REVIEWS

Interviews & Press Cuttings

Review of Ship of Fools by the Gong Farmers

BBC Music Magazine - Review of In Echo's Music in a Cold Climate (Northern Soul) 

Scarlet Letters at the Warehouse, London - 2003. Abigail James (guitar).

(Scarlet Letters is on Blue Dawn [Burning Shed Records]).

Review of Music in a Cold Climate.

https://andrewbensonwilson.org/2018/01/28/music-in-a-cold-climate/#more-29917

 

Presto Classical Music Magazine on In Echo's Music in a Cold Climate (Northern Soul)

https://www.prestoclassical.co.uk/classical/articles/1963--interview-gawain-glenton-on-music-in-a-cold-climate

 

David Cross (KC) & Andrew Keeling: English Sun - Review in Prog Archives

http://www.progarchives.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=62596

 

Keeling's Eye View Of King Crimson - DGM Live

https://www.dgmlive.com/news/keelings-eye-view-of-crimson

 

Concerto Nekyia (for percussion and chamber orchestra). Evelyn Glennie and Trinity New Music Ensemble. Cond. Diego Masson. Trinity College of Music, London. Nov. 2000. 

http://www.musicweb-international.com/SandH/2000/Nov00/dusapin.htm

Review of 'Lost in the Ghost Light' by Tim Bowness from the Daily Express

"Classical composer Andrew Keeling’s compelling string arrangements being the golden thread that pulls this hypnotic tapestry of sound together."

Review of Northern Soul. (In Echo) at York Early Music Festival, Dec. 2016. 

Review of 'Spiritus' by Andrew Keeling (The Classical Review, October 2016)

"A release from Spaceward Records brings some very impressive works by Andrew Keeling that show a great emotional depth"

Review of 'Spiritus' by Andrew Keeling (R2, September 2016)

Review of 'Spiritus' by Andrew Keeling (Prog Magazine, July 2016)

 

Review of Get Weaving (April, 2016)

Andrew Keeling & Otherworld 'Five o'clock Sun' (R2 Magazine, Jan 2016)

Tim Bowness - Stupid Things That Mean the World (Mojo Magazine, Aug. 2015)

Out of the Blue(s) - McKenzie/Sawers duo, Edinburgh

Review of My Red Book from Prog Magazine

Hyde reviewed in Prog

Steve Bingham 50th Birthday Concert - Fire and Ice

Hyde reviewed in R2

Unquiet Earth reviewed in Gramophone

Unquiet Earth and Wine of Silence reviewed in R2

Unquiet Earth reviewed in the Independent

Andrew Keeling - Unquiet Earth
The Independent - 7 July 2012

***

Andrew Keeling's diverse career has previously led to work with Evelyn Glennie, The Hilliard Quartet and King Crimson, and in the chamber works on Unquiet Earth he exhibits a similar straddling of influences. His string quartet piece "Present" isn't so much anti-contemporary classical in style so much as reinforcing pre-modernist forms with the buttresses of minimalism – the latter also notably present in the hypnotic waves of "You Cut the String", written for Steve Bingham's electric violin. But throughout, there's an intimate, discursive quality to the way Keeling manipulates his chosen compositional elements, the urgent rhythmic motifs and triadic tone structures, particularly in the more reflective passages of "Unquiet Earth". – Andy Gill

Andrew Keeling interviewed on Netherlands Radio 6 'De Wissel'

 

Bells of Heaven reviewed in Sid Smith's Postcards from the Yellow Room

Riverborn - Manchester Evening News

Riverborn - Metro Guitar Weekend

Review of Riverborn

Review of "English Sun" by David Cross and Andrew Keeling

Gig Review: David Cross & Andrew Keeling – 23rd April 2009, London Metropolitan University, London N7

Thursday evening’s event was a world away from the rock gigs of the David Cross Band and from DC’s King Crimson years, both in terms of style and scale. Here he had teamed up with flautist Andrew Keeling to perform an improvised set that leant much more towards ambient music or soundscapes. Not only did I not know what to expect from the evening but, to some extent, neither did the musicians, who were doing this live for the first time – exciting but a little scary! The venue, a studio at the university where Cross teaches currently, was an appropriately informal setting too. The audience of around 50 seemed to be made up of a mix of fans, ex-students, other musicians and even a former neighbour of DC’s as I later discovered.

Cross and Keeling had given the evening the general heading of Cloud-Surfing and the content turned out to be fascinating and varied, with the two cleverly feeding off each other. While Keeling kept his flute ‘au naturelle’, Cross used a range of effects, including a looping device to occasionally set up repeating riffs for them to play over. He even made wonderful use of a pitch-shifter – something I’ve never seen a violinist do before.

In the middle the event turned into a discussion – a sort of analysis of improvised music – with yours truly leaping in with the first, hopefully incisive, question. In keeping with the unpredictable nature of the evening, Andrew Keeling asked a question of an audience member – although that was a fellow musician, Yumi Hara-Cawkwell. In the drinks interval I managed to grab a few words with DC himself and I have to confess I nerdily asked him to autograph the cover of the ‘Exiles’ CD for me. And, as it was DC’s birthday too, we all got to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to him.

