Robert Fripp: Music and Lecture at The Paradise in Boston, MA
Submitted By: David Kirkdorffer (SayAaahh at aol dot com)
Robert Fripp -- Music & Lecture 8:30 pm March 22, 1983 $7.50 The Paradise 967 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA
Opening -- Live Frippertronics Frippertronics fade out.
RF -- Hi
RF -- What were you expecting when you came here this evening, may I ask?
shouts from audience.
RF -- this lady...
A -- Exactly what you did.
RF -- The lady suggest that she expected exactly what I did. What did I do?
RF (repeating what he hears called out..) -- Play some music...talk...will talk.. So, your expectations are partly in the future?
RF -- But of course. There is a gentleman over here that suggested he expected something strange. Could I ask you, with this rather interesting T-shirt on sir. This T-shirt says, "The Lecture 1983 -- Contents one small mobile intelligent unit."
laughs -- applause
RF -- Can I ask you what you expected?
RF -- The gentleman would expect to hear the music substantially in nature as on the last two albums. Which two albums were those?
RF (repeating) -- Under Heavy Manners...and God Save the Queen.
RF (to someone else in the crowd) -- Could you put that camera away please. It is a violation of what I'm trying to do.
RF -- May I ask what you expected this evening, the gentleman with the camera.
RF -- The gentleman hiding behind the pillar.
RF (repeating what he hears) -- The gentleman expected an evening of music and lecturing and, presumably, still life photography.
RF -- This gentleman ex -- How much did you pay to get in sir?
RF (raising his voice inquiringly) -- How much did you pay to get in? $7.50? For $7.50 you expected to see Eno too? This guy is nutty..(words drowned out by laughter and applause).
RF -- Expectations have this particular quality. We neither see what we expect because the real world is different. So we don't see what is happening. Neither so we see our expectations. So, expectations are difficult. It's a kind of prison.
RF -- Now, will you please exert your creative faculty? I'd like, if you would, on the back curtain to see a line descending from the top to the bottom. And then a second line, running horizontally of equal length and bisecting the first. So this is an equilateral cross.
And, at the top see the word, AIM. At he bottom, see the word, ASPIRANT. On the left, see the word, RESOURCES. And on the right, see the word, DIRECTION.
So, just to go over that again. There's an equilateral cross with the four words -- AIM, ASPIRANT, RESOURCES and DIRECTION.
This is a Tetrad. A Tetrad is a four term system. One can look at this basically in kind of ways. Firstly, we can say that this four-term system is governed by any laws which restrict four-term systems. Another way we can approach it is to say that this is an elementary Tetrad of the Music System. And here we put four additional words.
At he top, the word MUSIC. At the bottom, he word MUSICIAN. On the left, the word AUDIENCE. And on the right, the word INDUSTRY
So we have two basic approaches. We can say that this is a Tetrad governed by rules which govern any four-termed system. And we can say this is a unique system -- the Music System is not the system that is serving drinks at the bar, is not the system of manufacturing coffee beans, whatever. It's uniquely the Music System.
There is a third connection which has to do with energy. It's when any of the personal relationships, such as The Musician and The Audience, choose to adopt a role, for example the role of ASPIRANT and RESOURCES.
If we accept a role in the system, there is a quality of energy which pulls us into that role. The converse is also true -- there is a quality of energy which is present in, if you like the architypical system, which tries to find expression. Another way of putting this so it's not all so abstract, is to say that if we take this as the music system, and where these two axis meet in the middle -- and we put there the word PERFORMANCE. Now see that point in the middle moving forward, even into the audience... so, so that we have a Tetrahedron, which is a five-termed system. In the four-termed system where we agree to come together in a performance, there is a quality of energy present, which simply wouldn't be if we all stayed home. That's a simple way of saying that there is a quality of energy present whenever any of us accept a role in an architypical pattern.
Fred Shookman, a gentleman who travels with me and sets up the sound has a diet in dairy, made of fat burgers and coca cola.
When Fred has dairy made fat burgers and coca cola, all in one evening, Fred is a happy boy.
Fred sends postcards home, "dear Mum, I am a happy boy, love Fred." Fred also glows gently green in the dark This is one way of saying that when we look at the role of INDUSTRY -- everywhere that I've presented this, this approach to the Music System -- there's been a hiss, an intake of breath, as if The Industry is very wrong somehow. Something we maybe don't like about it. And yet, Fred Shookman is past of The Industry.
