Really digging these guys at the moment. Huge sound from a quintet. Really intricate arrangements. Love it. I know it is crass to make comparisons, but if you're not tempted to click on the pic to link to sounds, I hear Zappa and Bitches Brew-era Miles, amongst other things. Well worth checking out!
Chapter 1: A Little Green Introduction.
"...Alright now watch this. Let me tell you about this song...this song was originally constructed as a drum solo. That's right. Now; after Terry learned how to play 'The Black Page' on the drumset, I figured: 'Well...maybe it would be good for other...instruments'. So I wrote a melody that went along with the...drum solo...and that turned into 'The Black Page, Part One, the hard version'. Then I said : 'Well, what about the other people in the World who might enjoy the melody of the Black
Page, but couldn't really approach its...statistical Density...in its basic form?'
So, I went to work and constructed a little ditty which is now being...set up for you with this little Disco type vamp...this is:
'The Black Page, Part Two, the easy teenage New York version'. Get down with your bad self, so to speak, to the Black Page part two..." (1)
Frank Zappa released over sixty full-length albums during his thirty year career spanning the 60's, 70's, 80's and 90's, and the Zappa family trust has continued to release archive material since his untimely death from cancer in 1993. (2) The scope and diversity of the music contained on these releases gives some insight into this eclectic and iconoclastic American composer-genius, and how he has both reflected and influenced twentieth century music.
There are several well written books on the Zappa life history, covering his politics and sociological stance. (3) This is an appealing angle from which to approach Zappology, because the man himself was notoriously forward with his beliefs, through the spoken, sung and written social commentary and critique in his musical releases, his political outpourings (4) , and the various press releases he made through his career. There are also in-depth discographies and reviews of the Zappa musical output insome of these books (5) .These publications make it possible to explore Zappa's universe, and to form a picture of his career development and the
emergence of the Zappa legend.
There is a distinct lack, however, of musical analysis of Frank Zappa's work, especially when compared to that of other contemporary composers.The reasons for this apparent oversight on behalf of musicologists may stem from a few simple points:
- Frank Zappa was an irreverent and unrepentant rock and roll guitar player with a sharp and sardonic wit. He openly spurned then lampooned academia and was intentionally dismissive of any high-art pretension.
- Frank Zappa wrote music primarily for Frank Zappa, blatantly disregarding stylistic boundaries. He could not be tied to any musical movement, and his very individual style developed throughout a long and intensive career (6) . This built a truly eclectic catalogue of works, that can not be easily categorised or analysed as a whole.
- His music is (from the outset) too weird. Frank Zappa's musical career runs parallel to the proposed birth of postmodernism, and high-art musics in this time have received much critical attention. The reactionism of the Minimalist movement did raise sociological issues, but there is no shortage of intelligent musical analysis of its exponents' individual styles. Similarly, there are many sociological studies of popular musics, but there are also decent musical analyses of the genre that have been published. Zappa is lost somewhere in between. His composition does not fall into any school or movement, but it most certainly has a place in high-art traditions; parallel to this, he continued a line in 'sophisticated semipopular entertainment' throughout his career (7) .
This lack of genre identification and stylistic ambiguity was quite intentional, and it is part of the reason why Zappa has yet to receive the critical appreciation that would lead to the publicationof musical analyses of his work.The irony was that his often elaborate music was most frequently heard (and appreciated) by what is largely considered a 'low-art' audience; the Rock fan.
To this extent, Zappa has popularised the avant-garde.My own personal
understanding of developments in high-art musics of the twentieth century has come about through an interest in Zappa's music and its influences. I sought out the music of Edgard Varese, Anton Webern, Igor Stravinsky and other great composers on the strength that I liked Zappa's music and wanted to know where it was coming from.
When questioned about his music, Zappa would quote such diverse influences as rhythm and blues, doo-wop and jazz, to serialism and neo-classicism (8). His approach to composition allowed him to combine these influences to create an eclectic but convincing catalogue, striving for excellence in every musical direction.
The sheer volume of Zappa's output is such that his live recording tapes fill a basement at his studio in California, where they are still being catalogued, and archive material is still being released on Zappa records. The musical complexity and detail contained within the recordings and scores that are available is quite often astounding, and stand as testament to Zappa's dedication to music. As such, this essay is by no means definitive or comprehensive coverage of Zappa's output. This is an introduction that attempts to understand what makes Zappa sound like
(1) Frank Zappa's preamble to 'The Black Page No.2', transcribed from the 1977 live album release 'Zappa in New York'. C.D two, track 7, 00:06 - 01:23 min/sec.
(2) See Discography.
(3) Specifically The Real Frank Zappa Book.(See Bibliography).
(4) In his lifetime, Zappa was, amongst other things, a political and business aide to the Newly formed Czech Republic. He also spoke out in the American Congress and the British Courts against Censorship (see The Real Frank Zappa Book).
(5) The Negative Dialectics of Poodle Play by Ben Watson is an exhaustive analysis of the Zappa musical output, applying Adorno's theory to the chronological run-down of Zappa releases. Most of the consideration goes towards sociological aspects and attempting to prove Zappa's 'conceptual continuity', but there is some musical analysis, though mostly descriptive. During my research, this was the only available published analysis, and indeed the only musical analysis I could find at all, regarding Zappa's music.
(6) This is exemplified by the fact that during his career, Zappa worked with such diverse talents as The London Symphony Orchestra, The Ensemble Modern, Pierre Boulez, Kent Nagano, Steve Vai, Johnny 'Guitar' Watson, George Duke, Aynsley Dunbar, Terry Bozzio and the N.E.D Synclavier, to name but a few.
(7) 'Sophisticated Semipopular Entertainment' is coined in the packaging blurb to the 1991 video release Zappa's Universe (see discography).
(8) The Real Frank Zappa Book, 'There Goes the Neighbourhood' and 'All About Music' chapters form a clearer picture of Zappa's musical influences (see bibliography).
"I think you can hear if you listen to his music not knowing
who wrote it, that it is Frank Zappa. It's especially in the way
his melodies are built; they are very, very personal and typical
of him. You don't have to make a distinction between him as a
guitar improviser and as a composer, it's still Frank Zappa! You
can hear it. That's astonishing, because the styles are so
Conductor Peter Rundel makes the important point that the listener can hear a continuity across FZ's widely-styled music, but there is no one piece in the estimated catalogue of 1200 FZ compositions that embodies all of his compositional traits
(and I do not propose to analyse them one by one). I choose 'The Black Page' as an example - 'A Token of His Extreme' (2). This is a typically eclectic piece, and a useful starting point from from which to draw other musical examples from the Zappa
library, in an attempt to gain insight into this composers unique sound world.