After the break they extended the audience participation into the music. We all selected random phrases from newspaper cuttings, and recited them under the guidance of a conductor from the audience while the Cross and Keeling improvised over us. Innovative and fun. In the final piece we were treated to DC cutting loose with a fuzzed violin solo in the vein of one of those glorious Fripp guitar solo’s of old.

In recent years I’ve been enjoying exploring many of the avenues that lead out from King Crimson. Andrew Keeling was entirely new to me but he is wonderful musician and I was very happy to find here that David Cross is still eagerly exploring new ideas 35 years on from his Crimson days.

Pete (AKA ‘The Skywhales’)

Being a big fan of the King Crimson 1972 -1974 line up and having enjoyed Andrew Keeling’s Quickening the Dead CD, I was intrigued to see Keeling and David Cross were scheduled to play a show together in London. On a warm Thursday night, I went along to see what they were up to.

Due to the vagaries of British Rail, I missed the first number and eventually took my seat as they set the scene for their second with a Pete Sinfield Haiku. The Sinfield Haiku led to a light and airy duet which was as delicate as the words of the poem.

The next piece used the ambient sound within the room to let the music emerge and build slowly. An ominous violin riff (a distant cousin to the Jaws theme) developed with the flute intertwining and dipping about it. Cross used a looper to keep this riff going whilst he added lines over the top. This third piece had a compelling combination of movement coupled with menace, which left the audience on the edge of their seats when it came to a sudden and controlled stop.

To begin the second half, the audience was used to provide aural texture via muttering, whispers and talking quietly while Keeling played percussion and Cross built up subtle layers of violin. The music built using the audience interjections as leverage points to sustained climbing lines from the violin and some dynamic flute playing. This is the only time I have found somebody next to me talking during a concert actually adding to the music! This was a very effective combination of music and audience participation.

The final piece had a Keeling piano loop as a starting point. I was reminded of some Sartie’s piano music as the flute joined in and Cross’s muted violin gave a mournful air. This developed a serene mood in the room and provided a very peaceful end to the evening.

I really enjoyed this concert. The dynamic duo conjured a surprising range of sounds and moods considering the limited palette at their disposal (flute and electric violin). The use of different stimuli for the starting points kept the music fresh and interesting and none of the pieces over stayed their welcome. If you get a chance to see them, take it! I know I’ll be back……and I’ll be picking up their CD too when it becomes available.

John Kimber

Gig Reviews: David Cross & Andrew Keeling – 23rd April 2009, London Metropolitan University, London N7


David Cross and Andrew Keeling - CLOUD-SURFING

Andrew Keeling SPNM Interview - video by Kevin Price

Balloons - Arran, November 2008

Feature "You Cut The String" - ISM Journal, November 2008

Feature "And My Mum Cried" - ISM Journal 2007

"Andrew's Present is world premiere" - Blackpool & Fylde Evening Gazette, 22/03/07

"Old Musicians Still Gigging" - Blackpool Evening Gazette, 24/11/06

Andrew Keeling's Desert Island Crim
by Sid Smith on Sat., Jun 10, 2006

Andrew Keeling's connections with King Crimson go back to when he wrote to Fripp at the age of 15 asking if he could join the band.

He was surprised to receive a reply from the guitarist and an offer to write an arrangement of "Lady Of The Dancing Water". "Robert had quickly written it in pencil (the melody line plus chords) and invited me to do an arrangement of it. I did so and sent it to him. When Lizard came out and I heard what Robert had done with Peter Sinfield's words I learnt a great deal about not what to do with an arrangement: Robert's original was a wonderful indication of control and simplicity done so as to heighten words. Mine was an overblown monster of a thing! I think Robert set my future in motion by inviting me to arrange something."

Of course, Andrew will be known to many visitors to DGMLive. The composer kept a diary on the old DGM site and produced two guides to King Crimson's Music; In The Wake Of Poseidon and Larks' Tongues In Aspic with another title dealing with the debut album being prepared.

His haunting track Meditatio was one of two by him featured on the DGM-released Present Moment album, Hidden Streams by Opus 20 and in 2000, he released his own album, Quickening The Dead for the Riverrun label.

Along with Bert Lams, Keeling has also scored Robert Fripp's Soundscapes for orchestra and in 2005 he released Reclaiming Eros for the Burning Shed label (see my review on my blog). Burning Shed will also be releasing an album of solo piano music by Keeling this year.

He also maintains a regular diary over at Krimson News which chronicles his twin passions of hill walking and writing music . Andrew's website also contains many resources and articles of interest to Crimheads.

So without further ado we have Andrew Keeling's Top Ten KC – and in common with other guests in this spot, he’s had a bit of difficulty in whittling things down to just ten tracks.

 

It's impossible to single-out individual songs for a KC Top 10. It's always been my belief that the songs are parts of a much greater whole. So, a top 10 albums within and without King Crimson is, for me, a more practicable way forward than just individual songs. It also strikes me that this list is likely to be chronological.