This is an approach to understanding relationships, in the abstract and in the specific. It arises from my personal interest in trying to be a human being and a professional musician simultaneously.
If we look at the Music System, when we have MUSIC, The MUSICIAN, The AUDIENCE and The INDUSTRY -- and look to how they interact and work with each other, firstly we can say there are four Monad, or one-term systems:
MUSIC, The MUSICIAN, The AUDIENCE, and The INDUSTRY.
The property of a one-term system is that it is simply complete -- it is what it is, it is itself. It goes no further, it's complete. So, there are four one-term systems.
There are six two-term systems, or Dyads.
MUSIC / The AUDIENCE; MUSIC / The MUSICIAN; MUSIC / The INDUSTRY; The AUDIENCE / The INDUSTRY; The AUDIENCE / The INDUSTRY; and The MUSICIAN / The INDUSTRY
There are six two-term relationships. The quality of a two-term system is that it' s complimentary. That's the positive side of it. The negative side of it is that it contradicts; each of the two terms contradict the other so you can't go anywhere.
For dynamism, you have to introduce a third term.
The quality of a three-term system is dynamism, activity. The are four Triads -- or three-termed systems in any four-term system, including The Music System
And there is one Tetrad.
But, if we put the four personal terms -- The Audience; The Musician; Fred, representing The Industry; and Music -- which I will suggest for now is a very very close _______(can't decipher!)
If we look at the Triad, we can put any of the three terms -- the personal terms -- on the structural terms. To make that a bit clearer, in a three-termed system the three roles are Active; Receptive and Reconciling.
Depending on which term is Active, you can integrate the three terms -- say Music, The Audience and The Musician in six different ways on any triad. So, each of the four Triads have six different qualities.
If you re-arrange the way the terms contribute to the roles they adopt, you have multiplication of a further four three personal terms -- and you end up with 96 different qualities you can experience within The Music System as triads.
That' s before we get into the tetrad. And that's assuming that each of these relationships is static -- that is any particular relationship is fixed in energy and the energy which each of the roles is submitting or using remains constant.
But as I said earlier -- where we're talking in terms of architypical patterns and personal contributions -- energy varies quite considerably depending on weather we can plug into it, or not.
Let's just have a look at what we mean by some of these terms. What do we mean by Music? Presumably, we would agree that it's a sound. Well, it's not quite as easy as that, because it's only a sound when it' s heard. So you have to introduce a second term, The Listener or The Audience.
But let' s just move slightly back from that and say when air molecules are disturbed by some form of impact, air particles jangle against the air particles next to them and create an area of spherical disturbance. If our ears are within that area of spherical disturbance, the basalar membrane in the ear is disturbed. This is decoded by a three-pound grey organ which is driven by glucose and has and out put of about 25 watts.
So, let's say music is a sound which we hear with our ears. Well, strictly speaking, that isn't true either. Current physiological and psychological research into the ear shows that things really aren't that simple. There is also a device called the Neurophone (?), which I've used in San Diego, in which electrodes are attached to the skin and one hears through the skin. Neurons in the brain are re-educated so that you learn to decipher impulses we would normally call sound not through the ears, but through the skin.
So, so as not to be argumentative, let's say music is a sound which we hear.
But, it's obviously more than that.
The Pythagorean approach to mathematics -- the Quadrivan (?), the four branches of Mathematics -- saw music as being the second part of that. The first branch of the four parts of mathematics was Arithmetic, which dealt with number sat rest. The second branch was Music, the science of proportions, which dealt with the relationships between the multitudes at rest. The third branch was Geometry, which was those multitudes projected into two dimensions. The fourth branch was Astronomy, which was those multitudes projected into at least three dimensions and whizzing around on a rather large scale.
So, according to the Pythagorean school, one did not have to hear music.
Another Greek, called Aristixanous, said "Hey, hey, baby blue -- this is really tough on music lovers." (laughs) And a controversy raged for many many years coming to a rather nasty point in the 16th Century and 17th century based on Pythagorean Temperament, Just Temperament and Equal Temperament. Basically, boiling down 2000 years of active dispute it meant that practicing musicians weren't overly concerned with whether a major third was two Pythagorean whole tones expressing a ration of 9:8 (laughs) providing it sounded good.
