

“On the 5 chord, in any key, the fifth note has its own flavor,” he says, “and it’s very bluesy because when you make a chord out of it, it turns into a dominant 7 chord, which is kind of like the sound of blues. It’s basically a major chord with a minor interval.”

There’s a lot in this 12-minute lesson, so check out the entire clip.

For more of Sean’s videos, visit his YouTube channel.

PHOTO: Martin Hesketh/Flickr Creative Commons

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