Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Music Became Stone, Wood and Glass

I left the ink, press and paper last night and drove a short distance to hear Robert Fripp play Soundscapes in Sutton church. I arrived in time to sit and sketch, which always separates me from the relentless onslaught of life.

RF was introduced and he seated himself on a stool surrounded by sound equipment, pedals and two beautiful Les Paul guitars - always my favourite shape. He started in silence, looking up and around the people who had gathered for the celebration with a charming smile that engaged everyone and drew them in. I realised that if one were to score the performance, it would have to start with several bars of silence and smiling.

Knowing what was to come next, I watched faces around me as the sounds started to grow; I loved the looks of delight and wonder as this man with the smile of a sage coaxed unbelievable music from his guitar. I love music in a sacred space and wondered what preparation had gone into making a soundscape that involved the building, occasion, listeners and musician so completely. It was an intensely moving performance that carried me away from the pressures of life and the aches of my age. Inside me, a slim young man with a mass of hair was sitting cross-legged in a concert hall. Around me, music became stone, wood and glass. It swept through the building in waves and subsided into bells. I sat in quiet meditation for some time after the final notes had died away.

After the improvisations had finished and RF had walked out into the Fenland night. I drove home, walked to the studio and carried on printing the front of our Christmas cards. I kept my positive mood alive by playing "Love Cannot Bear" (live soundscapes) rather loud and filling a large mug with tea. As the music surrounded me I performed the slow and repetitive ballet that is printing on a Victorian iron handpress. I worked until midnight, cleaned up the ink, locked the studio door and walked towards the house in a tired but very satisfied daze.

A few days earlier, I had been asked if I had a blank engraved bookplate for a book to be presented to mark the occasion. I had nothing suitable and so I sat down and drew something. With so much work to do, it was immensely enjoyable to stop and sit down for a few minutes to do this just for the sheer pleasure of drawing; to do something spontaneously simply because I wanted to. It seemed to be a very luxurious act.


Annie B said...

Hi Andy,

I don't know how I missed this post until today, but I'm glad I finally found it. Your rich and nuanced description of the Robert Fripp concert and your time in the studio afterwards is as detailed and compelling as your finest engravings. Thanks for sharing these moments out loud so I could enjoy them too.

Happy new year. Annie

Eric Anderson said...

You may be interested to know that a recording of the performance Andy attended is available for download at Fripp's web site:

Here's the link: