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

Date or timeframe: 20-01-2004 / 30-01-2004
Venue: Villa Mercedes / Padres Claretianos
City: Los Molinos
Country: Spain
Category(-ies): /

Tuesday 20th. January, 2004; 15.34

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

Arrived, mostly. Backtracking…

Monday 19th. January; a wonderful day at home with T. plus a strategic telephone call. Essentially, the direction of my professional life has changed. It already had, but the call was a recognition of that, and formal statement of definition & directed aim. To London in the evening, rising at 05.00 this morning.

A flight to Madrid from Heathrow. Hernan & Alain were waiting to carry me here. Mr. Gurgly on the ‘plane demonstrated a willingness to share the sound of his pipes negotiating with the effluent of some seasonal disease. Snort gurgle swallow. Snort gurgle swallow.

20.21 Dinner at 19.00. Zum played two pieces. This is the third outstanding GC trio, following The CGT and The (recently deconstructed) Big Time Trio.

Then, an announcement…

The course has not begun, but the course is underway. So, our position is liminal: we are in between. Customarily, towards the end of our first meal we declare the House Rules and, if these are not acceptable to visitors & about-to-be-becoming Guitar Craft students, they have an opportunity to leave with their full fee refunded & a free meal.

In a perfect world, no house rules would have to be called. We might suggest as guiding principles honour necessity, honour sufficiency and act from conscience. But if conscience were engaged, this would itself also be unnecessary. So, accepting that our world is less than ideal, the House Rules are called.

Various members of the Team were invited to suggest House Rules worthy of consideration & declaration. Drawing partly on these comments, and partly from our customary practice, these are the House Rules to be put upon the board…

Guitar Craft House Rules

Villa Mercedes / Padres Claretianos
Tuesday 20th. January, 2004

Honour necessity; honour sufficiency.
Act from conscience.

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.

Honour the role, respect the person.

Some people here will irritate you.
Don’t worry: you will also be irritating them.
Please act towards others with goodwill and with courtesy;
Otherwise, be polite.

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 outside the kitchen.

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 discouraged.

Accept responsibility for your personal space;
and that part of the public space which you own.

If you smoke, please do so outside the buildings.

Please stay within the boundary of the facility for the duration of the course.
If you require something, please ask the House Manager.

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.

The suggestion was made that we act with courtesy towards others. But courtesy is a grace and, if we are lacking this grace, then, may we be polite. Politeness is a matter of upbringing & education.

22.55 The Inaugural Meeting began at 21.00 and the course formally declared underway at 21.02.

Those present introduced themselves, saying:

1. who they are;
2. where they come from;
3. what brought them here, and:
4. their aim for the course.

Several present spoke for other members of the GC family who are participating at a distance. At A Distance participation is not imaginary; when practised honourably, the connection is tangible. Specific techniques associated with this exercise have not, to date, been formally introduced within GC; although experience suggests the connections occur nonetheless. This implies that intention, of itself, has effect.

At A Distance, so far, has taken place within a defined time frame. The geographical distance is a given, and the exercise implies that physical space is no barrier to intentional contact. We have not yet approached AAD work through time.

Robert’s why: Hernan told me to be here. And Hernan told me to be here because he knew that, unless these people met here in this space and at this time, something that needed to take place would not. We can’t know what that something necessary is, although the necessity may speak to us in particular ways. Most likely we all have some sense of this necessity, or we wouldn’t be here.

Sore throat. Mr. Gurgly from the flight here may have shared his discomforture.

Wednesday 21st. January, 2004; 07.23

Los Molinos.

Rising at 05.52, or 04.52 UK & body time. In this part of the building, the running water from showers acts as an alarm. And the breakfast shift is an early call.

The Practice of Doing Nothing at 06.45.

08.39 Perhaps, there is no mistake save one: the failure to speedily serve people their breakfast. It took about 26 minutes for everyone to pass the buffet table; and bowls, food & coffee ran out.

At 08.04 silence walked in, presented a blessing & held the dining room for 30 wonderful minutes.

Gelsemium seems to be offsetting Mr. Gurgly’s invitation to join his gurgling.

11.41 Meeting in ballroom with guitars for Levels One, Two & 2.5 (whatever that means) at 09.30.

Moving notes around the circle. Simple counting. A short break, then an Introduction to the primaries for left & right hand.

Meeting with Hernan to discuss gauges on NST configurations & future course plans.

14.07 Rules are only necessary where conscience is not engaged. This has been added to the list of GC House Rules on the board.