So, a practicing musician --we can introduce another term down the bottom here -- called baby Bach wrote some tunes to put forward the idea of Equal Temperament as a perfectly practical and nice sounding approach to musical mathematics.
But, surely music is more than sound which may or may not be heard by ears -- it's a feeling.
When I heard the opening bars of "Purple Haze," I really didn't need anything else. I didn't need to know whether or not the basalar membrane was fibralating or whether or not Pythagoras was right (laughs) -- it just got me.
At that point, I'd like to play a little.
RF -- There are many different qualities of this system and rather than me continue to particular items that interest me, I invite questions.
Q -- I notice a similarity between a tetrad Aim, Aspirant, resource and Direction reminding me very much of a Tarot reading -- a cross similar to that and also the placement of four cards correspond in many ways to that kind of break up.
RF -- Yes, the gentleman is asking if there was a connection between the Tetrad -- in the form of a cross -- and tarot spreads in the form of a cross. Well, the cross is a fairly architypical symbol, which is common to many different approaches. In terms of this presentation it's a synthetic image which gives form, so that when one has, if you like, creative ideas -- there is a form into which they can fit, or, in other words, they can work through that form.
In terms of approaching a Tetrad in the form of a cross, there is another way one can do it. For example, which is simply in terms of triangle on the ground with an apex. This implies something rather different -- but not completely different. But in that presentation it would seethe Triad of Dynamism giving rise to the Aim, for example.
The quality of any tetrad is that it organizes Dynamism in a word order
Yes, you have a question?
Q -- Um if you had a digital device in place of tape, would you find some hesitation using that as not as organic as your current process?
RF -- A gentleman asks about using a digital delay for the tape machine and weather or not that would be as organic a process. I'm very happy to answer that question; can you incorporate it in this diagram?
(someone the audience calls 'resources")
RF -- "Resources." That's the suggestion from two places, what's yours.
RF -- There are a number of different ways one could attribute equipment. It could be, this could be considered in terms of this presentation to be the role that the Musician fulfills.
Well, in terms of digital machinery, there is a piece of equipment marketed by Electro-Harmonix, and I saw an advert for this in the March 1983 edition of Guitar World. And the advert was along the lines of, "This is a wonderful piece of machinery which is -- if you like -- and I quote the advertisement -- "a Fripp-in-the-box."
(laughs and applause)
And the advert then wen t on to say that this would give you what Robert Fripp and two Revoxes would give you.
I received a phone call via my office from a gentleman who suggested he had a machine which seemed to fit the bill of the Electro-Harmonix advertisement which I could try for $500. As you can see, I still have two Revoxes, Fred Shookman and my guitar.
There is the advantage of fusing the analog system -- of tape -- that at the end I can play it back. I can even put it on a cassette and drive around the country lanes of Wimbourne, Dorset with Frippertronics from Boston at the Paradise.
Q -- before you came out, you asked us what we expected of you. What do you expect from us..(becomes inaudible)?
RF -- Well, there are a number of questions here. The first had to do with what I expected about the audience, and we went by an interesting process of consideration into what do I want you to learn. Well, those two different questions may or may not be connected.
What did I expect? I expected in a club, which has a tradition of rock performance and not, if you like, closely attentive listening that (laughs drown RF's words)... would hang together as a organized and considered process. I expected to have more fun than I would if this were a lecture hall. At the same time I sensed that maybe our concentration -- with bars on either end and an hour and a half to go to each of them , would maybe help our concentration to... lay back a bit.
What do want you to learn? I think, I think that' s a little pompous of me. Um, I -- I haven't come here to teach you anything. If -- if there' s any value in any of these ideas to you then I'm very very happy, but,...
I'll tell you what I would like from coming here. I apply four criteria to any piece of work which I'm offered. The first is, will I learn from it? Secondly, will I have fun doing it? Thirdly, will I make money? (laughs and applause) Fourthly, is it useful in some way? And I would say that learning to work with people is very useful.
In terms of the money -- we had significant hisses just now. And, when The Industry was mentioned earlier, and it wasn't associated with happy Fred, there were a few hisses too.
