Distraction and meditation in “Music for quiet moments” by Robert Fripp on #neuguitars #blog #RobertFripp
“Quiet moments are when we put time aside to be quiet. Sometimes quiet moments find us. Quiet may be experienced with sound, and also through sound; in a place we hold to be sacred, or maybe on a crowded subway train hurtling towards Piccadilly or Times Square. Quiet Moments of my musical life, expressed in Soundscapes, are deeply personal; yet utterly impersonal: they address the concerns we share within our common humanity.” Robert Fripp
On April 29, 2020, this announcement, signed by David Silgleton, appeared on the DGM Live.com website: “On Friday, we will be launching the Robert Fripp” Music for Quiet Moments “series. We will be releasing a soundscape every Friday on DGMLive, Youtube, Spotify, Apple Music and all the main online music platforms. Hopefully something that will nourish us, and help us through these Uncertain Times. I have certainly enjoyed the peace that comes with editing and mastering them. Turning a seeming disadvantage to our advantage, a year at home without touring offers the chance to listen for the first time in many cases to existing live recordings. And there are treasures to be found! ” The announcement is accompanied by a sort of three-part mini “manifesto” where Fripp best defines his ideas on the subject of “quiet moments”. This type of initiatives are nothing new for Fripp, the year before (2019) on the occasion of King Crimson’s 50th anniversary, 50 tracks of recordings made during the concerts were made available on the band’s youtube channel
I considered it necessary to buy this box set for a few reasons: first of all to have a nice memory of the period of the lockdown and Covid 19. In that rather difficult and agitated period, having a few moments of musical quiet had become a very rare necessity. Every Friday evening I visited Robert Fripp’s youtube channel, listened to his music and then posted it on my blog. Buying the box set seemed to me both a fitting thank you to Robert Fripp, and a nice way to remind me of the lockdown. Secondly, it seemed to me a great way to be able to have a more than representative sample of that soundscape activity that Fripp has always carried out in a solitary and personal way over the years, finding himself playing in secluded places and for few people. The last aspect that had caught my attention was the text, divided into three parts, which Fripp had evidently felt the urge to write about this music.
Music For Quiet Moments…
A Quiet Moment is how we experience a moment: the moment which is here, now and available.
Quiet moments are when we put time aside to be quiet;
and also where we find them.
Sometimes quiet moments find us.
Some places have an indwelling spirit, where quiet is a feature of the space:
perhaps natural features in the landscape;
perhaps intentionally created, as in a garden;
perhaps where a spirit of place has come into being over time, as in an English country churchyard.
Quiet may be experienced with sound, and also through sound;
in a place we hold to be sacred, maybe on a crowded subway train hurtling towards Piccadilly or Times Square.
A Quiet Moment is more to do with how we experience time than how we experience sound.
A Quiet Moment prepares the space where Silence may enter.
Silence is timeless.
My own quiet moments, over fifty-one years of being a touring player, have been mostly in public places where, increasingly, a layer of noise has intentionally overlaid and saturated the sonic environment.
Quiet Moments of my musical life, expressed in Soundscapes, are deeply personal; yet utterly impersonal: they address the concerns we share within our common humanity.
Paradoxically, they have mostly taken place in public contexts inimical and unsupportive of quiet.
Some of these Soundscapes are inward-looking, reflective.
Some move outwards, with affirmation.
Some go nowhere, simply being where they are.
This text and Fripp’s own music brought me back to some ideas expressed by Walter Benjamin in his famous essay “The work of art in the age of its technical reproducibility” taken up in the beautiful collection “Aura e choc Saggi sulla teoria dei media”, edited by Einaudi in 2012. Benjamin affirmed that in the last century the masses were a matrix, from which every habitual behavior towards works of art was reborn, where quantity was converted into quality. Fripp in his words seems to depart from a mass vision, implicitly suggesting the need for a more attentive, not distracted listening to his music, a more “immersive” listening. Fripp seems, perhaps romantically, to take up the idea according to which the masses seek only distraction in the work of art while the art lover approaches it with meditation. For the masses, the work of art would therefore be an object of distraction, while for the lover of art it would be an object of devotion. Benjiamin observes how distraction and concentration are contrasted in criticism in order to allow this formulation: the one who gathers in front of the work of art sinks into it; the distracted mass, on his part, instead makes the work sink, vice versa, inside itself. The point is that Fripp’s music in the form of a soundscape seems to me more to be the prototype of a work of art whose reception takes place through distraction and in the collective form of his youtube channel. If the painting has historically always claimed the exclusive right to be contemplated by the individual or at most by a few individuals, Fripp’s music seems to have both the “immersive” characteristics indicated by David Toop in his book “Ocean of Sound” and the environmental, sound furnishings factors indicated by Brian Eno for his ambient music. As well as the support of a large audience of enthusiasts. In reality, “Music for quiet moments” offers different listening keys, both distracted and in-depth. Fripp is a true master in managing small musical cells, combining and concatenating them in an ever-variable way, rejecting the sensation of repeated listening and activating the perception of something perhaps already known, but at the moment still not well identified and still requires a listening, even if in the background. I recommend this box of eight CDs, however, only to Fripp fans, the purchase itself is not really demanding economically, but listening is more, it took me a whole week. You will find around you a Sea of Tranquility in which Fripp’s musical liquidity prevents you from establishing clear points of reference, which are not self-referential. Difficult to emerge remembering a specific piece, the sensation is that of a continuous transitory motion, of a musical process that proceeds according to a calm, logical, change. Fripp, in this, proves to be a true master.