GC Course Diaries by Robert Fripp: Level 1 & 2 in Los Molinos, Spain

Date or timeframe: 22-01-2003 / 01-02-2003
Venue: Villa Mercedes / Padres Claretianos
City: Los Molinos
Country: Spain
Category(-ies): /

Wednesday 22nd. January, 2003; 18.49

Villa Mercedes / Padres Claretianos,
Calle San Pascual Nº 3, esquina travesía San Pascual,
28 460 Los Molinos,
Madrid, España.

Hooray! My suitcase arrived at the front door two hours ago. I am now warmer, with fleece & thermal vest, and with clean socks. My razor arrived as well. My night was mainly sleepless & I rose at 12.45. Spent this afternoon gently arriving with borrowed guitar & catching up with old GC compadres.

The house is filling rapidly, and many of the very first Crafties are here: Curt Golden & Claude Gillet from the very first GC course, Tony Geballe from the second, several others from the first year and the Red Lion House. Altogether, we are now anticipating the arrival of 14 for the Level One, 15 for the Level Two, plus 37 Kitchen Team & Lifers, with 14 staff. There are 4 guests and 17 participating at a distance.

Hernan & The Team have been tuning the house, re-vibrating tables & chairs so that everyone has room to eat together in the dining room. This is a good house for a course of 30 people, perhaps 40 or so. It will become a good house for 84 of us. Quiet, and perhaps even silence, has been visiting.

21.55 The food for dinner was very much like the food served for lunch, although served in peppers rather than soup bowls. Frank Sheldon, at the head of the line, commented “old wine in new bottles”. Old wine with cabbage, then. Dessert was very close to crème caramel, but with strawberry sauce. Very tasty.

Arrivals continue to arrive, the Europa String Choir among them. Caliope resonates from the dining room through to my luxury quarters: cold, but with my own en suite toilet & shower. Almost the Ritz at Los Molinos.

23.11 Martin & Hernan have visited. We discussed GC possibilities in Argentina & the Italian member of the Level One who last January in Sassoferrato bootlegged much of the course, in good quality digital. That Level One marked a transition, and a change in strategy for beginning courses in Guitar Craft. Such a high proportion of participants were clueless, and willfully clueless, that we decided to insert a filter to full Level One. This is the Introduction To Guitar Craft courses. Most of the cluelessness last year was a result of drug use.

If anyone needs to have it explained why surreptitious recording of personal meetings, discussions, performances & encounters is not appropriate, then conscience is not quite activated; and Guitar Craft may not be the place for you. Alternatively, I don’t know a better.

Thursday 23rd. January, 2003; 09.14

Los Molinos.

A second almost-sleepless night although both nights have had dreams with my Wife in them. This is most welcome to me because I miss her terribly.

To bed at 23.35, awake at 01.00. Perhaps I fell asleep about 05.30 or 06.00. The front door spring & many feet on the staircase had me awake at 08.06. For most of the night I found myself planning a Big Time Boogie and/or Big Time Blues for the Big Time Trio, all three of whom are here this week.

But the sun is shining and the sky is mostly blue, welcome after the constant rain.

14.53 Pablo has been helping me with various computing difficulties, and an external disk drive that forze this Powerbook. Now there are materials printing. And GC House Rules are soon for the board outside the door…

Guitar Craft House Rules:

Levels One & Two

Villa Mercedes / Padres Claretianos
Calle San Pascual Nº 3, esquina travesía San Pascual
28 460 Los Molinos

Thursday 23rd. January, 2003

Nothing is compulsory, but some things are necessary.

No judgements are made: we accept you as you arrive.

There is no mistake save one, the failure to learn from a mistake.

Conditions are often uncomfortable, but usually acceptable.

Some people here will irritate you.

Don’t worry: you will also be irritating them.

You are not asked to accept any direction that violates conscience.

You are not asked to passively accept any idea that is presented to you.
Rather, you are invited to test ideas you find surprising, to establish the veracity of those ideas, or not, for yourself.

You are encouraged to adopt a position of healthy skepticism, while participating in a spirit of goodwill.

Please stay within the boundary of the facility for the duration of the course.

If you require something, please ask the House Manager.

Be on the course, to the degree that you are able to honorably bear.
For example, listen to the music generated within the course; telephone when necessary, or when useful.

Avoid listening to, and reading, any non-course material.

Recording during the course is not permitted.

Photography of the house and other participants is acceptable, subject to the permission of those being photographed.
Photography of course details, such as notices & formal documents, is not permitted.

Drug use is incompatible with participation in Guitar Craft.

Although nothing is compulsory, this is necessary.

If Robert considers that any person’s continuing participation is detrimental to either that person, or the course as a whole, Robert may ask that person to leave.

If any of this is unacceptable, you are free to leave with a full refund prior to the beginning of the course.
If you decide to stay, you are asked to stay for the duration of the course.

17.09 More people have arrived. Computing is continuing to be exciting, if surprising.

18.14 There was a question from the Crimson Q&A at Sushi Sans Souci last Saturday that I didn’t properly answer.

Question: Why do you still do this?

(Un)Answer: Because this particular cycle in the Crimson process is still underway, and has not yet completed.

18.59 All the Level Twos are arrived, save one.

20.25 The house is bouncing. Dinner was quite acceptable with a minuscule, although tasty, dessert.

The Inaugural Meeting for the Level Two, Kitchen Team & Lifers is at 21.00. Several Level Ones are here (although their course begins tomorrow) and they are welcome at the meeting although not formally introducing themselves until tomorrow. The Board has several good reports from At-A-Distance participants, reporting on their work & sense of the GC presence at the end of their distance, and good wishes to us here.

22.21 The meeting was preceded by tango, danced to an accompaniment by Zum , a trio of 2 Japanese & 1 Argentinian Crafties. The course was acknowledged as being underway at 21.08.

A large meeting and good comments with the Team stating:

who they are;
where they are from;
what brought them here;
their aim in being here.

At the end of the meeting, no-one spoke up when asked if they needed help in rising at 06.45. This is the first time ever in Guitar Craft history that no-one has asked for a wake-up call. As Frank commented, after 17 years people have got wise to the “help” on offer.

One guest declared their aim as “listening consciously, or at least intentionally”. Now, this is interesting.

Friday 24th. January, 2003; 09.50

Los Molinos.

A third sleepless, or relatively sleepless, night. In bed at 22.45, awake at midnight, perhaps falling asleep around 04.00, waking again at 05.36 before rising at 06.30. At 06.30 in this house hot water for the shower is not yet hot. This assists an alert entry to the day.

The sun is shining, the sky is blue, the temperature brisk.

Buffet breakfast took 20 minutes for everyone to file past & help themselves from the table. Frank pointed out at that, at this rate, one hour per day will be spent in queuing for food. A Hellish solo guitar breakfast performance of Stardust in mellow & swing styles.

There was a Staff, Mentor & Lifer Meeting at 09.00, followed by a meeting for the Kitchen Team (the largest ever assembled) at 09.30. Now to meet Level Two with guitars.

12.51 The Level Two morning felt like a long time. Ascending & descending around the circle into 3 octaves, then 3 and just-over-a-half octaves, and eventually 4 octaves. After a break, a Division of Attention exercise for feet & hands. Then to thrakking in 11 & 7 with two new magic chords. Then a dismal ascent into 4 octaves before a dismal descent.

One member of the Level Two has transferred to the Level One. Clearly, Level Two is not the place for his to be at this time. There is no shame in knowing where one is, and where one belongs. Rather, this is to be commended as an act of intelligence.

14.11 At lunch another very good performance of Stardust, this time by The Hellboys in trio formation.

Very good comments over lunch. One question, from a Crafty who was very active in the early years & we have not seen for some time, asked “where did the energy go?” He was referring to the energy once available for him to invest in hours practising the polyrhythms used on courses at that time. Those polyrhythms were now established in his body. Yet this morning, facing new and different polyrhythms, there was no energy for him to apply himself to the challenge, as in earlier years. So, where had the energy gone? This is a good question.

