During his 50+-year tenure as the mastermind guitarist of prog-rock stalwarts King Crimson, Robert Fripp has authored his fair share of knotty, exceedingly difficult guitar parts.
None of them, however, hold a candle to "Fracture," an 11-minute instrumental from King Crimson's 1974 album, Starless and Bible Black. Featuring a three-minute, “moto perpetuo” (Italian for "perpetual motion") section in which Fripp unleashes a non-stop barrage of notes – cross-picked over two and three strings, no less – at 124-136 bpm, the piece has been described by its own author as “impossible to play.”
That classification hasn't stopped guitarist Anthony Garone, however. For the last 22 years, Garone – after being challenged to learn the piece by his father as a teenager – has worked at getting "Fracture" down, documenting the process in blog posts and his Make Weird Music YouTube channel along the way.
Now, Garone has written a book about the arduous journey, called Failure to Fracture. The book, and Garone's efforts, attracted the attention of Fripp himself, who said of Garone “Anthony has spent 22 years failing to play 'Fracture.' Actually, he’s done a pretty good job. Anthony’s failure is so well-achieved in my book, it’s a success.”
According to Garone, his breakthrough on the piece came after attending a guitar masterclass hosted by Fripp in Mexico in 2015. There, he learned the intricacies of Fripp's right-hand technique from the man himself, and realized that in order to master the song he would have to “relearn how to play guitar, sit, stand, and breathe."
Afterwards, Garone entirely re-trained himself on the guitar, undergoing a practice regimen of playing a single open string for two hours a day across several weeks. From 2016 on, he was finally able to master small sections of "Fracture," before eventually nailing it, and its sequel piece, "FraKctured."
Failure to Fracture is set for a May 18 release. You can preorder it here.
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Jackson is an Associate Editor at GuitarWorld.com and GuitarPlayer.com. He’s been writing and editing stories about new gear, technique and guitar-driven music both old and new since 2014, and has also written extensively on the same topics for Guitar Player. Elsewhere, his album reviews and essays have appeared in Louder and Unrecorded. Though open to music of all kinds, his greatest love has always been indie, and everything that falls under its massive umbrella. To that end, you can find him on Twitter crowing about whatever great new guitar band you need to drop everything to hear right now.