Posted by Mariana Scaravilli on Aug 5, 2017




sometimes music takes us into its confidence


My Life In The Act Of Music


The Three Disciplines




Craft Techniques:


practising the person


doing nothing




die that ye might be born


letting go of bad habits


acquiring good habits


the new Crafty


doing something efficiently


being someone efficient


being where we are




Moving Between Worlds

Discipline And The Act Of Music

i           May we trust the inexpressible benevolence of the Creative Impulse.

ii           A theoretical approach to discipline is not of much help.

iii          This cannot be a final word on the subject.

iv          Neither do I present this as authoritative.


sometimes music takes us into its confidence

i           Music so wishes to be heard that sometimes it calls on unlikely characters to give it voice, and to give it ears. Sometimes, music leans over and takes us into its confidence. Angels descend. Then music hides. The question for the aspirant musician becomes: where has music gone?

ii           Discipline addresses how well we are able to wait, hear, respond. And to do nothing.

iii          The act of music is the music. The act of music is eternal. Music is a quality organised in sound and in time. This quality is eternal. A discipline addresses three kinds of time:

            sequential time, eternity, creative time.

In the world of creative time, when a decision is taken, the action has already taken place. In the world of sequential time, we experience this as the future leaning back and pulling a succession of events towards the outcome.

Our engagement in this process is maintained by discipline.

iv          Discipline confers effectuality through time. So, we can say that discipline addresses:

the duration of our awareness;
the extent of our personal moment;
expanding our present moment in order to address specific tasks;
and that this action takes place within society and community.

v          Discipline & music are verbs: are we in time, in tone and in tune? Are we in harmony, personally and socially?

My Life In The Act Of Music

i           I have no qualifications and a lot of experience.

ii           The young Fripp began playing guitar on December 24th. 1957. The young Fripp was tone deaf and with no sense of rhythm. Yet he knew within three months that this was his life. He also knew that he was going to be an estate agent, and grow up to take over his Father’s small country firm.

iii          This implies that there are alternative futures available to us:

One is the future provided by the conditions of our lives.
Another future is the future that is possible for us.

The degree to which we are able to achieve this is significantly determined by the degree to which we acquire discipline.

iv          My life in the act of music, in live performance since 1959, began as a student of Kathleen Gartell’s Corfe Mullen School of Music and moved from Bournemouth hotels to King Crimson. This experience suggests to me that:

It is not possible for the musician to play music.
But, it is possible for the musician to be played by music.

The aim of the musician is to create a construct through which music may enter our world.

The Three Disciplines


i           The musician has three instruments: the hands, the head and the heart.

Three words commonly describe the functioning of the hands, the head and the heart:


In musical vernacular, these three areas are often simply referred to as technique, ideas, feel.

ii           different functional types

Each of us naturally inclines towards a greater capacity in one, or two, of these instruments.

We may be able to recognise in others, perhaps more easily than ourselves, people of different functional types: people with the tendency towards greater physicality, or cerebration, or emoting.

iii          The three instruments are necessary in making judgements. Where the senses fail to render a decision - it looks ok, smells ok, but is it ok? Or an argument is persuasive, or not; the feelings can judge: this feels right, or not.


i           Discipline is also a process.

Discipline is “acquired” in a series of stages. With experience, we begin to recognise the discrete quality of each of these stages. There are three stages: the beginning, the middle & the end. Each stage has itself three steps: the beginning, the middle and the end. This provides nine points in any complete process where qualitative shifts occur.

ii           There are three endings to a process:

A finish, where something is lost;
A conclusion, where nothing is lost but nothing  much is gained;
A completion is a new beginning.


iii          The process of acquiring discipline is a movement from mechanical activity to intentional action. The process of discipline aims to:

  1. Co-ordinate the functions - the three kinds of doing - the hands, the head & the heart: this is sometimes called “the harmonisation of functioning”;
  2. Achieve coherence in the degree & intensity to which we are what we are: that is, our inner togetherness or “being”;
  3. Unify our intention: that all of what we do serves the same aim; that we accept direction from central command at our “World HQ”.

We achieve this movement from mechanical activity to intentional action  by practising the discipline of each of the functions, their co-ordination, and then their harmonisation.

Through applying ourselves to this practising, we generate energy.