The energy went to three places, RF suggested:

1. Part to the Crafty, in payment for his honourable work, and available to invest in his future, or to go on a spree;
2. Part to the course/s on which he worked;
3. Part to Guitar Craft, the larger construct in which we are engaged.

More generally, this is a question that the Lifers on this course are addressing. Questions of energies are addressed primarily at stages 4 & 5 of the overall process of acquiring a discipline, or interior architecture, and come under the main headings of:

Stage Four: letting go of bad habits
Stage Five: acquiring good habits.

A discipline aims to make our habitual responses efficient. “Good” habits are efficient. “Bad” habits waste energy. So, letting go of “bad habits” addresses the release of energy locked in physical, psychological and emotional patterns. Many of these are the result of inappropriate experiences in early family life & contemporary education. Some patterns manifest as stage fright & may be experienced as survival issues. But who is afraid?

We also look at plugging leaks, such as fidgeting, daydreaming, anger & the expression of anger (the American and English approaches are very different, for example). We also lose huge amounts of energy to attractions from the outside world. News-stands provide a whole battery of visual delights, fears & excitements to attract our attention & suck us dry.

Acquiring good habits: the aim is an efficient practice regime where nothing is wasted. This does not arise by accident. Craft information is needed, and a teacher or instructor. Physical relaxation & the development of bodily stillness; directing the mind, for example by counting and visual display of a piece or repertoire. In this way we learn to see integrally, and to have a better sense of the whole. This facilitates an expansion of our present moment & we learn to see a process through. The cultivation of goodwill is also necessary, and to be regularly practised. When successful, our energies begin to cohere, and we have a taste of effortless effort.

Obviously, this is a very brief overview of a subject capable of infinite refinement.

Both these stages fall within the larger middle of the larger process, known in Guitar Craft as the Great Divide. This is a perilous place to be, and confusing, where the process may unwind & everything may be lost. We may even have to return to the beginning.

The lunch service was streamlined: an “Argentinian solution” Hernan tells me. Fernando, sitting at the top table, answered several questions; and there were many good comments.

15.54 When we are being creative, we may not know that we are being creative.

A prime difference between the spontaneous activity of play, and the directed work of the creative artist, is that we are not held responsible for the repercussions of playing. Although we are not held responsible for the repercussions of play, we are held responsible for the repercussions of a creative undertaking.

So, one of the seeming contradictions of Guitar Craft, which addresses the development of instrumental skill, is that the greater the skill the greater the impediment to creative action. This is a major concern of the professional life: the greater the degree of professionalism, the greater the seeming limitations on spontaneous expression. As if, when we know what we are doing, we do what we know. This is reliable & non-creative.

Two handwritten aphorisms, both mentioned at lunch, are on the board:

The questions we ask direct the course of our lives.(14-XI-02)
The source of our knowing is of greater value than the extent of our knowledge.

17.07 The priest responsible for the practicalities of the building, the House Overseer as it were, has visited to check us out. We are the first non-local & international organization to hire the house, with many visiting foreigners, and are unknown to the authorities. His is a reasonable concern.

17.17 Hernan has returned. The Manager was sufficiently taken with our work for us to now have permission for “the Maestro and his students” to use the chapel. This will help us enormously in terms of the physical space available to us. Apparently, in the past not everyone has treated the chapel with respect.

18.01 Two photos appeared on the board last night, from 1985, the first year of GC, of a course visiting Virginia Beach. My Wife is at the front of the picture. Also, a very Guitar Craft instructor, the only one at that time, looking as if he is doing the best that he can.

A flyer for the League of Crafty Guitarists is on the adjoining wall, from 1989. Of the fifteen people in the picture, seven are presently in this house, thirteen are still engaged in ongoing GC activities, and one has disappeared. He left in 1991in a very bad state.

19.55 A dinner with several performances of varying degrees of givingness. Only one person has not yet arrived, a Lifer. A Level One has arrived without suitcase, and two without guitars. Hopefully, guitar & baggage will follow soon.

House Rules were declared in the attempt to persuade those, here for the first time, to leave before the course begins; with full refund and a walk to the gate with Hernan. Inaugural Meeting for the Level One is at 21.15.

The 18.15 meeting with Level Two looked at a simple boogie pattern, with varying forms of picking, octave inversion & substitution, and playing in octaves. Several solos were tendered with good humour.

22.12 A first: at the beginning of the Inaugural Meeting, there was no formal announcement nor acknowledgement that the course was underway. This is significant.

Partly, this is because the Course was so clearly underway that no formal acknowledgement was necessary. On the other hand, perhaps Fripp is no longer able to cut the Guitar Craft mustard, a sad & pitiful creature who has been away from home for too long, a withered prune of an instructor on the Guitar Craft vine. Partly this also represents a shift in the nature of Guitar Craft, Guitar Craft courses and their composition; and a shift in my relationship to Guitar Craft, and my work in the courses.

There are usually several people looking at the board outside the door, as if something has happened or is about to happen. Very little happens on this board, because it is so small. We are looking at putting a larger board in the other, connected, building.

There is also a lot going on, subtly, beneath the surface of the lot-going-on on top of the surface, even the surface itself. In this more subtle area, we don’t know what’s happening. This is not only good, it is necessary if we are to discover creative solutions to the larger Guitar Craft concerns that the Lifers (at least) have brought to this course.

22.54 Several short meetings/discussions. This is an advantage of being just the other side of the notice board just the other side of the dining room door. The dining room is currently a site of activity & conviviality & guitar playing.

Saturday 25th. January, 2003; 07.54

Los Molinos.

This is the most settled first morning sitting with Level One that I have known. Usually, it has taken three, perhaps four, mornings to settle. I attribute this to the large proportion of more experienced Crafties and the Introduction To Guitar Craft courses

My first night’s sleep. Warmth arrived yesterday in the form of a radiator borrowed from the sister of an Argentinian Crafty.

11.31 The Staff & Mentor Buddies Meeting addressed mainly practical concerns; the Kitchen Team meeting addressed mainly practical concerns, with the emphasis on organizational arrangements.

This Level One is the best prepared Level One of all time. There is only one player who has not been on an Introduction To Guitar Craft.

13.55 Many good comments over lunch, and soup served with dual processors.

At the beginning of lunch, the Kitchen Co-ordinator asked for the nasty, horrid fluorescent lights in the dining room to be switched on. I asked that they be immediately switched off. They were not necessary: daylight with blue sky & sunshine provided more than a sufficiency of light; and they cast a nasty, horrid shine onto everyone & everything.

This is an example of where rules & regulations, if strictly adhered to, may be inappropriate. The application of the creative intelligence is necessary in novel situations. In Mutiny On The Bounty Marlon takes over the ship & sets Trevor Howard, the captain, adrift. When Trevor gets back to England & the Royal Navy have a Committee to investigate the mutiny, they find for Trevor. He is, after all, captain.

But the Committee notes that the Rules & Regulations of the Royal Navy were written in the expectation that an English gentlemen would be appointed captain of a Royal Navy vessel. An English gentlemen was expected to provide this element, of creative adaption, to rigid & proscriptive rules, in order to fairly meet the variety of situations that life unfailingly presents. The Royal Navy knew, when writing the Rules & Regulations, they could not cover all possible arising situations. The English Gentlemen, in this context, represents the creative element. The Committee noted that, in this respect, the Royal Navy failed; ie Trevor is not a gentleman.

How, then, to know right conduct in a situation, even a situation in which we have never found ourselves before? For the first time, I presented this as “the aim of Guitar Craft”. There may be different ways of formulating this, but it stands. So, here a formal presentation:

The aim of Guitar Craft is to know right conduct in all situations, even situations where we find ourselves for the first time.

This is one of several possible formulations of the prime Guitar Craft aim: the development of conscience.

Lunchtime also offered comments:

on this morning’s work;
a version of Japanese whispers, where multiple translations are made between several different languages of Crafties present;
a report on cleaning by Lifers;
statements of cleaning preferences by several.

