Robert Fripp

Robert Fripp's Diary

Friday 24 January 2003

Los Molinos.


A third sleepless, or relatively sleepless, night. In bed at 22.45, awake at midnight, perhaps falling asleep around 04.00, waking again at 05.36 before rising at 06.30. At 06.30 in this house hot water for the shower is not yet hot. This assists an alert entry to the day.

The sun is shining, the sky is blue, the temperature brisk.

Buffet breakfast took 20 minutes for everyone to file past & help themselves from the table. Frank pointed out at that, at this rate, one hour per day will be spent in queuing for food. A Hellish solo guitar breakfast performance of Stardust in mellow & swing styles.

There was a Staff, Mentor & Lifer Meeting at 09.00, followed by a meeting for the Kitchen Team (the largest ever assembled) at 09.30. Now to meet Level Two with guitars.


The Level Two morning felt like a long time. Ascending & descending around the circle into 3 octaves, then 3 and just-over-a-half octaves, and eventually 4 octaves. After a break, a Division of Attention exercise for feet & hands. Then to thrakking in 11 & 7 with two new magic chords. Then a dismal ascent into 4 octaves before a dismal descent.

One member of the Level Two has transferred to the Level One. Clearly, Level Two is not the place for him to be at this time. There is no shame in knowing where one is, and where one belongs. Rather, this is to be commended as an act of intelligence.


At lunch another very good performance of Stardust, this time by The Hellboys in trio formation.

Very good comments over lunch. One question, from a Crafty who was very active in the early years & we have not seen for some time, asked "where did the energy go?" He was referring to the energy once available for him to invest in hours practising the polyrhythms used on courses at that time. Those polyrhythms were now established in his body. Yet this morning, facing new and different polyrhythms, there was no energy for him to apply himself to the challenge, as in earlier years. So, where had the energy gone? This is a good question.

The energy went to three places, RF suggested:

Part to the Crafty, in payment for his honourable work, and available to invest in his future, or to go on a spree; Part to the course/s on which he worked; Part to Guitar Craft, the larger construct in which we are engaged.

More generally, this is a question that the Lifers on this course are addressing. Questions of energies are addressed primarily at stages 4 & 5 of the overall process of acquiring a discipline, or interior architecture, and come under the main headings of:

Stage Four: letting go of bad habits
Stage Five: acquiring good habits.

A discipline aims to make our habitual responses efficient. "Good" habits are efficient. "Bad" habits waste energy. So, letting go of "bad habits" addresses the release of energy locked in physical, psychological and emotional patterns. Many of these are the result of inappropriate experiences in early family life & contemporary education. Some patterns manifest as stage fright & may be experienced as survival issues. But who is afraid?

We also look at plugging leaks, such as fidgeting, daydreaming, anger & the expression of anger (the American and English approaches are very different, for example). We also lose huge amounts of energy to attractions from the outside world. News-stands provide a whole battery of visual delights, fears & excitements to attract our attention & suck us dry.

Acquiring good habits: the aim is an efficient practice regime where nothing is wasted. This does not arise by accident. Craft information is needed, and a teacher or instructor. Physical relaxation & the development of bodily stillness; directing the mind, for example by counting and visual display of a piece or repertoire. In this way we learn to see integrally, and to have a better sense of the whole. This facilitates an expansion of our present moment & we learn to see a process through. The cultivation of goodwill is also necessary, and to be regularly practised. When successful, our energies begin to cohere, and we have a taste of effortless effort.

Obviously, this is a very brief overview of a subject capable of infinite refinement.

Both these stages fall within the larger middle of the larger process, known in Guitar Craft as the Great Divide. This is a perilous place to be, and confusing, where the process may unwind & everything may be lost. We may even have to return to the beginning.

The lunch service was streamlined: an "Argentinian solution" Hernan tells me. Fernando, sitting at the top table, answered several questions; and there were many good comments.


When we are being creative, we may not know that we are being creative.

A prime difference between the spontaneous activity of play, and the directed work of the creative artist, is that we are not held responsible for the repercussions of playing. Although we are not held responsible for the repercussions of play, we are held responsible for the repercussions of a creative undertaking.

So, one of the seeming contradictions of Guitar Craft, which addresses the development of instrumental skill, is that the greater the skill the greater the impediment to creative action. This is a major concern of the professional life: the greater the degree of professionalism, the greater the seeming limitations on spontaneous expression. As if, when we know what we are doing, we do what we know. This is reliable & non-creative.

Two handwritten aphorisms, both mentioned at lunch, are on the board:

The questions we ask direct the course of our lives.(14-XI-02)
The source of our knowing is of greater value than the extent of our knowledge.(20-I-03)


The priest responsible for the practicalities of the building, the House Overseer as it were, has visited to check us out. We are the first non-local & international organization to hire the house, with many visiting foreigners, and are unknown to the authorities. His is a reasonable concern.


Hernan has returned. The Manager was sufficiently taken with our work for us to now have permission for "the Maestro and his students" to use the chapel. This will help us enormously in terms of the physical space available to us. Apparently, in the past not everyone has treated the chapel with respect.


Two photos appeared on the board last night, from 1985, the first year of GC, of a course visiting Virginia Beach. My Wife is at the front of the picture. Also, a very Guitar Craft instructor, the only one at that time, looking as if he is doing the best that he can.

A flyer for the League of Crafty Guitarists is on the adjoining wall, from 1989. Of the fifteen people in the picture, seven are presently in this house, thirteen are still engaged in ongoing GC activities, and one has disappeared. He left in 1991 in a very bad state.


A dinner with several performances of varying degrees of givingness. Only one person has not yet arrived, a Lifer. A Level One has arrived without suitcase, and two without guitars. Hopefully, guitar & baggage will follow soon.

House Rules were declared in the attempt to persuade those, here for the first time, to leave before the course begins; with full refund and a walk to the gate with Hernan. Inaugural Meeting for the Level One is at 21.15.

The 18.15 meeting with Level Two looked at a simple boogie pattern, with varying forms of picking, octave inversion & substitution, and playing in octaves. Several solos were tendered with good humour.


A first: at the beginning of the Inaugural Meeting, there was no formal announcement nor acknowledgement that the course was underway. This is significant.

Partly, this is because the Course was so clearly underway that no formal acknowledgement was necessary. On the other hand, perhaps Fripp is no longer able to cut the Guitar Craft mustard, a sad & pitiful creature who has been away from home for too long, a withered prune of an instructor on the Guitar Craft vine. Partly this also represents a shift in the nature of Guitar Craft, Guitar Craft courses and their composition; and a shift in my relationship to Guitar Craft, and my work in the courses.

There are usually several people looking at the board outside the door, as if something has happened or is about to happen. Very little happens on this board, because it is so small. We are looking at putting a larger board in the other, connected, building.

There is also a lot going on, subtly, beneath the surface of the lot-going-on on top of the surface, even the surface itself. In this more subtle area, we don't know what's happening. This is not only good, it is necessary if we are to discover creative solutions to the larger Guitar Craft concerns that the Lifers (at least) have brought to this course.


Several short meetings/discussions. This is an advantage of being just the other side of the notice board just the other side of the dining room door. The dining room is currently a site of activity & conviviality & guitar playing.