Guitar Craft

Last updated

The knotwork symbol of Guitar Craft (Courtesy of Steve Ball) Guitar Craft symbol by Steve Ball.png
The knotwork symbol of Guitar Craft (Courtesy of Steve Ball)

Guitar Craft (GC) was a series of guitar and personal-development classes, founded and often presented by Robert Fripp, who is best known for his work with the rock band King Crimson. Guitar Craft courses introduced students to new standard tuning and ergonomic playing with the plectrum (pick), often using steel-stringed, acoustic, shallow-body guitars from the Ovation Guitar Company.

Contents

By 2011, three thousand students had completed the courses. Students who continue to practise Guitar Craft playing have been called "crafties". Notable crafties include Trey Gunn and the California Guitar Trio (all four of whom, with Fripp, constituted The Robert Fripp String Quintet) and Markus Reuter. Crafties have recorded several albums under the name of "Robert Fripp and the League of Crafty Guitarists", for example.

After 25 years, the Guitar Craft movement transformed its activities into Guitar Circles, which offer introductory courses and performances in Europe and the Americas. Guitar Circles meet in many cities; in particular, The Seattle Guitar Circle meets for practices and performances and also sponsors a school.

Courses

The first Guitar Craft course began on 25 March 1985 at the Claymont Court site in Charles Town, West Virginia. Claymont Court Front Entrance.jpg
The first Guitar Craft course began on 25 March 1985 at the Claymont Court site in Charles Town, West Virginia.

Fripp's Guitar Craft courses were first offered by the American Society for Continuous Education, near the Claymont Court site in Charles Town, West Virginia. [1] [2] [3] Guitar Craft stated that it offers ways to develop relationships with the guitar, music, and oneself. [4] [5]

New standard tuning

The open-string notes of new standard tuning.
Play New Standard Tuning.svg
The open-string notes of new standard tuning.
Play

GC popularized New Standard Tuning (NST), Fripp's guitar tuning using the notes (C2 G2 D3 A3 E4 G4 low to high). Learning NST enabled guitarists to experience playing the guitar as a beginner, albeit usually a sophisticated beginner. At Guitar Craft seminars and courses, students work exclusively in NST. For new GC students, NST is unfamiliar, and so all students have the same experience of renewing their guitar playing while having difficulty adjusting previous habits. [6]

Guitar Craft courses welcomed students with no previous experience of guitar playing, although most students had been playing for at least two years, so that they had sufficient musculature. [7] Fripp has stated that previous experiences sometimes burdened players with bad habits and inappropriate expectations. [4]

Picking and fretting hands

For the level-one GC course, the curriculum offers seven primary exercises. The first primary exercise for the left hand is followed by the second primary exercise for the right hand, which teaches alternate picking. [7]

Alternate and cross picking

The guitar pick (plectrum) is held between the thumb and the index finger. [8] [9] [10] The thumb is not bent forward at the first digit from the tip. [8] Rather the thumb is brought to the index finger by its lowest joint, which maintains the convexity of the thumb's ball at the base of the hand; a collapsed thumb-ball signals improper technique. The four fingers point towards the elbow. The other three fingers curl inwards in a relaxed position, supporting the index finger, each successively supporting its predecessor. [9] Holding the pick in this manner relaxes the hand, arm, and shoulder, allowing playing without tension. [11] For a single note, the string is struck by only the tip of the triangular GC pick, with the force orthogonal to the string and the pick tangent to the string. The pick-string contact takes place above the sound-hole. [8]

In the fundamental technique, the picking hand is suspended above the strings and moves over the strings without pivoting on the ball of the hand or touching the strings or bridge. Holding the pick in this manner promotes relaxation from the fingers to the back, and it also facilitates the alternate picking of single strings and the cross picking among several strings. [11] [12] [13] Fripp, who is known for his cross-picking, [14] [15] [16] teaches the technique in Guitar Craft. [17] Fripp's cross-picking has influenced many other guitarists, particularly in progressive rock. [18] The fourth primary exercise introduces cross picking. [19]

Fretting hand

For the fretting hand, the technique is close to the left-hand technique of Spanish classical guitar. The thumb is placed in the middle of the back of the neck, not over the back of the neck (to finger bass strings). [20]

Guitars

Shallow-bodied Ovation guitars have been recommended in Guitar Craft. Ovation CC44 electronics.jpg
Shallow-bodied Ovation guitars have been recommended in Guitar Craft.

