Robert Fripp

Robert Fripp's Diary

Thursday 14 February 2002

Guitar Craft Levels 1 & 2+ - St. Vincent de Paul Circle V Ranch, Santa Barbara, California


Valentine’s Day, even at a GC course! I’ve left messages on T’s mobile & at Chez Horse in London, although a call to her office tells me she’s in Leeds on a tv show, so I’ll call later. Also a call to my Sister in San Francisco.

Breakfast – conferring with the MB’s regarding the day. Rob R. would like a course in the Atlanta area. Discussion with Tom regarding the future organization of Guitar Craft in North America.

The 08.45 Kitchen Team meeting had good comments. Now, Level One at 09.30 & Level Two at 10.40.

12.47  Level One: circulating and then vamping. The vamping was a wake-up call to any left & right hands that had previously been able to hack away at a single note in circulation. But vamping at a moderately fast tempo, if not quite poco presto approximated more closely to molto agitate. Then, over to the MBs for personal meetings.

Level two: circulating sequentially along the chairs in G major and G natural minor. Then, in response to Deborah’s “hope for the course” and her question “Where is music?” – a new GC theme is beginning to emerge. Deborah asked me at the beginning of the course, why no new GC themes had been appearing in recent years. So, giving that some thought, I picked up my guitar two days ago. Or was it three of four or five? The theme continues to emerge in the privacy of Director Lodge.

Ralph V. has been by to check on practicalities. The ordering of GC activities in North America is beginning to be clearer to me.

And – hooray! Hooray! – I have been able to speak to The Little Horse on her mobile, to wish her a Happy Valentine’s day (almost) in person.

14.48 Ralph almost managed to put the aphorisms in the right place/s at lunchtime. He will try harder this afternoon. Share The Joy meetings begin at 15.00 – these are personal meetings without guitar for RF.

18.50  Meetings now ended for today. Very good comments and questions, almost all very practical & real. Issues of sex, work, self-judgement, shame, marriage. All in all, one more day in the Guitar Craft of life.

Lunch was an interesting time. Very good comment by a Level One on the variations in the right hand information being presented by the Mentoring Buddies. RF responded in some detail to this.

Partly, this is because my personal availability to the more experienced students (some of whom are now Mentoring Buddies) has been very limited in recent years at least, mainly due to the demands on my time, energy & attention on courses by the needs of Level One students (of whom the numbers are usually large). Now, this is no longer appropriate; nor is it the best use of my resources. I am unable to help very much until there is experience directly in the hand, and then I am able to address this experience directly. The information on the operation of the right hand is available, but until there is practical experience and practice little is possible.

And the right hand is only one part of the guitarist’s work – musicality is more important, for example. And there is the historical situation: in the early years of GC some of us were effectively without work for 6 years, and performance was important. Apart from its intrinsic value, we sang for our suppers. So the purely technical aspects of right hand picking were only part of the demands upon our time & attention. Now, there is enough experience in the hands of the more experienced Crafties for me to address, and the need for me to do so.

Another very good question: on apparent variations in the recommendation for how much practicing is needed for the right hand; such as “four hours a day – however long that might last”. This refers to the intensity of presence engaged during practicing. RF mentioned an exercise to measure the attention span while practicing the Second Primary (or any other exercise) in terms of counting the numbers of bars while undertaking an exercise. Also, RF demonstrated how a focused minute of right hand practicing could be. A minute like this might be more valuable than an hour a day for a week.

20.37  Astonishingly powerful silence walked in to dinner at 19.05 & held. We responded until 19.35 & the last 5 minutes began to waver. Performances with some good heckling, and responses, followed. The performers were put on hold for 30 minutes, as was eating, while silence was present. So the food was cold when eating began, and worth every lack of degree F & C.

The 16 pages of current aphorisms are now on better display around the walls of the dining room.

22.26  The Level Two have taken the new GC theme further and, at our evening meeting, were asked if they felt able to honourably present this to the Level One (who were working in the dining room with Curt & The MBs). A voice said: yes! This was the voice of Tom Hell Boy. So, we gate-crashed the Level One meeting, who were rocking out. We waited until the particular phase came to an end and then presented the new GC theme to the Level One, as it was developed to date.

Then the Level Two returned to the ballroom, leaving Level One with Curt & The MBs in the dining room. One of the Level Two felt charged, and suggested they had the sense that if this energy was not used it would be lost. Not dissipated, he said, but lost. What to do? “Do it again” – from the same voice that had spoken “Yes!” before. So, Level Two went to the dining room a second time. The first time I had stood inside the circle. This time I stood by the door and, at a particular juncture, put off the lights. Someone also put off the lights in the kitchen. At the end of the presentation, lights were switched back on & Level Two returned to the ballroom. The presence of the Level Two Team was tangible in the room.

RF to Level Two: “Now you’ve earnt something. What are you going to do with it?” & left.

Nominally, I was to direct the Level One circle at the end of my work with the Level Two. But Curt & The MBs were rocking out in the dining room & I would have disturbed that process. Nor would I have “improved” the situation. So I came up the hill to Director Lodge & left it to The Buddies.