The Hopefuls met at 12.15 to look at variant forms of picking on the basic pattern for Hope. With mirroring & reversed picking, this gives 4 variations:

1. Basic pattern beginning with down stroke;
2. Mirror pattern beginning with down stroke;
3. Basic pattern beginning with up stroke (on the down beat);
4. Mirror pattern beginning with up stroke (on the down beat).

The up stroke is used (primarily) in two ways:

i) On the up-beat, in an even sequence of notes of common duration;

ii) To demonstrate a mastery of picking. The aim is to be able to persuade a listener that the up-picking (beginning on the downbeat) is identical to down-picking on the downbeat. In other words, this is more a calisthenic than musical concern

Good comments & observations at lunch, one on the power of radical neutrality & how it has effect.

I offered two of my own observations, from working in the circle of Hopefuls. The circle was a good example of how we are all in the same boat, regardless of degrees of proficiency & experience. This calisthenic standard was high & the work very hard, beyond my margin of competency. So, my presence in the circle was as a participant-Circle-worker rather than an instructor-of-those-within-the-Circle: one who works with, within & without the Circle.

First observation: the quality of regard. Looking has effect, and how we look at others has repercussions. The character on my right looked at my right hand, and it fell apart. I commented to them, while continuing to play: by all means look at me, but please be careful how you look.

Second observation: our superb Alexander Teacher, Mariela, was moving around the players in the circle. I sensed her hands upon my shoulders before she arrived. And, continuing to sense her hands upon my shoulders, I turned to see her working with the person on my left.

I would not have had these experiencings were I not been a participant-card-carrying Circle-worker.

The question was asked: what definition would you give of muse?The answer was given: that which represents the creative impulse in our lives.

The property of the Muse is real, and can be a channel for grace. A connection can be made through an “agent” that connects us to the creative impulse (although, properly, we are never apart from it). Even where our representation of our personal Muse may be “imaginary”, even then a real connection can be made. This is an example of the inexpressible benevolence of the creative impulse.

14.22 One of the Level One team is leaving: this is not where they need to be. I trust their sense of what is right for them, and support them in responding to the call of their personal voice.

16.34 And one of the Kitchen Team has arrived, late. The final member arrives tomorrow.

20.35 The Kitchen Team & guitars at 17.00; then L1+ at 18.00. The rhythm shots were placed at moving distances, with wide gaps left between them.

Zum played a piece by Piazzola, superbly, at dinner followed by The Hell Boys of new formation. They were deservedly well received. Of The Hell Boys’ performance it might be said, with equal verity, too much, too soon and enough already.

Good comments over dinner.

22.16 A full house of guitars in the ballroom with outer & inner circles. Circulations, rhythms.

Thursday 22nd. January, 2004; 08.17

Los Molinos.

Breakfast: a triumph of organisation. Everyone in within 10 minutes.

10.23 Kitchen Team meeting at 09.00. The question: how to become a Team? Some comments presented on how to approach this. Then to practicalities.

Meeting with Level One at 09.30. Extending the picking over 4 strings. Moving the First Primary towards fingerboard knowledge & music by establishing a point of certainty; then extending this towards a second point of certainty, while maintaining the principles embodied within the First Primary.

A counting exercise.

12.45 Levels Two & L2.5 met at 10.30 and discussed the first components of the How-To-Make-A-Fortune Beginners’ Guide To Guitar Playing – easy open strum-along chords to accompany feeble folk songs. Open C with 2 fingers is a cinch but F is not so easy. The dominant 7th. on G, with 2 fingers on 5 strings, is also easy but sounds a little wimpy. In response to a request, we added Am to the primary triads & Blue Moon is now available to the repertoire of droning folkies.

But to really squeeze the pennies from aspiring beginners, we moved to a 12 bar blues on C with dominant 7th. chords & added a boogie bass line. A massive hit – Play In A Lifetime –is on the way & will replace all other current best-selling tutors.

Finally, the eternal search for that elusive C major scale went on, around the circle, from high G to low C and back again. I left after 45 minutes of unfulfilled searching.

19.02 Good comments at lunchtime.

One of the team-in-search-of-C major suggested that he had felt privileged to be a part of the group: he knew the group would stay there until they got it, and he also knew they would get it. An alternative way of putting it: the group had balls. He also commented that the exercise succeeded shortly after I left.

A Level One commented on last night’s houseful-of-guitars meeting in the ballroom, with inner & outer circulating circles. The inner-circle circulation ended, and the L1 knew that the outer-circle circulation was also going to end, and that it was going to end with them. And it did. Far more than the note came to rest with them on this completion of the exercise. They found this powerful & moving.

