The Road To Graceland
by Robert Fripp


Music is a process of uniting the world of qualities and the world of existences, of blending the world of silence and the world of sound.

In this sense, music is a way of transformation.

What we do is inseparable from how and why we do what we do.

So, the transformation of sound is inseparable from a transformation of self.

For example, we attract silence by being silent.

In our culture, this generally requires practice.

Practice is a way of transforming the quality of our functioning, that is, a transformation of what we do.

We move from making unnecessary efforts, the exertions of force, to making necessary efforts: the direction of effortlessness.

In this the prime maxim is: honor necessity, honor sufficiency.


When we consider our functioning as a musician, that is, what we do in order to be a musician, we find we are considering more than just the operation of our hands.

The musician has three instruments: the hands, the head and the heart, and each has its own discipline.

So, the musician has three disciplines: the disciplines of the hands, the head and the heart.

Ultimately, these are one discipline: discipline.

Discipline is the capacity to make a commitment in time.

If the musician is able to make a commitment in time, to guarantee that they will honor this commitment regardless of convenience, comfort, situation and inclination of the moment, they are on the way to becoming effectual.

An effectual musician is a trained, responsive and reliable instrument at the service of music.


So, practice addresses:

1. The nature of our functioning; that is, of our hands, head and heart.

2. The co-ordination of our functioning; that is our hands with head, our hands with heart, our heart with head, and in a perfect world, all three together in a rare, unlikely, but possible harmony.

3. The quality of our functioning.


It is absurd to believe that practising our instrument is separate from the rest of our life.

If we change our practice, we change our lives.

Practice is not just what we do with our hands, nor just how we do what we do, nor why we do what we do.

Practice is how we are.


A practice of any value will be three things:

1. A way of developing a relationship with the instrument;

2. A way of developing a relationship with music;

3. A way of developing a relationship with ourselves.

So, the techniques of our musical craft are in three fields: of playing the instrument, of music and of being a person.

I cannot play guitar without having a relationship with myself, or with music.

I cannot, as a guitarist, play music without having a relationship with myself and my guitar.

And, by applying myself to the guitar and to music, I discover myself within the application.


A technique simulates what it represents, and prepares a space for the technique to become what it represents.

For example, the manner in which I live my life is my way of practising to be alive.

There is no distance between how I live my life and how I practice being alive.


Once a quality is within our experience, we recognise its return and may allow its action to take place upon us.

But how and why it is present, or comes to visit, is rather harder to describe.

If this quality is present with us, description becomes easier: we describe the world in which we live.

If we live in the way of craft, the craft lives in us; as we describe this way, the craft reveals itself through us.

Any true way will be able to describe itself through its craftspeople.


The quality we bring to one small part of our life is the quality we bring to all the small parts of our life.

All the small parts of our life is our life.

If we are able to make one small act of quality, it wiil spread throughout the larger act of living.

This is in the nature of a quality - a quality is ungovernable by size and by the rules of quantity: a quality is ungovernable my number.

So, one small act of quality is as big as one big act of quality.

An act of quality carries intention, commitment and presence, and is never accidental.


Once we have an experience of making an effort of this kind, we may apply this quality of effort in the other areas of our life.

The rule is: better to be present with a bad note than absent from a good note.

When our note is true, we are surprised to find that it sounds very much like silence, only a little louder.


If music is quality organised in sound, the musician has three approaches towards it: through sound, through organisation, or through quality.

The apprentice will approach the sound, the craftsperson will approach the organisation of sound, and the master musician approaches music through its quality.

That is, the master musician works from silence, organises the silence, and places sound between the silence.


Where we are going is how we get there.

If where we are going is how we get there, we are where we are going.

If we are where we are going, we have nowhere to go.

If we have nowhere to go, may we be where we are.


Music is a benevolent presence constantly and readily available to all.

May we trust the inexpressible benevolence of the creative impulse.