Fripp recommended that students adopt the Ovation 1867 Legend steel-string guitar, which had a shallow body. [5] [21] [22] "Fripp liked the way the Ovation 1867 fitted against his body, which made it possible for him to assume the right-arm picking position he had developed using electric guitars over the years; on deeper-bodied guitars, the Frippian arm position is impossible without uncomfortable contortions", according to Tamm. [21] While the 1867 Legend is no longer manufactured, it influenced the design of the Guitar Craft Pro Model of Guitar Craft Guitars, which has been endorsed by Fripp. [22] Besides the Ovation 1867 Legend, other Ovation shallow-body guitars are widely used in Guitar Craft and recommended for use in related performing groups, such as the Guitar Circle of Europe. The Ovation's truss rod can offset the increased tension of the NST strings, protecting the neck from bending.

Personal development

Robert Fripp introduces Guitar Craft students to the morning practice of relaxed sitting. Robert Fripp.jpg
Robert Fripp introduces Guitar Craft students to the morning practice of relaxed sitting.

Guitar Craft aimed at personal development, not only through guitar playing and music appreciation, but also through improved living. Students were offered instruction in practices such as relaxed sitting, [23] T'ai chi ch'uan, and the Alexander Technique. These practices are valuable especially for guitarists, who practice for at least an hour daily and therefore benefit from a stable and comfortable posture. While relaxed sitting has been practiced in Hinduism and Buddhism, the GC practice of relaxed sitting is pursued without reference to any religious tradition. Participants are encouraged to think critically and particularly to feel free to decline any practice as they see fit. [4]

Crafty guitarists

Courses take place regularly in Latin America, North America, and Europe. By 2011, three thousand students had completed courses. [2] Students who have completed a GC course and who continue GC practices are called "crafty guitarists" or "crafties". Notable crafties include Trey Gunn and the California Guitar Trio, who joined Fripp in forming the Robert Fripp String Quintet. GC-related Guitar Circles and other ensembles perform in Europe, the USA, Argentina, and Mexico.[ citation needed ]

League of Crafty Guitarists

GC's official performance ensemble has been The League of Crafty Guitarists. [24] [25] Robert Fripp and the League of Crafty Guitarists has released several albums, [26] [27] via Discipline Global Mobile. [28] The League of Crafty Guitarists has been directed by Hernán Nuñez since 2002; Nuñez, a long-time instructor of GC, is one of the developers of the Guitar Craft Pro Model, whose design has been influenced by that of the Ovation Legend. [22] For organizational logos, Guitar Craft and the League of Crafty Guitarists use a knotwork design, which was inspired by the red knotwork design appearing on later covers of the Discipline album by King Crimson; both designs were made by Steve Ball. [29] [30] [31]

Alumni

Warr-guitarist Trey Gunn studied with Robert Fripp in Guitar Craft, before joining King Crimson. Tampere Jazz Happening 2005 - KTU.jpg
Warr-guitarist Trey Gunn studied with Robert Fripp in Guitar Craft, before joining King Crimson.

The Guitar-Craft experience and the League of Crafty Guitarists trained guitarists who went on to form new bands, such as the California Guitar Trio [32] and Trey Gunn; the California Guitar Trio and Gunn toured with Fripp as The Robert Fripp String Quintet.[ citation needed ]

Bill Rieflin, the drummer for R.E.M. following Bill Berry's retirement, developed "a musical style that beautifully balances mindfulness and force" through his long association with Guitar Craft; Reiflin stated that "I couldn't possibly describe in any detail the impact this has had in my life; I can say that it was and continues to be significant. Were I to say 'life-changing,' this would be true, but it wouldn't begin to communicate the depth of the experience." [33]