A true observation: there are more than notes being moved around the people & seats in a GC Circle.

The question was asked: how do you transmit the principles embodied in an exercise?

The answer: by internalising them. That is, by having made the exercise your own. Otherwise, all that may be passed on is the functionality of the exercise. If the transmission is clean, this has a value; but a functional value.

The Mentor Buddies have been conducting personal meetings this afternoon, with an Alexander meeting for Level One after tea. A few words of introduction to the morning sitting at 18.15.

At dinner: a stunning performance by The League of Gauchos. This was met by the ultimate accolade an audience can give: silence. Or maybe everyone in the dining room were just stunned. The Hell Boys (of even newer formation) gave TLOG a close run for their money, but there were less of them.

Good comments from the team.

The Hopefuls met at 20.15 to address developing variations, musically & calisthenically. For many, hope was not only unreasonable but unlikely; and for those for whom hope was closer, it was still a distance away. I include myself in this category. The new series of exercises are as difficult as the now-established-if-still-not-played-well exercises presented at Claymont almost 19 years ago.

Leslie & Her Guitar Buddies followed The Hopefuls into the ballroom and circulated in C hexatonic and G major scales simultaneously. Then to tnew-formation thrakking rhythms:

Group One: 17 bars of 5;
rhythm hits 1+3 and 1+4 on alternating bars;
bar 17 tacet;
the magic chord: any chord with a relationship (however distant) to C.

Group Two: 11 bars of 9;
rythym hits 1+3+5 and 1+4+7 on alternating bars;
bar 11 tacet;
the magic chord (of Frank’s choice): F#m7flat9.

An energising meeting for me.

I miss my Wife very much.

Friday 23rd. January, 2004; 08.05

Los Molinos.

Rising at 05.50 to a brisk morning.

Quadruple processing at breakfast (3 serving tables & food waiting on the table) has resulted in rapid breakfasting in an orderly fashion. No more queues spilling back out into the cold for over 20 minutes.

A new face at breakfast: our last team member, Mike, who arrived just before midnight to join the Kitchen Team.

09.31 A Kitchen Team meeting was called, by one of the members, to present to them his experiences of the morning. He had missed his breakfast shift, and only realized this while in the sitting. But he knew that this was OK. Comments from other members on the same topic suggested that, actually, it hadn’t been as OK with them.

Then, a counting exercise. The value is not in “getting it right” but in the application.

13.50 Very important guitar work with the Level Two & Mentor Buddies this morning. GC guitar exercises are moving into a new generation.

Also important: a meeting with Hernan & a wide-ranging discussion covering a broad sweep of issues, including the nature of this course.

In the early years of Guitar Craft, a Level One course was presented as An Introduction To Guitar Craft. The development of the New Standard Tuning Weekend (often presented by The California Guitar Trio) introduced GC elements to anyone interested, and effectively served as an introduction to the introduction. Now, we have distinct courses described as An Introduction To Guitar Craft that serve as a formal preparation for Level One. The recent NST Weekend in Mexico therefore served as an introduction to an introduction to the Level One. The result is that Level One courses now operate at a much higher standard. Students arrive better prepared to work on the exercises, rather than merely to become acquainted with them.

The formal Introduction also acts as a filter. This became necessary after several students acted in bad faith & improperly at the course in Sassoferrato (2002). Part of the difficulty, there and in many other cases, was a background of drug use.

Originally, we took everyone who arrived. The courses were usually between 16 and 25 people, all beginners. As the courses grew, with more experienced Crafties on extended courses & working in the kitchen, the courses I attend have grown to between 60 & 100 people, many mature & experienced. We have no problem with clueless new students (we are all relatively clueless, after all) but the drug-addled clueless, acting without conscience, is not acceptable. So, the Introduction courses now function partly as detox, partly as filter, and partly to prepare students for a higher standard of application.

Over lunch: several superb comments.

First comment: on a meeting where people had arrived late. That had upset the commentator. He’d like to share that with them.

Quite right too, say I. How dare people arrive late for a meeting? A Guitar Craft House is a punctual house, after all.

Another comment, from a Level One: the meeting last night had brought energy into the house. People were staying up, and talking loudly, afterwards.

A comment from a Level Two: at the beginning of our L2 guitar meeting this morning, we directed part of the attention to the soles of the feet, then to the top of our head, and then to what is in between. When he did this, he found the circle present with him.

This is a very powerful insight. If we are present in the circle, we may find the circle is present within us.

