Guitar World

Fracture Stress

Anthony Garone on his new book, Failure to Fracture: Learning King Crimson’s Impossible Song

- — Ryan Reed

GIVEN THAT ANTHONY Garone wrote an entire book dedicated to mastering King Crimson’s 1974 epic “Fracture,” one of the most notoriousl­y difficult guitar pieces in all of prog-rock, you’d think he’d have a mind-blowing story of hearing that string-skipping behemoth for the first time. But as a 16-year-old with an insatiable appetite for riffs, he initially considered it just another musical meal: “I didn’t think about ‘Fracture’ as a song,” he tells Guitar World. “I thought, ‘This is food for a guitarist.’ It was calories in, calories out. I remember I had a Sony Discman, and I put it on. I didn’t even listen to the song. I paused it every few seconds and played the notes that I heard. It was such an arrogant and youthful folly thing to do. That’s how I approached it, like puzzle pieces that were almost meaningles­s to me. ‘Fracture’

was like anything else — it didn’t matter if it sounded cool. It was purely like, ‘Can I figure this out?’” The simple answer: yes and no. Garone has spent 22 frustratin­g and eye-opening years attempting to decode the 11-minute compositio­n (particular­ly the three-minute section defined by Robert Fripp’s “moto perpetuo” technique) — a challenge demonstrat­ed on his YouTube channel Make Weird Music, and later in his densely packed memoir-meets-instructio­nal-guide Failure to Fracture.

Within, Garone details the technical expertise he acquired in pursuit of learning “Fracture” — including wisdom bestowed by Fripp himself during a week-long instructio­nal course in 2015. One day, the guitarist told his students, “Spend eight hours a day picking one open string, and then we can have a conversati­on.” Garone laughs at the memory: “It’s like when you hear these nutrition experts saying, ‘All you’ve gotta do is cut sugar out of your diet!’” Of course, nothing is easy about “Fracture.” “What people misunderst­and is you’re not playing 10 or 11 notes per second — you’re changing strings 10 or 11 notes per second,” he says. “You have to be a robot.” And that analytical approach suits Garone, a prolific transcribe­r and tinkerer. “I’ve just always had that engineerin­g mindset where it’s something to pick apart,” he says. “But man, if you get me listening to ‘Jupiter’ by Gustav Holst, I’ll still tear up after how many listens. I look at Crimson — and any other music — as half-emotional and halfarchit­ectural.”

“I didn’t think about ‘Fracture’ as a song. I thought, ‘This is food for a guitarist’” — ANTHONY GARONE

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