1) In the Court of the Crimson King

I first heard this on December 9th 1969 after a school concert. It stunned me to the point of having to listen to it twice in a row. From this point onwards my life changed. From the opening 'noise' of Schizoid Man to the closing bars of the title-track this is a magical album. This album came from somewhere else. It encapsulates the entire ethos of musico-archetypal otherness, going well beyond the counter-culture of the late 1960's. It's of no wonder that the power of this rendered KC immobile. It was a lightning-bolt to all of us. It was also the structural prototype for most of the subsequent KC albums.

2) In the Wake of Poseidon

I bought this on its release-date, summer 1970. Pictures of a City was stunning then and remains so to this day. The problem is that, often, popular music comes with ready-made nostalgia. It is often impossible to separate our primary experience of the music with the actual music content itself. When I learnt the acoustic guitar part and transcribed the music of the title-track for my Musical Guide on the album, I realised why this music has stood up. Cadence and Cascade is sensational; Catfood in a league of its own. Mick Farren once said, I believe, that KC weren't rock 'n roll. He was right! They were jazz! And the album concept? Clearly KC were in a league of their own.

3) Lizard

I bought this album on its release date in December 1970. How on earth did Fripp and Sinfield manage to a) write Poseidon b) go on to create this album in so short a time? Cirkus is one the strongest pieces/songs of the period. Lady of the Dancing Water? What can one say? This illustrated that Fripp and Sinfield were to the 1970's what Lennon/McCartney were to the 1960's.

4) Islands
The title track is one of the most beautiful things I have ever heard. The lucid structural placing of keyboards is masterful: piano to harmonium to mellotron and back to harmonium. The mellotron ritornello a masterstroke.

5) McDonald and Giles

Should this be placed as No.2? I've always felt that the mellotron ritornello of Islands owes a huge amount to the flying section of Birdman, and I believe that Birdman may well have been the b-side to the projected KC album #2. McD & G is the polar-opposite of Poseidon. Suite in C is something I listened to over and over again at the time. Ian McDonald and Michael Giles should be proud of themselves for this one album alone. It will be remembered far into the future.

6) Larks Tongues' in Aspic

A turning-point. I first heard this after returning from a tour of Ireland. This album was not KC and yet was KC. A shock to hear violin instead of saxes. LTIA Pt 1 - a masterstroke. VW and beyond. Then the 'live' versions from The Great Deceiver. Complete with the Wetton-Bruford rhythm-machine.

7) Red

'A complete thought' according to RF. The final Starless always struck me as being the grand-playout for the counter-culture generation. That and Nick Drake's Pink Moon. The guitar solo on Starless showed the way out of the impasse of the self-indulgent early '70's virtuoso moments of the Page's and the Clapton's. It's as though at that moment we all waved goodbye to electric blues.

8) Discipline

Another shock. King Crimson turned New Wave gamelan? I hadn't heard Steve Reich at this point. When I finally did it struck me that KC did Reich better than Reich himself. Frame by Frame is one of the strongest. Matte Kudesai is fabulous.

9) Exposure

RF exposed. You Burn Me Up, I'm a Cigarette. RF rock 'n roll? It made more sense when I finally read Bennett and Gurdjieff. At the time it was a shock. Hammill on Disengage, Daryl Hall on North Star. And Terre Roche on Mary. This is a classic.

10) Peter Sinfield's Still tied with KC's The Power to Believe.

A House of Hope and Dreams and Song of the Seagoat are, certainly of their time but magical nonetheless. The four Adrian Belew haiku on TPTB are beautiful.

10.5) HWWYHTBHW

The power of this song lies in the snap (acciaccatura) at the beginning of the chorus.

 

Andrew Keeling's Desert Island Crim by Sid Smith

"Children Get Into The Brontes' Lives" - Article from Telegraph and Argus

Interview with Riccardo Terranova, former student of Andrew Keeling

Interview Andrew Keeling: Opus 20 - Hidden Streams

Music Journal, ISM Magazine, January 2000

How did you become interested in music?

Music has always been there. Having sung along to Beatles' records as a child, someone heard me and urged my parents to send me to Lichfield Cathedral as a chorister. I then got a scholarship to Oakham School and won several school composition competitions.

What made you decide to become a professional musician?

I have a distinct impression I didn't decide. It's as though music made the decision for me.

Who were your teachers?

Early on I was self-taught. During my time at school I got into rock music, and after leaving school played semi-professionally in bands, before studying the flute at Huddersfield university with Atarah Ben Tovim. I was unimpressed by the contemporary classical music scene at the time (1970's) and needed music which reached the heart and not just the head. I listened to Robert Fripp (King Crimson), T2 and Nick Drake, as well as Holst and Messiaen.

Which teachers had a particular influence on you?

I heard Nicola LeFanu's piece The Same Day Dawns in a concert in 1987, and immediately asked her if she would teach me. There was something in that music which shook me to the ground, probably the balance between intuitive and intellectual processes. I also studied privately with Anthony Gilbert, and then with John Casken for my PhD. These three allowed me to develop intuitively without losing sight of the fact that the head should always be engaged.

Have you had any important breaks?