Another superb comment: a member of the Kitchen Team had seen a small point of decision, whether to fall asleep or stay alert. He saw that he had a choice, and in falling asleep accepted he had taken a decision to do so.

In learned metaphysical & theological tomes we read of suffering. What is suffering, this huge, weighty, momentous & far away spiritual work? Suffering is smaller & closer than this, like making the choice to stay alert.

A question was asked related to negativity. Perhaps we are pissed off because someone has acted badly towards us. And maybe we have the “right” to be pissed. But we have the choice: to stay with the negativity, or let go of it. This is a decision. To drop it is suffering. A small choice, but real suffering.

17.29 An afternoon of mainly personal practice.

18.52 An Introduction to Tai Chi with Luciano.

20.40 Dinner was dangerously like a meal and, for the first time, when seconds were called they were placed within reach of the diners. There were crepes, even.

Performances by The League of Gauchos, a duet, and The Hell Boys (of even yet another new formation) who convincingly delivered Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Several good comments. A maleficent gaze upset had upset someone for several hours. When next they saw the person, who had looked at them in this way, they were emanating goodwill. So, was the maleficent gaze imaginary? Was it unintentional?

We have lost a member of our beginning team, and gained a few more for the Kitchen Team. Hernan has been flaffed-about by a character who was coming, then wasn’t, then was, while flaffing-about as to whether he was or wasn’t. This was a distraction of focus for Hernan, who has quite enough to address with those bodies that have arrived. So we are Beginning Again and have our Inaugural Meeting at 21.00.

22.07 The Beginning Again was declared begun at 21.02.

Saturday 24th. January, 2004; 12.09

Los Molinos.

Tai chi at 09.00. Personal meetings with the Kitchen Team.

13.43 Performances at lunch by the Top Buttons, the latest formation of The Hell Boys – six woman including cellist – Hell Boy Cha Cha Cha, and Zum.

16.03 More personal meetings with the Kitchen Team. Two arising issues:


20.15 Some comments from the Team at dinner, then a few words from myself on tiredness & mistakes, arising from the personal meetings today. A guitar meeting called in the ballroom at 21.15 for anyone who wishes to be there.

Today, I have been unwell. Perhaps the spirit of Mr. Gurgly, or one of his family relatives, has returned to visit; perhaps the course sniffling has included me in the group sniffle.

22.55 Yow! Circulations & difficult thrakking.

Sunday 25th. January, 2004; 09.44

Los Molinos.

Son of Mr. Gurgly has achieved a purchase upon part of my body, but the Tai Chi class this morning is better equipping all of us to throw that little beast out of our circle of presence.

11.55 Level One guitar meeting at 10.00 developing the manner of circulating. Then to the Eternal Search For C major into 3 octaves. The scale remained undiscovered by the time of the Level Two meeting at 11.00, and L1 went outside to continue searching.

Level Two: developing variations over a boogie bass on C, F & G. Then the Eternal Search For C major got underway.

Developing variations is a beginning-approach to extemporisation. Extemporisation is what we can do; improvisation is what happens when music comes to meet us. How to learn this?

Now, an hour of personal meetings with L2 & L2+.

14.57 Professionalism Is not enough.

Good & varied performances over lunch.

18.18 The Buddies have been in full personal meeting mode this afternoon, and so has Gaucho Consulting.

Personal meetings with Level 2 & 2+. Good, mature comments & questions. Then into bed with the Son of Mr. Gurgly.

Take that, Son of Gurgly! I say as I rise from my bed & am about to hurtle over to tai chi with Luciano. I have met all my appointments & meetings today & will continue to do so. So take that, Spawn of Gurgly!

20.35 Performances by Zum & a duet of Victoria & Mariana. A small number of comments, as if the house were tired. We have a large group meeting at 21.00 that I hope will help to address this.

21.46 The House Meeting began with several comments & questions; I presented a few words on tiredness, energy & the professional life. Then, The Caps Of Senor Nunez we called into action.

Names were pulled from two caps: each person in each group (L1, L2 & L2+) is a member of two groups (including soloists) plus the large group. So there are a total of 21 pieces to be played in the ballroom tomorrow evening at 21.00.

Monday 26th. January, 2004; 16.29

Los Molinos.

After the Group Meeting last night I returned here shaking & went to bed for a feverish night, staying there for much of today.

The activities in the House have continued well without me, I am told. I note that when one member of a Team leaves, interesting events often take place that otherwise would not. As much as any of us bring to a situation, we also bring limitation.