Other alumni of the League of Crafty Guitarists include members of Los Gauchos Alemanes, such as U.S. guitarist Steve Ball; [34] Ball is associated with the Seattle Guitar Circle, [35] along with LCG alumnus Curt Golden. [36] German crafty Markus Reuter went on to play Warr Guitar in Europa String Choir and centrozoon, subsequently designing his own touch guitar and playing in Stick Men and The Crimson ProjeKct in addition to a solo career. The collection A Plague of Crafty Guitarists features the following Guitar-Craft alumni, who were listed in a review by Barry Cleveland: Tobin Buttram, Nigel Gavin, Geary Street Quartet, Bill Hibbits, Janssen and Jensen, Sur Pacifico, Playmovil, and Santos Luminosos. [37] [38]

Guitar Circle: successor of Guitar Craft

In February 2009, Fripp recommended that Guitar Craft cease to exist on its 25th anniversary in 2010. [39] In March 2010, a 25th Anniversary Course marking the Completion of Guitar Craft was held. In practice, Guitar Craft continues with a focus on Guitar Circles and The Orchestra of Crafty Guitarists. Courses entitled "Introduction to Guitar Circle" continue to be held in the Americas and in Europe. [2] The website of Guitar Craft contains links to related and successor organizations and associations. [40] Guitar Craft inspired the founding of the Seattle Guitar Circle and the Seattle Circle Guitar School in 2010. [2] [41]

See also

Notes

  1. 1 2 Tamm (2003 , p.  127 )
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 Fripp (2011 , p. 3)
  3. Macan (1997 , p. 210)
  4. 1 2 3 Tamm (2003 , Chapter Ten: Guitar Craft )
  5. 1 2 Fripp (2004)
  6. Tamm (2003 , pp.  134, 142, 148 (Chapter 10); c.f. pp. 160 , 4 )
  7. 1 2 Mulhern (1986)
  8. 1 2 3 Tamm (2003 , Chapter ten: "Guitar Craft", "Wednesday" )
  9. 1 2 Fripp (2011a , "IX. II: The right hand" )
  10. An illustrated discussion of holding the pick.
  11. 1 2 Mairants (1997 , p. 7)
  12. Mairants (1997 , p. 19)
  13. Fripp (2013) wrote, "As a young player, I practiced Ivor Mairants' Daily Exercises".
    • Fripp, Robert (14 March 2013). "Robert Fripp's diary: Thursday, 14th March 2013". Discipline Global Mobile . Retrieved 21 May 2013.
    A forty-page pamphlet had been published by Mairants in 1952:
  14. Tamm (2003 , p.  14 )
  15. "History of the Guitar Craft Plectrum", by Steve Ball, SteveBall.com
  16. Baldwin, Douglas (November 2007). "Guitar Heroes: How to Play Like 26 Guitar Gods from Atkins to Zappa", edited by Jude Gold and Matt Blackett, Guitar Player, p.111.
  17. Tamm (2003 , pp.  137 and 141 (Chapter 10) )
  18. Macan (1997 , p. 47)
  19. Fripp (2011 , p. [41] (unenumerated, the inside of the back cover))
  20. Tamm (2003 , "Chapter 10: Guitar Craft", "Elements of Guitar Craft" )
  21. 1 2 Tamm (2003 , p. 130)
  22. 1 2 3 Guitar Craft Guitars
  23. Relaxed sitting is called "zazen" in Zen Buddhism and "asana" in yoga.
  24. Sullivan (1990)
  25. Sullivan (1990a)
  26. Tamm (2003 , Chapter Eleven: Guitar Craft in the world ) "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 21 March 2012. Retrieved 29 October 2011.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  27. "Fripp discography: Guitar Craft (appendix)". Archived from the original on 21 March 2012. Retrieved 19 March 2012.
  28. Fripp, Robert; The League of Crafty Guitarists (2003) [1995], Intergalactic Boogie Express: Live in Europe..., Discipline Global Mobile, Sku  DGM9502. Intergalactic Boogie Express: Live in Europe... at AllMusic. Retrieved 29 February 2012.
  29. Ball, Steve (21 May 2009). "Steve Ball extended history: Side note". Steve Ball Roadshow: Extended press-kit. steveball.com. Retrieved 28 February 2012.
  30. Ball, Steve (1 October 2001). "Saturday 29 September". Steve Ball diary. steveball.com. Retrieved 29 February 2012.
  31. Hegarty & Halliwell (2011 , "Illustration credits: Chapter 9", p. xii )
  32. Zwerdling (1998)
  33. Powers (2011)
  34. Cleveland (2005)
  35. "Guitar performance slated for Unity Church". Body and soul: What's happening. Yakima Herald-Republic. 1 April 2000. Archived from the original on 25 February 2016. Retrieved 22 April 2012.
  36. Upchurch (2010)
  37. Cleveland (2004a)
  38. Plague of Crafty Guitarists, Volume 1 at AllMusic . Retrieved 24 April 2012.
  39. Fripp, Robert. "Robert Fripp's diary: Saturday, 14th February 2009". Discipline Global Mobile. Archived from the original on 18 February 2012. Retrieved 19 February 2012.
  40. Anonymous, Guitar Craft. "Guitar Craft: Guitar Craft has ceased to exist". guitarcraft.com. Retrieved 19 February 2012.
  41. Fripp, Robert, A few words from the patron, Seattle Circle Guitar School, retrieved 19 November 2011