I'm reading a book I began last night in Souper Salad. You probably know Souper Salad well, I began this book called The Gift, which has to do with a work of art and commodities. And I can relate this to the diagram here.
One very quick way -- there's a number of ways of doing it. If we see this diagram at the back again -- the cross: Music, The Musician, The Audience, and The Industry -- imagine now that The Musician is not interested in playing music but in making money. I would suggest The Musician is deserting that role and becoming part of The Industry. The Industry in the negative side of The Industry. So, what you have here is a disordered Tetrad -- that would be one way of presenting. The book, "The Gift" suggests that a commodity exists in one work, but that a work of art exists in two: it is a work of art and it is a commodity as well. At the beginning I said that my interest in using the diagram as a synthetic image to discover more about relationships in the music industry was because em I was interested in ho w to be a human being and a professional musician simultaneously.
How can you sell something which is so much what you are? It's a permanent dilemma. I think it's why professional musicians -- let me say that in 15 years of earning a living of various qualities from this and 25 years of playing guitar -- that I've noticed a very close connection, a kind of common bond within a sense, between musicians, hookers, and strippers. And I say this quite seriously, but not solemnly -- that you sell something that is completely of yourself to people, and sometimes you get bruised.
Q -- Is that true for all artists?
RF -- Is that true for all artists. First of all, what is art? My own definition of art is the capacity to re-experience one's innocence. That's my own definition. So, the artist is a person who presents what is essentially themselves in a term which can be.
Q -- Mr. Fripp?
RF -- Yes.
A -- Art is abstract communication.
RF -- Art is abstract communication...
A2 -- How about just communication..?
A3 -- A human experience.
RF -- A human experience. Well, these are all of course what we find for ourselves. For me, art is the capacity to re-experience one's innocence -- what one essentially is. In terms of the presentation I've made, it belongs in the field of energy. yes?
A4 -- OK. Robert, um I think the second part.. it was in Musician Magazine... you made through Aim -- you were referring to a certain feature in which you were saying 100% was 100% gain.
RF -- I can't remember making that quote. Could you express what I said accurately?
A4 -- You were referring to a clarinetist and a --
RF -- A clarinetist...?
A4 -- You were referring to two people that request for (?) about Bowie concert, and er, it was you (?) using it as a joke. You had use Aim as a... you were saying 100% Aim is 100% gain.
RF -- That doesn't ring any bells. It doesn't sound like my voice speaking.
RF -- Can you bring a question out of this that I could address myself to?
A4 -- Er..how is a substructure of time...
RF -- How is a substructure of time?
A5 -- We have the issue in hand.
laughs, applause, whoops as someone approaches the stage with issue of magazine.
RF -- (after a moment) Yes, this is the right issue. The quote does not come from me. It comes from my great auntie Violet Griffiss (sp?). My great auntie Vi is 70 and is the leading music teacher in Gwent, which is a part of Wales (applause.). And my great auntie Vi, when she was still very young -- in her teens -- she met Mervin -- at the same age -- my great uncle Mervin Griffiss. Mervin went on to became (sic) the most famous football or soccer referee in England in the 1950's. But when Vi and Mervin met, they were inseparable. They simply went out together for 10 or 12 years and then got married.
And on the day of my great uncle Mervin Griffiss' retirement, they gave a party for him at which he died. He dropped dead at the party of his retirement. Great auntie Vi, never looked at a man before or since, but her involvement in music is so complete that I'm sure she has a full life.
She still turns away young people; her teaching waiting list is more than full. She's chief examiner for Music Theory in Gwent and she has 100% success in music examinations -- she has not had a failure.
Her advice to her pupils is -- I quote from Musician Magazine (call from audience -- It must be true!) -- "Aim for 100% not 50%." And I go on to say in this journal as a young girl she practiced 9 hours a day, five hours on scales alone.
The other thing --just to point to the voice that said it you read it in Musician, it must be true -- writers get edited. Now in terms of my own relationship with recorded music, I have excuses from time to time, but by and large I can say it's my work. There are some reservations. In terms of some of the articles Musician -- there's one in particular which was on the subject of bootlegging -- which I couldn't recognize as being my work.
Any writer, and I sense there are probably some in the audience, suffers editing. And sometimes it's only a butchers job. By and large I've done better in Musician because I have what they call clout (laughs).