20.04 Performances at lunch & dinner. At both meals silence walked in, said hello! and sat down to join us. This is so tangible, and so frequent on GC courses, that I am coming to feel these silences as the presence of a benevolent conscious intelligence.

Over dinner, a question was asked by a very successful professional architect. He was recently giving a lecture at the Louvre to an audience of 200 people, and had less fear there than playing a few notes in front of Robert. Why?

23.03 Performances with the usual encouragements to focus from members of the audience. This time, the performers provided security staff to deal with potential troublemakers.

The House met afterwards for comments.

My overall sense for the performance/s was mostly of grim duty, people dutifully & perhaps honourably discharging what was given to them by The Caps Of Senor Nunez. For a performance tomorrow night, it was suggested that performance/s be made only by those who felt a passion for this, to arrange themselves into groups of people with whom they’d like to play, and to write new music for this.

About to be pinned to the board, the following two pieces: essentially comments made on tiredness in the abnormal-abnormal & normal-abnormal worlds. The second is a very-slightly modified version of the one pinned up on this noticeboard one year ago…

Life Is Hard, We Suffer & Then We Die.

Comments made earlier on this course, taken from Discipline & The Act Of Music, assume the student (and that person is all of us) leads a mostly balanced life. Sometimes this condition is referred to as normal-abnormal. Our aim is to become normal-normal, to realise the potential that accompanied our birth, to become a fully human being. At that point, something else may become available.

For many of us, the conditions of our professional lives are stressful and profoundly unbalanced. How to use these conditions to support our aim of becoming normal-normal? How to use our professional life in the development of our personal discipline? May we use unpromising conditions to sharpen our game?

The rule that applies here is: we are not asked to take on anything more than we can honourably bear.

Some of the people on this course are involved in counseling, and often the people they deal with are disturbed. Much of the disturbance is related to substance abuse. In Guitar Craft, we begin where we are. Prior usage is not a handicap; current use is not acceptable. But to be exposed for long periods, to the energies that inhabit the personal presence of disturbed people, can be harmful. Counselors learn to protect themselves, but nevertheless there must be a Right Degree of exposure to abnormal-abnormal.

Some people and places are negative, perhaps harmful, and sometimes intentionally malicious. The intensities of negativity might be referred to as:


In acquiring a discipline, the question is: will exposure to this negativity support me in refining my practice? May I turn this negativity to my advantage?

Taking on evil, as part of one’s work, is only possible for spiritual masters or geniuses (whatever we may understand by that). Mischief and malice, jealousy and resentment, greed and envy, have been part of my professional life since 1969, when increasing professional success and public attention brought with it the full force of The Basement. And, sometimes, the heavens have opened and angels descended.

What is necessary is for us to find Right Proportion: a harmony between our outer and inner lives, a balance between responsibilities to self, family & community. This requires of us experience, and the application of intelligence. Clarity and definition are key.

Unless we test our limits, to discover how far we are able to make psychological, emotional and physical efforts, and over what period of time, we don’t have sufficient experience to make a judgment. In which case, we often return to situations that are damaging. Guitar Craft courses are one example of a supportive environment for this kind of testing.

Ongoing Effort: normal + 10%
Exceptional Effort: normal + 30-50%
Emergencies: whatever it takes.

We discover for what periods of time we are able to make ongoing & exceptional efforts. The degree to which this is possible for us is sometimes referred to as being.

One frequent error is to work too hard, or to make misapplied efforts. There are different reasons for this, mostly related to our early upbringing, environment & education. The effects, in extremis, act to unseat our lives, relationships with other people, and our personal health.

A second frequent error is to work too little, or to make no effort. This is sometimes referred to as laziness. In this case, how life treats us will tend to give us disappointment.

What is 100% effort for one person may, externally, measure less that the 100% of another person. But, they are both 100% in respect of the potential available to them.

Practising The Person

i Each stage in acquiring a discipline has a primary focus, and exercises that address:

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

ii This presents six strategies of practising, governed primarily by the stage of our 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. Before we do something, we do nothing. Doing nothing is very hard.


i While we are doing nothing, we watch: impartially, without judgment, without criticism. We gather information about this animal that we inhabit.

iii We learn what we may ask the creature to do, where it refuses to follow instruction.

iii Although we have done nothing, simply by looking, something has changed,

iv Four qualities of watching: staring, looking, observing, seeing.

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

die that ye might be born

i 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?

