Robert Fripp

Robert Fripp's Diary

Wednesday 28 October 2009

St Georges Hut Of Asceticism


St. George’s Hut Of Asceticism & Heat Privation.

Rising at 06.12.
Morning Sitting at 07.15.

Breakfast at 08.00.
Comments on yesterday evening’s House of Guitars.

TTA Performance & Production Team meeting at 09.07 in the fireplace area of the Dining Room, addressing mainly tomorrow’s practicalities.

House of Gnarlies at 10..00 in the Chapel. Engnarlement was already underway when I entered. I found it difficult to recognize any sense of rhythm that bore signs of formal organization.

Some words presented on the qualities of improvising with reference to the tetrad of the participants in any orchestra, The OCG & ourself. The tetrad…


Section Leaders & Principal         Conductor

Rank & File

This also applies to how we each comprise our own personal orchestra; those parts of our personality, the many smaller persons, that are our own rank & file; those parts of us that assume responsibility for overseeing the actions of the smaller persons; the principal player among the section leaders; the conductor of our life; and the part of us that is represented by The Composer.

The different qualities of improvising might be referred to as…

Spontaneous Composition

Extemporisation        Improvisation
Developing Variations

Riffing / Jamming

… and correspond to the degrees of musicianship…


Professional / Craftsman        Master / Mystery

Happy Gigster / Journeyman

… acknowledging the gendered language; redressing this to some extent in recognising that mastery in musicianship confers a sense of the mystery which is involved in being part of the musical process, the bringing of music into the world.

These degrees of musicianship are characterized by the quality of volitional attention that is available to each; a corresponding Present Moment & region of geographical influence that is appropriate to each degree of intensity of personal presence, integrity or Being, and capacity to bear suffering.

The primary modes of extemporizing: to initiate, to respond, to do nothing. Examples of these: soloing, accompanying, tacit. Doing nothing, properly undertaken, provides a necessary field within which the action takes place. This particular role is generally overlooked and, when effective, is sometimes referred to as radical neutrality: the doing nothing that enables doing everything.

Forcing our tricks & licks and riffs onto the other members of an ensemble is a form of force, and for them amounts to musical imprisonment.

The primary importance lies in the connections between these degrees of musicianship, as exemplified in the players, rather than in the players (or stations) themselves. For example, the distinguishing element of the connection between Master / Mystery & Journeyman is discipline. In our own lives, when the Master / MysteryPerson in us undertakes a commitment, it is in the knowledge that all the smaller parts in us may be relied upon to follow direction, and the totality of what we are will discharge that commitment: even God can count on this! The connection between the Professional & the Journeyman is flexibility. The connection between what is represented as Professional & Genius is spontaneity; and between Master / Mystery & Genius (the creative spark at the centre of who we are) is the capacity to see what is right action in any particular confluence of time, place & person: right judgement.

One small example: in a piece of music at the Master / Mystery level, each note is necessary. At the Happy Gigster level (perhaps Level Two – Three in GC terminology) there are notes that are, musically, superfluous; albeit possibly serving a functional utility, as in continuous cross-picking to hold time.

Once again, a few rough words, roughly indicating the centre of gravity of the subject, from a working player’s perspective.

12.56    Two unexpected personal meetings, both welcome.

15.12    Lunch at 13.00.

Good performances including a solo by Patrick, a feature of now several lunches. Washing-up detail.

A most-welcome gift at lunchtime, from the author…


There have been beginning-requests for personal meetings. These are not easily addressed when I hold responsibilities towards public performance in addition to those of the course.

Now on the board…



When ready, rhythm!
When ready, please move from slow to fast & back again.
When ready – solo!
When ready, from low to high.

More Rain.
Blue Skies.


When ready, begin.
When ready, begin again,
When ready, stop.
When ready or not, stop.
When ready, begin again, again.
More circulating.

There’s someone on your left.
There’s someone on your right.
More chords.
Well, that’s alright then.
So who do you think you are?
The year after next.

As of Tuesday 27th. 2009 at 22.30
Raft Island

Six Principles of the Performance Event
A principle is universal, a rule is inflexible, a law is invariable.

Music so wishes to be heard that sometimes it calls on unlikely characters to give it voice, and ears. This wishing-to-be heard calls into existence the Performance Event; where music, musician & audience may come together as one, in communion.

This communion has six different forms of being & experiencing itself (plus an invisible seventh); and these forms, or principles, are simultaneously present within the Performance.

When people get together with music, something happens.

When people get together, something happens.
When people get together with music, something remarkable happens.

When musician, audience & music come together in a performance, this something remarkable has a quality of its own.
The something remarkable is Music taking on a life of its own.

