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Re: Secrets of Fripp

>The point was that many of you are clearly influenced by Robert Fripp and
>admire him. Many others here never even heard of him before, as shocking 
>that may sound. Some people are in between and have heard him a bit and
>might want to learn more about what he is doing with looping and why some
>people think so highly of him in that regard. Since this list is about
>looping, it would be really great if some of you RF experts could teach 
>rest of us about his looping techniques, looping conceptions, loop
>approaches, etc. 

It's difficult, because Fripp has never  (to my knowledge, and I think 
I've read almost all the English language interviews/articles about him 
of any substance) explicitly detailed how Frippertronics or Soundscapes 
work.  There have been vague overviews, but I've never seen a hardcore 
breakdown of his signal path or flow control.   It's not enough to say 
"two Revox's feeding each other with a four-second delay between the 
record and playback heads, blah, blah, blah..."  Or maybe just not enough 
for me--I've tried to listen to "Let The Power Fall" (for instance) to 
get some sense of how the equipment was working, and I still can't 
duplicate it with a four-second delay.   And I don't try to--that's not 
the point.  About two minutes or so into one of the pieces, suddenly all 
this new stuff comes in, and I scratch my head. 

I defy anyone to precisely replicate what's going on during a Soundscapes 
piece.  They're seriously dense (except for the parts which are, uh, 
seriously minimal...)The "mistakes" you'll make attempting to do so (for 
all the people with four 2290's....) will probably lead you into all 
sorts of new, more *personally* interesting realms.  I think it was 
Adrian Legg who said that when he was teenager, he tried to copy records, 
and got it wrong, then he tried to copy local "hot" guitarists--and got 
it wrong, and after years of getting it "wrong", he had his style.

I suspect that part of this is to give the curious enough to go on, but 
not enough to precisely duplicate what Fripp is doing.  Eno has said that 
he never writes down any of his settings for effects, synthesizers, etc, 
in order to prevent him from becoming reliant on the same stock 
sounds/approachs, and also to preserve the possibility of a Wonderful 
Mistake when trying to replicate a past approach.   This "telling, but 
not telling" approach has probably led to thousands of people trying to 
imitate Fripp and ending up with something of their own.  Or maybe just 
thousands of mediocre Fripp-wannabes.

It was only recently that I saw a passing mention in some article that 
Fripp continued to use the 2290's because of their ability to sync to 
each other in odd ratios--5:7, 31:8 or what have you.  That was it, just 
one line in the middle of an article.  I've never seen him detail the 
differences (mixers?  realtime control?) in his Revox Frippertronics 
setup versus the dual EH-16 setup, or the evolution of the Soundscapes 
rig (which now, apparently, has the ability to operate in, uh, quad...), 
but the music he produced with these setups is very different.  I have 
read that he believes that every nine months, there's a jump forward in 
processing capibilities, and its difficult for him to keep up.  Maybe he 
doesn't try to do so anymore.

As far as his looping conceptions, I think the "best way to make a lot of 
noise with one guitar" says a lot.  There's a brief outline of how he 
views Soundscapes on the DGM site (I don't have the address handy--search 
for "Elephant Talk" and follow that link, if you're interested).

Travis Hartnett
Mindless Fripp Follower