Being asked to write a piece for Evelyn Glennie, and being asked to write pieces for Discipline Records affiliated artists by Robert Fripp.

How did they come about?

I wanted to write a percussion concerto and enquired whether Evelyn might be interested. She was, and is giving the piece its first performance in London in November 2000. A succession of, I would say, 'synchronicities'', led to Robert's invitation.

Who has helped you in your career?

I have never thought of composing just as a career. But several people have helped encourage me: Steven Wray and Thomas Tulacek who have performed my work; Rosalind Rawnsley of Worfield Charity Concert Trust who has commissioned several pieces and included others in concerts; Robert Fripp of Discipline

Which organisations have helped you in your career?

The SPNM (Society for the Promotion of New Music), particularly Richard Steele, included my music in workshop performance and concerts. As I didn't study full-time, this was very important in terms of hearing my music played by professional ensembles and soloists.

What are you working on now?

Last year I wrote a lot of music and at this moment [November 1999]

I've slowed down by working on two projects: a piece for the California Guitar Trio and an arranging project for Discipline Records. In December I begin work on two new pieces: a piece for the Newbold Piano Quartet, and a piece for early instruments for Virelai.

Are you doing now what you set out to do?

I began writing late (31), and I therefore had no clear career path in mind. I have been continually surprised that so much seems to have emerged in so short a time. I have tried to follow the promptings of the unconscious as carefully as possible, so in that sense I am doing what I set out to do.

How do you divide your time between different activities?

I still have to do a fair amount of teaching (RNCM junior School, Liverpool University and Rossall School) to make a living. However, funding seems to be developing to allow time for composing. It's as though things happen at the right time.

Where do you see yourself in another 10 years?

The future is best left to take care of itself.

What advice would you give someone leaving college?

If you feel 'called' to compose, follow your calling.
 

(This article first appeared in Music Journal, the monthly magazine of the Incorporated Society of Musicians. It has been reprinted with permission.)

Andrew Keeling: Opus 20 - Hidden Streams


Interview - Music Journal, ISM Magazine

Extract (in French) from "Crossroads" Jan 2005

Lectures

Lecture For King's College, London

Talk for the Viola da Gamba Society, Conway Hall, June 2003

I began composing when I was 31, although I've always composed in the context of rock music and choirs. My first 'real' piece was Meditatio (1989) which coincided with the outset of a Jungian analysis. The first pieces covered a wide range of commissions: orchestral pieces, saxophone quartet, choral works, percussion concerto, and lots of chamber music. In 1998 I began working with Robert Fripp of King Crimson on arrangements of his music. Robert introduced me to the lutenist Jacob Heringman. This began an interest in writing pieces for period instruments. I've since written for lute, treble viol and lute, theorbo for Jacob and Susanna Pell and Matthew Wadsworth. I've also written several pieces for Virelai, Fretwork and Gothic Voices.

When writing for period instruments I've had the feeling I've come home. Although I'd never written for viols I had the feeling that I should write freely and see where it led. It seems to have led me into a closer intimacy with music and unconscious itself and a musical area of great intenmsity and passion.

Afterwords - this is piece Fretwork are performing today, and the piece they have recently published. It was written in 2000 and commissioned by the ensemble, and is for five viols. It's a re-composition of a choral piece I wrote in 1997: a setting of Sylvia Plath's The Moon and the Yew Tree. I've always seen Plath's work as containing a kind of inner drama: an interplay of conscious and unconscious contents which was particular evident in Ariel. Although she wrote the Moon... as an exercise set for her by Ted Hughes it concentrates itself very much on many of her interests in symbols she knew from Robert Graves centred around the Goddess and the God. I took my original choral work and fleshed it out with new material writing round it with freedom. It includes homophonic passages as well as contrapuntal sections and structurally the piece is a wordless setting. This is the reason I chose the title - 'afterwords'. It's in four main sections, slow-slow-fast-slow, with a coda and follows the four verses of the poem. The first section begins on 'D' and the final section is on G# a tritone away. there is, therefore, a corresponding collapse between the poem and the music. The central verse is a bell-like idea with viols intoning repeated notes and decorated descending scales. The repeated notes are always present during the piece. I didn't use any complex techniques such as change-ringing to generate material. It's all spontaneous. The whole piece is motivically related: a rising/falling semitone and major third are important.

I found no real problems transferring the music from a choral medium to viol consort, because I've always felt viols are close to voices anyway in their sound.

Fretwork will now perform Afterwords....

I will also mention a new piece commissioned by the Yukimi Kambe Viol Consort of Japan. This is to be performed there in November. It's for four viols and consists of four short pieces ordered slow-fast/fast-slow. Each piece has a different character and I was asked to write something which included a humorous element. I've never done this before (!) and can't say that I feel this piece takes on this characteristic. Whatever, the harmonic language is quite different from Afterwords. It was inspired from two separate sources: a painting by Sulamith Wulfing called Gefunden; Tammo de Jongh's book on archetypes, The Magic Circle. There is a connection: Peter Sinfield (former King Crimson lyricist) sent me both the painting on a postcard and the book. The piece took around three weeks to write in April and early May of this year. The first piece is, essentially, an accompanied melody on A, while the second piece is more mechanical and centred on C#. The third piece returns to A, and the music alludes to The Beatles' Eleanor Rigby. The fourth piece begins and ends with a plainsong-like melody and the central section is a free harmonisation of the Japanese folsong Sakura (Spring Blossom). It is a lamenting hymn. The whole piece was written spontaneously, but one or two of the rhthmic details in the third piece use the I Ching hexagrams to generate material, as well a ciphering process I've used since 1993 in my piece for saxophone quartet, Wrestling with Angels.

