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learn: Failure to Fracture, Ep. 4

By Anthony Garone

Accuracy isn't as important as accuracy.

Episode 4: Overzealous Precision

After learning about the technique Robert Fripp uses to play Fracture and FraKctured, I became somewhat obsessed with following the technique religiously. Then I realized that the technique is a starting point and not a mandate.

Purchase King Crimson’s Fracture on iTunes 

Or, purchase the album on Robert Fripp’s website 

Video

Here is the video to accompany this episode of Failure to Fracture.

What is Failure to Fracture?

Failure to Fracture is a video series I’ve put together about all the things that have stood in the way of my successfully playing the song Fracture by King Crimson despite years and years of study, practice, writing, and making videos.

Episode List

Too Precise

After hours and hours of practicing the technique learned at my Guitar Circle introductory course in February 2015, I became a bit too zealous in following the “rules” of right-hand picking and “release and return.” Particularly during the “death picking” section of Fracture’s moto perpetuo section. That’s the part with all the string skipping. Well, the part where the string-skipping spans multiple strings.

If you have tried playing the piece, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Anyway, to pick a note, you should move the pick to it via the elbow and move the pick through the string via the wrist. So, to play a note on the 5th string, then the 3rd string, then the 2nd string, then the 3rd string, and over and over again, it requires 4 movements of the elbow to bring the pick to each string before striking the pick through the string. All this during a barrage of 16th notes at 130 beats per minute.

Not gonna happen.

Instead, I changed my approach to think of the space between the strings and where the pick could be moved through the string via pickstrokes from the wrist. Again, these motions have their origins between strings. So, to play…

|-----------------------------------------|
|-----6---6-------6---6-------6-------6---|
|---6---6---6---6---6---6---6---6---6---6-|
|-------------3-----------5-------6-------|
|-4---------------------------------------|
|-----------------------------------------|
  X Y         X Y         X Y     X Y

By following the presumed “rules” (i.e. rules I’d made up using my own assumptions, not specifically taught in the introductory course), I would move my elbow to bring the pick to every string, which really wasn’t realistic. By forgetting the rules and sticking the the spirit of the technique, as I understood it after dozens of hours of practice, I would only move my elbow for the notes marked with X or Y in the tablature above.

For the duration of Y, I would keep my hand positioned so that the pick would remain between the 2nd and 3rd strings in an idle origin state. This gave me an opportunity to focus on just a few motions:

  • Moving from position X to Y
  • Moving my wrist to hit the notes while in position Y
  • Moving from position Y to position X

Since the notes for position X are always downstrokes, a simple repetitive pattern is easily established. The hardest part is moving to the right strings in time.

Watch the video in case this isn’t clear from the writing.

And here are some gifs of the master playing The Moving Force , which is basically a piece built around the death picking section from the moto, but in Fripp’s New Standard Tuning.

gif of Fripp death picking

gif of Fripp death picking

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