Robert Fripp - Guitar Heroes A-Z

October 29, 2007

Throughout his far-flung musical journey, Fripp’s highly idiosyncratic guitar technique has always avoided the blues-based approach of most rock guitar players, drawing instead on concepts more associated with avant-garde jazz and European classical music (though frequently with a Hendrix-like ferocity). He often combines a mastery of rapid alternate picking with motifs in whole-tone or diminished tonalities, and stretches out continuous cross-picked (and, believe it or not, polka-influenced) sixteenth-note patterns for minutes at a time in a form called moto perpetuo (perpetual motion). The resulting sound—a sonic mist of timbral diamonds—can be heard in such compositions as “Fracture,” “FraKctured,” and “Starless.”

If you want to explore New Standard tuning, you may want to do some string swapping. The low C can sound flaccid unless the gauge is upped, and the high G will require something rather gossamer. (Many in the Guitar Craft community use an .011-.058 set for acoustic.) Once your guitar is re-tuned, tackle the example below. The first two measures are typical of Fripp’s whole-tone moto mojo. Built on augmented triads, the opening phrases travel in descending minor-third motion, generating virtual 12-tone ambiguity before landing, butterfly-like, on a delicate Cmaj7 chord. Alternate picking is essential, as is letting all notes ring for as long as possible.

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