The Black Page was designed as a challenge to the virtuosity of the young drummer Terry Bozzio. Bozzio entered FZ's ever-changing touring ensemble by audition in 1975, at the age of 23, and typically, FZ exploited his flamboyant personality and talents, incorporating them into his band folklore and repertoire. The Black Page was written for him in 1977, to expose his particular talents as a kit player.
On listening to the FZ albums on which Terry Bozzio is most prominently featured (3), it becomes clear how Zappa's musical language adapted then incorporated Bozzio's unique approach to playing the drumset, and how Bozzio's style would serve as part of the inspiration to write The Black Page in its drum solo version.
Zappa was initially impressed by Bozzio's approach to playing the drumset, both as accompanist and soloist, because it was sympathetic to his own preoccupation with rhythmical ideas:
"It's hard to explain to guys just coming into the band, the rhythmic concept I have about playing, because it's based on ideas of metrical balance, long, sustained events versus
groupettoes that are happening with a lot of notes on one beat. This is sort of against the grain of rock 'n' roll, which likes to have everything in exactly duple or triple, straight up and
down, so you can constantly tap your foot to it. But I prefer to have the rhythm section be aware of where the basic pulse of the time is and create a foundation that won't move, so I
can flow over the top of it...I've always had a really good rhythmical rapport with Terry Bozzio. He has a tendency to frenzy out a little bit, but I figure that's because he's from San
Francisco...I like to find players who have unique abilities that haven't been challenged on other types of music...[For example] Terry Bozzio's idea of constructions for drum solos was
in a whole musical realm that nobody had touched before." (4)
Terry was very adept at executing complicated polyrhythmic passages, and by the time he auditioned for the Zappa band, this was a firm feature of his playing, and formed the basis for his drum solo work and much of his support playing. Example
One overleaf is a transcription of an extract from one of Bozzio's drum solos (they became a prominent feature of the late 70's Zappa touring groups) (5). Example two on the same page is an extract from the opening of an earlier track, 'The Torture
Never Stops' (6). Bozzio's construction of cross rhythms can be read, and certainly heard in these recordings. The frenetic solo consists of extrapolated implied rhythms over a fixed mock cock-rock shuffle. The cliched 'big rock drum solo groove' is given a subtle sophistication by Terry's precise syncopation and sphincter-tightening flams. This stylistic trait is displayed also in example two. The fixed rhythm becomes obviously more apparent alongside the rest of the rhythm section, almost alienating Terry's approach. No other drummer would construct such an odd (albeit apt (7)) fill against this simple swung rhythm.
Example number three is the opening of the Black Page drum score. There are obvious links between Zappa's original incarnation of this piece as a written score and the transcriptions of Bozzio's kit improvisations. The implied constant rhythm of Zappa's piece coupled with the sophisticated post-Varäsian complexities of the melody creates a tension that is the same backbone of the Bozzio drum solo. The
importance here is the question of where in The Black Page Zappa ends and Bozzio begins, and vice-versa. It would be fair to assume that Zappa was indeed impressed by Bozzio's playing style, because he said so, and also paid him a salary
for it. The connection between Bozzio's and Zappa's rhythmical approaches in examples 1,2 and 3 lies in the use of cross rhythms against a fixed backing, to create rhythmical tension.
Zappa's ideas on rhythm, quoted from an interview he gave for Guitar Player Magazine:
"...It's like this: in the realm of mathematics, there is something beyond adding and subtracting, it goes all the way out. And it's the same in music. The type of music that people
are taught in schools, especially from the rhythmic standpoint, never gets beyond addition and multiplication. There's no algebra out there. There's certainly no physics, and there's no
calculus or trigonometry. There's nothing interesting in musical rhythm that they teach you in school. Most academic situations tend to ignore this type of rhythmical approach - not just
mine, but anybody's that's polyrhythmic." (8)
This is further exemplified in the chapter 'All About Music', from The Real Frank Zappa Book:
'...Polyrhythms are interesting only in reference to a steady, metronomic beat (implied or actual)-otherwise you're wallowing in rubato.' (9)
The rapid syncopated lines divided between Bozzio's snare and kick drum in examples two and three suggest the same polyrhytmic theme. The semiquaver triplet fills in bar three of example two and bar two of example three build phrases
that suggest rhythm flying in all directions, against and beyond the basic pulse carried on the hi-hat. This seems to imply polyrhythm, but never delivers a fixed pattern. The physical anomalies of playing these lines on the drumset draw the
examples together also; Bozzio is basically flying around the kit, developing the melodies in a style (only slightly) more familiar to a Jazz drummer.
Similarities between Bozzio's playing and Zappa's writing are further displayed by their mutual love of fast notes. All three examples contain clusters of rapid passages forming complex patterns. The resulting sound from the demisemiquaver phrase in bar four of example three creates a texture that is difficult to penetrate; the 'smack' of the kick drum and the 'crack' of the snare become blurred into an apparent frenzy, far removed from a calculated line. This is true also of example one; Bozzio's deft
manipulation of hi-hat tones, alongside his syncopated kick and snare touches creates an exciting overall timbre, with a definite sense of speed and propulsion, still able to throw the listener. There is the suggestion of 'rock' attitude here; the drum set
is seen as a 'rock tool', and Bozzio is happiest playing with in an aggressive style, but the complexities of the score and the accuracy with which it is executed contradict the rock concert performance context and instrumentation. Zappa's music
transcends stylistic boundaries once more.
In the tradition of Varäse's 'Density 21.5' (10), Zappa constructed the drum solo to utilise and highlight specific player talent. The aim of this exercise is usually to expand on the capabilities of the player and use their specific techniques to their full advantage. Neither Density 21.5 or The Black Page would exist had the composers of the works not met Barrere and Bozzio respectively. It is important to note however, that aside from this obvious consideration, stylistically, The Black Page sits
comfortably in the Zappa genre...
(1) Peter Rundel, Conductor of the Ensemble Modern, speaking about Zappa's Music. The quote is taken from the sleeve notes of Zappa's last release before his death in 1993, The Yellow Shark. (See Discography).
(2) The Song 'A Token Of My Extreme' can be found on the album Joe's Garage. (See Discography). It is the simplest and best autobiography regarding Zappa's views on his own
(3) The Albums Bongo Fury, Zoot Allures, Zappa in New York, Sheik Yerbouti and Joe's Garage. (See Discography).
(4) Guitar Player magazine, January 1977, 'One size Fits All'. Interview with Frank Zappa by Steve Rosen.
(5) Taken from the album You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore Vol. III. (See Discography), Disk Two, Track 2; 'Hands with a Hammer'.
(6) Taken from the album Zoot Allures. (See Discography), track number 3.
