When progressive rock band King Crimson released Starless and Bible Black in 1974, very few recognized the astonishing virtuosity captured in the album’s 11-minute instrumental capstone, “Fracture.” Three minutes into the piece, guitarist Robert Fripp begins playing a quiet, non-stop barrage of notes called a “moto perpetuo,” an Italian term for “perpetual motion.” Fripp’s moto perpetuo requires intense right-hand string-skipping, and picking capabilities only a handful of guitarists around the world possess.
Musician Anthony Garone was challenged by his father to learn Fracture in 1998. As a 16-year-old who practiced six or more hours every day, he could not understand why he could play other technical pieces of music, but not Fracture. Over the years, he published blog posts and videos about his efforts. Garone kept working in isolated frustration until he enrolled in a week-long guitar instruction course led by Fripp in rural Mexico in 2015. That week was transformative.
It was in Mexico that Garone learned the mechanics of Fripp’s very unique right-hand technique. To properly play Fracture, Garone had to re-learn how to play guitar, sit, stand, and breathe. It would also require meditation and a new way of using his body.
Following many months of remedial guitar practice, Garone re-trained himself to play guitar. In 2016, he was finally able to play small pieces of Fracture without any pain or frustration. He documented his progress, work, and learnings on his Make Weird Music YouTube channel in a series called Failure to Fracture. The videos garnered hundreds of thousands of views and praise from Fripp himself, who wrote “Fracture is impossible to play, cf. Anthony Garone.”
Failure to Fracture (the book) captures Garone’s transformative 22-year journey. The story begins with his time as a teenager developing a friendship with guitar hero Steve Vai in 1996. It ends with video performances of both Fracture and the even more difficult “sequel” composition, FraKctured, written and performed in Fripp’s own New Standard Tuning. It is a book about achieving the impossible, overcoming one’s limitations, and retraining the mind and body.