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.

ii The quantity of energy:

How much is naturally available;
How much is necessarily used in specific tasks;
Plugging leaks.
The acquisition or generation of more energy if needed;

Key injunction:

Honour necessity.
Honour sufficiency.

iii Traditionally, although using varying terminology, a discipline differentiates between four qualities of working:

automatic, sensitive, conscious and creative.

iv The intensity of energy is governed by intention. Intention defines the boundaries and contains the action or task that is being undertaken.

v 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. The intent of others is equally invisible, although tangible.

vi The next step is to find someone who has been there before.

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

letting go of bad habits

i A discipline aims to make our habitual responses efficient. “Good” habits are efficient. “Bad” habits waste energy.

ii 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.

Stage fright. Who is afraid? Often a survival issue.

iii Plugging leaks.

Anger. Expressing anger. The American and English approach.
External: attracted attention – energy is sucked out of us. News stands.

iv Shock: external. Learn to use it. Turn it around.
But we can’t rely upon it.

Challenge: internal shock. Pointed stick. We create our own shocks by

setting ourselves a challenge. For example, this talk.

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.

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

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

vi 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.
We enlist the aid of two centres to act on the third.

vii 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 The aim is an efficient practice regime where nothing is wasted.

Craft information is needed. A teacher or instructor. Otherwise, we’ll replace bad habits by other bad habits. The joke: I was taught by an ignorant fool.

ii Physical: Relaxation. Development of bodily stillness.

Directing the mind: counting and playing. Visual display. Our thinking is thrown upon a clear screen. Seeing integrally: expansion of the present moment. Seeing a process through.

Cultivation of goodwill

Holding still at the end of a creative endeavour.

Effortless effort: our energies begin to cohere.

iii The assumption of virtue.
The exercise of quality.
Division of attention.
Job for the day.

iv Generating energy: we confront habitual behaviour with a demand. 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.

v Accessing energy: there are places and people who are reservoirs of energy, if we know the places, if we know the people.


Tuesday 27th. January, 2003; 06.36

Los Molinos.

Gurgly & his offspring are in retreat. Rising at 05.50, I am stretched, showered & off to the sitting.

09.58 Tai chi at 09.00.

Kitchen Team meeting at 09.30. A question was asked of Interior Architecture. How to establish this? Then a counting exercise. But the little benefit available from the exercise was lost by excessive physical motion when it ended.

Now, personal meetings (mostly) with guitars.

10.56 The Parade of Hands is underway. Among the questions…

Q. How do I know when I have done a piece of work with quality?
A. The sense of completion that accompanies it. When we’ve done something that lacks quality, the work feels unfinished.

Q. How do I stop the (internal) noise?
A. You won’t. What changes is our relationship to the noise. Increasingly, we are able to hold ourselves in front of the noise; but not be part of it.

13.30 More hands. There is not much improvement in the hands, but a growing awareness of the problems. This is an improvement.

The Mentor Buddies met at 12.15, discussed arising issues on this course, then moved to discuss GC diarising; making the repertoire available for mixed-ability guitar ensembles (i.e. outside GC as such); planning for the next two large GC courses; and the nature of audience support for in-house performances.

The first period of GC diarising has completed, actually a little while ago, and the second period is now underway. The recent addition of the European, South American & Japanese diaries signaled this clearly, and the current diary spread better reflects the international nature of GC. Diarists who have not posted for 3 months are obviously not diarists. Personal comments & venting that would be out of place on a GC course, or in a GC House, are similarly out of place on the GC Diary site. This is not a Parish Newsletter, although one of the developing Diary Aims is to inform the community at large of significant events in the lives of its members. Happy Christmas! doesn’t quite add up to significance in my life, while acknowledging the positive intention behind a posting to that effect. Nor is the GC Diary site a chat-room for the calisthenically challenged. So, the Diaries have moved to the next stage.

The next large mixed-experience course is to be held in Mendoza, Argentina (September 29th. – October 8th. 2004). Hernan recommends that all & everyone interested, whether based in America, Europe & Japan, attend this course. There are two primary reasons for this: ffirstly, the culture-spread enriches us all; secondly, Argentinian pesos would not support an Argentinian course. Gringo dollars, Euro euros & Japanese yen underwrite the course to the extent that makes attendance by Argentinians possible. For a student in Buenos Aires, the issue is not whether they can afford the course, but whether they can afford the ‘bus ride to Mendoza. The cost of an American flying to Mendoza for a course is the same as for them attending a course in Europe, or a bi-coastal US course.

Curt speaks for a similar course needed in the US. A six-month gap feels intuitively right, Guitar Craft’s 20th. anniversary is March. 25th. 2005, and the Spring is always welcome. This would put the timing of a North American course c. March 21st. Hernan & the Team in Kiel will fly in to complete their Level Four in the US. Curt & I both feel that California is the place, in part to support Debra and her work there. Possibly, the GC History Project might be included as part of the work.