(7) Although difficult to ascertain without prior knowledge of Zappa's music, Bozzio's playing obviously contains the kind of rhythmical themes that Zappa enjoyed:
JOHN DALTON: [In your guitar solos] You use groups of fives and sevens on beats.
FZ: Yeah, and across bars and stuff like that. 'Sheik Yerbouti Tango' is kinda interesting. Here there are groups of septuplets but they're accented in five, culminating in this little chingus here which has ten in the space of a dotted quarter, with ornaments inside the ten.
Quoted by John Dalton, 'Frank Zappa:Shut Up and Play Your Guitar', Guitar magazine, May 1979, p.22. ('The Sheik Yerbouti Tango' can be found on the album Sheik Yerbouti, track 11 -
see discography). The Passage in question can be found overleaf (Example 4), copied from a transcription by Richard Emmet that is included in The Frank Zappa Guitar Book (See Bibliography).
(8) Frank Zappa, 'Non-Foods:Coming to Grips with Polyrhythm', Guitar Player magazine, reprinted in Society Pages (Zappa Fanzine), No.16, June 1983, p.29. The author uses this
quote from p.416 of The Negative Dialectics of Poodle Play.(See Bib.)
(9) Quote taken from The Real Frank Zappa Book (See Bib), Chapter Eight, 'All About Music'. Frank is speaking of how a musicians approach to rhythm must be fine-tuned in order to be
an effective member of the rhythm section of his band.
(10) Edgard Varese wrote the piece in January 1936, at the request of Georges Barräre for the inauguration of his platinum flute. Varese studied Barrere's playing and techniques, and
the physical properties of the instrument. It highlighted Barrere's talents as a player and makes specific use of the tonal characteristics of the platinum flute that was crafted for him.
21.5 is the physical density of platinum.
MUSICAL EXAMPLE PAGE ONE
Ex.One: Appears on the album You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore Vol III (see discography), C.D one, track two, 00.00 - 00.11 min/sec.
Ex.Two: Appears on the album Zoot Allures (see discography), C.D track three, 00.05-00.14 min/sec.
Ex.Three: Appears on the album Zappa in New York (see discography), C.D two, track four, 00.00 - 00.16 min/sec.
Ex.Four: Appears on the Album Sheik Yerbouti (see discography), track eleven, 01.24 - 01.30 min/sec.
"In my compositions, I employ a system of weights, balances, measured tensions and releases - in some ways similar to Varese's aesthetic. The similarities are best illustrated by
comparison to a Calder mobile: a multicoloured whatchamacallit, dangling in space, that has big blobs of metal connected to pieces of wire, balanced ingeniously against little metal
dingleberries on the other end. Varese knew Calder and was fascinated by these creations.
So, in my case, I say: "A large mass of any material will 'balance' a smaller, denser mass of any material, according to the length of the gizmo it's dangling on, and the 'balance point'
chosen to facilitate the danglement".
The material being 'balanced' includes stuff other than the notes on the paper. If you can conceive of any material as a 'weight' and any idea-over-time as a 'balance', you are ready
for the next step: the 'entertainment objects' that derive from those concepts." (1)
Zappa's concession to a Varese-inspired compositional aesthethic is an obvious by-product of his childhood obsession with rhythm and drums, and later with
Varese's music itself (2).
The Black Page, in its original 'drum solo' format, has much in common with
Varese's masterpiece 'Ionisation' (3). Written for thirteen percussionists in 1931, the piece evokes a brutal soundscape. It formed part of a logical progression in Varese's work, which moved from atonality to eventually stripping away all tonality in his music, which then entered into a very experimental timbral environment. Varese was interested in the manifold nature of sound, rather than the western musical tradition that was the storyline of melody, which placed him firmly in the avant-garde
The original recorded release of The Black Page Drum Solo (5) has three added percussion tracks (emphasising the rhythmic melody of the original drum solo track), part of which was over-dubbed when Zappa produced the album. Zappa's liner
THE BLACK PAGE DRUM SOLO / BLACK PAGE NO.1. Opens with an improvisation by Terry, Ruth and Dave join in on the written part, along with wood and metal, percussion over-dubbed
by John, Ed, & Ruth. (6)
The finished recording lives very much in the same sound-world as Ionisation. Zappa's stacked percussion sounds like the death march leading to Varese's apocalyptic work, spanning the forty six years between the two pieces. Layered
rhythmical complexities in both pieces replace traditional harmonic and melodic climates, the timbral effect is unsettling. While the clusters of frenetic rhythmical phrasings in The Black Page seem to repeatedly force thelistener to pay close
attention to what is unfurling, Varese's organised chaos is also striking; its virulence and power intact, even sixty years after it was written.
Musical example five is an extract from Ionisation. Despite the stripping away of pitched harmony and melody, the listener still hears a definite organisation of rhythmic harmony and melody between the parts. Varese's orchestration and incisive attention to timbral details highlights the same structural precision as any
diatonic music setting. Past atonality, this is timbrality, but the listener hears a distinct composition. Varese's early traditional classical training still shows through in the structure of this ground-breaking piece.
Varese's work allowed for and inspired the experimentation that followed in twentieth century high art music.
Zappa's Black Page seems to exist in the same sound world as Ionisation; it shares Varese's carefully structured rhythmic exercises and fits the same aesthetic principles:
'...A work which puts colour, rhythmic form, and accent in the first plane.' (7)
In Varese's footsteps, Zappa craved further experimentation...
Choosing A Melody...
Zappa's often didactic approach to composition led him in many directions, and somehow, he took the inspiration to apply a pitch melody to The Black Page. Example six comprises the opening four bars of 'The Black Page No.1'. The rhythm
remains exactly that displayed in example three (The Black Page drum solo), but Frank now has a tune. Aesthetically, Zappa has followed a highly personalised agenda in this exercise. He did exactly what he wanted, when he wanted; it was that simple. (8)
The pitch choices are fairly abstruse; the tonality this far into the tune is basically D major or B minor, but the root that is later added in the bass is a G. This fact, coupled with the nature of the melody itself, suggests perhaps modal variants in this key
signature. The suggestion in the opening of the tune is an 'Eastern' musics flavour, but it is also reminiscent of a fanfare; the phrasing combines with the fourth and fifth intervals to create a driving, pompous melody. Any suggestion of the melody being written in a chosen key is dispelled by both the C# and F# being flattened in bar four. It would seem that Zappa has built his melody using his ears as opposed to theory; the tune seems to work as a series of cadences, maintaining a narrative.
