A guitarist spent 22 years learning to play King Crimson’s Fracture, and wrote a book about it

If you think Steve Vai’s legendary 10-hour and 30-hour guitar practice regimens were excessive, that amount of time is kid’s stuff compared to the intense training Anthony Garone outlines in the new Failure to Fracture.

The new book chronicles Garone’s 22-year journey to master the electric guitar parts to King Crimson’s Fracture, a song once described by composer Robert Fripp as “impossible to play.”

The 11-minute instrumental, which hails from Crimson’s 1974 opus, Starless and Bible Black, is famous for a section roughly three minutes in where Fripp begins a nonstop barrage of notes called a “moto perpetuo” – an Italian term for “perpetual motion.”

Failure to Fracture chronicles a 22-year journey to play King Crimson's Fracture

(Image credit: Stairway Press)

According to Garone, Fripp’s moto perpetuo “requires intense right-hand string-skipping, and picking capabilities only a handful of guitarists around the world possess”.

Garone was a 16-year-old who practiced guitar six or more hours every day when his father challenged him to learn Fracture. He recalls not understanding why he could play other technical pieces of music, but not this one. 

Over the years, Garone published blog posts and videos about his efforts, and kept working at it until he had a breakthrough after enrolling in a week-long guitar instruction course led by Fripp in rural Mexico in 2015.

There, Garone learned the mechanics of Fripp’s right-hand technique, and realized that in order to properly play Fracture he would have to “relearn how to play guitar, sit, stand, and breathe”.

Garone went so far as to retrain himself on the instrument, playing a single open string for two hours a day across several weeks. In 2016, he was finally able to play small pieces of Fracture, and documented his progress on his Make Weird Music YouTube channel in a series called Failure to Fracture.

The new book follows Garone’s long guitar journey, ending with video performances of both Fracture and its “sequel” composition FraKctured.

As for whether he nailed it? 

Well, just ask Fripp himself, who commented in a recent video, “Anthony has spent 22 years failing to play Fracture. Actually, he’s done a pretty good job. Anthony’s failure is so well-achieved in my book, it’s a success.”

Failure to Fracture is released May 18 and is available for preorder here.

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Richard Bienstock

Rich is the co-author of the best-selling Nöthin' But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the '80s Hard Rock Explosion. He is also a recording and performing musician, and a former editor of Guitar World magazine and executive editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine. He has authored several additional books, among them Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, the companion to the documentary of the same name.