I presented a noticing from the morning: where there was careless playing of Eye of the Needle by one student outside the ballroom. This relates to Steve’s comment yesterday at lunch – where has the energy gone? This was a good example: the playing was unintentional. In addition to this, Eye Of The Needle is, for me, sacred. It cannot be played without intention. So to see & hear this happening carelessly outside the ballroom made me really pissed. And it is rare that I get really pissed. And then there was the waste.

But, there is no mistake save one – the failure to learn from a mistake. So that careless moment is available for redemption.

16.46 A wonderful performance by The Big Time Trio at tea. Their tango is superb and authentic.

A guitar meeting with the Kitchen Team at 15.00. Circulations, thrakking circulations, & thrakking.

A valuable conversation with Tom Hellboy on the subject of acquiring a Guitar Craft House in England for the projected one-year 2006/7 course.

17.51 Some insights & bright ideas flying by while shaving & showering. The bathroom is a good place for me to reflect on arising matters that hold value for me.

18.55 Level One meeting, circulations & polyrhythms.

20.20 About to be printed and put on the board…

Guitar Craft

Villa Mercedes / Padres Claretianos
Calle San Pascual Nº 3, esquina travesía San Pascual
28 460 Los Molinos

Saturday 25th. January, 2003

The standard of cleanliness and order asked of a Guitar Craft House is that it is fit to welcome a valued and respected guest, should they arrive unexpectedly and unannounced.

This Guitar Craft House, clean and ordered, is metaphorically and analogically more than a building within which Guitar Craft activities are conducted: it is a metaphor for the Crafty Lifer.

A lifer is one whose commitment is persistent and ongoing; that is, persistent and ongoing in the good times, the bad times – most difficult of all – the experientially long times when nothing seems to be happening at all; and which commitment is available to be tested and verified, also on an ongoing basis.

20.24 A very good dinner with new radical serving situation.

Sunday 26th. January, 2003; 14.26

Los Molinos.

The Level Two members are enjoying their lunch. At the end of our 12.15 meeting they were still somewhat undecided on which notes belonged to the scale of C major ascending & descending in alternating octaves, and opted for the Pig Crossing The Road Strategy – Total Commitment (based on a motivational story that my Sister used to tell). On this occasion it involved the Level Two staying in the chapel until the exercise was honourably discharged, once. So their lunch was postponed until this was done.

The day began with cold water & no heating. The Helpful Crafty who had volunteered to switch on the heating system at 05.00 did so – almost. They turned the switch to off. This is a good example of the GC aphorisms: don’t be helpful and helpful people are a nuisance. Unless competence (at least) accompanies the helpfulness, informed by a sufficiency of information & a sense of the whole process, the repercussions fail to match those that are intended.

Meetings this morning with Staff & Mentoring Buddies at 09.00, Kitchen Team at 09.30, Level One at 10.00 and Level Two at 12.15. Lunch was waiting on the tables for those of us who arrived at 13.00.

15.59 Kitchen Team meeting with guitars at 15.00. Difficult division of attention exercises for feet, hands, then with guitars. Then to new generation thrakking exercises & multiple-note circulations in C major/A natural minor, Cm/A flat major, D major/B natural minor.

One of the Argentinian Crafties now lives in Los Molinos. His wife and 2 young sons came to the meeting. The younger son was clearly having a very hard time & left not long after the beginning of the meeting. The older of the two stayed until the end.

16.22 Wonderful performances at teatime by two of the three outstanding GC trios: The Big Time Trio & Zum. (The third trio, not physically present here, is The California Guitar Trio).

18.52 Alexanderisinging has been taking place in the Ballroom. For me, an opportunity to shower & shave. At 18.15 a few words of introduction to the Practice of Doing Nothing.

The gates of heaven open to persistence.

20.34 Several good performances at dinner, including a large ensemble led by Tony Geballe. A brave solo performance from Joe, rewarded with a box of chocolates that he shared out. Also, good comments on the day’s work.

We are meeting at 21.30 in the ballroom, all guitars welcome, Perky & Non-Perky.

23.37 Lots of fun in the guitar meeting: a packed ballroom with 2 circles, inner & outer, with 2 groups of Mentor Buddies, one at each end.

There is bounciness in the house. Some people are having a hard time. There are 59 people signed up for personal meetings with me, beginning tomorrow. Tony Geballe has 3 calisthenics classes throughout the day. The Alexander Teachers have a day off and exeat.

Monday 27th. January, 2003; 08.07

Los Molinos.

A long queue for breakfast outside the door, as usual, although serving has improved. But big excitements: this morning there was hot water in the shower! Not warm-cold water, or very-cold cold water, but very hot water. I used this sparingly, and emerged from the shower grateful.

There is merit, and blessing, and reward for those who undertake necessary work; attenuated to the degree that this work is undertaken in the anticipation of merit, and blessing, and reward.

10.14 The house is cooking. This is the middle. Staff & Buddies’ Meeting at 09.00 & the Kitchen Team meeting at 09.30 both reflected this, focusing mainly on practical details such as heating, dining room table arrangement, tea & coffee station, clean-up, washing up. Also, concerns were expressed regarding personal meetings & arising burning issues. My expressed interest was for clarity & definition in the calendar. At the moment, 30 minutes lost in a queue at breakfast equivalates to 3 personal meetings.

The Middle-And-How-To-Get-Out-Of-It was discussed at the Staff Meeting.

Our motives push us as far as the middle of the middle. Our aim pulls us out of the middle. The confusion in the Great Divide may cause us to lose our way, even cause our process to unwind to the extent that we end up back at the beginning. The difficulty is, although our aim attracts us and pulls us towards it, if we are confused we may lose touch with it.

Tony is arpeggiating with a lot of guitars in the ballroom.

14.50 Lots of meetings & good issues, real issues, practical issues.

Good lunch with a strong performance from We’re Only In It For The Money (I call them Good Time In Osaka) among others. Several comments from the morning, including on the confusion over personal meeting schedules.

17.37 The first Guitar Craft Lifer meeting was held in the chapel at 16.30 for approx. 50 minutes. Not all the Lifers in the house were present. Perhaps some find the term daunting; perhaps they have not yet recognized themselves.

Very good comments presented by all, very much as in a Quaker meeting. The agreed consensus on “what is a lifer?” (in addition to “you clean toilets”) was that “lifer” implies a “substantial & ongoing commitment”.

For myself, I mentioned that I am not attached to Guitar Craft.

17.43 There will be a Level Three course this autumn at the Center For Creative Aspiration in Atlanta, Georgia to be directed by Curt Golden.

17.48 Also just on the board:

21.00 Good Time In Osaka vs. The Gauchos in chapel with Robert

21.30 Perky Guitars with Curt & Tony.

20.19 More personal meetings, mainly addressing life issues.

Performances at dinner by The Gauchos, a Kitchen Team ensemble, a solo song, and Joe playing his second solo. For this he was awarded a tasty packet of exceptional tastinesses for his courage in performance. Silence visited for some 30 minutes, which I apologized for interrupting with two announcements…

Not all the lifers in the house were at the Lifers’ Meeting;

There will be a Level Three course in Atlanta this autumn for 10-12 weeks for 12-15 people with Curt Golden.

22.32 I had an insight working with the Zum Gauchos Of Osaka regarding the difficulties people experience with their right hands: the small pressure needed for hitting the strings, which is released once the strings are struck, by many students is held for most of the time. Something like, a karate master who chops a block of wood maintaining the specific rigidity necessary for the small moment of impact.

The ballroom was full of Perky Guitars as I walked by.

Tuesday 28th. January, 2003; 08.34

Los Molinos.

An earlier schedule for this morning: rising at 06.30 and sitting at 07.00, breakfast at 07.45. The dining room had been re-arranged to allow for faster traffic flows. Generally, this seems to have been successful.

Today I have 7 hours of personal meetings, the first 3 hours with guitars.

14.38 Several performances at lunch, mainly of the therapeutic variety. Good comments on the morning’s work, and particularly of yesterday evening’s meeting with Curt’s introduction of a piece that is variously referred to as a “cathedral” & a “meditation”.