The narrative quality of the melody seems to suggest to the listener an improvisational angle; the compositional process so far has meant that the rhythmic complexities being executed have moved the tune further from anything you would expect to find on a written score and into the realm of transcribed improvisation. The end result sounds like a skillfully constructed solo, which would be more familiar perhaps in a Jazz context; there is a real sense of 'player-as-composer', later as the piece develops, a level of mediation which can only be found in improvised musics.
We know the piece is not an improvisation, but the melody retains its fluidity. Despite the complex and often jagged rhythm patterns, Zappa has constructed a pitch melody line which brings a definite flow to the piece. There is a logic here, and a vocal influence at work; indeed, this was a feature of Zappa's music;
"...The rhythms I have are derived from speech patterns...they should have the same sort of flow that a conversation would have, but when you notate that in terms of rhythmic values,
sometimes it looks extremely terrifying on paper." (9)
The version of The Black Page No.1 on Zappa in New York also owes some of it's fluency to Ruth Underwood's burbling marimba. Ruth had the experience of being in various Zappa line-ups during the 70's, which obviously meant she had the attitude and aptitude to enable her to tackle the line as well as she does. The Black Page Drum solo is certainly one of Zappa's more complex charts, but considering its emphasis lies in rhythm, it should be surprising that the Black Page No.1, complete with a melody, sits comfortably within Zappa's style. Examples seven through ten, although written for different instrumentation, and across three decades, display that rhythmical sophistication in Zappa's melody lines has always been fundamental to his music.
Zappa's first solo outing, Hot Rats (1970) opens with one of his better known tunes, 'Peaches En Regalia'.The main theme (see example seven) is a typically distinctive Zappa melody.The use of a quintuplet figure followed by the triplet in bar three creates a convoluted rhythm feature, that makes the melody really stand out. The line again displays a vocal inflection rhythmically, closer to the complexities of the speech-like patterns found ineastern improvised musics than the more calculated approach of the western tradition. Peaches En Regalia and The Black Page can be connected by their use of groupings on beats.The triplet semiquavers and quintuplet quavers in bar two of musical example six and the triplet and quintuplet figures in musical example seven are used for the same reason; the rhythm has been constructed to create a precise musical effect.
"If you have a diatonic setting or even a bitonal setting with complicated rhythmical stuff on it, there's no reason why it shouldn't be appealing to a wide range of people.People like
rhythm. And the thing that makes the rhythm work is whether people are playing it right...You know that it's there: your foot is tapping even though the musician isn't playing the four beats,
your foot is tapping in the basic time signature of the song.And there is a clock inside your body that's saying 'We're in 4/4.' And somebody plays nine across it, and inside your body you hear the difference, and that's part of the excitement of that kind of rhythm" (10).
Zappa's enthusiasm for this kind of writing obviously shows in the above quote. Zappa often spoke of how he wrote music for his own enjoyment (an attitude he unsurprisingly shared with Varese), and the themes in examples six and seven obviously interest him personally, but it is interesting that he mentions what 'people' like to hear in this context. It is difficult to ascertain to what extent Zappa wrote these kind of rhythms for his own satisfaction or intended that others should be challenged by them.
Musical example eight is a transcription of a guitar line which was later arranged as the outro to a signature Zappa guitar workout, 'Black Napkins'. Rhythmically, the groupings are free over a 3/4 vamp, but Zappa's phrasing accents as three quintuplets, a sextuplet and a triplet. Once again, the emphasis falls on accenting groups on beats, but in a less rigid rhythmical background.
Example nine is an extract from the scored arrangement of 'G-Spot Tornado'. The piece was originally written on the Synclavier, Zappa's digital musical editing tool of choice. This machine allowed him to realise ever more complex compositions, and was perhaps part of the inspiration for the unusual rhythms in the piece. This piece is set apart from the other examples by its very direct rhythms set against a pounding 2/2 background. Zappa this time uses rests rather than groupings to maintain his rhythmical interest; they serve to define the melody in a fashion similar to the Peaches En Regalia theme. Rhythm is still arguably the most important factor here, because the piece is built in part by the theme in the transcription being put through extrapolated rhythmical variations.
The extract from 'RDNZL' in musical example ten displays a more subtle side to Zappa's composition.The theme is rhythmically quite simple, and from bar nine onwards, there is just a steady stream of quavers. The rhythmic sophistication comes from the melodic line and the accompaniment. Zappa's melody stretches gradually further away from the C major tonality that has been established, tricking the ear into accenting notes because of their pitch.This creates an illusion of complexity which is also encouraged by the rhythm section accompaniment accenting off beats, enticing the listener to divide the rhythm into anything other than a straight 6/8 pulse.
"Just as in diatonic harmony, when upper partials are added to a chord, it becomes tenser, and more demanding of a resolution - the more the rhythm of a line rubs against the implied
basic time, the more statistical tension is generated.
The creation and destruction of harmonic and 'statistical' tensions is essential to the maintenance of compositional drama. Any composition (or improvisation) that remains
consonant and 'regular' throughout is, for me, equivalent to watching a movie with only 'good guys' in it, or eating cottage cheese". (11)
The examples show that some of Zappa's music has a strong sense of unique rhythmical sophistication, with themes that appear across different pieces for different ensembles in different decades.This is unsurprising, as continuity was very much a part of Mr Zappa's oeuvre...
(1) Quoted from The Real Frank Zappa Book (see bibliography), chapter eight, 'All About Music', p.p.162-3, sub-heading 'Weights and Measures.
(2) The Real Frank Zappa Book, chapter two; 'There Goes the Neighbourhood', p.p 29-33.
(3) 'Ionisation' can be found on the album The Complete Works of Edgard Varese Vol.I. (EMS 401). Alternatively, The Rage & The Fury; C.D release where Frank Zappa conducts the
Ensemble Modern, who play the music of Edgard Varese.
(4) For a more detailed look at Varese's life and works, seek out the BBC2 documentary Windows on the World: 'Edgard Varese: A Portrait'. First broadcast in spring 1997.
(5) Zappa in New York (see discography), track four 'The Black Page Drum Solo / Black Page No.1' , 00.00 - 01.53 min/sec.
(6) Sleevenote to track four. (ibid.)
(7) Quote regarding Varese's 'Ionisations', from Twentieth Century Music: An Introduction. Salzman, Eric. p.141.
(8) Zappa's creative aesthetic is best ascribed "Anything, Any Time, Anywhere-for No reason at All", as quoted in The Real Frank Zappa Book, p.163. It would be really difficult to know
why he chose to add a melody, because he constantly worked to this dictum.
(9) A quote taken from The Guardian newspaper, January 11, 1983, 'The father of invention', interview by Robin Denselow.
(10) Frank Zappa, 'Non Foods:Coming to grips with polyrhythm', Guitar Player magazine, reprinted in Society Pages (Zappa fanzine), No.16, June 1983, p.29.The author uses this
quote from p.417 of The Negative Dialectics of Poodle Play (see bib.)