Andrew Keeling, June 2003.

Talk for the Viola da Gamba Society, Conway Hall, June 2003

Other Writings

Circumambulating The Musical Self

Guitar Craft, Introduction Course, Spain 2003: Diary by Andrew Keeling
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Day 1 - 4-vii-03:

Sue and I arrive in Barcelona at 11-00 and are taken by taxi from the airport to the monastery in San Cugat which, for the next few weeks, is the HQ of the Spanish Guitar Craft course, 2003. The weather is hot, the landscape mountainous and the terrain sandy and dusty. Around the convent excavators are doing work building new roads (?). We are met by Hernan Nunez, the Director of the course. H. shows us around the house and takes us to our room. We look around, get a feel for the place and go down for lunch at 13-00 where we meet more of the GC participants. Amazingly, my old E-mail friend David Snyder is there. The meal is fine and non-elaborate, and afterwards there is a period of silence and then people are asked, by Hernan, for observations and comments - especially on the King Crimson performance in Barcelona on the previous evening. This was obviously a profound moment for those who saw the band. We then have coffee. I read the House Rules on the notice board. One of the aphorisms strikes me: Nothing is compulsory; some things are necessary.' We are on the Introductory Course and it doesn't officially begin till 21-00. So, we walk into San Cugat and have a cup of coffee. The shops are closed. We return, practise guitars in our room, and then go down for dinner. Other Introductory Course participants have arrived, whom we meet. At dinner I get the impression something invites us in. Everything is precisely ordered on GC: times and events. People respect time. People respect each others' time. All the participants on both the Kitchen Craft, more advanced players (of whom there are some of staggering ability) and Intro team then go into the Ballroom and put out chairs to form a fairly large circle. I notice no-one leaps in. People take their time to gather thoughts and reflect standing behind their chairs and awaiting Martin, the instructor, to take his place first. When this happens we seat ouselves - properly - and the circulations begin. This involves passing one note and then two notes around the circle from player to player. The quality of how to play one note is of greater significance than playing a hundred notes badly. How we begin is how we proceed. I discovered this when I trained to become a flautist. But, in GC, it's not just a case of perfection of tone, although that's important. It's a case of giving one's attention to the moment; to the note; to the environment. This is of unparalleled significance and it is the principle on which GC is hinged. It is revolutionary. I'm expecting a reaction from myself with this realisation: No. 4 or the shadow (to cite Helen Palmer's book) will get his revenge. But this is also important. It is who I am. Then some rhythmic exercises. The more advanced players don't look down on or patronise those of us who are less experienced. Rather, I have a feeling of helpfulness from all involved. This might just be a profound experience. I am already feeling it. Sue has a deja-vu experience at bedtime. 'We've done this course before,' she remarks. Words by T.S. Eliot immediately spring to mind.

Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future
And time future contained in time past.

Day 2 report will follow tomorrow. Even as a I write that other thoughts from the week re-emerge into my mind.

In the meantime, Gert-Jan has e-mailed to say the SS/KC orchestration mixing has gone well. It looks as if we will expect good things from this. David Singleton is enthusiastic. It also looks as if I didn't even get an interview for the university post I applied for. Nothing happens by chance. There is a reason for this, as the GC course confirmed.

 

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Guitar Craft, Day 2 - 5-vii-03:

Dream: 'In a room with a group of students. I feel out of place because I'm older and dressed older. A young woman sits on my knee.' First Primary exercises with the assembled Introduction team and Martin. The team are: Neil, Sue, Carlos, Claudia, Victoria, Christian, Matthew, Allain, Miguel and AGK. The first Primaries address the left-hand. Good feeling. A large black and white butterfly flies in through window. G.C. piece learnt in parts: Eye of the Needle. This is standard GC repertoire. I like this piece and have a CD of it. (Bert Lams told me of a concert the League of Crafty Guitarists did many years ago at the Paradiso in Amsterdam, when their bus broke down and snow was thick on the ground. They couldn't get anyone to come and mend it, and finally managed to get someone to tow them to the Paradiso where they performed. They were poorly fed and had to the concert on, more or less, empty stomachs. The bus was abandoned post-concert.) Notice large photo-picture of a waterfall in the dining room. This was similar to the one in my dream which was just about to be hit by the 13' wall of water. Words are written on it, which I ask Martin and Mariella to translate: 'How lucky is the man who lives with the everlasting words of understanding and affection.' I have a strong feeling that GC may just be a still point from which I can work, but I have No.4's cynicism and apathy, selfishness and cruelty to overcome. I Ching says that if we wrestle with our faults they remain victorious. The best approach is to make energetic progress in the good. Is this the reason for why GC has presented itself at this point in time? Robert Fripp and KC presented a way forward to me in 1969, 1970, 1973, 1981, 1996 and, most significantly, in 1998. It seems that July 2003 may be another of those moments. First group Alexander Technique lesson. This is a revelation, to me at least. My posture has always been appalling. Attention and awareness are the two key factors of this, and the course in general. They are the two key factors of anyone's life - musician or otherwise. But it's clear that our mechanical and habitual ways of living, drilled into from a very long time ago, are dominant in our ways of thinking. Significant progress throughout the day in self-realisation. This is not to be confused with selfishness. 'I would know my shadow from my light, and then shall I at last be whole.' Sue and I practise guitars for most of our freetime. Sue is finding the course hard work. I go through the Primaries with her several times. This left-hand primary isn't too difficult for me mainly becuase of my experience as a classical guitarist. Sue finds it tough going. We retire in a totally exhausted state.