Related Research Articles

Guitar Fretted string instrument

The guitar is a fretted musical instrument that usually has six strings. It is typically played with both hands by strumming or plucking the strings with either a guitar pick or the fingers/fingernails of one hand, while simultaneously fretting with the fingers of the other hand. The sound of the vibrating strings is projected either acoustically, by means of the hollow chamber of the guitar, or through an electrical amplifier and a speaker.

Robert Fripp English guitarist, composer and record producer

Robert Fripp is an English musician, songwriter, and record producer, best known as the guitarist, founder and longest-lasting member of the progressive rock band King Crimson. He has worked extensively as a session musician and collaborator, notably with David Bowie, Blondie, Brian Eno, Peter Gabriel, Daryl Hall, Midge Ure, Talking Heads, and David Sylvian. He has also contributed sounds to the Windows Vista operating system. His discography includes contributions to over 700 official releases.

Plectrum

A plectrum is a small flat tool used to pluck or strum a stringed instrument. For hand-held instruments such as guitars and mandolins, the plectrum is often called a pick and is a separate tool held in the player's hand. In harpsichords, the plectra are attached to the jack mechanism.

Power chord

A power chordPlay  is a colloquial name for a chord in guitar music, especially electric guitar, that consists of the root note and the fifth, as well as possibly octaves of those notes. Power chords are commonly played on amplified guitars, especially on electric guitar with intentionally added distortion or overdrive effects. Power chords are a key element of many styles of rock, especially heavy metal and punk rock.

Clawhammer

Clawhammer, sometimes called frailing, is a distinctive banjo playing style and a common component of American old-time music.

Guitar pick

A guitar pick is a plectrum used for guitars. Picks are generally made of one uniform material—such as some kind of plastic, rubber, felt, tortoiseshell, wood, metal, glass, tagua, or stone. They are often shaped in an acute isosceles triangle with the two equal corners rounded and the third corner less rounded. They are used to strum chords or to sound individual notes on a guitar.

Fingerstyle guitar

Fingerstyle guitar is the technique of playing the guitar or bass guitar by plucking the strings directly with the fingertips, fingernails, or picks attached to fingers, as opposed to flatpicking. The term "fingerstyle" is something of a misnomer, since it is present in several different genres and styles of music—but mostly, because it involves a completely different technique, not just a "style" of playing, especially for the guitarist's picking/plucking hand. The term is often used synonymously with fingerpicking except in classical guitar circles, although fingerpicking can also refer to a specific tradition of folk, blues and country guitar playing in the US. The terms "fingerstyle" and "fingerpicking" also applied to similar string instruments such as the banjo.

California Guitar Trio

California Guitar Trio (CGT) is a band of three guitar players founded in 1991. The three—Paul Richards of Salt Lake City, Utah, Bert Lams of Affligem, Belgium, and Hideyo Moriya of Tokyo, Japan—met at a 1987 Guitar Craft course, in which Robert Fripp instructed them in the New Standard Tuning (NST). After completing several of Fripp's Guitar Craft courses, the three toured as part of Robert Fripp and The League of Crafty Guitarists.

The Ovation Guitar Company is a manufacturer of string instruments. Ovation primarily manufactures steel-string acoustic guitars and nylon-string guitars, often with pickups for electric amplification. In 2015, it became a subsidiary of Drum Workshop after being acquired from KMCMusicorp.

All fifths tuning Guitar tuning

Among guitar tunings, all-fifths tuning refers to the set of tunings in which each interval between consecutive open strings is a perfect fifth. All-fifths tuning is also called fifths, perfect fifths, or mandoguitar. The conventional "standard tuning" consists of perfect fourths and a single major third between the g and b strings:

Guitar tunings

Guitar tunings assign pitches to the open strings of guitars, including acoustic guitars, electric guitars, and classical guitars. Tunings are described by the particular pitches denoted by notes in Western music. By convention, the notes are ordered from lowest-pitched string to highest-pitched.

The League of Gentlemen were a band active during March–December 1980 that featured guitarist Robert Fripp of King Crimson fame. Other members included bass guitarist Sara Lee, keyboardist Barry Andrews and percussionist Johnny Toobad, replaced late in the band's tenure by Kevin Wilkinson.

New standard tuning Alternative guitar tuning

New standard tuning (NST) is an alternative tuning for the guitar that approximates all-fifths tuning. The guitar's strings are assigned the notes C2-G2-D3-A3-E4-G4 ; the five lowest open strings are each tuned to an interval of a perfect fifth {(C,G),(G,D),(D,A),(A,E)}; the two highest strings are a minor third apart (E,G).

Discipline Global Mobile Record label

Discipline Global Mobile is an independent record label founded in 1992 by Robert Fripp and producer/online content developer David Singleton. DGM has released solo music by Fripp as well as work by various affiliated musicians and bands including King Crimson, The Vicar, the California Guitar Trio and others. The label has offices in Salisbury, England, and Los Angeles, California;

Hybrid picking

Hybrid picking is a guitar-playing technique that involves picking with a pick (plectrum) and one or more fingers alternately or simultaneously. Hybrid picking allows guitar players who use a pick to perform music which would normally require fingerstyle playing. It also facilitates wide string leaps which might otherwise be quite difficult. The technique is not widespread in most genres of guitar playing, but is most often employed in "chicken pickin'"; rockabilly, country, honky-tonk, and bluegrass flatpicking styles who play music which occasionally demands fingerstyle passages.

Hybrid picking involves playing with the pick and the right hand m and/or a fingers...at the same time. The pick is held in the usual way...and the fingers execute free strokes in the typical fingerstyle manner...Hybrid picking allows fingerstyle-like passages to be freely interspersed with flatpicked passages...without any delay.

Flatpicking

Flatpicking is the technique of striking the strings of a guitar with a pick held between the thumb and one or two fingers. It can be contrasted to fingerstyle guitar, which is playing with individual fingers, with or without wearing fingerpicks. While the use of a plectrum is common in many musical traditions, the exact term "flatpicking" is most commonly associated with Appalachian music of the American southeastern highlands, especially bluegrass music, where string bands often feature musicians playing a variety of styles, both fingerpicking and flatpicking. Musicians who use a flat pick in other genres such as rock and jazz are not commonly described as flatpickers or even plectrum guitarists. As the use of a pick in those traditions is commonplace, generally only guitarists who play without a pick are noted by the term "fingerpicking" or "fingerstyle".

Crosspicking is a technique for playing the mandolin or guitar using a plectrum or flatpick in a rolling, syncopated style across three strings. This style is probably best known as one element of the flatpicking style in bluegrass music, and it closely resembles a banjo roll, the main difference being that the banjo roll is fingerpicked rather than flatpicked.

Open C tuning

Open C tuning is an open tuning for guitar. The open-string notes form a C major chord, which is the triad (C,E,G) having the root note C, the major third (C,E), and the perfect fifth (C,G). When the guitar is strummed without fretting any strings, a C-major chord is sounded. By barring all of the strings for one fret, one finger suffices to fret the other eleven major-chords.

Guitar picking

Guitar picking is a group of hand and finger techniques a guitarist uses to set guitar strings in motion to produce audible notes. These techniques involve plucking, strumming, brushing, etc. Picking can be done with:

Regular tuning

Among alternative guitar-tunings, regular tunings have equal musical intervals between the paired notes of their successive open strings.

References

Further reading