Through the energy made available, we may be able to put some of it in the bank. This “saved currency” is then available for future investment.

iv          stages and steps

The three stages of any discipline are these:

application, and:

We begin where are, and unfix our moment by doing nothing, and watching while we do nothing.

We move on from where we are, by introducing flexibility to our functioning by letting go of  “bad habits” and acquiring “good habits”.

We become who we are by doing something with efficiency and becoming someone who is efficient.

Then, we begin again.

0          We begin where we are
1          Doing nothing
2          Watching while doing nothing

3          We move on from where we are
4          Letting go of “bad” habits
5          Acquiring “good” habits

6          Becoming where we are
7          Doing something efficient
8          Being someone who is efficient

9/0     Being where we are

When we arrive at where we are, as if for the first time, we begin to “hang together”, or to cohere. We are beginning to be our own person.

But who we are can get in the way. So, beginning again, we recognise that by holding on to who we are, to being something, this gets in the way of music on download. So, we let go of who we are and begin again. At a particular point in a mature life process, this confers:


The degree to which this may be so is governed by our ability to bear suffering.

Craft Techniques:

practising the person

So, each stage has a primary focus, and exercises to address:

The functions;
The degree to which we hang together (being);
The unification of our intention.

This presents six strategies of practising, governed primarily by the stage of our personal process, plus an invisible seventh.

Doing nothing;
Watching while doing nothing;
Letting go of bad habits;
Acquiring good habits;
Doing something with good habits;
Being someone with good habits.

doing nothing

We begin where we are. So, before moving, better to know where we are. Before we move from A to B, better to know that we are at A.

So, before we do something, we do nothing. Doing nothing is very hard. Even when we believe that we are doing nothing, we put an enormous & unnecessary amount of energy into our doing nothing. Fidgeting, rattling brain, raging passions.


physical relaxation.


physical exhaustion: so that we run out of energy and are unable to do something in a habitual fashion.


i           While we are doing nothing, perhaps in a relaxed fashion, we watch, we look, we observe: ourselves, our surroundings, people around us, and the interactions and interrelationships between these.

ii           We watch at ourselves as if we were watching at a friend we love: impartially, without judgement, without criticism. We simply watch. In time, we gather information about this animal that we inhabit: what it does in recurrent circumstances, what it feels and thinks about those particular circumstances. We notice how what it feels and thinks and does impact upon each other.

iii          We learn what we may ask the creature to do, notice where it is prepared to accept direction, where it refuses to follow instruction, when it goes on strike.

iv          Although we have done nothing, simply by watching, something has changed. When one small part of a whole changes, the whole is itself changed. One small variation and, as if a butterfly has flapped its wings, there is a change in the overall economy and ecology of the human being.

v          Four qualities of watching:


Watching            Observing


vi          An observer is being constructed in personality, where part of us is becoming accustomed to look at other parts of us.

Not all of our energy is flowing into customary channels.

Our attention is being divided. 

vii         One day, when looking, a shift takes place. We move from looking to seeing.

viii        When we have acquired more information while doing nothing, we begin to gently and gradually see what is possible in acquiring an efficient technique.

die that ye might be born

This second larger stage of the process is where we address the energy supply.


i           quantity of energy

The key injunction:

honour necessity;
honour sufficiency.

Energy is required for each of the instruments (the hands, the head and the heart) to function. A discipline addresses right use of energy; that is, the quantity, quality and intensity of the energy supply; and how it is used: taken together, the economy and ecology of the energy supply.

The quantity of energy:

how much is naturally available;
how much is necessarily used on specific tasks;
wasteful & expensive habits;
plugging leaks;
the acquisition or generation of more energy when & where needed.

There are specific practices and exercises to increase the quantity, quality and intensity of energy available to us. Conventionally, many of these are introduced in the Morning Sitting. Mostly, they address the breath and breathing, taking “active elements” from the air and “charging the batteries”. Fasting also addresses our energy economy.

These are practices to be introduced in person and undertaken in a guided context..

ii           quality of energy

There are different kinds of functioning. There are also different qualities of energy.

Traditionally, a discipline differentiates between four qualities of working, of functioning, with which we need to become familiar; we learn to recognise when these qualities of working are present.

The four qualities of working are sometimes called the automatic, sensitive, conscious and creative.

iii          intensity of energy

This is governed by intention.