 

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Guitar Craft Day 3, 6-7-03:

Ray Mear's Extreme Survival, GC in San Cugat. A day of transformation on several levels. This is when I started getting real with myself. Unconscious struggle or struggle with the unconscious. This happened on a musical and personal level. Eye of the Needle bass parts. Second Primary addresses right-hand. My left is reasonable, but my right-hand is really poor. I have never been good with a pick. I have a trouble with this and so do the other students. It's all to do with 'lines'. This has a direct connection to classical guitar technique. Fripp has amazingly synthesised all styles. This is polytechnical polystylism. Mariana and Huan play a really good little haiku-like, Pillow Walk, at lunch. Tell them so. They should make their own album. Real antagonism develops in me at 14-00 approx. Absent from Hitting the Floor session. Should have been there but sulk in room. Refuse even to answer the door. Read Helen Palmer's book. Sue returns and I vent my anger on her. She manages to calm me down somewhat. I should be better, musically and inwardly. The shadow has taken hold. Later, more Eye of the Needle. Things change in me at 20-00 approx. Alexander with Mariella. Convinced she can feel the shadow. I ask her. She says she has the ability to feel blockages in the body. Sue continues to be supportive. Listened to Larks' 2 orchestration. Didn't get on with it this time round. Bed at 23-05. A long day. Slept in afternoon. Martin is a fine GC guitar instructor. He conveys a seriousness. Fripp's techniques are even more all-pervading than I originally thought. My mind begins to work on this aspect. Is it the power of music or the power of Fripp? Sue asks Mike about the silences at mealtimes at dinner. Mike is a kind person and tells her his views on this. This aspect of things has got to her, mainly because of our former experiences in the Pentecostal church which we have bad memories of.)

 

 


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Guitar Craft Day 4, 7-vii-03:

Dream - 'A Roman soldier (but it could be Mercurius) shoots someone in the head with an arrow. Brains everwhere. Particularly messy.' Primary 2: white notes on G. Any white notes can be played over a new centre with position shifts. Any mode works together. Keys have narrowed the musical system (my realisation). Three visionary moments: what I might do for the future centering around GC. This still remains formative. Introductory Circle: Eye of the Needle. Foreground rhythm over background pulse like Gamelan. This illustrates Stravinsky's/Messiaen's approach to system of underlying rhythmic backgrounds ultimately passed to Reich. Also illustrates foreground/background, microcosm/macrocosm of the universe. How the collective unconscious intersects the personal unconscious. How physics verifies the existence of seven dimensions with a further four known to exist but unprovable by maths (thanks, M!). Music reveals this and, for rock music, Fripp has re-discovered it via Strav/Reich/Gamelan etc. LTIA is an early example. Eye of the Needle extends it, Thrak extends it further. Reveals underlying universal pulse. Alexander/Gurdjieff/Bennett/Jung makes us aware of balance a should contain within himself/herself. This brings the body into line with the universal pulse. I sensed GC would be important, but not as important as it's turning out to be. Possible to sense present/past/future together as one? Like I sensed someone would knock on our door 5 minutes before they actually did yesterday. 'Time future and time past' etc. Idea for Ricordo piece later emerges keeping me awake at night. Ask Hernan what is the universal significance of GC; realise KC is an extension of GC; ITCOTCK was the birth of KC; Poseidon extended it but then gradual transformation into LTIA-period KC; KC III stripped away Romanticism found in earlier KC, but earlier KC part and parcel of the growth of KC; RF locked into the occult but J.G. Bennett provided the solution he had been searching for to trigger his vision for what KC might achieve; Exposure/League of Gentleman/Blondie/Talking Heads/Bowie all research sources, but nonetheless important in themselves, for how KC might proceed especially with KC IV, V & VI.