(11) Quote taken from The Real Frank Zappa Book (see bib.), chapter eight 'All About Music', p.181.
"Project / Object is a term I have used to describe the overall concept of my work in various mediums. Each project (in whatever realm), or interview connected to it, is part of a
larger object, for which there is no 'technical name' ". (1)
Zappa found it necessary in his Project / Object to provide a conceptual continuity. This basically involved placing recurring themes throughout his oeuvre that provided some hidden 'clues' as to how his work could be perceived as a whole. The themes were usually entirely conceptual, involving some mention of vegetables or poodle dogs in his lyrical output, but there were also musical themes that would recur in his work and bind pieces together.
Often Zappa would place these clues on his album cover designs,or less frequently in his liner notes:
"The exact same rhythm patterns you have just heard are now the metric spacings of a melody that sounds like the missing link between "Uncle Meat" and "The Be-Bop Tango". (2)
Although the mystique enforced around his output was probably a marketing ploy to encourage people to buy more Zappa records, the author proposes to take the above statement literally.
Musical examples eleven twelve and thirteen are extracts from 'Uncle Meat', 'The Black Page No.2' and 'Be-Bop Tango', the three pieces mentioned in the album liner notes. The 'missing link' connection between these pieces in terms of 'metric spacings' was perhaps something that Zappa heard after he composed the Black Page. It is hard to believe that he wrote the piece with this preconceived function in mind, as he proposed that all his work was connected as one whole, and other examples of his 'suites' (more later) tended to be grouped together after they had been composed separately. In fact, Zappa rarely played his instrumental compositions as a suite, unless it was in an orchestral context; pieces that he proposed were movements in a whole were usually played by different rock ensembles on different albums.
Written around 1969, 'Uncle Meat' is designed to sound like an eastern-European folk tune, and was the main theme for the album of the same name. The driving 3/4 pulse and the lyrical quality of the melody emulates the music of two of Zappa's other musical heroes; Igor Stravinsky and Bela Bartok (3). Zappa's arrangements of 'Uncle Meat' were scored with instrumentation very similar to that which Stravinsky introduced to western musics, utilising the lyrical qualities of the oboe and bassoon to full effect (4).
In contrast, the extract from 'The Black Page No.2' is played by marimba and vibraphone, now with the drums and bass providing a 4/4, 120 bpm fixed disco vamp. In terms of 'metrical' comparison between the two themes, 'The Black Page' could be considered as a cluster of ornamentation next to 'Uncle Meat'. There are, however, similarities in the intricate thematic developments of the two pieces; It seems as if 'The Black Page' could be the most challenging movement in any conceptual 'suite'.
'The Be-Bop Tango' is the last proposed movement. This is an incredibly complex piece dealing with two completely different musical styles - the Tango, and Be-Bop. Where Zappa found the inspiration to write a piece that combines such apparently separate musics is difficult to understand, but it was probably for the same reason he reckoned he wrote most of his music; for his own personal amusement.
The extract in example thirteen manages to combine the pomp of a tango with the rhythmical and harmonic complexities of be-bop. A typically twisted theme, it was probably not designed to be instantly appealing, and because it is basically a wonderfully absurd idea, it is therefore probably more likely to have been conceived courtesy of Zappa's "Anything, Any Time, Anywhere-for No Reason at All" philosophy, becoming an enjoyably stupid exercise as well as a challenging musical statement.
The original release of 'The Be-Bop Tango' starts with the written part, then has an extended trombone solo courtesy of Bruce Fowler, before finally descending into an audience-participation dance contest where George Duke's electric piano spurs the contestants on by scatting 'little notes' at them (5). The organised chaos that ensues has more bearing on the listeners perception of the piece than the complexities of the music itself. This is also typical of Zappa, who was insistent on never taking himself too seriously.
Technically, the piece could be perceived as having some kind of musical connection with 'The Black Page'. There is still the tendency towards rhythmical density, and the theme contains the same jarring note groupings as the middle section of 'The Black Page' in musical example twelve.
It is important to note that the three pieces were not written in the order that Zappa proposes they should be heard. 'The Be-Bop Tango' was written three years before 'The Black Page', around1974. Zappa's suggestion that 'The Black Page' serves as a 'missing link' between 'Uncle Meat' and the 'Be-Bop Tango' is probably an entirely conceptual connection, based on the pieces having a strong rhythmical emphasis. Alternatively, it could be none of the above; Zappa may be referring to a more
abstract bond between the pieces.
(1) Quote taken from The Real Frank Zappa Book (see bib.), chapter eight, 'All About Music', p.139.
(2) Extract from the sleeve notes to 'The Black Page Drum solo / Black Page No.1', track four on the album Zappa in New York (see discography)
(3) 'Uncle Meat' seems partly influenced by the early pieces in Bartok's 'Mikrokosmos' series (153 piano pieces progressively arranged from very easy to very difficult). Written after
Bartok's studies into Hungarian, then Slovak, Rumanian and even Arabic folk song, the unusual rhythms and modes found in the piano studies seem to have found their way into
Zappa's piece. 'Transylvania Boogie' on the album Chunga's Revenge (see discography) also explores Bartok's modal discoveries.
Stravinsky's interest in Russian folk song also influenced Zappa, documented as 'Igor's Boogie' on the album Burnt Weeny Sandwich (see discography).
(4) Specifically the instrumentation of 'The Rite of Spring', Stravinsky's ground-breaking Ballet written in 1913.
(5) The Album Roxy And Elsewhere (see discography), track 10. The band on this album comprises what some fans believe to be the best touring lineup Zappa ever had.The attitude
is such that unsurpassed musicianship combines with a healthy sense of humour and performance, allowing for this kind of organised chaos.
Like the conceptual 'Black Meat Tango' suite, the movements of 'Sinister Footwear' provide several excellent examples of the Zappa compositional process.
Musical example fourteen is an extract of some 'metrical spacings' that Zappa has used in two entirely different contexts.The rhythmical and melodic structure is entirely reminiscent of 'The Black Page', as is the instrumentation of the first context in which the theme appeared; drumset, marimba and bass on the song 'Wild Love' (1) .
This is a perfect example of how Zappa treated his notes and compositional structures as completely 'available' building blocks for composition. This incredibly sophisticated and complex cluster of percussive explosion appears firstly in the middle of a song about changing attitudes towards sex in the last five decades. Completely unannounced and unexpected, and sandwiched between a wallowing falsetto croon verse and an upbeat disco vamp, in this context, the passage serves to move the tune in a completely different direction; it is as if Zappa has foreseen the ominous consequences of the carefree promiscuity of the disco era.