Intention defines the boundaries and contains the action or task that is being undertaken.

Define the space;
organize the space;
protect the space;
hold the space.

iv          subtleties

When we begin to experience the materiality of thought and the tangible effect of feelings, as if they were material actions (and on their level, they are), more subtle work can begin for us. We begin to address the distinct qualities of the energy available to us.

We can’t do this through books, although books are useful when we know the way. The aphorism here is: signposts are useful when we know where we’re going. This implies that some books are written for those who already know their direction. They may also be written as a flag to wave to anyone who might be attracted to or interested in that direction. If we are interested, but don’t know, the next step is to find someone who does:

firstly, we are ignorant;
secondly, we recognise our ignorance;
thirdly, we acknowledge our ignorance;
fourthly, we move to address our ignorance.
We find someone who has been there before.

letting go of bad habits

i           The automatic world is the world of habitual responses, of mechanical activity.

Briefly, we have good habits and “bad” habits.

“Good” habits are efficient. An efficient energy economy makes it more likely that we can achieve in our lifetime what is possible for us. That is, our lives may serve the purpose for which we were born.

“Bad” habits, in this context, waste energy. Having “bad” habits does not necessarily imply that we are a “bad person”, nor unworthy, nor immoral, nor nasty, nor that we torment small animals. It means that we are at risk of failing to meet our life potential. This is a quiet tragedy but, more usefully, it is alarming.

A discipline aims to make our habitual responses efficient. Our mechanical and automatic processes are conditioned, or programmed, through training. When our functions operate efficiently, we need invest little attention and energy in the activity of our functions. Our volitional attention is then freed to supervise the task in hand, which includes holding an overview of the three functions; that is, the operation of the three instruments, working individually and together.

ii           The different parts of the body, working mechanically, lock each other into the same habitual pattern; eg the hand-mouth lock; the frown-hand lock.

Almost all our activity in the everyday world can be conducted by the body on automatic, without reference to thinking or feeling. This is both impressive and terrifying.

iii          The feelings on automatic: like and dislike; prejudice.

a)   The head on automatic: idée fixe.
b)   The three instruments work together automatically, each triggering the other/s in a series of mechanical operations, all of which are related to the past.

If we wish to see where we are, where we live, our station, our normal centre of gravity - change the tempo of any habitual operation / function.

iv          freeing energy / blocked energy

The release of energy locked in physical, psychological and emotional patterns. Most of these are a result of inappropriate experiences in early family life, and formal education.

Blind spot.
Stage fright. Who is afraid?

(On the course, in Sant Cugat July 3-11th. 2009, the term resistances appeared several times in comments and observations).

v          plugging leaks

Reacting takes energy.

Internal and external patterns reinforce each other as internal-reacting moves outwards to behaviour and into the social environment, causing repercussions.

Anger. Expressing anger; cf the American and English approaches.
Unnecessary talking: motor-mouth and the talking machine.
Daydreaming, fantasy.
Worshipping at the shrine of St. Onan.
Fidgeting and twitching: boobyism.

These are wasteful, destructive and spoil our lives.

Attracted attention:  energy is sucked out of us; eg at newstands.
Hostility and ill-will: an inevitable consequence of public life.


Fidgeting and restrained breathing is met by relaxation.
Anger is met by the cultivation of goodwill and compassion.
The whirring of mechanical or monkey mind is met by “stilling the mind”.

Those with a background in meditation, or a sitting practice, are aware that the mind is never still. However, our attention need not be where the mind whirrs away – in the Basement.

Our associational thinking never stops while we are alive. It is always running in the Basement: this is necessary.

But, it is not necessary to sit with it.

vi          one-centred working

Different parts of one centre affects the other parts of that centre;

eg        one part of the body has effect on other parts of the body:
            Les Bouches de Paris.
            The playing-faster mouth: mouth-hand lock.
            Hand-eye lock.
            Hand-frown lock.
            Behavioural link: clean sheets and tidy.
            How we live our life is how we practise our guitar; and the corollary.

eg        the heart:
            Anger and holding goodwill.

eg        the head:
            Whirring mind: holding an image; intentional mental exercises.

vii         two- and three-centred working

Work on one centre affects the working of the other centres.
When one centre loosens up, the other centres loosen up in response.
So, we enlist the aid of two centres to act on the third.