The audience response yesterday evening: Hernan asked of them that they be fair to the performers. But, as the English might say, more cruel than fair. Performances in Gandara, Argentina opened the door to audience-as-performers. Fresh fruit, unpeeled, was hurled at performers (some undeserving of the grapefruit segments that landed upon their instruments with a splatting! sound), a dietary alternative to the rain of nuts. This has come a long way from a few shoes being hurled at deserving Crafties in The Iron Rail, Charles Town, or a few cocktail biscuits in a German bar.

The notion of Heckler, as a role, I associate with the Fool in Morris Dancing. perhaps the monk in zazen who helps the sitters regain their alertness. But this is a hard role to play: one offers goodwill to accompany encouragement to maintain alertness & remember one’s responsibilities. The good-humoured banter now offered from the Kitchen Team is too often disproportionate, disruptive, undisciplined & sometimes destructive. The aim is to support the performance, not to unseat it. This needs to be addressed.

19.39 Performances at dinner by The League of Crafty Guitarists & Zum.

A few words on audience behaviour, specifically audience behaviour by the Kitchen Team.

Hernan reminded me that in 1980 he was doing security at a League Of Gentleman show in Germany. There was a photographer I repeatedly asked to stop. He didn’t & was eventually put out, sans film.

At lunch, Hernan asked me if King Crimson performance was still worthwhile. I answered, no. As a qualification I add now, not like it is.

20.06 Three sheets of aphorisms have gone up on the board, from the file Aphorisms 8A (26-I-04).

There is a performance to be given at 21.00 by self-selected members of the Team.

Wednesday 28th. January, 2004; 10.09

Los Molinos.

Curt & I found ourselves both a little early to breakfast & had a valuable impromptu meeting, in the way that this happens on GC courses. Then Martin’s circulating team played Bartok. This is a very different way of hearing the music, and a way that invites the listener in.

Comments made at the 09.30 multi-course meeting showed that the course has Begun Again, Again for its third Beginning.

The initiative moves to the students at this part of the course. Customarily, Level One-based courses have a duration of around 6 days. This present, longer course gives us three more days to properly address the last overall period. Today, the Team are choosing specific aspects of their work to address. This might involve trying a few approaches before settling on one, and the Buddies are around to support & help.

Last night’s performance was a muted affair. Perhaps the Kitchen Team’s repertoire of disruption would have provided more sparks. Two pieces struck me as being performed with spirit: one a duet, one a solo, both blues. After the life & energy in the building during the preparation for the performance, strange that the performance itself was so lifeless.

Afterwards, I returned from the ballroom, slightly feverish. Yesterday’s fight, and refusal to accept the Dominion of Gurgly, took its toll. This morning, I am being more careful with energy expenditure.

10.37 Just returned from the dining room where I had a valuable impromptu meeting with Tom, in the way that this happens on GC courses.

13.47 Good performances at lunch from The LCG & Zum. One very good heartfelt comment on seizing an opportunity while it is available.

Personal meetings with Level One this morning. Some very good comments & questions. Only one meeting with a guitar. This took me back to earlier courses when, for almost every day of the course, I would deal with between 16-37 pairs of clueless hands.

18.01 Wonderful well-spirited performances at teatime by Zum. This afternoon for me: editing GC writings.

19.03 Tai chi at 18.30. It has been many months since my back has been unstuck. That is, flexible. In the past two days my back is beginning to feel like it has something to do with the animal I inhabit. Now – the dinner bell.

19.58 Good comments over dinner. The Level One mentioned several of them are meeting at 20.30 to discuss extracts from Interior Architecture that were pinned on the board. This is a first. Here is another extract just pinned to the board…

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.

22.02 Several of the L1 met to read & discuss lecture notes from the board. Several of the House joined them for this, including myself. A few Q&A afterwards. Then Curt got the Team rocking in the ballroom.

Thursday 29th. January, 2004; 08.51

Los Molinos.

A performance by The Hell Boy at breakfast: a solo presentation of The Chord From Hell. What is needed now is a full orchestral version.

10.05 Tai chi at 09.00.

At 09.30 the Exercise Of Qualitative Endeavour for L1, L2 & L2.5. Fortunately, there is enough time on the course to approach this adequately.

Personal meetings with the Buddies to begin shortly.

