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Jimmy Hendrix didn't read music or know theory

I am not able to state precisely how many times I have heard my students saying the phrase that gives title to this article, as a kind of justification for trying to escape the studies of musical theory and reading. In fact, I believe that every guitar teacher has heard this "lick" countless times.


On the other hand, the teachers' response also became a well-known "riff": "If you were Jimi Hendrix, you wouldn't be here taking classes with me".


During my participation in "Marcos Kaiser Cast", in an episode with André Fagundes, I remember that I heard a phrase a little spicy, but very realistic, although concise: "The exception is the example of the donkey".


But why am I addressing this issue?

It turns out that the greatest legends of his instruments contributed - and still contribute - immensely to perpetuate the ignorance of the young music student. And more: by being promoted to the rank of "immortals", these musicians enchant the imagination of those who dream of fame and the stages, as if this were a very simple path. But the side effect is mostly the inevitable frustration.


Obviously not belittling Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton and Ritchie Blackmore, among many others, but the truth is that the musical resources of the "guitar heroes" of this generation of the 1960s/70s were not at all extensive. They turned into legends for reasons that were added to the undoubted talent they had. That was a time conducive to the consumption of rock and blues by people absolutely in tune with the aesthetic characteristics of the moment. The market soon understood the commercial potential, taking charge of economically exploiting this cultural phenomenon.


But after all, were they really good?

Yes, no doubt. Jimi Hendrix, for example, despite the limits of his theoretical knowledge, carried a voluminous artistic baggage. Music was the vehicle, but what really drew attention was his creativity, his detachment, his charisma, his clothes, his body expression, his gesture, his rebellion and, above all, his musical talent.


And if you intend to be like him or Jimmy Page, it is not enough just to copy their phrases and aesthetic lines of compositions and arrangements, but to pay attention on the music, life and the world through the intelligent optics of the true creator. Making a difference requires much more than just learning to copy.


I don't think Tom Jobim wanted to cut his way in his studies. On the contrary, he dominated harmony and melody to the point of having been internationally recognized and immortalized.


Remember that Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Liszt and all the great composers of history have not only become famous, but have become eternal references to everything that is done in the field of music.


When in doubt, therefore, study a lot - I would do that. Being competent is a quality that will ensure your independence. And if you are really creative, you will leave your contribution and be recognized.


But, if you think you are brilliant and believe that you will be famous and successful without musical background learning, I can only wish you good luck.

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