Robert Fripp

Robert Fripp's Diary

Sunday 27 January 2002

Guitar Craft Levels 1 & 2 - Convento di S. Maria della Pace, Sassoferrato, Italy


There was the strange case of the dog was barking in the night, again. The strange thing was, it is still barking in the night. The barking was going at 05.07 and also at 07.00. I wonder who lives near this dog.

Up at 06.30, showered & exercised, now to the Sitting.

08.41  Hernan & Frank chatting about Crafties from the early days, several of whom crop up in the Dear Crafty letters which I am collating. The history of the Red Lion House waits to be written & Hernan has a large piece of this.

Conversation with Greg: touched on those who know, and how they know. Greg has his own speciality & competence, so there is much we are able to say to each other. He visits Senghalese griots in Seattle, and they welcome him to sit in their presence and breath the air around them. I commented that people who know don’t usually, or often, know how they know. So, I am not very interested in their explanations, but very interested in seeing them work. And breathing the air around them. When a young player, I knew I wasn’t very good but I could recognize a player who was. So, I aimed to be good enough for them to let me play with them. Then, I would learn to listen through their ears.

If someone is in connection with a subject, they know the parameters & perimeters of what is right, what is authentic, what is acceptable. Then, they become a Representative of that particular subject, tradition, or way of doing things; a person that others may turn to when authenticating their own approach, behaviour or action. These Representatives then become Mentors. This need not be formal, although that is one approach. Formality and informality both have value, and both have drawbacks.

The list is posted: Kitchen Team meeting at 09.00, Level Two at 09.30, Level One at 10.15. A visiting young Crafty who is working in the kitchen is leaving at lunchtime & has asked for a personal meeting. He is about-to-be-arriving.

11.33  A student from the Level One has left: an “emergency at home”. He had stood at dinner yesterday evening and said how happy he was on his course. He hoped to return in 2 or 3 days but that won’t work for the course. So, next time.

The Kitchen Team meeting began with 10 minutes of silence, very solid, very embracing. It felt like home. The perils of translation: I told the team I didn’t wish them to work “too hard” – hard, but not too hard. The Kitchen Team have an enormous responsibility on courses; it is very easy to overload and get burned out. The Kitchen Manager, an Italian named Mr. He-Once-Was-Baldy, believed I had said “The Kitchen Team don’t work hard enough”. Fortunately he enquired about the accuracy of “too hard” before putting the Team to cruel & unnatural forms of labour.

The Level Two are struggling to hold ascending & descending forms of G major concurrently, seat by seat.

The Level One are struggling to pass a note from chair to chair, passing over every fourth chair. I look and see major drug damage in some of these eyes, and wonder whether the young man behind them will ever completely return to what he was. I look at others and see the dirt in the energy field surrounding them, and see enough of what is strong that they have a high likelihood of cleaning themselves out. But in our culture, where drug use is both commonplace and socially acceptable – I have the right, after all – such comments are unpopular.

Hernan has popped in to bring me up to date on various arisings & bright ideas. Hernan is being sucked dry by the number of people seeking his advice. And quite right, too. Hernan’s specialities are drug use, money and the Latin temperament. He is a superb Uncle and Mentor for young men particularly, and particularly young Latin men who have problems with drugs and money. And sex. How can Hernan deal with this? He is going to formalize the approaches by putting a notice on the board: “Who needs a personal meeting with Hernan?” and then Hernan is protected from casual approaches.

And Hernan has exchanged for me a 100,000 lira note for 50 euros. These are my first euros and I am very happy to have them. Money is what money does, and I have no sentimental attachment to £  sterling. If Germany can let go of the deutschmark and France the franc, then for the UK to let go of the £ is not much more.

14.06  Silence came to visit at lunchtime: actually, at 13.13. This was quite distinct, although the sounds and activity of the dining room didn’t change. The sounds of cutlery & banging & conversations became a symphony in my ears, the sounds taking on a distinct outline and definition within a broad ambient spectrum. At 13.26 the room became aware of the silence and went into it. A few of the Level Ones left quite quickly afterwards. The character who walked into the ballroom riffing, reminds us that “nothing is compulsory”, and a very badly drug damaged young man, were two of the first three to leave.

How to explain silence visiting? Silence is not an absence: silence is a very considerable presence. Sometimes it is too much to bear. In modern terminology perhaps we “coincide with a field of active information”. Perhaps in more conventional terminology we have “conversation with our Holy Guardian Angel”. Or in more recent New Age expression, are visited by a spirit guide. However we describe the experience, the experience itself is unmistakable.

The lunch was very tasty: a cheese salad presented beautifully and waiting at the table.

Visited by AH after lunch. He is a Crafty with health problems that have prevented him from taking part in the course as a student: the demands are greater than he can honourably bear. Nevertheless, he is a friend of GC and supports our work as he may; and perhaps our work supports him in the world as well.

Visiting the notice board after lunch I found myself looking at the space on the sheet that normally has a meeting for 15.00; and found myself not writing a meeting into it. Trusting this, I left the afternoon open before tea at 16.00. And I have taken down the Abbreviated Aphorisms from the notice board. This was the list printed up by Al and put up yesterday evening.

20.25  A gentle afternoon for me, reflecting in an unhurried fashion. A meeting at 18.15, for anyone who wished, to introduce an approach to the sitting used in Guitar Craft.

Comments over dinner from the Level Two addressing the relationship between the individual & the group & how they interact.

Q:        How to follow the two distinct lines in the G major scale in an exercise Level Two have been undertaking?

A:        There are three ways that support each other. Firstly, the hand that acts automatically once it has become accustomed to the physical motion. Secondly, the mind holds the pattern of the 2 lines, one ascending & one descending. Thirdly the ear, which distinguishes between the notes & recognizes whether the execution is accurate.

An emotional comment from the Level One character who has clearly suffered from drug use: has been having problems with sleeping; and would like work on the rhythms we have been playing. Another Level One would like to know the notes on the fingerboard.

22.19  Level One meeting: brief overview of lateral & vertical fingerings and the additional-incremental approach to building up fingerboard knowledge: the hand, the mind & the ear. Then to clapping in 5 & counting in 7, & vice versa. Brief explanation of the principles of form. Thrakking in 5 & 7. Mentoring Buddies Fumihito & Luciano took over.

Level Two are developing G major in 2 rooms. One L2 room had isolated a particular strategy & principle in their work. I suggested they articulate this so the strategy & principle become available to other situations.

Hernan popped in to say he has a huge list for personal meetings with “GC Consulting”. I have 22 names for 23 personal meetings from the Kitchen Team & Staff.