Physical habits: the wish to change, and the information held in front of us in what to do, while physically relaxing.

Emotional habits: dislike or anger. These are harder to maintain when we hold a relaxed physical state, a picture of someone we love or a sacred image, while cultivating a feeling of goodwill.

Monkey-mind: the whirring of mechanical mind. We set the mind a particular task, while holding a relaxed, present physical state, and cultivating a sense of goodwill.

viii        shock

external shock. Learn to use it. Turn it around.

But we can’t rely upon it.

Opportunities: A crying baby. Someone who irritates us. Traffic noise - a horn.

internal shock. Challenge. A pointed stick. We create our own shock by setting ourself a challenge.

Lower levels of functioning are best addressed by:

A small, repeated or ongoing challenge.
A series of small, varied challenges; eg what is possible + 10%.
Hair shirt.

Higher levels of functioning are better addressed by a large challenge, one that can only be addressed by a change in state.

ix          drugs

The human instrument has in-built protection devices for when downloads from a “higher” world (a world where the information content is greater, faster, and more intense) takes place, when our receiving is in a lower state. We pass out, for example.

The degree to which we are able to manage information downloads is governed by our being. Some drugs open doors to quality information files, but they also suspend our capacity to close the doors when the download is too great, or the light is too bright, or the experience too intense to be borne and absorbed.

An established practice prepares us psychologically, emotionally and physically for times of high information-download. Otherwise, perhaps our system crashes. In serious cases, default programmes don’t reactivate. Re-booting loses a lot of information and time. In the human system, when fuses blow they may be irreplaceable.

Drugs are incompatible with a personal discipline. I have met many who contest this statement. I have met no-one, with an established personal discipline, who contests this statement.

x          the great divide

Experientially, the period of letting go of bad habits, before there are good habits to take their place, lasts forever plus a year.

acquiring good habits

i           Craft information is needed. A teacher or instructor. Otherwise, we’ll replace bad habits by other bad habits. The joke:

I was taught by a fool who didn’t know what they were talking about.
Who was that?
I’m self-taught.

Life is too short to learn only from our mistakes.

We aim to establish an efficient practice where nothing is wasted. There is no end to this.
Our practice is progressively refined.

ii           exercises


Relaxation. Development of bodily stillness in repose and motion.
Moving while maintaining a sense of our personal presence.
Independence of the hands, the eye and the mouth.

Effortless effort: our energies begin to cohere.


“Stilling the mind”.
Counting and playing.
Image-formation and pattern-holding.
Seeing integrally: this confers a sense and expansion of the present moment.


Cultivation of accepting, compassionate goodwill.

Balanced functioning:

seeing a process through to its completion involves all centres.

Other exercises:

Division of Attention.
Assumption of Virtue.
Job Of The Day.
Exercise of Qualitative Endeavour: we set ourself to do one small thing, superbly.
The principle is: a quality is ungovernable by number.
So, one small act of quality is as big as one large act of quality;
eg the Widow’s Mite.
Play: develops spontaneity.

iii          generating energy

a)         Intentional work:

Where we honourably complete an intentional piece of work, energy is released from that work; perhaps even to be sent to the bank accounts of others.

We confront habitual behaviour with a demand. This creates a friction, a tension, from which a kind of “heat” is released. Part of this “heat” is available to us as a form of payment. We may then put this in the bank, invest it for the future, have a party, or throw it out the window.

b)         There are also specific exercises & practices to this end; eg.

breathing exercises.

iv          accessing energy

There are places and people who are reservoirs of energy, if we know the places, if we know the people.

the new Crafty

We begin again, having moved on from where we were, and address becoming where we are.

For this, we may now have the outline construction of an interior architecture.

i           interior architecture

A discipline supports the construction of an interior architecture. This is a body of practice which supports us through our day, however long that day may be.

This begins when our feet hit the floor in the morning, to when our head hits the pillow at night.

ii           Discipline confers the capacity to become effectual in time.

Discipline is knowing what we are able to honourably undertake, and commit to, without any doubt that the undertaking will be discharged with reliability, surety, certainty. We are able to take decisions.             

            Attention span of 90 minutes.
            Freedom from like and dislike.
            Integral seeing: sense of the whole of any undertaking.

Something has begun to cohere. We are beginning to be our own person.