A grateful declaration, from the proposer of the motion, that pledges have now been made for 505 euros, sufficient to fire up the heating full time (which was beyond the budget for the course).

My personal meetings this morning were varied & good. A Japanese Level One student has been making hand-making picks & has given me one of them. They are made from the same India-rubber material as the Herdim picks we acquired from Gunther Dick during our time at the Red Lion House..

18.24 My last personal meeting left at 18.19. A good day of good issues. Now I’m dribbling gently.

20.08 There was a stunning performance at teatime by The Big Time Trio, of a Bach Partita in rapid circulating offset triplets. This was played twice at dinner, the second time followed by a visitation of silence lasting some 20 minutes. The Trio stood for this time, and then left to applause. Several other performances, some honourable & some therapeutic.

We have a meeting at 21.15 without guitars.

22.20 A House Meeting at 21.15. Comments on the day were offered. The longer plans for GC activities were announced: a summer project in this house, an autumn Level Three in Atlanta, and the possible English course for 2006-7. I then commented…

i) This house is not big enough for the course. The kitchen is too small. The dining room is too small. There are not enough single rooms & people are having a hard time in the dormitories. So, from one point of view, this is not the right house for this course. But, if little in my life is arbitrary, how much more can that be said of the life of Guitar Craft? So, my sense this morning was that our presence here is part of a larger picture, and one that escapes me.

It may be, as often in past, that the house needs what Guitar Craft brings to bear. In which case, we are in exactly the house that we have to be in. It is possible to rationalise this to some extent. For example:

a) We have made a good connection to the Order of Padres Claretianos & they have offered us a house in Seville that, on the surface, is far more suitable for large courses;

b) Several of the Crafties on this course live in the immediate or close environment, and this supports their position.

But my hunch is that there are repercussions involved here that we may never know.

We have often had the sense that, in the houses that become available for Guitar Craft courses, that the house needs something from the course. Presently, this house is vulnerable and its sphere of protection is diminished. So, perhaps this house is needing of something from us. Knowing this, we may be more accepting of our irritations, knowing that our irritation is not arbitrary.

If we act rightly, we can deal with the repercussions. If we act carelessly, the repercussions may trip us up. If we act badly, knowing that we are acting badly, then the repercussions may overwhelm us. Creative actions take place beyond our knowing, and set in train enormous responses & reactions, and repercussions far beyond what we may ever know; even though several years after the event we may learn or discover some of them. So, my sense of us being here is positive, despite our discomfort.

That is, we may not know why we are here, but we may know that we are in the right place.

ii) We are all at the same place. We all begin where we are. We are all in the same boat. Those involved for the first time in Guitar Craft, and hearing the term “lifers”, may think that those with longer experience have seniority. And experience is valuable. But “points of seeing”, or creative insights, are as available to members of the Level One as to Crafties who have been involved for several years. Perhaps these points of seeing are even more “available” to the less experienced who “don’t know what they are doing”.

iii) The present stage of the course is the middle. This is the place where we are too far from the beginning to go back & too far from the end to go forward. From yesterday’s Staff Meeting:

Our motives push us as far as the middle of the middle. Our aim pulls us out of the middle. The confusion in the Great Divide may cause us to lose our way, even cause our process to unwind to the extent that we end up back at the beginning. The difficulty is, although our aim attracts us and pulls us towards it, if we are confused we may lose touch with it.

But we are now at the end of the middle, and moving to the beginning of the end.

iv) In the overall end stage, we present our work to the world and our work is accepted, or not, and we are recognised, or not. This part of the process is out of our hands. For the performing musician, this involves presenting their work to an audience.

It is impossible for a performer to control a performance, even if they attempt to do so.

There will be a performance by the House on Wednesday evening for local invited guests. There are criteria for this performance, and anyone interested in presenting a performance may audition for Senor Nunez on Wednesday afternoon at 16.30. These auditions are open to everyone in the house, Levels One & Two, Kitchen Team, Staff & Buddies.

The course presents a supportive environment for those who wish to practice different approaches to performing. So, some of the performances offered on courses are more inclined to the therapeutic than the musical. This is supported by the GC House & course, but therapeutic performances are not appropriate for guests from the local community.

Wednesday 29th. January, 2003; 08.33

Los Molinos.

There were late-night footsteps on the corridor above my head, the feet of guitarists aspiring to performance & rehearsing into the early hours.

At breakfast: a superb performance of an octet circulating Bach, led by Martin; a new Hell Boys song played on Grace (Tom Hell Boy’s post-coma guitar) and The Big Time Trio with In The Mood, plus a solo song.

Victor leaves the course this morning for a gig in Boston, supporting The California Guitar Trio this weekend.

18.33 A busy day preparing for this evening’s performance. The Kitchen Team is presently preparing a buffet dinner in the dining room nearby.

Staff & Buddies’ Meeting at 09.00;

Kitchen Team at 09.30;
personal meetings for myself until lunchtime;
ongoing performances at lunch;
Steve introduced metrical divisions to anyone interested at 15.00;
Senor Nunez conducted auditions of prospective performers at 16.30.

The front door is opening & closing frequently as guitarists move between buildings. The key for today is flexibility: some people are signed up to appear at several meetings simultaneously & a proportion of meetings are inevitably being missed.

My own afternoon has been gentle.

19.40 A superb pre-performance buffet dinner. The temptation is to continue eating all of the multiple tastinesses on offer, several times. Were I performing this evening, I would not be able to eat any of it it. Hooray! then that I am an audient.

At the tea station Patrick, in charge of the toilet team, tells me that he is jealous of Mark. Mark is responsible for supplying toilet tissue to the bathroom (but has signally failed to deliver the single roll that I requested at the Kitchen Team meeting this morning). At that meeting, Mark was given the title Master Of The Rolls, an important position in the English judiciary (Lord Denning had already rewritten much law by the time I was study tort at Bournemouth College in the evenings). Patrick has been toying with other titles for himself, of a more distinguished vibratory character than “Toilet Supervisor”. Lord Of The Rims is one under consideration, Patrick tells me, and Crappies a term for those under his direction. I suggested Judge Of The Chambers as a worthy title for a person directly above over a Master Of The Rolls.

22.28 Guests and the house are milling & eating desserts with tea and coffee in the dining room. In my room, I have been brought two plates of cakes to sample, with a cup of tea.

The performance began at 21.08 with a piece from the Level One. This was entirely honourable. Then two duets from the Kitchen Team followed by an inexplicable delay. Eventually a larger Kitchen Team appeared. Then The Eight Brothers, an octet of The Big Time Trio + Zum + Martin & Fernando. After several pieces the Kitchen Team’s tango dancers entered & the tango was danced, accompanied by Zum. The accompaniment, by one Argentinian & two boys from Osaka, was entirely authentic. This never ceases to astonish me. Then more pieces & the team left, returning with a very large team that played Asturias with players stationed all around the ballroom & the lights turned off.

It was interesting for me to hear Eye Of The Needle & THRAK from The Eight Brothers and Asturias from the full team. These go back to 1985 in the Claymont Ballroom & the Red Lion House. The two trios were the main focus of the octet. The Big Timers are clearly an established band & Zum are rapidly becoming an item. Hernan has pertinent comments, as Director of The League of Crafty Guitarists, on the performance.

23.17 About to be printed & pinned on the board…

Guitar Craft

Villa Mercedes / Padres Claretianos
Calle San Pascual Nº 3, esquina travesía San Pascual
28 460 Los Molinos

Wednesday 29th. January, 2003

The source of our knowing is of greater value than the extent of our knowledge. (20-I-03)

When we are being creative, we may not know that we are being creative. (24-I-03)

We are not held responsible for the repercussions of play.
But we are held responsible for the repercussions of a creative undertaking. (24-I-03)

The greater the skill, the greater the impediment to creative action.(24-I-03)

The aim is to recognise right conduct in all situations, even situations where we find ourselves for the first time. (25-I-03)

The gates of heaven open to persistence. (26-I-03)

There is merit, and blessing, and reward for those who undertake necessary work; attenuated to the degree that this work is undertaken in the anticipation of merit, and blessing, and reward. (27-I-03)

Our motives push us as far as the middle of the middle. Our aim pulls us out of the middle. (27-I-03)

Thursday 30th. January, 2003; 07.43

Los Molinos.

