Because there are only so many scales you can learn, my guitar instructor is now teaching me the Jimi Hendrix song “The Wind Cries Mary.” I’m not a huge Hendrix fan, but he is, so…
It’s an interesting experience (no pun intended) to get inside someone else’s head to see how they created something. The opening of the song, which you may or may not be familiar with but can get for 99 cents on iTunes, features a smooth three-chord phrase repeated twice in two slightly different ways. It sounds really cool, but your hands do something fairly simple. Throughout this very melodic piece, Hendrix’s musicianship is impressive. It’s not a showcase for flashy virtuosity, but instead demonstrates his ability to phrase and rephrase things up and down the guitar’s fretboard with an elegant economy of expression.
I was thinking about this, believe it or not, as I was working on implementing Liz Lawley’s MT Courseware, her adaptation of MovableType for teaching purposes. What Liz has done is really ingenious, but also impressive because of its simplicity. In particular, the graceful way she pulls off the menu of tabs along the top of the content of each page using a stylesheet and some MT template tags just blew me away. Liz writes that she learned how to do this from A List Apart, which features a similar navigation scheme, but I believe the the bit of code using MT template tags that made it work with her particular application is all her own.
I’m sure Hendrix picked things up from other guitarists, too, and then added the bits that made his music his own. That’s how we learn, isn’t it? Imitation followed by innovation. I’ve learned a few things from using Liz’s templates that I plan to use in my own blog.
Oh, and it appears I’ve pulled it off. The MT Courseware, that is. I’m still working on the song.