Post 114: Soundscapes
This latest post we have guitarist Tom Attah talking about his involvement in the project:
The process of creating the musical part of this historic building’s soundscape started with a relaxed evening conversation on a November night at Brook Street. As a blues singer and guitarist, I share many of Jimi’s influences and his incredible music forms a vital component of my own musical identity. I met deputy director Martin Wyatt and musicologist Christian Lloyd in what was Jimi and Kathy’s bedroom, and as we talked about how the space was laid out during the sixties and its many iconic musical guests, I played through ideas on my acoustic guitar. What sort of blues would Jimi play at home? How might he have approached pulling together chords and ideas for songs? What were the sounds at the time which influenced Jimi’s music? From the blues to psychedelia to British soap opera theme tunes, we explored avenues and possibilities. Martin confided later that I was one of the few – if not, the only – person to have played guitar in the flat since 1969. All I can tell you is that I was glad he shared this with me after our warm and productive conversation.
Working with my musical partner Ari Rannus, we made plans to create music that evoked a creative guitarist at home during a pivotal time in popular culture. Extensive listening revealed the contradiction at the heart of Jimi’s playing; whilst on stage he could be “the wild blue angel”, ferocious, emotive, bold and powerful – the only way to get close to his phrasing and style was to approach the instrument with tenderness and a lightness of touch. Rather than relentlessly attacking the guitar, in all of Jimi’s playing there is a subtlety, intimacy, grace – and humour! As soon as we had embraced the space and gentleness of his phrasing, music that recalled this master composer and performer began to take shape in the studio.
We hope that our music adds to the ambience of this wonderful exhibition and allows the many future visitors to 23 Brook Street to step into Jimi’s private world for a few moments. Ari and I have thoroughly enjoyed creating an active part of the soundscape and are thrilled to be connected with this project. Of course, no-one will ever be able to play exactly like Jimi – but we are deeply honoured to have paid tribute to a musician whose immense contribution to music and culture remains incalculable.