Also, the listener can almost hear the 'editing logic' of the composer, and the desire to reach extremities; this is the weirdest bridge you are ever likely to hear in a song about fucking.
Placed in an entirely different context, as part of the track 'Sinister Footwear II', example fifteen seems strangely less sinister. The instrumentation has changed a little, now to include Steve Vai's 'Stunt Guitar' (2) . The creepy arpeggios in the opening section of the piece allow for such a left-field occurrenceas this dense rhythmic event.
This passage could almost be an exercise in polyrhythmic dexterity.The strain of the players attempting to accurately realise the quintuplet, sextuplet and septuplet figures is quite audible, especially in the young Vai's nervous finger squeaks across the guitar fretboard during rests. However, in the context of the piece, the section is complicated, but also musically valid.
If the 'Sinister Footwear' suite is to be played as consecutive movements, then it is worth noticing that 'Theme From The 3rd Movement of Sinister Footwear' was constructed three years before 'Sinister Footwear II', in the same fashion as the 'Black Page' chronology (3) .The musical connections between the pieces are obvious, and the listener can hear why the later piece would be tied to the original movement, whatever order they were written in, and wherever the original motivation for writing them may lie. Both pieces evoke a 'cheesy horror movie' soundworld - the 3rd movement uses a lydian tonality, lush but dense instrumentation and a driving swing opposing Zappa's blurted lines to create suspense, where 'Sinister II' relies on suspended chords and weaving diminished arpeggios in it's opening section to set the same atmosphere.
The inspiration for the construction of 'Theme From The 3rd Movement Of Sinister Footwear' came from a completely different source than 'Sinister II'. Zappa often used phrases from his guitar improvisations as the building blocks for compositions, and even pasted road tapes of live guitar solos onto studio rhythm tracks, in the pursuit of a compositional notion. The 3rd movement is probably the most extreme example of this method.
Zappa employed Steve Vai in the late '70's to begin transcribing from recordings of his Zappa guitar solos. One of the examples to be written out was the piece which later became 'Theme From The 3rd Movement Of Sinister Footwear'. Zappa took the transcription of his melody line and had Vai learn it on guitar, David Ocker learn it on bass clarinet and Ed Mann learn it on Marimba. Zappa then recorded these instruments doubling his line, and when they were complete, he replaced the original backing track. The end result places the piece in a fairly unique soundworld. I cannot think of any other piece of (originally improvised) music that has undergone such a treatment. Zappa again seemed to go to the extreme, to see where he could take his music.
After all the overdubbage, 'Theme From The 3rd Movement Of Sinister Footwear' has a strange quality; it has the urgency and edge of an improvisation, coupled with the precision of skilled sight readers realising a melody line.This links the piece in part to 'The Black Page', because that piece has a written instrumentation and harmony, but somehow maintains an improvisational quality; the difference is of course, that 'Footwear III' was at one point an improvisation, and 'The Black Page' never was.
The World Premiere of the Ballet in which the three movements of 'Sinister Footwear' feature was given at the Zellerbach Auditorium on 16 June 1984 by Kent Nagano with the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra. There has been no repeat performance, and the first movement has never been released. It certainly would be interesting to see Ballet dancers pirouette to a Frank Zappa guitar solo.
(1) 'Wild Love' appears as track seventeen on the album Sheik Yerbouti (see discography), released in 1979.
(2) 'Sinister Footwear II' appears on the album Them Or Us (see discography), released in 1984, Zappa's liner notes credit Steve Vai with playing 'Stunt Guitar'.
(3)'Theme From The 3rd Movement of Sinister Footwear' appears on the album You Are What You Is (see discography), released 1981.
There is a strong connection between Zappa's composition and his output as an improviser;
"Once I get on stage and turn my guitar on, it's a special thing to me - I love doing it. But I approach it more as a composer who happens to be able to operate an instrument called a
guitar, rather than 'Frank Zappa, Rock and Roll Guitar Hero'." (1)
On hearing a typical Zappa guitar improvisation, it becomes obvious that the approach he has to soloing is very different to almost any other guitar player.
"My solos are speech-influenced rhythmically; and harmonically, they're either pentatonic, or poly-scale oriented. And there's the mixolydian mode that I also use a lot...But I'm more interested in melodic things. I think the biggest challenge when you go to play a solo is trying to invent a melody on the spot." (1)
The Frank Zappa Guitar Book contains over 200 pages of trancriptions of Zappa's guitar solos. The attention to accurately recording Zappa's wiry polyrhythms and unusual rhythmical phrasings creates a score that looks like it is from the New Complexity movement. (2) The speech-influenced rhythm in Zappa's guitar solos is obvious, and his more extended lines do take on a conversational quality. As a result, Zappa is not the kind of guitar player to fall back on favourite licks.
Infact, he hardly has any signature phrases; a solo will inevitably consist of extrapolated variations on his decided theme, tirelessly inventive and rarely repetitive, striving to cover newground through melody, harmony, and rhythm.
The obvious attention to rhythmical exploration in Zappa's leadlines draws immediate comparison to the same concerns in his composed pieces. Musical example sixteen is a painstakingly accurate transcription of a Zappa solo written by Steve Vai around 1980.
The theme of note groupings on beats continues, similar to the scored examples used so far. It becomes obvious what Zappa meant when he talked about 'groupettoes versus sustained events' in an earlier quote on compositional devices he uses.The same rule obviously applies to his improvisation; the rapid triplet and septuplet figures in bar one are allowed to sink courtesy of the sustained growling low A-sharp tied across bars two and three. The same technique is used in bars seven and eight, and then taken to extremes across bars eleven through thirteen.
The way Zappa was planning then executing these events was more likely to have been following this overall compositional concept than truly attempting to accurately achieve what Vai has transcribed. Over the whole example, which is nearly forty seconds long on the recording, Zappa is playing with the concept of building his 'statistical tension'.
Example sixteen is a more typical guitar excursion. The 'attitude' behind the notes is the key to why the phrasings are so frenetic.The piece explores the themes of any cliched rock guitar solo; big swinging drums and bass coupled to punchy brass synthesis, setting up a nice 'guitaristic' E-blues tonality. Zappa's approach is so 'out' that the solo sounds anything but familiar; it is angry and buzzing, and the tonality is mostly there, but the rhythmic approach again sets him apart from other players.
Example seventeen is the opening to a tune released in 1972 called 'Big Swifty'. It is included here because it showcases Zappa as performer and composer; the rhythm for the melody line has almost certainly come from the fingers. The piece has a precise scoring that changes meter almost every other bar, but it has a simplicity and a logic on the guitar fretboard that must have come when Zappa had his 'player- as-composer' hat on.
