STEVE VAI Reflects On The True Genius Of KING CRIMSON’s “Discipline” Era: “It Was Not Just Their Use Of Complexity”

Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr +

As the BEAT tour approaches, featuring Adrian Belew, Steve Vai, Tool‘s Danny Carey, and legendary bassist Tony Levin, anticipation builds for their reinterpretation of King Crimson‘s classics: “Discipline,” “Beat,” and “Three of a Perfect Pair.” Vai faces the formidable challenge of honoring Robert Fripp’s iconic guitar work and has dedicated himself to studying Fripp‘s style and King Crimson‘s music, finding valuable insights in “The Discipline Era Transcriptions.”

Vai recently delved into what sets King Crimson‘s “Discipline” era apart, emphasizing the band’s groundbreaking use of guitar synthesizers, which he believes was just as significant as their well-known complexity. According to Vai, King Crimson wasn’t just about intricate compositions; they were trailblazers in integrating guitar synths into rock music, making them sound musical and engaging.

In a recent interview with “Make Weird Music” – transcribed by Ultimate GuitarVai, highlighted King Crimson‘s influence on the music scene and their innovative use of guitars: “That band was monolithic for a lot of reasons, not just their use of complexity. We have to keep in mind that they introduced guitar synthesizers to the scene. When they came out, those were the first ones. And they made great use of it. They made them sound musical and interesting. People don’t realize that was it.”

He continued his reasoning by contrasting this innovation with other common uses of musical tools: “There’s one thing to discover a Whammy pedal, and go [wild with it]for the rest of your life, but it’s another thing to do something really musical with it, and not use it as just a funny prop with an interesting sound. That’s what Adrian and Robert did with the guitar synthesizer, with guitar tones, with the complexity in the rhythmic aspects, with the absolute controlled chaos they could create, and the dynamics they could achieve. I mean, they went from zero to 100 and knew they were doing it. All of these things are wrapped into music that you’ll hear on the radio at the time. This is no small feat at all.”

Vai also touched on the challenging nature of pieces like “Larks’ Tongues In Aspic, Pt. III” from “Three of a Perfect Pair,” calling the opening “impossible picking”: “When you hear something like that, at first, it’s a shocker. It’s completely obtuse; and beautifully insane on various levels. Just the harmonic structure of it creates a feel that is unique. I mean, who else does that? … The way Robert created ‘Larks” is just so beautiful. And when I listened to it, I’m thinking, ‘How much of this am I going to play? What can I do?'”

Despite his admiration and dedication, Vai admits that performing such complex pieces live is a significant challenge, especially considering his recent recovery from shoulder surgery. While he has ideas for adapting some of the techniques, he notes the constraints of live performance.

Nonetheless, he is eager to one day give “Larks’ Tongues” the live rendition it deserves, embracing the rigorous practice required: “This isn’t the kind of music you just learn. You have to really drill it. And for me, at least, and that’s what I love about it. I love the challenge. I wouldn’t do this on my own, because I would do other kinds of challenging drills, so to speak. But this is a whole different thing. So, it’s pushing me into directions that I just haven’t gone.”


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

error: This content is copyrighted!