 


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Day 5, GC at San Cugat, 8-vii-03:

4th Primary. My thumb keeps collapsing. Martin draws attention to this many times. Attention needed. Outside sound of crickets are rhythmic. Alexander with Mariella. Suddenly feel at one with things. Unitary moment. Time of quiet from 12-30 - 13-00. Walked outside - seat-bones, legs, neck - attention to. Swaying with the trees. Great sense of peace. The present moment. Mentioned to M. I have pain in l-h side of my back when I play guitar in this new posture. M. says things are changing. Pain not as significant today as yesterday. Anger at 14-30. Thrakking. Couldn't work out how triple polymetre works. Christian clarifies it. I write it into notebook. Buy X4 CG picks just in from Japan. Spoke with Martin re Ss/KC orchs I'd let him hear. He is unsure about the KC music for orchestra, but likes the Ss. Fifth Primary at 18-30. Conversation with No. 1. 21-00: meeting for everyone in ballroom. My reason for going on GC? To learn more about RF/KC. My aim in coming on CG? To be here. Introduction performance challenge set: full group piece; solo (me); duo; trio; quartet. 21-45: group gets together to write piece. We have less than 24 hours to do this. By 01-30 it's done. Then we split up and go off and write solos/duets etc. Hear others working at trio in kitchen: Neil, Victoria and Miguel. I eventually get to bed at 3-30. Shattered. Lucky I had chords earlier in the week. Group piece may be called San Cugat Boogierama. Sue couldn't deal with another ensemble and has withdrawn from 4tet.

 

 


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Day 6 - GC in San Cugat, 9-vii-03:

awake early. Shattered from the rehearsal last night/earlier this morning. Down to breakfast. Why do the Level 1 participants smile/laugh at me knowingly when I walk past them? They think I don't know what they might have planned? They are mistaken! If they had expressed nowt at all then what is to be would have been more of a surpirise. Intro team meet in the ballroom at 9-00. Further work on San Cugat Boogierama. Then further work on solo/smaller scale pieces. Time of doing nothing at 12-30 - 13-00. Return to group piece at 14-00. Practise for the rest of the day. My piece, Angelos(t) (currently title Prelude - My New Socks) is OK. Just OK. No time to finetune it. 18-00 Intro team practise and set out the ballroom in an approriate fashion. Into team performance at 21-00. We wait our turns in the Chapel. First on are Claudia and Carlos. Jeering/laughing/general abuse (nothing bad - all in good taste)/distraction from assembled audience of around 25. I'm on second. Same thing. Stand there on me tod, in front of radios going on and off/flickering lights. Announce piece but assembly shouts over me. I think 'shades of teaching one or two of my students at home...ignore these silly antics!'. Play piece...distractions continue but die to silence by around bar 10. Complete silence at the end. No applause. Walk off. Trio next. They suffer from major distractions from audience but get through. Quartet ( minus one!) next and they are good. Ensemble next. Major distractions from audience. We play. At end a juggler appears in front of us. Juggle Craft. Nice one. Ignore it all and walk off. Hernan appears and asks to come and play the whole performance again in 5 minutes at 21-25. We go on this time to complete silence through the whole performance. They have utilised the opposites to distract us and centre our attention on ourselves and, thus, on the music. And this is the crunch: we are faced, in the musical life, with distractions such as this but also many others. It's our job as musicians, if music really is a vocation, to be 1000% committed and look to neither right nor left in order to proceed along our chosen paths. This is a method to get to the essence of the Self...that which produces the music. GC has reminded me of this fact, but introduced me to so much more. Attention is the key factor and total dedication. It's easy to say 'yes! I will follow that path.' It's 100 times more difficult to put it into practice. It's the parable of the Eye of the Needle. Meet Andres later in the Chapel at 23-25. A. is one of the best players in the Fripp style I've met on the course. He runs through a piece he's performed twice during the week called Third Relation. Alexis kindly allows me to consult his score of the piece to see it's finer details. This is difficult stuff.

 

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Day 7 GC, San Cugat, 10-vii-03:

dream which anticipated future/past event revealed when I arrived home on 11-vii-03. Up at 7-30, pack suitcases/clean room. Breakfast at 8-15. Afterwards Hernan asks for the Intro teams views on the previous evening's performance. Various views put forth. Taxi comes for Sue and I at 9-00 and off we go. Say goodbye to Mariana, Mike, Neil and Alexis and the Intro team. Hope we'll meet again. This is the first time we've seen the world in a week. Nowt changes. Busy roads, 1000 mph to airport. Check in and fly back to Liverpool for 13-30 approx. Mike Hilton collects us and drives us home. M.H. very interested in my account of GC. He likes RF's work. Unpack, practise guitars. Reflect on what we've learnt which is a HUGE amount. For me, this centres on one main thing: 'attention'. When you have that you have it. And this is difficult. A world can be re-constructed on this principle in all its facets. The problem is that we live our lives asleep. Nor are things likely to be achieved by constantly being driven. There is a balance to be had. Attention to oneself leads to attention to others and the environment. It's a case of leaving our habitual ways. This sounds like a sermon, so I better stop. All in all, the Guitar Craft Intoduction Course was a painfully wonderful experience, and something I will live from for a very long time. Many thanks to Robert Fripp and Hernan Nunez for the invitation.

Guitar Craft, Introduction Course, Spain 2003: Diary

Thursday, January 22 2004

Los Molinos, Guitar Craft, January 20th, 2004.