I have clout actually because the main editor is one of my very best friends.
A -- Mr. Fripp!
RF -- Yes?
A -- Er.. I would like to say a couple of things. First, I would like to thank you because this is an unusual opportunity for us to get to have fun with (drowned out by applause and cheers).
RF -- Yes. It's, it's a very remarkable opportunity for you and me.
A -- Considering the Industry -- we never get to see you in this particular light.
RF -- I'll come back to that. I think you missed the point of what I was saying. It had nothing to do with me. I mean, it's no opportunity to see me here, I mean any turkey will do, but the point is you don't get any turkey to do this. (laughs). It's a structure, it's a pattern which very very rarely we have the opportunity to plug into.
In America you don't have a tradition of -- (to Audience member) I'll come back to you --
A -- Sure.
RF -- of celebration and festivities. I mean in England you have holidays based on at least 900 years of history and considerably more. I was in the Morris Dancing troop for example. And in the village in which we danced there were some members of that community who simply could not see a season go by without this certain ritual, this certain celebration taking place. The Morris Dancers would come and dance in a certain kind of way in certain places.
In America, you don't have so many -- if you like -- organized holidays. So, I think for some of us we look on our music as being accessible ritual which needn't be solemn, but provides an opportunity that otherwise in our culture we might not get to. So, this -- the little chuckle about this is an opportunity for you and me -- had nothing to do with Robert Fripp, this , this quite admittedly silly person (laughs).
A -- OK. Along the second of the tetrads which you mentioned which pertains to musicians and tonight I'm sure undoubtedly there are a lot of musicians here in the audience, I would like to ask you three questions. The first being --
RF -- Three questions for $7.50? (laughs) Hey, gimme a break (more laughs).
A -- I thought Eno was gonna be here (more laughs).
RF -- Eno's name wasn't...wasn't on the Bill. I bump into Eno in the office. I bumped into him two days ago in New York. he was having his picture taken for the Downbeat cover. I bumped into him four weeks before that -- he was just off to Canada to make a record with his younger brother. Bur, er no, we ,we, he.. Eno's quite busy with his own concerns. Anyway, yes...
A -- Let me ask you; how you yourself view your position in this grid, as it is, that you utilize.
RF -- Alright, I'm the musician.
A -- Beyond that; exclusively at that point without...?
RF -- In terms of this particular system, this particular role structure if you like -- an architypical pattern -- at this moment in time, yes, I'm the musician.
A -- At this moment in time.
RF -- yes.
A -- The second question being if you stand at the portion along the way of the, er, what will we call...
RF -- Yes, alright to do with proportion and disproportion -- balance. Yes, the system of the equilateral cross is where the system is in perfect balance. It can go askew. What happens when the Industry wishes to be the Aim from the Music System? And so on. How.... So, yes the system can easily become disordered. In practice, it' s always all over the place.
A -- You're in a good position to view yourself exclusively as belonging to one of the absolutes being a musician.
RF -- It's not an absolute exactly. It's, it's - it's what it is at that moment in time. As I said, this is an architypical pattern. I'm just Robert. At this moment in time I'm accepting the role of being a Musician, and what that implies, as I understand it. You're role is in Audience, is primarily, to listen. (laughs).
A -- Here's my last -- I'll let you go. Do you have any interesting anecdotes to relate to us describing how you got to be exclusively in that particular coordinate of the system?
RF -- How have I got to be this particular musician doing this particular role at this particular time...? Well of course it.... at different points of time I adopt other roles. I'm a punter too. I go off to the rock concerts. And last time I was in Boston I came here to see Souxie and the banshees. I stood at the back and had a glass of white wine on ice. But, it's not the same when you drink it out of the plastic cups, I must say that (laughs, applause). The glass would rattle a lot.
I'm also a member of The Industry. If you look on the masthead of Musician Magazine, you can see that I'm a contributing editor. I have spent an awful lot of time on how The Musician interacts with the The Industry -- this particular Dyad of Musician and Industry. And sometimes I gone fully over to the role of The Industry to try and create an external structure which was more in sympathy to what I wanted when I moved back into being the role of The Musician.
For example, when you came in you didn't have rock music pounding away for an hour and a half or longer before I came on. (applause)
A -- What was it?
RF -- What was it? It was Sacred Hymns by Gurdjieff. I spent a little time with Fred Shookman finding a balance in sound so that it was loud enough that you could hear it if you wished to hear it, listen to it if you wished to go further, or ignore it if you could (laughs). At that point I was making Industrial choices. Now, would you like some witty anecdotes about how I came to be a musician?
A -- You've supplied me with plenty, thank you very much.
RF -- Would anyone like witty anecdotes on anything else? (laughs)
A -- (inaudible)
RF -- Spiritual, intellectual and emotional nature of music... Can this diagram help us understand the spiritual, intellectual and emotional side of music...? For that, what we would do is concentrate on the Monad of Music. We would examine Music. What is Music? Music is sound. Music is ideas. Music, as having a feeling, or a quality of energy. We then said we need to have ears to listen to it, so you do introduce the other term. And the musician has to learn some way of dealing with it. So, let's ignore The Industry for now. Let's just look at the Triad Music, Musician and Audience.
A -- Yee-ha!!
RF -- Buy that man a drink (laughs). In fact, better sir, why don't you do to the front bar and buy one for yourself.
In terms of this Triad -- Music, Musician, and Audience -- just looking at any triad has three terms: Active, Receptive and Reconciling. The Active term makes the _______ (inaudible). The Receptive term is keen to say, "Hey, Baby Blue, yeah, yeah, yeah!" But they need something to bring them together. It's like saying, you have Music and an Audience; how do you bring them together? You need a musician. The Musician's function is to play. So, in that presentation, The Musician would reconcile the other two terms. It could be that The Audience really, really wants music. So, some turkey comes along to fulfill that role and make the relationship possible. But the very, very interesting way of looking at that is where Music so wishes to be heard -- so wants to be heard -- it take the Active role and draws in the others. The Audience to listen to it, and there... where is the Musician?
Now, this is kind of difficult stuff to theorize about. And as soon as we use silly, sillyish words like "spiritual" - what is "spiritual?" We have difficulty understanding that. There's not -- it's not easy . But, as I say for me, when I hear the first four bars of Purple Haze I could believe something is going on. Listened to simultaneously with Sgt. Pepper and the Bartok String Quartet's Rite of Spring -- I could be prepared to accept that Music could do something more than sound pretty. So, let's say that we accept as idea that Music can come from a place more real that life itself. Let's say that that's possible as an idea.
When I was staying on a friend's sofa-bed in Chelsea in New York in July 1981, it was a very difficult time in my life and I woke up at 8:00 in the morning understanding how it worked. Not knowing it as some smart-arsed idea, but simply understanding it. It was like this: that music is a friend knocking on the door that so wants to come in. There we are, the professional musician inside the house so busy rushing around, twitching about with all these cleaver licks, that we don't hear the door knocking. We may even be rushing down the street doing all our clever things we're doing rushing around (laughs). One day, we may get lucky and hear the door being knocked, and we surge to the front door and trip over all the baggage of cleaver licks, 5/8, 9/7, 7/4 all different modalities, chord changes, chops, sounds the lot, and we trip over them and fall flat on our face, and by the time we get to the door we can't open it.
But, we think, we really really want to find our friend. So, we throw out the junk, we throw out the garbage. And then one day we hear the door -- we open it: there's our friend. And it so stinks inside, they run. Gradually, gradually, you clean up your act, and then one day Music comes in for maybe just a few moments. And gradually can come back more and more, depending on how much you clean up your act. As a professional musician, as a practicing musician, this understanding if you like completely changed my approach to music -- completely turned it around. I don't have to write music, I can't write music. I mean I can function. What I do now is work on the instrument -- Robert's hands, Robert's head, Robert's heart -- so that music has a better instrument to play. At which point, I think I should. (applause)
Frippertronics, starting with individual staccato notes...
RF -- I'll just pause to see if there are any last questions.
A -- You play, you told us you dance, do you sing? (laughs)
RF -- My capacity for holding a tune is absolutely wretched. (laughs)
A -- Aunty Vi.... Rodney Toady...
