Guitar Craft day 2

More circulation in 5, 7 and 11. Now restricted to the scale of C.  About a third of the group has difficulty knowing the notes of the scale on the Guitar Craft tuning. Some are inexperienced guitarists. We’re having to go at the speed of the slowest at times, so we are sent off to meet in smaller, self-chosen groups to practice the scale. That occupies most of the day. Many of the Europeans have an added difficulty as the scale is ‘spoken’ in English terms – C, D, E etc, while they’re used to do, re, mi and have to do an added bit of translation. Not much on its own but when you’re trying to play your note at the right time in a circle and name it, it’s hard. Some disagreement in the groups about the best way to practice, with some alpha males emerging.

After dinner, the group loses its coherence and the simple task of getting 30 guitars in tune in an organised manner defeats us. The group is beginning to fracture. Luciano, one of the teachers, is dismissed by Robert to go and see his wife who is visiting, and Robert takes over; first he perseveres with the circulation, then suddenly launches into what he later calls a ‘vamping session’ – he goes around the circle giving out parts to everyone – a bass line to some, a two, three or four note repeated figure to others, until the whole group is grooving away like a funky watch mechanism. (The next day several of us agreed that the part Robert gave us was something so fast we couldn’t normally play it but suddenly we could.) And there’s Robert Fripp in the middle speeding away on those little repeated patterns he’s known for. Always alert, he darts over to one corner of the circle or another to introduce or modify a part. He counts us to a sudden stop, pauses and counts us back in again. Then he starts pointing at individuals and shouting ‘solo!’.  The session continues relentlessly for about an hour, but the energy keeps coming. Suddenly he stops it, thanks us and leaves. The silence is stunned and crackling.

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