This week’s featured artist is Robert Fripp! Born May 16th 1946, he is an English musician, songwriter, and record producer, best known as the guitarist, founder, and longest lasting member of the progressive rock band King Crimson. He has also worked extensively as a session musician and collaborator, notably with David Bowie, Blondie, Brian Eno, Peter Gabriel and David Sylvian. His discography includes contributions to over 700 official releases!
His compositions often feature unusual time signatures, which have been influenced by classical and folk traditions. His innovations include Frippertronics, “soundscapes”, and “new standard tuning” – a tuning he began using in 1985, set to C2-G2-D3-A3-E4-G4, which would also become popularised in Fripp’s own guitar course, Guitar Craft.
Fripp began playing guitar at the age of eleven. When he started, he was tone deaf and had no rhythmical sense, weaknesses which led him later to comment “Music so wishes to be heard that it sometimes calls on unlikely characters to give it voice.” He was also naturally left-handed but opted to play the guitar right-handed. While being taught guitar basics by his teacher Don Strike, Fripp began to develop the technique of crosspicking, which became one of his specialities.
Fripp’s guitar technique, unlike most rock guitarists of his era, is not blues-based but rather influenced by avant-garde jazz and European classical music. He combines rapid alternate picking and crosspicking with motifs employing whole-tone or diminished pitch structures and sixteenth-note patterns for long stretches in a form called moto perpetuo (perpetual motion).
Rather than stand when performing, he seats himself on a stool (unusual for a performer in rock music), and by doing so was called in a May 1974 issue of Guitar Player “the guitarist who sits on stage.”
He is ranked 62nd on Rolling Stone magazine’s 2011 list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time after having been ranked by David Fricke 42nd on its 2003 list. Tied with Andrés Segovia, he also is ranked 47th on Gibson’s Top 50 guitarists of all time.
Check below for a tab and 2015 live performance of “21st Century Schizoid Man” from King Crimson’s legendary debut album In The Court of the Crimson King!
Are you familiar with Robert Fripp’s work, whether it be with King Crimson or another artist? Do you have any favourite works by him? We are currently offering Video Conference Lessons if you want to talk about the ongoing history of music a professional!
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