Less numbers at the sitting this morning. The walk between buildings is brisk & snow is on the ground. Wind whistles. Outside my door, the breakfast queue queues, but in the anticipation of more rapid access to food & drink.

08.35 Comments over breakfast on the performance. A good one: what to do, after a performance, with the energy that becomes available in the performance? And some info from the large Kitchen Team that played Where’s The Nurse? Just before they went on, a first string broke on Steve’s guitar, which was suffering a fret buzz on the first string. The replacement string dropped the buzz. And Pablo, who led the team from the chapel to the ballroom, led them into the performance space in the opposite direction to the one planned. As he entered the ballroom, it was dark on the left where Pablo had expected to walk. So, the performance snake found themselves playing in reverse order to the one anticipated.

Sitting in the audience, one is rarely aware of the difficulties that confront performers & the mechanics of the performance situation. As we know, the performer can never control the performance situation – however much they prepare, practice & plan. In the performance, the event is out of their control and attempts to control the event limit the possibilities.

Despite the impossibility of controlling the situation, the Level One were given the first rule of performers when going into a performance area: protect your space. There may be mischievous & disruptive elements at work. Their performance for the house & course is at 10.30.

But before this we have meetings for the Staff & Mentoring Buddies at 09.00 & the Kitchen Team at 09.15.

13.04 There should be no should.

Music is a language of the creative intelligence.

14.09 The Level One performance, of two pieces, was supported by a mischievous audience that gave additional support to heeding the injunction protect your space – the avenues of approach to the performance end of the ballroom were blocked by audience members sitting in chairs, or just standing in the way. Senor Nunez appeared to be surprised when the snake attempted to pass him in accessing the stage and, eventually, stepped back.

Behind the performance end of the ballroom are three small rooms with glazed doors; that is, the rooms are directly behind the players. The middle room of these rooms had been secretly commandeered & occupied by a Crafty from Joisey. Once the Level One performance was underway, he switched on the room-light to illuminate his own performance: a performance of the gestural kind.

Another audient, sitting on the floor directly in front of the performance team, blew bubbles towards the guitarists from a soap-bubble container of the full kind. Metronomes went off in unhelpful tempi at unhelpful moments. On various occasions a recorded Spanish voice gave advice, on which subject I am not sure.

Despite this, two pieces were presented.

Cheers brought the Level One back for an encore – the first piece again. The audience were similarly disposed as during the first performance, but this time small objects were also thrown at the performers.

Afterwards, Levels One & Two met to discuss the performance before addressing an exercise for today: to introduce quality into our practice, even our lives. The relevant aphorism for this exercise is:

A quality is ungovernable by number.

My own work this morning has been mainly personal meetings.

At lunch: several performances, including a new Argentinian folk piece from The Big Time Trio. Several comments & an announcement for the merchandise shop operating at tea-time. Receipts are to go to the Argentinian Rescue Fund.

Claude Squerd reported on the meeting of Squerd And How To Make It with the whole Family Squerd, present on this course. Claude is planning to write the guide to parents for making squerd with their children. I confessed that, when at home, I myself make squerd on an almost daily basis: fruit squerd.

Then the question: what to do with the energy that arises in performance? We already knew, from an earlier lunch, that of this energy arising from honourable work, part is available for investing in our future, or for going on a spree. Various responses were put forward from the more experienced among the team…

Practice (Curt);
Be quiet (Steve);
May the results are transubstantiated in me for my being (Cathy).

For myself, I follow the same approach as Cathy. The formulation of this for me is:

May the results of this, our work, be transubstantiated in us for our being.

When I am on the road, touring, I don’t eat before a performance. So my main meal is at the end of the day. This is not ideal, but has the functions of feeding & earthing me. Extensive experience suggests that young professional musicians use the energy available to go on a spree of drinking, taking drugs and making new friends.

At 15.00 anyone is welcome to see the Qualified Alexander Teachers working with the trainee teachers.

14.03 Placed on the notice board just before 14.00, this unedited excerpt from lecture notes for the PRS Annual John Lennon Memorial Lecture presented at York University in February 2001, at the invitation of Dr. John Potter (a member of the Hilliard Ensemble)…

the new Crafty

We begin again, having moved on from where we were, and address becoming where we are.

For this, we may now have the outline construction of an interior architecture.

i interior architecture

A discipline supports the construction of an interior architecture. This is a body of practice which supports us through our day, however long that day may be.

This begins when our feet hit the floor in the morning, to when our head hits the pillow at night.

ii Discipline confers the capacity to become effectual in time.

Discipline is knowing what we are able to honourably undertake, and commit to, without any doubt that the undertaking will be discharged with reliability, surety, certainty. We are able to take decisions.

Attention span of 90 minutes.
Freedom from like and dislike.
Integral seeing: sense of the whole of any undertaking.

Something has begun to cohere. We are beginning to be our own person.

Coherence / Presence

The degree to which this is true is governed by our ability to bear suffering.
Necessary & unnecessary suffering.
Necessary suffering: voluntary suffering & intentional suffering

Doing Something Efficiently

This is traditionally where we present ourselves and our work for verification by an authority in the field.

Being Someone Efficient

If our work is successful, we are recognised and accredited at our particular level or degree of capacity.

Being Where We Are

But something can get in the way. So, in beginning again, we recognise that by holding on to who we are, to being something, even this gets in the way of music on download.

So, we let go of who we are and begin again.


i Conventionally and traditionally, there are four distinct qualities of working, or experiencing, or doing, or states of presence, or states of consciousness, which are referred to as “worlds”.

The automatic, mechanical, or habitual, world.
The world of awareness, or alertness, or sensitivity.
The conscious world, where we become aware of our awareness.
The creative world. I’ll say nothing on this now, assuming that we all know what we understand by the word, while knowing that actually we don’t.

Key words which relate to these worlds:

sleep and accident;
noticing and contact;
separation, judgement, intention and decision;
ex nihilo. Literally, out of nothing. Where did that come from?

ii worlds

Traditionally and conventionally, these different qualities of experiencing are referred to as “worlds”. Depending upon the tradition, there are a varying number of worlds which are presented as being available to the human being. Several traditions suggest that there are four worlds which are of primary concern. In this context, I suggest these:

The worlds of the apprentice, craftsman, master musician, genius.

The work of the apprentice mostly addresses working with the automatic. That is, they can play the notes on their instrument. This is where the best that the player might be is a good mechanic. This is, in itself, an achievement in its way. But a mechanic lacks contact with their playing: they are their playing.

The professional is asked to bring an awareness of what they are doing into their playing. Their playing is something they do, rather than being done. For the professional, music serves their own end or aim in life.

For the master, the musician serves the music. Their life is dedicated to following the Muse. This is not so much a profession as a vocation.

The genius is inseparable from the music. In a sense, the genius is the Muse incarnate.

Moving Between Worlds

i States and stations

When we enter a practice, or training in discipline, we learn to differentiate between states and stations. States are where we are in this moment, a station is where we live. We might consider a “state” to be where we are visiting.

Even if we live in the basement, it is possible for us to experience a finer world, a world of greater subtlety of perception and experiencing. The subtle world is always present within us: it’s a question of us knowing that directly. The first aim of any discipline is to create a bridge between the subtle and the material.

The creation of this “bridge” then enables the subtle to connect directly with the material world. The creation of the bridge is in potential: there is no inevitability about this taking place, nor does this occur by happy accident.

As our personal “bridge” begins to cohere, and to become increasingly “substantial”, our movement between worlds increases. That is, our experiencing becomes deeper, richer. The “existence” of these more subtle “worlds” is no longer a matter of conjecture and argument. This is fact.

ii Because the worlds interpenetrate, alternatively put, that the more intensive information stream may act within the more extensive, lower down the food chain of musicianship we might find ourselves bumping into higher quality information, even while we are within our own “lower” world. That is, we may experience the action of “higher worlds” even though we live in the world of the Happy Gigster.