12.38 The Mentor Buddies have come and gone. They now play better than I do.

13.39 Performances at lunch: The 2.5, a feeble duet & Zum.

18.06 Mainly working on GC writings his afternoon.

21.53 Good comments over dinner on work during the day. Several meetings this afternoon & evening. The directing & administration of the US & European sides of GC are coming closer together, not that they are far apart. The connections are now stronger & clearer.

A superb performance for the house by Zum in the ballroom at 21.00. The invitation was given by Shiinkuro at the end of dinner.

Of my own condition: I am not where I was, neither where I am going.

Friday 30th. January, 2004; 10.04

Los Molinos.

Personal work on Qualitative Endeavour is underway for the L1, L2 & L2.5. For myself so far this morning, meetings with the Chief Administrator for the US & our Japanese in-house pick manufacturer; and developing variations on the guitar.

12.22 Editing GC writings & personal meetings for Burning Issues in the Kitchen Team.

Snow has been falling.

13.47 Performances at lunch included Martin’s Bartok Circulators, Tuktuk, The Dark Side Of The Basement & a superb duet on the Pink Panther Theme by Leo & Mikael.

Plus a fund-raiser is underway to meet the bill for additional heating. That is, additional to the basic level of warmth & hot water provided by the facility. Daniel is about to juggle in the ballroom to raise $ & euros.

17.34.A quality is ungovernable by number. To present a strong beginning to the last stage of this exercise, at 15.00, The LCG entered the ballroom unannounced & played Eye Of The Needle superbly, Hernan leading the snake & Martin holding the tail.

Then the Team presented their pieces of qualitative work, beginning with the Level One. The question is, what can we take home with us from this course? What have we made our own? What have we internalised?

After the second presentation, I asked: how can we verify the quality of work by others? Several possible answers were given, but none convinced me. I have an answer that does. It was not asked for, nor given.

All of the Level One had presented by about 15.40. Mostly, this was honourable; one gave me concern. Then the Level Two began, breaking for tea at 16.00.

Several performances at tea, plus an announcement on the fundraising event to meet the Energy Gap: it has been successful. Hot showers in the morning, then.

The remainder of the Level Two presented followed by the L2.5. Once again mostly honourable, with one that gave me concern.

At the end of the presentations, a final circulation was called by one of the Level Two. At the end of this, a sense of completion. This is the end of an exercise that has been underway since Wednesday morning, and is the (likely) end of our (course-directed) guitar work together. There are several personal meetings ongoing, and the course is still alive. But a stage has come to an end.

19.45 A Burning Issue appeared just before the final tai chi class with Luciano at 18.30. The tai chi has added significantly to the course, in my view.

Several very good performances over dinner, well received & good-humoured. Two burning issues, one returned & directed; one arriving shortly.

19.57 The second Burning Issue. So, the course is still simmering. At the end of a process, the tempo accelerates. Yet right until the last moment, all options are open.

22.18 The Final Meeting was contained & present. Much that was available to be said was not, but I had no sense of loss. The course was formally declared completed at 22.12 on this Friday evening, 31st. of January, 2004.

22.54 A meeting with Hernan to discuss various current & future arisings. There is a milling in the dining room around The Shop, and a post-course cleaning process underway.

Saturday 31st. January, 2004; 09.36

Los Molinos.

Curt & several other members of the Team have just left in a local person-wagon, the back area loaded high with Happy Gigster baggage. The driver made an Iberian gesture to indicate that, although happy to stand in the drizzle while lots of guitarists embraced & bade each other farewell, nevertheless he would be willing to assent to an indication that it were time to leave.
And then they left.

In my GC archive are photos of Hernan & Bettina driving down Salisbury Street in Cranborne, away from the Red Lion House, for the very last time. There is always poignancy to this part of the completion process: this time has gone; it will never return.

Ongoing departures from early this morning, some in the people-wagon to the airport, some on foot to the station, much embracing in the Latin fashion. To English eyes, this is very close to perverted. A stiffly extended right hand, thin lips pulled back tightly over the teeth in what is assumed to be a smile, and – if the acquaintance is an intimate – then perhaps even a nod: this is what passes for a close English embrace. Wise Englishmen stay away from these moments, and later send postcards saying farewell!

My own departure call is 10.30. The new Happy Gigster Wonder Wheelie (replacing the irreplaceable TravelPro that died as it was about to board the LAX>London flight at the end of the recent Crimson tour) & a worn Samsonite Happy Gigster Wonder Wheelie suitcase are both packed & open, allowing for last items before they are closed, locked & out the door.

10.25 Time to close the suitcase.

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