Dr Paul Carr Zappa Talk


Published on

Recent presentation on Frank Zappa

Published in: Education
1 Comment
  • Xenochrony also embraces moving backwards and forwards in time.Velimir Khlebnikov's Triplex principle which uses the number 3 to interpret the past and future anticipates Geoffrey Farmer's Zappa-centred chronology; for example what is the role of '3' within the algorithm within Farmer's computer program that controls the music within the installation that reflects Zappa's idiosyncratic compositional forms?
    Are you sure you want to  Yes  No
    Your message goes here
  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide
  • Dr Paul Carr Zappa Talk

    1. 1. Frank Zappa – A Case Study In Musical Research Dr Paul Carr University of Glamorgan
    2. 2. Interdisciplinary activities Involving Zappa <ul><li>An Experiment in Multidisciplinary Teaching – Palatine funded project (2006) </li></ul><ul><li>Frank Zappa and musical theatre: ugly ugly o’phan Annie and really deep, intense, thought-provoking Broadway symbolism. (Published in the inaugural edition of “Studies in Musical Theatre” Journal 2006) </li></ul><ul><li>Twist n’ frugg in an arrogant gesture: Frank Zappa and the musical-theatrical gesture. ( Published ‘Popular Musicology Online” March 2008) </li></ul>
    3. 3. Why Frank Zappa (1940 – 1993)? <ul><li>A fascinating case study in intertextuality. </li></ul><ul><li>Represented a point of interest from both a musical and theatrical perspective </li></ul><ul><li>Zappa’s work not only represents an extraordinary confluence of styles , but a prolonged and considered interchange of musical t raditions </li></ul><ul><li>His constant, often simultaneous engagement with both high and low culture. </li></ul>
    4. 4. Principal Research Questions <ul><li>How do musical, physical and other gestures influence the implementation and interpretation of his music? </li></ul><ul><li>How/Why was Zappa’s music described as rock despite its numerous incongruous influences? </li></ul><ul><li>How/Why were the more “serious” aspects of his music usually juxtaposed with humour and frivolity? </li></ul><ul><li>Overall intention was to begin to explain the processes that underlie his multifaceted performances and recordings </li></ul>
    5. 5. Who is Frank Zappa?
    6. 16. The Effect Of Zappa’s Sustained But Uneasy Interface With High And Low Culture <ul><li>‘ Rock Star’ persona played a substantial part in informing his audience how to categorise his work </li></ul><ul><li>Utilised the archetypal clichés of the Rock tradition to compartmentalise his work into as lucrative a direction as possible. For Example: </li></ul>
    7. 17. Instrumentation of Live Band
    8. 18. Guitar Solos
    9. 19. Image, performance practices and stage presence
    10. 20. Stylistic Features of music (often)
    11. 21. Some Compositional Techniques (Band as compositional tool)
    12. 22. Album Packaging and publicity.
    13. 24. Example of some of these processes in practice
    14. 25. Examples of continuous and progressive contradictions against the rock aesthetic
    15. 26. Musical/Stylistic Features <ul><li>‘ The The Return of the Son of Monster Magnet’ and </li></ul><ul><li>‘ It Can’t Happen Here’. ( Freak Out, 1966) </li></ul><ul><li>Who Are The Brain Police. ( Freak Out , 1966) </li></ul>
    16. 27. Composed 2 Film Scores ( The Worlds Greatest Sinner and Run Home Slow)
    17. 28. 200 Motels (1971)
    18. 29. Numerous orchestral albums
    19. 30. Pioneering jazz/rock albums
    20. 31. Radio Plays – ‘The Adventures of Gregory Peccary’, ‘Billy the Mountain’
    21. 32. Computer based albums
    22. 33. Image, Performance Practices and Stage Presence ( Conducting) <ul><li>Conducting band since mid 1950’s – entitled it ‘Conduction’ </li></ul><ul><li>Gave instructions (specific and improvisatory) to band and sometimes audiences! </li></ul><ul><li>Alluded subliminal messages regarding his dominant hierarchical position and musical merit </li></ul>
    23. 34. Dichotomies instigated in the mindset of audiences <ul><li>Is the music Rock, Jazz or Classical? </li></ul><ul><li>High or low art? </li></ul><ul><li>Controlled or open? </li></ul><ul><li>Improvisatory or notated? </li></ul><ul><li>Serious or frivolous? </li></ul><ul><li>Complex or simple? </li></ul><ul><li>Elitist or vernacular? </li></ul>
    24. 35. Complexity Of Style and Integration Of Tradition <ul><li>Rock founded style/genre usually present, but his constant interface with other styles and genres make describing his music unusually problematic. </li></ul><ul><li>Can be described with Bakhtin’s notion of centripetal and centrifugal forces. </li></ul><ul><li>In Zappa’s case, Rock is the centripetal force, with other other sub styles/traditions (Doo- wop, Reggae, Blues, etc) acting as centrifugal “destabilising forces”. </li></ul><ul><li>However - Zappa’s use of music, and involvement with music outside of the tradition has a more profound effect on the stylistic balance and ultimate reception of his music. </li></ul><ul><li>Zappa’s long-term relationship with contemporary classical music represents not just a juxtaposition of style, but a confluence of traditions </li></ul>