Everything changes as we “move world”.
The “price of admission” is different in each world.
Each world has a different kind of experiential time.
Communication is different in each world. In the creative world communication is instantaneous.

iii Intensity

A “higher” world is a world of greater intensity. Another way of putting this: the information content is much higher, and the information is of greater quality, quantity and intensity.

It is unbearable to experience a higher world while present in a lower.

It is not difficult to have “experiences”. The desire for “experiences” is an indication of immaturity in a student. Unless the student is prepared, these experiences may cause emotional and psychological damage. A disciplined opening of doors allows for the doors to close as well.

When we enter a more intense world, as it were from our own initiative, or perhaps because we have paid the price of admission ahead of time, everything changes.

What is in that world may simply appear in front of us. Sometimes, it comes to us as if of its own volition. Sometimes, we come into contact with the inhabitants of that world. Sometimes, we even see that world in its own terms. From the perspective of a “lower” world, when we fall to earth, what we can know and say of this experience is only a distant echo of what is true, an interpretation.


worlds of performance
commercial event
preparation for

general comments

i Playing in public is very different from playing an instrument, and playing music, privately. Guitar Craft incorporates performance as an integral and necessary part of learning to play the instrument.

The practising of discipline is personal, and private. Public performance is public and impersonal, yet may be intimate.

ii Music does not fully become music until it is heard. Before music is heard, and recognised as music, accepted as what it is for what it is, music is not quite music.

iii Audience chooses its performer, and therefore mostly its music. We assume the performer is competent. Performer doesn’t choose the audience. This is inherently unfair.

Is the audience competent in listening? Disruptive?

Music so wishes to be heard that it sometimes calls on unlikely characters to give it voice. And, to give it ears.

iv Until very recently, in historical terms, it was impossible to listen to music in the home of anyone other than the exceptionally wealthy.

v Performance may be addressed in terms of its social function – the use to which performances are put – and in terms of its functioning: where any particular performance is considered as a function of the quality, quantity and intensity of the energy supply available to that performance.

vi Performance may also be seen as a process.

We may say that there are different worlds of performance, and performance as belonging to, or granting access to, different worlds of experiencing.


i The act of music is eternal. A particular show is governed by the conditions of time, place & person.

Benny Goodman at the Carnegie Hall in 1938 with two black musicians in his band.
Woodstock: free.
Rolling Stones at Hyde Park in 1969: free.
Live Aid: for charity.

ii Contemporary performance is where we add a fourth term to the Act of Music – the music industry. This is where performance becomes a battle zone of expectation and demand. Live performance is the front line.

Record industry looks on live performance as a promotional tool. That is, live performance is undermined & its value negated.

iii Process becomes product. Product is to be promoted. This involves media which, in the UK, is characterised by cynicism, negativity, hostility and opinionation.

iv The purchase of a ticket turns an exchange into a transaction, the listener becomes a consumer and acquires consumer rights without matching obligations.


i Qualities of performance:

Automatic: entertainment, expectation
Awareness: professional event. Clean.
Conscious or creative event. Free festivals

Construction of the performance:

The artist
The specific material
The space
The audience: the culture of different countries

20.05 The excerpt from the lecture notes ends there. I have made one or two very small edits for this diary – the notes are unedited notes for a lecture, not a formal essay. Also, I was not anticipating putting them on the board until I found my feet carrying me there & my hands pinning pages to the board. The notes seem to have found favour, or at least usefulness: a good number of the team are in front of the board taking notes by hand.

One Crafty suggested that the following was not true of several “traditional” societies where music is widely available…

iv Until very recently, in historical terms, it was impossible to listen to music in the home of anyone other than the exceptionally wealthy.

23.29 There is a cluster of the team outside the door, copying several more pages put on the board after dinner. Several errors have already been pointed out. This is a lightly edited version of the second batch of notes pinned to the board…

iii This suggests there are alternative futures available to us:

One is the future that is provided by the conditions of our lives – the conditions determined by where we are born, when we are born, and to whom we are born. These conditions are genetic, cultural, historical and, some would say, astrological.

Another future is the future that is possible for us. This is the future which is uniquely available to who we are. This possible future is one we are born to discover and then create for ourselves.

The degree to which we are able to achieve this is significantly determined by the degree to which we acquire discipline.

iv My life in the act of music, in live performance, began as a student of Kathleen Gartell’s Corfe Mullen School of Music to King Crimson.

v This wide, and not quite unequivocally valuable experience, leads me to suggest that:

It is not possible for the musician to play music.

But, it is possible that the musician is played by music.

We may not be able to govern the weather, but it is possible that we push the boat onto the lake & raise the sail. The wind may not blow, but if it does, we are ready and available.

vi The aim of the musician is to create a construct through which music may enter our world.

The Three Disciplines

i The musician has three instruments: the hands, the head and the heart.

Three words commonly describe the functioning of the hands, the head and the heart:


In musical vernacular, these three areas are often simply referred to as technique, ideas, feel.

ii different functional types

Each of us naturally inclines towards a greater capacity in one, or two, of these instruments.

We may be able to recognise in others, perhaps more easily than ourselves, people of different functional types: people with the tendency towards greater physicality, or cerebration, or emoting.

An example: at an earnest meeting near Regent’s Park Canal in London during early 1975, I was in a group which discussed Important Issues Of The Universe and Our Place In Them.

iii The three instruments are necessary in making judgements. Where the senses fail to render a decision – it looks ok, smells ok, but is it ok? Or an argument is persuasive, or not; the feelings can judge: this feels right, or not.


i Discipline is also a process.

Discipline is “acquired” in a series of stages. With experience, we begin to recognise the discrete quality of each of these stages. There are three stages: the beginning, the middle & the end. Each stage has itself three steps: the beginning, the middle and the end. This provides nine points in any complete process where qualitative shifts occur.

ii There are three endings to a process:

A finish, where something is lost;
A conclusion, where nothing is lost;
A completion is a new beginning.

iii The process of acquiring discipline is a movement from mechanical activity to intentional action. The process of discipline aims to:

1. Co-ordinate the functions – the three kinds of doing – the hands, the head & the heart: this is sometimes called “the harmonisation of functioning”;
2. Achieve coherence in the degree & intensity to which we are what we are: that is, our inner togetherness or “being”;
3. Unify our intention: that all of what we do serves the same aim; that we accept direction from central command at our “World HQ”.

We achieve this separation by practising the discipline of each of the functions, their co-ordination, and then their harmonisation.

Through applying ourselves to this practising, we generate energy.

Through the energy made available, we may be able to put some of it in the bank. This “saved currency” is then available for future investment.

iv stages & steps

The three stages of any discipline are these:

application, and:

We begin where are, and unfix our moment by doing nothing, and watching while we do nothing.

We move on from where we are, by introducing flexibility to our functioning by letting go of “bad habits” and acquiring “good habits”.

We become who we are by doing something with efficiency and becoming someone who is efficient.

Then, we begin again.

0 We begin where we are
1 Doing nothing
2 Watching while doing nothing

3 We move on from where we are
4 Letting go of “bad” habits
5 Acquiring “good” habits

6 Becoming where we are
7 Doing something efficient
8 Being someone who is efficient

9/0 Being where we are

When we arrive at where we are, as if for the first time, we begin to “hang together”, or to cohere. We are beginning to be our own person.

But who we are can get in the way. So, beginning again, we recognise that by holding on to who we are, to being something, this gets in the way of music on download. So, we let go of who we are and begin again. At a particular point in a mature life process, this confers:


The degree to which this may be so is governed by our ability to bear suffering.

Craft Techniques:

Practising the Person

So, each stage has a primary focus, and exercises to address:

The functions;
The degree to which we hang together (being);
The unification of our intention.

This presents six strategies of practising, governed primarily by the stage of our personal process, plus an invisible seventh.

Doing nothing;
Watching while doing nothing;
Letting go of bad habits;
Acquiring good habits;
Doing something with good habits;
Being someone with good habits.