Zappa was adamant that his improvisation was 'spontaneous composition' (3). This is obviously apparent when the links between the written and transcribed musics Zappa produced are explored, especially so when learning a piece such as 'Big Swifty' on the guitar. When the link becomes more subtle is in Zappa's production processes.
Moving back to example fifteen, the production of the finished studio track involved musicians learning the transcription and doubling Zappa's original guitar line improvisation, then mixing those overdubs into a fully-fledged narrative composition.True to fashion, Zappa took his idea of blurring the lines between improvisation and composition to its logical extreme; he turned a piece of complicated music into both things at once.
The final musical example, number eighteen, displays a more sentimental side to Zappa's guitar outpourings. 'Watermelon In Easter Hay' is an unashamedly emotional anthem. This particular piece works on a theme that Zappa often used to facilitate his unique rhythmic stylings, namely providing himself with an ostinato figure in an unusual time signature. The reason why it is included here is to draw comparison between Zappa's guitar melodies and his written melodies...it seems important to note that simplicity became the order of the day when Zappa was constructing anything he may have had to actually remember and play on stage himself!
"...The disgusting stink of a too-loud electric guitar: now that's my idea of a good time." (4)
(1) Frank Zappa quotes taken from The Frank Zappa Companion, compiled by Richard Kostelanetz (Omnibus Press, ISBN, 0.7119.6523.4). The interview originally appeared in Guitar Player Magazine, held with Steve Rosen in 1977.
(2) Refer back to example four, the extract from 'The Sheik Yerbouti Tango'. Taken from The Frank Zappa Guitar Book, it is typical of most of the transcriptions.
(3) Quote taken from The Real Frank Zappa Book (see bibliography) chapter eight 'All About Music'.
(4) This quote had to be included, and was taken from The Guitar Handbook (see bibliography), 'The Guitar Innovators', p.20.
It is interesting to note that 'Uncle Meat', 'The Black Page' and 'The Be-Bop Tango' have all been arranged for both rock and orchestral instrumentation. The three were never played as a suite, but they have all be arranged and re-arranged in the same fashion at different times, which shows how Zappa did indeed see the pieces as having the same instrumental flexibility.
This is reflective of another important aspect of Zappa's work. The eclecticism of his early influences led him to treat music as music, without any preconceived notions of what is stylistically (or otherwise) 'correct'. Pieces would often be arranged for rock
group or small ensemble, then re-orchestrated for symphony orchestra, with the structure of the piece remaining intact in either environment. One example that has to be heard to be believed is 'Envelopes'. There are two startlingly different
instrumentations of this piece which can be found on the albums Ship Arriving Too Late To Save A Drowning Witch and London Symphony Orchestra Vol.II (see discography). The instrumentation goes from digital keyboards, rock rhythm section and distorted electric guitar on 'Witch' to woodwinds, horn section and strings on 'L.S.O'. That Zappa managed to keep the piece sounding excellent in either category is no mean feat. It would have taken a highly specialised approach to
conceive of this kind of arrangement, let alone achieve it.
Frank enlisted Kent Nagano, conductor of the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra, to realise his scores...the two met backstage at a Zappa concert and Frank showed him some scores. 'I looked at them and realised they were far too complicated for me to comprehend just sitting there,' Nagano said. These kinds of musical syntaxes usually take a master's degree to even grapple with, and even then, most composers with degrees don't necessarily have the inspiration to go along with their knowledge,' he added.(1)
All of Zappa's music exists in its own creative environment, following its own rules. The crossover employment of rock, classical and jazz players, sometimes all in the same group, coupled with the abilities of a truly self-taught composer and
bandleader allowed for the development of a kind of music that is truly unique, and however eclectic, somehow stamped with the Zappa identity.
The term 'Third Stream' was coined by the American composer Gunther Schuller in about 1958 during a lecture; it describes the attempts being made at that time to fuse 'the improvisational spontaneity and rhythmic vitality of jazz with the compositional procedures acquired in Western music during during 700 years of musical development', producing a kind of music separate from either ingredient. (2)
It seems as if the above statement holds true to Zappa's musical output. Pieces like 'The Black Page' could only have come from a mind that understood the discipline of the classical tradition and appreciated the rhythmical influences that have poured into all twentieth century musics.
Considering how much musical territory Zappa explored, it can be no real surprise how diverse his output was.The real genius must be that he kept a sense of discipline, continuity and individuality in all his work, so that is always recognisable.
Arranger Ali N. Askin had this to say in the sleevenote to Zappa's last orchestral project, The Yellow Shark:
"I think Frank's music is unique in this way: I don't know of any composer who is mixing or switching between all those influences and musical dialects he uses. Somehow he managed
to work with these many, many influences since the very beginning in his musical career. And I think for many composers this would be a really big danger, to get lost in all those
things you could do - like a child lost in a toy store. But he's really original at using all these influences. I could compare him, in that regard, to somebody like Stravinsky.He is also
influenced very much by European composers, but he doesn't care about what comes after what. He uses the "Louie Louie" progression and goes straight into a cluster which could be
written by Ligeti, and he doesn't care, as long as it sounds good.There is no 'theory' about what could be used, like 'could I use a C-major chord in this twelve tone context', or
something like that. The last judge is his ear. This fresh way to work with all those colors and textures, I think, is
Perhaps it was this apparent freedom in his approach that meant Zappa produced a body of work in his lifetime that simply dwarfs the output of his contemporaries. Because of sheer volume alone, trying to understand Zappa's musical universe
could easily becomethe work of a lifetime, and can only be touched upon in the ten thousand or so words here.
One thing that is certain is that Frank Zappa's music will continue to have a cult following, as it has for the last thirty years. Zappa scores are slowly filtering into classical ensemble repertoires. It can only be a matter of time before Zappa's
fantastic musical output receives the attention it rightly deserves.
(1) Quote taken from Zappa:Electric Don Quixote p.256, (see bibliography)
(2) Quote taken from The Oxford Companion to Music (see bibliography) 'History of Music' p.478
(3) Taken from the booklet included with The Yellow Shark album. (see discography)
The Frank Zappa Guitar Book.ed.Zappa, Frank. Hal Leonard Publishing
Corporation, 1982 (ISBN 0.7935.2434.2)
Black Page No.1. Zappa, Frank. Munchkin Edition Lead Sheet.
Black Page No.1. Zappa, Frank.Munchkin Edition Drumset part.
Black Page No.2. Zappa, Frank.Munchkin Edition Percussion part.
Black Page No.2. Zappa, Frank.Munchkin Edition Keyboard part.
P.O Box 5418
Black Page No.2 (Transcription). Laywood, J.L.A, Sweetness and Light Music publishing, 1997.
