Robert Fripp - Guitar Heroes A-Z

Helping pioneer progressive rock (as he did with King Crimson’s landmark 1969 album In the Court of the Crimson King, and six additional releases before disbanding the group in 1975) was just one of Robert Fripp’s many contributions to electric guitar culture. The late ’70s found Fripp collaborating with David Bowie, Brian Eno, and Talking Heads, and performing in a solo-looping context dubbed Frippertronics. In 1980, he reformed King Crimson in a dual-guitar configuration with Adrian Belew, playing music that emphasized intricate, interlocking “guitar gamelan” arrangements. In 1985, Fripp stepped out of the spotlight, retuned his guitar to a custom set of intervals he dubbed “New Standard tuning” (C, G, D, A, E, G, low to high), and began his noted Guitar Craft seminars, which offered a wholly new approach to the education of the aspiring guitarist. Since the mid ’90s, Fripp has continued his Guitar Craft activities, expanded Frippertronics into “Soundcapes,” and reformed the Fripp

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.