Doing nothing

We begin where we are. So, before moving, better to know where we are. Before we move from A to B, better to know that we are at A.

So, before we do something, we do nothing. Doing nothing is very hard. Even when we believe that we are doing nothing, we put an enormous & unnecessary amount of energy into our doing nothing. Fidgeting, rattling brain, raging passions.

Technique: physical relaxation.
Technique: physical exhaustion: so that we run out of energy and are unable to do something in a habitual fashion.


i While we are doing nothing, perhaps in a relaxed fashion, we watch, we look, we observe: ourselves, our surroundings, people around us, and the interactions and interrelationships between these.

ii We look at ourselves as if we were looking at a friend we love: impartially, without judgement, without criticism. We simply look. In time, we gather information about this animal that we inhabit: what it does in recurrent circumstances, what it feels and thinks about those particular circumstances. We notice how what it feels and thinks and does impact upon each other.

iii We learn what we may ask the creature to do, notice where it is prepared to accept direction, where it refuses to follow instruction, when it goes on strike.

iv Although we have done nothing, simply by looking, something has changed. When one small part of a whole changes, the whole is itself changed. One small variation and, as if a butterfly has flapped its wings, there is a change in the overall economy and ecology of the human being.

v Four qualities of watching:


vi An observer is being constructed in personality, where part of us is becoming accustomed to look at other parts of us.

Not all of our energy is flowing into customary channels.
Our attention is being divided.

vii One day, when looking, a shift takes place. We move from looking to seeing.

viii When we have acquired more information while doing nothing, we begin to gently and gradually see what is possible in acquiring an efficient technique.

die that ye might be born

When we have sufficient information about what we are, we have the possibility of choice: do we wish to remain as we are, or will we change?

This second larger stage of the process is where we address the energy supply.


i quantity of energy

Energy is required for each of the instruments to function. A discipline addresses right use of energy; that is, the quantity, quality and intensity of the energy supply, and how it is used: the economy and ecology of the energy supply.

The quantity of energy:

How much is naturally available
how much is necessarily use on specific tasks
the acquisition or generation of more energy if needed
plugging leaks.

Key injunction:

honour necessity.
honour sufficiency.

ii quality of energy

There are different kinds of functioning. There are also different qualities of functioning.

Traditionally, a discipline differentiates between four qualities of working, of functioning, with which we need to become familiar; and to recognise when these qualities of working are present.

The four qualities of working are sometimes called the automatic, sensitive, conscious and creative.

iii intensity of energy

This is governed by intention.

Intention defines the boundaries and contains the action or task that is being undertaken.

iv subtleties

When we begin to experience the materiality of thought and the tangible effect of feelings, as if they were material actions, more subtle work can begin for us. We begin to address the distinct qualities of the energy available to us.

Firstly, we are ignorant.
Secondly, we know we are ignorant.
Thirdly, we acknowledge our ignorance.
Fourthly, we move to address our ignorance.

We can’t do this through books, although books are useful when we know the way. The aphorism here is: Signposts are useful when you know where you’re going. This suggests that some books are written for those who already know. They may also be written as a flag to wave to anyone interested. If you are interested, but don’t know, the next step is to find someone who does.

So find someone who has been there before.

letting go of bad habits

i The automatic world is the world of habitual responses, of mechanical activity.

Briefly, we have good habits and “bad” habits.

“Good” habits are efficient. An efficient energy economy makes it more likely that we can achieve in a lifetime what is possible for us. That is, our lives may serve the purpose for which we were born.

“Bad” habits, in this context, waste energy. Having “bad” habits does not necessarily imply that we are a “bad person”, nor unworthy, nor immoral, nor nasty, nor that we torment small animals. It means that we are at risk of failing to meet our life’s potential.

A discipline aims to make our habitual responses efficient. Our mechanical and automatic processes are conditioned, or programmed, through training. When our functions operate efficiently, we need invest little attention and energy in the activity of our functions. Our attention is then freed to supervise the task in hand, which includes holding an overview of the three functions working individually and together.

ii The different parts of the body, working mechanically, lock each other into the same habitual pattern.

Almost all our activity in the everyday world can be conducted by the body on automatic, without reference to thinking or feeling. This is both impressive and terrifying.

iii Prejudice. Like and dislike.

The three instruments work together automatically, each triggering the other in a series of mechanical operations, all of which are related to the past.

If we wish to see where we are, change the tempo of any habitual operation.

iv freeing energy b/locked energy

The release of energy locked in physical, psychological and emotional patterns. Most of these are a result of inappropriate experiences in early family life, and through contemporary education.

Blind spot. Stage fright. Who is afraid?

v plugging leaks

Reacting takes energy. Internal and external.

Fidgeting and twitching.
Daydreaming: fantasy.
Anger. Expressing anger. The American and English approach.


attracted attention – energy is sucked out of us. Newstands.
hostility and ill-will -a consequence of public life.


Fidgeting & restrained breathing is met by relaxation.
Anger is met by the cultivation of goodwill.
The whirring of mechanical mind is met by stilling the mind.

vi shock: external. Learn to use it. Turn it around.

But we can’t rely upon it. A crying baby. Someone who irritates us. Traffic noise – a horn.

Challenge: internal shock. Pointed stick. We create our own shocks by setting ourselves a challenge.

Lower levels of functioning are best addressed by a small, repeated or ongoing challenge. Hair shirt.

Higher levels of functioning are better addressed by a large challenge, one that can only be addressed by a change in state.

vii one-centred working: different aspects of one centre affects the other parts of that centre.

Les Bouches de Paris.
Terry’s mouth: mouth-hand lock.
Hand-eye lock.
Clean sheets & tidy: how we live our life is how we practise our guitar.

Anger and holding goodwill.
Whirring mind and holding an image.

viii two & three centred working:

Work on one centre affects the working of the other centres.
When one centre loosens up, the other centres loosen up in response.
So, we enlist the aid of two centres to act on the third.

Physical habits: the wish to change, and the information held in front of us of what to do, while physically relaxing.
Emotional habits: dislike or anger. Harder in a relaxed physical state and watching a picture of someone we love while cultivating a feeling of goodwill.

Whirring of mechanical mind: relaxed, present physical state, while cultivating a sense of goodwill and holding an image.

ix drugs

The human instrument has in-built protection devices for when download from a higher world (a world where the information content is greater, faster, and more intense) takes place when we are receiving in a lower state. We pass out, for example.

The degree to which we are able to manage information downloads is governed by our being. Some drugs open doors to quality information files, but they also suspend our capacity to close the doors when the download is too great, or the light is too bright, or the experience too intense to be borne and absorbed. Practice prepares us psychologically, emotionally and physically for those times of high information download. Otherwise, perhaps the system crashes. In serious cases, default programmes don’t reactivate. Re-booting loses a lot of information and time. In the human system, when fuses blow they may be irreplaceable.

x the great divide

Experientially, the period of letting go of bad habits, before there are good habits to take their place, lasts forever plus a year.

Acquiring good habits

i Craft information is needed. A teacher or instructor. Otherwise, we’ll replace bad habits by other bad habits.

Life is too short to learn by our own mistakes.
Efficient practice regime. Nothing wasted.

ii exercises


Relaxation. Development of bodily stillness.
Moving with relaxation & sensation.
Independence of the hands, the eye and the mouth.

Stilling the mind

Counting and playing. Visual display.
Stillness: effortless effort: our energies begin to cohere.
Our thinking is thrown upon a clear screen.
Seeing integrally: expansion of the present moment.
Seeing a process through.

Cultivation of goodwill

Division of attention.
The assumption of virtue.
The exercise of quality: set yourself to do one small thing superbly.

A small piece of quality. A quality is ungovernable by number.

Play. Spontaneity.

Job for the day.

iii generating energy

“The higher acts upon the lower to activate the middle”.

We confront habitual behaviour with a demand. This creates a friction, a tension, from which a kind of heat is released. Part of this heat is available to us. We may then put this in the bank, invest it for the future, or have a party.