Coherence / Presence

The degree to which this is true is governed by our ability to bear suffering.
Necessary and unnecessary suffering.
Necessary suffering: voluntary suffering and intentional suffering.

doing something efficiently

This is traditionally where we present ourselves and our work for verification by an authority in the field.

being someone efficient

If our work is successful, we are recognised and accredited at our particular level or degree of capacity.

being where we are

But something can get in the way. So, in beginning again, we recognise that by holding on to who we are, to being something, even this gets in the way of music on download.

So, we let go of who we are and begin again.


i           Conventionally and traditionally, there are four distinct qualities of working, or experiencing, or doing, or states of presence, or states of consciousness, which are referred to as “worlds”.

The automatic, mechanical, or habitual, world.
The world of awareness, or alertness, or sensitivity.
The conscious world, where we become aware of our awareness.
The creative world. I’ll say nothing on this now, assuming that we all know what we understand by the word, while knowing that actually we don’t.

Key words which relate to these worlds:

sleep and accident;
noticing and contact;
separation, judgement, intention and decision;
ex nihilo. Literally, out of nothing. Where did that come from?

ii           worlds

Traditionally and conventionally, these different qualities of experiencing are referred to as “worlds”. Depending upon the tradition, there are a varying number of worlds which are presented as being available to the human being. Several traditions suggest that there are four worlds which are of primary concern. In this context, I suggest these:

The worlds of the apprentice, craftsman, master musician, genius.

The work of the apprentice mostly addresses working with the automatic. That is, they can play the notes on their instrument. This is where the best that the player might be is a good mechanic. This is, in itself, an achievement in its way. But a mechanic lacks contact with their playing: they are their playing.

The professional is asked to bring an awareness of what they are doing into their playing. Their playing is something they do, rather than being done. For the professional, music serves their own end or aim in life.

For the master, the musician serves the music. Their life is dedicated to following the Muse. This is not so much a profession as a vocation.


The genius is inseparable from the music. In a sense, the genius is the Muse incarnate.

Moving Between Worlds

i           States and stations

When we enter a practice, or training in discipline, we learn to differentiate between states and stations. States are where we are in this moment, a station is where we live. We might consider a “state” to be where we are visiting.

Even if we live in the basement, it is possible for us to experience a finer world, a world of greater subtlety of perception and experiencing. The subtle world is always present within us: it’s a question of us knowing that directly. The first aim of any discipline is to create a bridge between the subtle and the material.

The creation of this “bridge” then enables the subtle to connect directly with the material world. The creation of the bridge is in potential: there is no inevitability about this taking place, nor does this occur by happy accident.

As our personal “bridge” begins to cohere, and to become increasingly “substantial”, our movement between worlds increases. That is, our experiencing becomes deeper, richer. The “existence” of these more subtle “worlds” is no longer a matter of conjecture and argument. This is fact.

ii           Because the worlds interpenetrate, alternatively put, that the more intensive information stream may act within the more extensive, lower down the food chain of musicianship we might find ourselves bumping into higher quality information, even while we are within our own “lower” world. That is, we may experience the action of “higher worlds” even though we live in the world of the Happy Gigster.

Everything changes as we “move world”.
The “price of admission” is different in each world.
Each world has a different kind of experiential time.
Communication is different in each world. In the creative world communication is instantaneous.

iii          Intensity

A “higher” world is a world of greater intensity. Another way of putting this: the information content is much higher, and the information is of greater quality, quantity and intensity.

It is unbearable to experience a higher world while present in a lower.

It is not difficult to have “experiences”. The desire for “experiences” is an indication of immaturity in a student. Unless the student is prepared, these experiences may cause emotional and psychological damage. A disciplined opening of doors allows for the doors to close as well.

When we enter a more intense world, as it were from our own initiative, or perhaps because we have paid the price of admission ahead of time, everything changes.

What is in that world may simply appear in front of us. Sometimes, it comes to us as if of its own volition. Sometimes, we come into contact with the inhabitants of that world. Sometimes, we even see that world in its own terms. From the perspective of a “lower” world, when we fall to earth, what we can know and say of this experience is only a distant echo of what is true, an interpretation.


Saturday 3rd. February, 2001;
The PRS John Lennon Memorial Lecture;
Presented in Sir Jack Lyons' Concert Hall, York University, England.


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