Robert Fripp asks the question to the gathering of around sixty participants, 'What is your aim for the course?' I replied that my aim was yet to clarify. Whatever I may write or say will seem inadequate, but after a poor night's sleep as the end result of a long period of time before this Guitar Craft course, at 14-00 on Wednesday, January 21st, I told Hernan Nunez and Robert Fripp that I'd decided to leave the course less than a day into it. I packed my suitcase and left immediately. Alain (sorry if I've spelt your name incorrectly) drove me to the station which took me to Madrid with a flight to London as nothing was going to Liverpool. I write these lines in a small hotel on the Euston Road with a train back to the north tomorrow. My aim had finally clarified. I told Robert that I'd decided to suspend all activities to do with King Crimson analyses, orchestrations and Guitar Craft. Following the release of the Musical Guide on In the Wake of Poseidon and, perhaps, completing the second half of another one on In the Court of the Crimson King, I will rest for a while.

I have made this decision for one reason only: the unconscious isn't on the side of this work although, consciously, I have greatly enjoyed it and learnt huge amounts from it. I also hope others might have got something from it. I have also enjoyed playing New Standard Tuning guitar over the past few months, and know that with time, patience and intelligent work I could probably be very reasonable at it. But, music is more than enjoyment. My nightly dreams, which emerge from a something greater than ego, have made it clear that my own creative work, as a composer, must be taken ever more seriously. The main problem is that I still have problems in respecting the voice(s) and wishes of the unconscious. I write about it, talk about it and, often as not, choose to ignore it. In September I dreamt that I was playing the guitar in a GC circle. My guitar neck snapped in two. My wife came home a week ago saying she'd been talking to someone who knew of someone whose guitar neck had snapped in reality. In December I heard a voice say in a dream, 'You do not have the time for Guitar Craft.' There have been others such as one where a door closed on King Crimson and I walked into a washroom to clean myself up. Two nights before I flew to Spain I dreamt that I had sent two of my compositions down a garbage disposal shute thinking it was a postbox. Two women asked me if I knew that it wasn't a postbox. I feel that by continuing work on KC and related projects I am running the risk of consigning my own work to the rubbish heap. When I spoke with Robert yesterday he also voiced concern that my own work may be submerged if I continued along the current road of endless activity.

I've always tried to be modest about my creative work. I've felt that the saying, when asked, 'I'm a composer' sounds a little pretentious. However, the time has come to face the probability that the work has a life of its own. In today's world few people belive in 'inspiration.' It's too easy to piece music together using analytical means to do so: piece that here, and that there etc. rather than allowing what emerges to emerge magically and spontaneously. We all begin where we begin. And it's quite right in some instances. Take Beethoven's method of painstakingly reworking sketches until they were right. I am not disputing that, but suggesting that perhaps the impulse has to be pure; has to burn; has to resonate beyond itself; has to be 'muse' generated. It's clear that the majority of music today is ugly. You know if a muse has been at work when you hear it. It picks you up and feeds your soul. But we live a post-Postmodern age. Say no more. Muse-ic comes from somewhere deeper. To write it takes energy. A lot of energy: physical, psychic, intellectual and emotional.

It's true that we need technique to allow our music to breathe in time, as it were. Nowadays we're led to believe that anyone can have a go. Of course, that is at the back of modern education and I applaud it. (Or, instead, is economics at the back of modern day education? Not the place to go into that now.) But, there is more. Composing is a calling. Music is a calling. Perhaps this shows where my sympathies lie. Romanticism is uncool in today's world. Interesting, though, that the Lord of the Rings has cleared up at the box office and in the best sellers lists.

Currently I have two pieces in mind: a music theatre piece; a piece for orchestra. However, I haven't been approached by commissioning bodies to provide funding. Perhaps commissions aren't required for these two pieces to exist? Some of Holst's best work was uncommissioned. As I flew back to London from Madrid last evening I wondered whether or not I'd made the right decision to leave the GC course. But then memory played its part. As I left Los Molinos a GC Level 2.5 group were playing Hope on the lawn. While I talked with Alain on the station platform we mentioned Hope Street in Liverpool. As if to reinforce these two 'hopeful coincidences' someone on the planne was reading a newspaper with the words 'cultivates hope' written in giant black capitals.

I read Paulo Coelho's book The Pilgrimage on the journey. These words from it hit me. 'The word peccadillo, which means a small sin, comes from pecus, which means defective foot, a foot that is incapable of walking a road. The way to correct the peccadillo is always to walk forward, adapting oneself to new situations and receiving in return all of the thousands of blessings that life generously offers to those who seek them.' Robert Fripp said to me yesterday, 'It is impossible for artists to lie.' I have pulled the wool over my eyes for a long time. The time has come for it to be removed. As at other times in my life transition and transformation lie in wait, but waiting is perhaps the hardest thing to do.

 

Guitar Craft Level 1 Course, Los Molinos, Spain 2004

Metropole Orchestra of Amsterdam performing AK's arrangements

of Robert Fripp's Soundscapes/King Crimson music.