Robert Fripp

Robert Fripp's Diary

Friday 15 February 2002

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


The year long project, beginning in the second half of 2006, flew by to visit at 06.15 while I was in the shower. What for today, here, I wonder?

08.16  Very good  & interesting contrapuntal performance by The Lab Rats at breakfast, and the first time I recall counterpoint being this explicit in a home-grown Guitar Craft piece. Rob Rushin, who seemed to be leading the group, formed the Atlanta Guitar Circle not long ago and, of its some 30 members, 10 are on this course this week.

Curt feels that no amount of personal meetings with Bert to address technical matters on the guitar is likely to have much effect on the Level One students. So we agree: it’s into the deep end.

Frank would like to have an opportunity to present some info to the House on the work in Seattle, the upcoming At-A-Distance & personal arising matters.

RP, a Level Two, came up right at the beginning of breakfast to ask for a personal meeting – he has a “more than burning” issue, he says. In the strong silence at yesterday dinnertime, RP saw 3 things clearly; the third of which was that silence had appeared to show him the other 2 things. In my view, this is a function of silence, and part of the blessing it bestows, for those that have the wit to recognize it. Silence confers the gift of insight, if we are able to accept it.

The schedule for the day is posted. Meeting with the Level One at 08.45 – a challenge is about to be presented. Then 09.45 with Level Two before it’s time to Share The Joy at personal meetings from 11.00.

10.34  The Level One met at 08.45, asked good questions, and made a cogent series of comments on their work in the groups yesterday evening with Curt & The MBs. They were becoming autonomous, probably for the first time on this course, and yet had not found a balance between the roles of individuals & the group (my words for their comments). Some felt that a few players had been throwing out licks, which had undermined the group; or had moved out of the dining room & left the space of the group, also acting to undermine it.

Against this, another comment: there had been various situations emerging within the group process and that the group had done very well to respond & adapt to the various forces & directions for the 15 -20 minutes that the Level One had been on their own.

All in all, insightful & experiential commentary.

Then a challenge was presented to the Level One, by consulting The Hat. At breakfast, I had asked all the Level One students to bring their names written on a piece of paper. These were then put into The Hat and a series of names pulled from the hat and placed on the floor in groupings of one, two, three, four, five, six, seven & eight names, and then the remaining two names became a duo. Following the series of questions & comments, the Level One were asked to prepare & compose new material (no covers) in these small groups, in addition to one large group piece, and present a performance to the House at 21.00. At which point The Group Discussion began and I found that my feet were carrying me from the room.

Level One met at 09.45 to take the new GC theme further. My own cross-picking is exceptionally naff at the moment: my right hand is presently calibrated to electric guitar right.

13.03  At 13.01 Curt Golden accepted this …

To Whom It May Concern:

This is to confirm that Curt Golden is the supervisor of Guitar Craft and Guitar Circle activities in North America.

Robert Fripp
Founder, Guitar Craft.

Thursday 14th. February, 2002;

St. Vincent de Paul Circle V Ranch,
Santa Barbara, California.

The date is yesterday because the decision was taken yesterday, while acknowledged formally today.

14.07  The notice was pinned on the board at 13.05.

My last personal meetings of the morning, at 12.30, were with Tony, Curt & Paul, to address the right hand; and how to ameliorate the consequences that errors & failings of their first GC instructor have brought to their hands over the past 17 years. The (inappropriate) premise in all three right hands is that we work against gravity. This is a form of the startle response, built directly into the right hand.

A quiet lunch, rather than a silent lunch. Paul sat on the head table and we discussed hate mail & how to deal with it. Paul recognizes that during the past 32 years I have been the target of much hostility and, well, hate mail. So, how to approach this? So, how to turn a seeming disadvantage to our advantage?

1. Learn from it: what parts of the nastiness hits a target? What might be true of us in the unkind commentary?
2. For myself, I have preferred to respond to nasty letters in public; for example, Kicking The Wasps’ Nest.

i)          To introduce a third party as witness;
ii)         To hold the hostile party accountable for their actions;
iii)        To keep my game sharp; that is, to use the hostility as a pointed stick to support my own work;
iv)        Undermine the spuriousness of much criticism; as in the “I have the right to make whatever demands I want on the performer, and to behave as carelessly as I want, and to act without courtesy or manners, because I’ve bought a ticket with my hard-earned pay” school of thought.
iv)        Present an insight to, & demonstrate the nature of, life in the public eye;
vi)        Neutralize the negativity.

But it is very difficult to deal with this while on tour. For myself, when touring & under attack, with my attention primarily directed towards the band & performance, I keep my focus close, centred, and adopt as far as possible a position of radically neutrality.

Sometimes, with the competing demands on the little attention I have available, I am not able to fully protect myself. The most recent example of this was on the KC tour last November. I was under attack by a sour ex-Crim who has actively maintained hostility for many years. Almost every exchange with him contains a barb, an insulting comment, rudeness, or simple unkindness. This is often within the formal context of discussing a business proposal for (say) an archive KC release.

I woke on Thanksgiving morning, having become ill with a succession of (what I experienced as) increasingly toxic e-mails, realising that I was not prepared to continue with this situation; and giving myself permission to disengage from personal communication (professional channels of communication remain open) with a party who communicates intentional ill-will.

But for Paul being the recent recipient of directed nastiness is a more of a novelty.

14.42  The course is gently simmering in a reasonably contained fashion.

16.00  The first six personal meetings with Level One brought good questions: should I be a professional musician – is this an option? the desire to serve music; how to be true to my musical life?

16.51  Tom Redmond accepted the following at 16.23…

To Whom It May Concern:

This is to confirm that Tom Redmond is the supervisor of Guitar Craft finances in North America.

Robert Fripp
Founder, Guitar Craft.

Thursday 14th. February, 2002;

St. Vincent de Paul Circle V Ranch,
Santa Barbara, California.

And one of the Level One has been told, via cellphone, that he has been diagnosed with bone cancer. This is, clearly, a shock.

19.58  Silence came to visit dinner at 19.12 and maintained its presence. Several performances took place within the silence, and eating continued, and several comments were made. The Hell Boys performed, with new guest Level One Hell Girl. Tom sat on the top table afterwards, thus opening himself to questions, and was asked about the origins of The Hell Boys. This is a hilarious story, hilariously recounted by Tom, dating back to his first Level One at Claymont in 1985. (The first public performance of The Hell Boys, as part of the course, took place at the Iron Rail in Charles Town).

21.54  The Level One performance for the House ended at 21.51 when the Team walked out of the ballroom for the second time. The first departure was with guitars but, to the cheers of the audience, they returned without guitars. This prompted disappointment in the fickle audience whose unrestrained applause then turned to booing, as the realised the performers didn’t return as performers. A single guitar was past around the complete circle, ending in the hands of Matt G., the son of a character who attended several courses in West Virginia around 1987. Matt was challenged to play, played a superb & energetic solo, and was then challenged to play his solo blindfolded. Breakfast was suggested.

The performance was lots of fun, and very honourable, with several  stunning turns.  Blast O’ Crap introduced themselves and announced the title of the piece - Here Comes My Ass - to massive hilarity. Lots of good humour & laughing with a number of unshelled peanuts offered to the performers.