The Creation continues being created.

    In a performance, things come together, mysteriously; and go better than we might anticipate; and better than we deserve.

In a performance event, the Benevolence that gives rise to Music brings together musicians & audience.

Things come together, mysteriously; and go better than we deserve, or might expect them to.

    A performance can take on a life & character of its own.

Any particular performance event  - with these people, in this place, at this time - defines the conditions of the performance: the where, when & what of the event.
This is on the outside.

The conditions of time, place & persons do not govern the quality of our experiencing of this performance.
Our experiencing is on the inside.

That the event happens is a given.
How we participate, listen, respond, is open & available.

What happens within the performance, that is, whether the performance comes to life or not, is to be created & discovered.

If this is so, the performance can take on a life & character of its own.

    Any one performance is a multiplicity of performances.

The degree to which we act as one, as a whole person, is a measure of our integration; that is, a measure of our Being.

The degree to which the performance is a whole event, depends upon the extent to which Musician & Audience & Music are able to enter into Communion as One.

Until this point, the performance event is as many performances as participants.
Beyond this point, the Whole Performance is every Performance: it is eternal.

The distinction between both is less than we might believe it to be.

So, any one performance is a multiplicity of performances.

The possible is possible.

We are able to be with others only to the degree that we are able to be ourselves.
This being so, we can only be in the performance to the degree that we can be ourselves: to be who we are.

It is possible to be who we are.
So, the possible is possible.

We begin with the possible, and move gradually towards the impossible.

The impossible is possible.

Normality is what we might achieve, given who we are, what we are, the conditions & limitations of the world we work within.

Our “norm” is what we “ought” to be.
This is what is asked of us: to be who we were born to be, and to do what we were born to do.
This is already asking too much: it is impossible

Nevertheless, we begin with the possible & move gradually towards the impossible; trusting that the Benevolence which gives rise to Music is never far away.

So, the impossible is possible.

The Seventh Principle resides within Silence.

The Six Principles assume a common aim, good will & a willingness to participate in good spirit within the event, and the capacity to do so.

In a sense the Six Principles are available when the highest in us comes together; in the knowledge that, essentially, we are the same person.

When the lowest takes charge, the performance event downgrades; and the possible becomes increasingly restricted.
The impossible becomes impossible.
The best is then, that the possible remains possible.

The worst is, that the possible becomes impossible.
This is the Null Event: nothing happens.

A Null Event has no life span, no persistence, no present moment of its own.
The event disappears, as if it never was; and, really, it wasn’t.
The Null Event is a complete waste of time & energy.
Something is lost.

But, it doesn’t have to be like that.

May we trust the inexpressible Benevolence of the Creative Impulse.

Views I…








17.11    Tea at 16.00 & a most-welcome present from Ingrid Pape-Sheldon.

A meeting with TTA at 16.45 to discuss the outline approach to tomorrow’s playing.

Upon returning to St. George’s Hut: it is colder inside the room than outside.

Meeting with the SSG at 18.00.

20.47    Dinner at 19.00.

A superb dinner-performance by TTA.
An at-table discussion with Sandra Bain Cushman re: several ways of looking at her Five Alexander Principles.

Curt called out the moves for tomorrow, our journeying to Fremont Abbey, our performance process & return-journeying.

Socialising beforehand is strongly discouraged: it is a distraction, absorbs valuable energy & will undermine the performance. Afterwards, meeting friends & family may be possible or not; governed by the practicalities & difficulties of the space.

How may we maintain the course & our place in it while off-property? The 60-Point exercise will be adopted at 15.00 continuing until our return here.

A call: Will the Orchestra Of Crafty Guitarists please meet in the Chapel at 21.15. This is a significant step forward: the Name has now been invoked & applied.

22.19    Rain to & from the Chapel.

Addressing seating & encircling.
How to enter the space: paying attention to the first footfall & the last footfall.
At least one person must call for help; this as a certainty.
The first note: this is to be struck intentionally.
Circulating: what quality are we circulating?
Leave our licks and tricks at the door! These have no part in what we do.
There may be unfamiliar gestural language from the conductor.

Then moving out of the Circles into one large Circle, comprised of two groups, to whizz. Addressing form & displacements through 90 degrees.

A very good recommendation from Sandra the Alexandrian, regarding sitting down.

And two clueless comments: one really really clueless, based in ignorance; one clueless, based in youth. This is a concern: two members (at least) of the Orchestra are without a clue & therefore dangerous. Attention & the expenditure of energy is required to contain them, less the overall presence & functioning of the Orchestra is punctured & undermined by out-of-tune, out-of-time, out-of-tone initiatives & responses. For the clueless, radical neutrality is not an option.