G-Spot Tornado. Zappa, Frank. Munchkin Edition Orchestral Score.
Barfko-Swill, 1993.P.O Box 5418, North Hollywood, C.A 91616-5418, USA.
Frank Zappa; The Negative Dialectics of Poodle Play. Watson, Ben.
Quartet Books, 1995 (ISBN 0.7043.0242.X)
The Real Frank Zappa Book. Zappa, Frank / Occhiogrosso, Peter
Poseidon Press, 1989 (ISBN 0.330.31625.7)
Zappa; Electric Don Quixote. Slaven, Neil
Omnibus Press, 1996 (ISBN 0.7119.5983.8)
Frank Zappa - A Visual Documentary. Miles
Omnibus Press, 1993 (ISBN 0.7119.3099.6)
The Guitar Handbook. Denyer, Ralph
Pan Books, 1983-94 (ISBN 0.330.32750.X)
Harmony. Piston, Walter King's English Bookprinters, 1941
(revised 1981) (ISBN 0.575.02538.7)
Counterpoint. Piston, Walter, King's English Bookprinters, 1941
The AB Guide to Music Theory (Part I). Taylor, Eric
The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (Publishing)1989-1993 (ISBN 1.85472.446.0)
The AB Guide to Music Theory (Part II). Taylor, Eric
The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (Publishing)1991-1992 (ISBN 1.85472.447.9)
Improvisation; Its nature and practice in music. Bailey, Derek,
The British National Sound Archive 1980-1992 (ISBN 0.7123.0506.8)
Serial Composition and Atonality. Perle, George, University of California Press (Fourth edition,Revised) 1962-1977 (ISBN 0.520.03395.7)
Anton Webern; An introduction to his works. Kolneder, Walter
Faber and Faber, 1968.
Fontana Dictionary of Modern Thought. ed.Bullock, Stallybrass and Trombley. Fontana Press, 1998.(ISBN 0.00.686.129.6)
Wordsworth Reference Concise English Dictionary. ed.Davidson, G.W, Seaton, M.A, Simpson, J.Wordsworth Editions Ltd.1994.(ISBN 1.85326.328.1)
The Oxford Companion to Music. (Tenth Edition) Scholes, Percy A. ed.Owen Ward, John. Oxford University Press.1970.(ISBN 19.311306.6)
Density 21.5. (Score for solo flute) Varäse, Edgard. Casa Ricordi Publishing, 1946.(ISMN M-041-34978-7)
Frank Zappa Discography:
Freak Out (rcd/rac 10501) Jul 1966
Absolutely Free (rcd/rac 10502) Apr 1967
Lumpy Gravy (rcd/rac 10504) Dec 1967
We're Only in It for the Money (rcd/rac 10503) Sep 1968
Cruising With Ruben & The Jets (rcd/rac 10505) Nov 1968
Uncle Meat (rcd/rac 10506/7) Mar 1969
Hot Rats (rcd/rac 10508) Oct 1969
Burnt Weeny Sandwich (rcd 10509) Feb 1970
Weasels Ripped My Flesh (rcd 10510) Aug 1970
Chunga's Revenge (rcd 10511) Oct 1970
Filmore East, June 1971 (rcd/rac 10512) Aug 1971
Just Another Band From L.A (rcd 10515) Mar 1972
200 Motels Oct 1971
Hot Rats:Waka/Jawaka (rcd 10516) May 1972
The Grand Wazoo (rcd 10517) Nov 1972
Over-Nite Sensation (rcd/rac 10518) Sep 1973
Apostrophe (') (rcd/rac 10519) Mar 1974
Roxy And Elsewhere (rcd/rac 10520) Sep 1974
One Size Fits All (rcd 10521) Oct 1975
Bongo Fury (rcd 10522) Oct 1975
Zoot Alures (rcd 10523) Oct 1976
Zappa in New York (10524/25) Mar 1978
Studio Tan (rcd 10526) Sep 1978
Sleep Dirt (rcd 10527) Jan 1979
Sheik Yerbouti (rcd/rac 10528) Mar 1979
Orchestral Favourites (rcd 10529) May 1979
Joe's Garage Acts I,II & III (rcd/rac 10530/31) Nov 1979
Tinsel Town Rebellion (rcd 10532) May 1981
Shut Up N' Play Yer Guitar (rcd 10533/34/35) May 1981
You Are What You Is (rcd 10536) Sep 1981
Ship Arriving Too Late To Save A
Drowning Witch (rcd 10537) May 1982
The Man From Utopia (rcd 10538) Mar 1983
Baby Snakes (rcd/rac 10539) Mar 1983
London Symphony Orchestra Vol.I & II (rcd 10540/41) Dec 1987
Boulez Conducts Zappa:
The Perfect Stranger (rcd 10542) Aug 1984
Them Or Us (rcd 10543) Oct 1984
Thing-Fish (rcd 10544/45) Nov 1984
Francesco Zappa (rcd 10546) Nov 1984
Frank Zappa Meets
The Mothers Of Prevention (rcd 10547) Nov 1985
Does Humor Belong In Music? (rcd 10548) Jan 1986
Jazz From Hell (rcd 10549) Nov 1986
Guitar (rcd 10550/51) Apr 1988
Broadway The Hard Way (rcd 10552) Nov 1988
The Best Band You Never Heard In
Your Life (rcd 10553/54) Apr 1991
Make A Jazz Noise Here (rcd 10555/56) Jun 1991
Playground Psychotics (rcd 10557/58) 1992
The Yellow Shark (rcd/rac 40560) 1993
You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore
Vol. 1 (rcd 10561/62) Apr 1988
Vol.2 (rcd 10563/64) Sep 1988
Vol.3 (rcd 10565/66) Oct 1989
Vol.4 (rcd 10567/68) Jun 1991
Vol.5 (rcd 10569/70) 1992
Vol.6 (rcd 10571/72) 1992
(The Best Of Frank Zappa) (rcd/rac/ralp 40600) 1995
Civilization Phaze III Nov 1993
The Lost Episodes Feb 1996
Strictly Genteel 1997
Cheap Thrills 1998
Frank Zappa Video
Does Humor Belong In Music? Jan 1986
Uncle Meat 1986
The Amazing Mr Bickford 1984
200 Motels 1971
BBC2 Zappa Documentary/Obituary 1993
All these titles can be found in larger and specialist music retail outlets.
They are also available direct mail order from:
Barfko Swill, P.O Box 5418, North Hollywood, CA 91616-5418, USA.
Or via the internet: email@example.com
Except Does Humor Belong In Music video, which is now discontinued,
and the BBC documentary, which is obtainable from the BBC.
Copyright © 1999 by Ian Hartley. All rights reserved. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. No reproduction or republication without permission.