Robert Fripp

Robert Fripp's Diary

Thursday 24 January 2002

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


Rise at 06.45, sitting at 07.30, breakfast at 08.07.

Frank Sheldon has arrived, a significant addition to the course. Frank is the senior Alexander Teacher in Guitar Craft and all GC courses, although that description doesn’t accurately reflect what Frank does. More properly, it doesn’t describe what Frank is. Frank was at Sherborne House & Claymont, and has been part of Guitar Craft courses from the early days. He currently lives in Seattle with his wife Ingrid. They met on a GC course in Austin, Texas, in May 1992. For most of that course I wondered: what are we doing here? Perhaps Frank meeting Ingrid is part of the answer.

Squerd is a well-known term that has currency on GC courses. Now we have spreed – a version of squerd that is spread on bread. Cathy has brought with her some sugarless jam-type spread of indeterminate origin that was inadvertently named over the breakfast table by the mis-pronunciation of a young Argentinian.

Conversation with Hernan at breakfast regarding the possibilities for tango in Europe. We have a young Argentinian couple in the Kitchen Team who specialise in authentic tango and who are based near Hernan in Kiel. They have the feel & flair of tango, which is presently popular in Germany, but with the authenticity that somehow escapes Teutonic dancing feet.

Onto more mundane matters: the cistern in my bathroom flows constantly, unendingly, so a ladder and wet hand are called for. Now, off to a meeting of the Kitchen Team.

09.23 The degree of reality is a measure of necessity.

Creative action moves from necessity and is set in motion by intention. For this action to be effective, the instrument of the creative action requires competence at least; that is, efficiency in operation.

The Kitchen Team meeting addressed the practicalities of running the house, cleaning, preparation for meals; plus adopting an exercise to strengthen awareness of the presence of life within the body while engaging in mundane activities. In this way, mundane activities are a background, albeit a useful & necessary background, to the proper job – being more fully aware of our common humanity & holding a sense of personal presence while in motion.

11.30 My morning so far has been focused on collating and organizing GC aphorisms.

Hernan & Al came to my room with the news that a journalist in Rome has been in touch: he must interview Robert about the course and what is happening here. I suggested that Al ask him why? What is his necessity? Then the journalist discovered we are not in Rome, where he is, but in Sassoferrato. This is too far for him to drive. Robert’s time must be available for a meeting with the journalist, but the journalist’s time is too precious to invest in getting to that meeting. So much for necessity.

15.37 Lunch consisted of cabbage soup with a poke of feta cheese & croutons in it. Then dessert was placed out in two bowls – apples! The Guitar Craft diet has begun. Various characters arrive regularly. Those arriving late for lunch got better, tastier & more substantial plates than those of us already-arrived.

I am revisiting replies to Crafty letters between 1988-1990 and, in turn, revisiting Guitar Craft at that period. This covers Crafty life in the Red Lion House & the Claymont Barn & Mansion.

Antonio de H has leant me his guitar for the course. I preferred it to the alternative – a new Ovation with built-in tuner. So, I am refreshing my connection to this instrument.

An approach to beginning the Level Two flew by, so I’ll see if it feels appropriate when more of the Level Two Team have arrived.

16.25 Tea served chocolate almonds, chocolate truffles and – Beast! Beast! of Maximum Delight! – chocolate covered ginger sprigs. That’s more like food, I say.

The first notice of meeting for the Level Two has gone on the board: with guitars in the ballroom for the about-to-be-becoming-having-been-arrived of them. Not all the Level Two Team will be here before dinner, and who knows how late before all are present, so we’ll begin where-we-are with what-we-are and see where we go from there.

18.12  Collating aphorisms new & old, I have compiled & edited a selection for actor pal Tim Faulkner, Oberon to Toyah’s Titania in last summer’s Midsummer Night’s Dream at Stafford. This requires some concision.

18.45 The three groups of the presently-arrived Level Two have honourably discharged their task: they were given one-bar phrases and asked to complete short pieces from that opening phrase. Now, soon to dinner.

20.15  All the Level One students have arrived, and all the Level Two except for Mike G who arrives around 23.00. So, we have the Inaugural Meeting for the Level One at 21.30. The house rules have been called to offer the opportunity of leaving for those who feel the rules to be unacceptable. This includes the non-provision of feather duvets, duck-down pillows and linen sheets for those who feel they deserve more comfortable bedding; and the presence of people who will be irritating.

Prior to that, I am meeting with the willing & available & wishing Level Two in the ballroom with guitars at 20.30.

Dinner was salad & tasty pasties followed by an excellent home-made chocolate mousse. I declined seconds on both, incontrovertible proof of my heroic stature should any be needed. Which of course it isn’t.

20.40  Although the Level Two has not yet begun, 14 participants in the about-to-be-becoming course have been divided into 3 groups; each has been given a short musical figure, each very similar. Let’s see how these simple beginnings proliferate outwards. The small challenge is to prepare pieces from these seed bars and present them to the Level One later, after almost an hour’s preparation.

22.17 The Inaugural Meeting for the Level One was inaugurated by the tango: the Argentinian couple from the Kitchen Team accompanied by a guitar trio of one Argentinian and two Japanese Crafties.

The course was declared underway at 21.45 and then the Level One students introduced themselves saying who they were, where they came from, and what was their aim/s for the week.

At the end of the meeting the 3 groups from the Level Two presented the pieces they had written from the beginning bar they had been given. One was acceptable, one dismal, and one deserving of sympathy.