RF -- Aunty Vi did not teach me singing, I think wisely or her 100% success rate would have taken a different course. (laughs) My mother has a beautiful singing voice -- she's Welsh. My father can sing "Onward Christian Soldiers" in a monotone (laughs). It's family, Fripp-family lore that my father's singing is "Onward Christian Soldiers" in a monotone. His piano playing is also quite intriguing. (laughs) I began learning guitar when I was 11, and tried to play with my father, and for many years I thought that I, I was missing something. My father has a free approach to music -- it's not like free improvisation -- it's he holds a tune here singing with it and his left hand moves like this...(laughs) But, he played violin in pubs during the war when my mother would sing -- he played The Last Waltz on drones.
A -- Yeah. I wanted to ask you about how you structure something like the last piece you did and what element does improvisation play in it, and what role The Audience play in that?
RF -- Well, there are a number of quiet weighty issues there. Would you like to pick one?
A -- Well, specifically when you're talking about music coming from some place more real that this place.
RF -- I think that the exact quote was, "Music can come from a place more real than life itself" That was not my quote. It came from a man called Bennett who went to the Isle of White Festival in 1970 to se Hendrix. And he came back and was running a school which I attended in England – The International Academy for Continuous Education -- a silly name to put off the unwary. But nevertheless, in its circuitous way which expressed what it was trying to do. And he said to the people there (in a quiet and wispy voice), "Music can from a place more real than life itself. Yes, Cassells (sp?) yes, he had it. Ah yes, who was that, that man I saw at the Isle of White? Yes, James Hendrix. Yes, he had it." (laughs)
But I think if you'll excuse me, what you want to know is what all this good cosmic guk has to do with these endless bleeps and drones. Um. Alright. If you accept that the Musician can't govern Music, what can you do. I suggested it to the lady by the pillar a little while ago. You, you improve the instrument. An analogy would be you can't govern the weather, but you can learn to raise a sail on a boat so you get carried along. I don't know weather to go into the short or the long of it – I think probably the short.
The specific approach. I loosened up the structural organization so that I was working in a way to which I was not accustomed. Eh, when I set the equipment up with Fred – remember Fred? We remember Fred. He's probably now having a Coke. Does anyone see a gentle glowing green human..? When I was setting up, the left machine was in the wrong place and I as just going to move it. Then I thought, no – leave the fucker where it is (laughs).
What I did in terms of the overall strategy of the last piece was to introduce an element in the structure of the technological side of it that I would have to respond to in a different kind of way so that I could respond in a more spontaneous way. Technically what I did was to loosen up the sensitive energy.
RF -- One very last question.
A -- When you solo – like for example Larks' Tongues in Aspic part I, and the chordal solos – how would you go about developing that style… Also, I met Max Roach in an airport once and he said that you guys were supposed to do something together. Is that planned?
RF -- Er, yes. One of the projects for the future whatever that might be is a collaboration with Max Roach. (applause) The only problem is I'm terrified.
A -- Go for it! Don't be shy.
RF -- I'm simply – I'm not shy – I'm terrified. I can deal with being shy. But I can't deal with 50 years of excellence on the world stage. I find that simply overwhelming. He's amazing. He's completely amazing.
In terms of the chordal solo on Larks' Tongues in Aspic Part I – how would I go about doing that? I'm not in the moment working that area.
A -- Or synthetic scales… What have you found… (audience breaks into comments)
RF -- Alright, let's… (walks to guitar) The gentleman down here suggests that he would rather hear me play. Well, I will say on this that this was originally billed as a lecture tour. And I would be inclined to agree that there is a contradiction in talking about music – why not simply play it and listen to it. Yes, music can speak for itself, why should turkeys like me come along and want to do it. Because we are weak creatures. Because we are weak creatures. We cannot concentrate. Listening to music is simply more than we can bear.
In terms of specific techniques… I think, what I seem to recall, and this is fairly roughly… I picked a chord (plays a chord strumming fast and slides up neck of guitar and fades out).
I spent many years improving my right hand for the flexibility (laughs). Then I discovered the fuzz-box. (plays a few bars of Purple Haze)
A -- Yee-ha! (cheers and applause)
RF -- I found that I had the sound I'd spent years trying to get by just plugging in. I don't wish to be flippant, but to answer that fully would take a long time.
A -- We hope you enjoy your tour.
Fripp then starts playing some frippertronics and adds a solo.