Where we meet an intentional challenge, energy is released from that work.

Through the energy made available, we may be able to put some of it in the bank. This “new currency” is then available for future investment.

iv accessing energy

There are places and people who are reservoirs of energy, if we know the places, if we know the people.

i This afternoon, my final personal meetings.

Ii A meeting with Frank & Cathy after tea for Frank’s view of a possible future for Guitar Craft & the Alexander Teaching; and Frank’s personal plans.

iii Then at 17.50 a presentation by Levels One & Two of their piece of work. And a first – the Maestros’s proud boast was put to the test. I have always claimed that pliers could not take the pick from between my thumb & first finger, even though no unnecessary energy went into holding the pick. Joe the soloist put this claim to the test: twice. The pick didn’t even move. I asked for chocolates.

iv Then to dinner, several performances including by a new formation of The Hellboys, and comments.

v The Final Meeting of the Level One was held in the ballroom at 21.30. My opening words… “It only seems like a week since we first met here a year ago”. Checking my diary for the beginning of the course, it was fascinating to read the concerns of that time – heating, access to food, full dormitories, and even my own room was very cold. How we all suffered.

Thanks were due to Hernan, Alain, the Kitchen Supervisor & Coordinator, heroic work by Frank, Cathy, Mariela & trainee Maude, and then comments were offered.

Hernan announced the course for the summer, to be held in this house: 6 weeks in July & August; and Martin announced the project in Buenos Aires.

At the completion of the course it was legitimate to go on a spree, within the limitations of an ongoing course. Otherwise there was an opportunity to bring the energy home – cleaning the space. Tom Hellboy offered to direct work on toilets, corridors & dormitories.

It is appalling to see what we are. Several comments this week, in personal meetings, meal comments & group situations, have referred to seeing what we are when the veil slips aside. We see how we are unworthy of our aim/s. Robert’s seat is privileged, and I am unworthy of it. But in this I am no different from any other seat in the room or cushion on the floor. We are all in the same boat. We are all the same. We are all at the beginning. We begin where we are. Better then to know where we are beginning. Then our beginning has clarity, and less illusion & delusion.

The Level One was declared completed at 22.29.

vi A meeting with Hernan afterwards, with tasty little cakes from yesterday, to discuss future Guitar Craft plans, short & mid-term.

Friday 31st. January, 2003; 08.00

Los Molinos.

Snow in the night: the path between the buildings was covered at 06.50. The breakfast queue has returned.

08.40 Breakfast service has returned to dysfunctional.

Debra sang a song that, while not quite ready to be born, was pushed into active service nevertheless. For this the lights were turned off. Afterwards there was quiet and, as the shutters of the dining room were opened, the emerging light of day & snow whisked into flurries by gusts of wind, I found quite beautiful.

The quiet that Debra’s song brought into the dining room continued. This was accepting & accepted. It was not the silence that walks into a Guitar Craft room, the quality of silence that we know well in Guitar Craft. This was quiet. Silence has a different frequency range to quiet. The difference between silence & quiet? The quiet came from the people in the room. It was, in a sense, their quiet from a quiet place in them. This is the beginning of listening.

Tom Hellboy made a mistake: this is wholly appropriate from the person giving classes & personal meetings in Mistakes And How To Make Them. Tom believed he was leaving at 10.00 for his flight back to the States. Instead, he had to leave at 08.00.

11.14 Meetings after breakfast with the Staff & Mentor Buddies and then the Kitchen Team, where we discussed the operation of the right hand. Terror, death, pain, suffering, misery.

Level Two: circulations in C major; then D major ascending; then to B natural minor; then to G natural minor; then to the Emergent Guitar Craft Theme with Debra leading the circle.

A brief meeting at the tea point on the way to my room, discussing the Center For Creative Aspiration in Atlanta & the projected 2006-7 course in England.

12.36 An important meeting with the Mentoring Buddies. We began by looking at the left & right hands, discussing the impulses that inform the actions. Then discussing the work of specialist groups in Guitar Craft, driven by the recognition of necessary work to be done; and being helped to discover one’s place. Then to the future of Guitar Craft in the next 3 years, 13 years and 25 years ahead.

Before the meeting: a brief discussion with a Crafty regarding their own near future; and after the meeting a suggestion for their direction: they were “rock ed” by this suggestion, they said. And on the way back to this building an encounter with one who was not a happy boy, dealing with major life issues and wondering how best to proceed.

15.13 My Life In The Mush Of Squerds featuring the Family Gillet is currently underway in the ballroom. Martin met in the ballroom at 14.30, with whoever was interested, to present an exercise e-mailed in by Bill Rieflin, who is participating At-A-Distance. Synchronicity: this is an extended form of the new generation thrakking we have been practicing. Upstairs Hernan has personal meetings.

Several performances at lunchtime, a relatively low-key affair after the high-energy lunches of recent days. The Master Of The (Toilet) Rolls had forcefully expressed his food preferences at the Kitchen Meeting this morning. He was, however, sufficiently persuaded by the food served this lunchtime that he declared he even had seconds. I mentioned that my request for a toilet roll 3 days ago had not yet been answered. He replied that he had heard me ask for a message to be left outside my room. Judge Of The Chambers ruled that what I claimed to have said was what he the Judge had himself heard.

What we hear, rather than what is said, provides a fascinating insight into who & what we are.

17.40 The Second Lifers’ meeting was held in the ballroom at 16.30 with several people present who were not at the first. An exercise was presented, to follow the morning relaxation. The Four Pillars of Guitar Craft were presented formally as:

Morning Sitting;
The Job For The Day;
Work In The Circle;
Work In The Kitchen;

acknowledging the developing importance of kitchen work in Guitar Craft, and that sexual energy drives just about everything in life.

19.46 The Emergent Theme continued to emerge during a meeting at 18.00 with Debra introducing it in the Circle, then RF, and with Steve leading the theme from the Lonely Chair.

There has been an emotional eruption within the house & turning points have appeared for several people. The Guitar Craft wheel has turned and some are moving with it.

20.19 Four last minute personal meetings.

23.30 The Final Meeting for this course/s opened with the words: Welcome my friends to the course that never ends.

Many comments. After 55 minutes we opened the windows and stretched our legs before the next batch of comments. As the time for comments properly came to an end, a long & diffuse mental commentary was offered that evaporated much of the atmosphere. The closing comments that I had wished to make were no longer appropriate: too great a tiredness. Had I made them, they might have been along these lines:

If “tomorrow” is the first lie of the Devil perhaps the second lie might be that our own contribution has no value; that we are powerless to make a difference in the world. It is very easy to believe that this is so, seeing clearly our frailties & weaknesses. But this is a lie, nevertheless.

I didn’t say this. Instead there were practical comments on transport, and concerns with how the weather may affect our travelling plans.

My closing remarks: transitions. My sense was that several, if not many, of those on this course were involved in life transitions. For some this transition will take place during the next year; for others over two years; and for some the transition is over a three-year period.

This part of the ongoing course was declared completed at 23.27 & 45 seconds.

Saturday 1st. February, 2003; 09.17

Los Molinos.

The team is moving out. Many have already left, some on foot for the station around 06.00, some in vehicles beginning around the same time & in several shifts since. Feet above my head and running water woke me around 05.36.

Morning sitting in the ballroom at 07.00 for those that wished to be there, with breakfast available from 07.45. My own packing is now 97% done and I am on call with Martin & Fernando for an airport run at 10.00. The travel news is good: roads & airports open. Alain has just collected my ticket to make a specific enquiry because – terror, horror, suffering, misery! – some of the flights have been cancelled.

I haven’t commented much in this diary of the degree to which I have missed my Wife this week, other than it is ongoing and substantial. Sufficient to say that I am keenly anticipating meeting her at home in Bredonborough, probably around 04.00 Sunday. This assumes flying flights, open motorways from London to Worcestershire, and from Edinburgh to Bredonborough.

09.38 Latest news: my flight has been cancelled but I have been put on another. That’s the good news. The bad news is I am going to Gatwick.

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