In 1997, on May 16th, Robert Fripp celebrated 30 years as a professional musician and, on December 24th, 40 years as a guitarist.
Fripp is best known as a founder and continuing member of King Crimson, from the debut album "In The Court Of The Crimson King" in 1969, through "Larks' Tongues In Aspic" (1972), "Red" (1974), "Discipline" (1981), "VROOOM" (1994), "THRAK" (1995), "THRaKaTTaK" (1996), and the H.O.R.D.E. tour of 1996.
Well known collaborations and contributions include Fripp & Eno's "No Pussyfooting" (1973) and "Evening Star" (1975), Eno's "Nerve Net" (1993), the first three Peter Gabriel albums, David Bowie's "Heroes" (1977) and "Scary Monsters" (1980), Daryl Hall's "Sacred Songs" (1979), and The Roches (1979 & 1982).
Fripp left the music industry between 1984 and 1991 to establish the Guitar Craft seminar program, which continues around the world.
Recent collaborations include David Sylvian, "The First Day" (1993), and "Damage" (1994), "FFWD" with The Orb and Thomas Fehlmann (1994), and contributions to albums by The Grid and The Future Sound of London.
Soundscapes are an extension and development of Frippertronics, itself based on the tape delay system used by Brian Eno on "No Pussyfooting" and "Discreet Music". It remains the best way Fripp knows to make a lot of noise with one guitar.
The Soundscape performances are part of an ongoing series which has the aim of finding ways in which intelligence and music, definition and discovery, courtesy and reciprocation may enter into the act of music for both musician and audience.
These performances often take place within a commercial culture in which the act of music is inescapably ill-placed. Better, if possible, that performances take place outside that culture. Better, if possible, that performers and audiences drop the demands they carry and which relentlessly accompany the commercial culture.
The series is itself part of an ongoing exploration of how one might be a musician, professional musician and human being simultaneously; and how music might enter our sorry world, despite all our efforts to keep it out.
Soundscapes continue to evolve, surprise, excite, educate and instruct me. They are true to the moment in which they appear.
It is far easier to give a technical explanation of Soundscapes than a musical one. The basic technique of Soundscapes is the same as Frippertonics. This involved two REVOX tape recorders linked together so that a note was recorded onto the first machine and then played back on the second machine. By feeding the output of the second machine back into the first machine, a note could be made to repeat many times, as it was recorded back onto the first machine, played back on the second machine, recorded back onto the first machine, played back on the second machine etc. The overall effect was that any note you played would come back after a set amount of time and keep repeating itself. By adding new notes, a repeating phrase could be built up.
In Soundscapes, the REVOX tape recorders have been replaced by digital delay units, TC2290. These units will allow a maximum delay of 64 seconds, so that the space between playing a note and it being heard again can be over a minute. This delay time is variable, so that a piece can start with a short delay time, with notes repeating quickly, and can then be lengthened so that any new notes will repeat over a longer period. In addition, Robert Fripp uses not one, but four delay units, so that different phrases can be played into different machines and cycle over a different period of time. The combined output of these delay units is played through a series of digital processors, and the net result is Soundscapes.
All Soundscape performances and recording are improvised, with Robert Fripp both controlling and reactingto the output of the delay units. In Robert Fripp's words "Soundscapes are based on delay, repetition, and hazard" and are "improvised and largely governed by the time, place, audience and the performer's response to them". He usually adds the rider that "this remains the best way I know of making a lot of noise with one guitar".
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