    25. 36. Rock Blues Jazz CLASSICAL Reggae Doo Wop 'Low' Art 'High' Art
    26. 37. <ul><li>Zappa’s long term incorporation of classical music was intentionally progressive – he stated in 1968: </li></ul><ul><li>“ Stravinsky in rock n’ roll is like a get-acquainted offer… It’s a gradual progression to bring in my own ‘serious’ music” </li></ul><ul><li>Explicitly but subtly integrated classical gestures into his early portfolio, gradually increasing the propensity of the statements in individual compositions, and eventually albums </li></ul>
    27. 38. <ul><li>Early examples include: </li></ul><ul><li>Puns that allude to classical titles (EG – ‘Prelude to the Afternoon of a Sexually Aroused Gas Mask’) </li></ul><ul><li>Direct quotations from the canon (EG ‘Fountain of Love’) </li></ul><ul><li>Acknowledgement of relevant influences </li></ul><ul><li>Compositional Intent </li></ul>
    28. 39. <ul><li>In 1967 Zappa took this process a stage further, by interspersing an entire album Lumpy Gravy (1967) – which makes extensive use of an orchestra – between the more centripetal rock forces of Absolutely Free (1967) and We’re Only in it for the Money (1968) </li></ul><ul><li>A process he repeated with Orchestral Favourites (1979) ( Between Sheik Yerbouti (1979) and Joe’s Garage Act I (1979)). </li></ul><ul><li>And later - London Symphony Orchestra Volume 1 (1983) (Between The Man from Utopia (1983) and Them or Us (1984)). </li></ul><ul><li>Towards end of life recorded three orchestral albums – a profound centrifugal gesture. </li></ul>
    29. 40. The impact of musical ‘tradition’ on the interpretation of the work. <ul><li>Song For My Father (Horace Silver) </li></ul>
    30. 41. Steely Dan <ul><li>Ricky Don’t Lose That Number </li></ul>
    31. 42. Art Music related philosophical concepts - ‘The ‘Big Note’ <ul><li>“ All the material in the albums is organically related and if I had all the master tapes and I could take a razor blade and cut them apart and put it together again in a different order, it still would make one piece of music you can listen too”. </li></ul><ul><li>Constantly rearranged earlier compositions as outlined above </li></ul><ul><li>Constantly included recorded samples of earlier recordings in ‘new’ works. </li></ul><ul><li>Aligned the old with the new. </li></ul><ul><li>Self Plagiarism?? – He commented: </li></ul>
    32. 43. <ul><li>“ When a novelist invents a character. If the character is a good one, he takes on a life of his own. Why should he get to go to only one party?” </li></ul>
    33. 44. <ul><li>Implemented this philosophy principally via three techniques that were diachronic and synchronic in nature. </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Project/Object’ </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Conceptual Continuity’ </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Xenochrony’ </li></ul>
    34. 45. Project/Object <ul><li>Perceived a difference between the completed work of art in a recording (Object), and the ongoing process of redefining it (Project) </li></ul><ul><li>Many Zappa compositions are recomposed and defined over many years. </li></ul>
    35. 46. Examples of Project/Object <ul><li>Strictly Genteel </li></ul><ul><li>The Torture Never Stops </li></ul>
    36. 47. Conceptual Continuity <ul><li>Musical and non musical ‘Conceptual Continuity’ gestures were embedded into his entire creative output. </li></ul><ul><li>For example: </li></ul>
    37. 48. Examples Francesco Zappa (1984)
    38. 49. Them or Us (1984)
    39. 50. The Perfect Stranger (1984)
    40. 51. <ul><li>This ‘canine conceptual continuity’ was extended in his music with compositions such as: </li></ul><ul><li>“ Dirty Love” (1974) </li></ul><ul><li>“ Stinkfoot” (1974) </li></ul><ul><li>“ The Poodle Lecture” (1974) </li></ul><ul><li>“ Cheepnis” (1974) </li></ul>
    41. 52. Louie Louie <ul><li>Fragments of this track are found throughout his compositional portfolio. </li></ul><ul><li>For example: </li></ul>
    42. 53. Examples of incorporation of “Louis Louis” <ul><li>“ Plastic People” ( Absolutely Free ) </li></ul><ul><li>Son of Suzy Cream cheese ( Absolutely Free ) 1967 </li></ul><ul><li>“ Florentine Pogen” ( One Size Fits All ) 1974 </li></ul><ul><li>“ Jesus Thinks You’re A Jerk” ( Broadway The Hard Way ) 1984 </li></ul>
    43. 54. Xenochrony <ul><li>“ This collection is not chronological”, - any band from any year can be (and often is) edited to the performance of any other band from any other year – sometimes in the middle of a song” (Taken from YCDTOSA Volume 4, 1988) </li></ul><ul><li>Procedure that fuses music, performances and musicians from different time, spaces and places. </li></ul>
    44. 55. Examples <ul><li>“ Friendly Little Finger” ( Zoot Allures 1974) Bass and guitar recorded together, and combined with drums from another track (“The Ocean Is The Ultimate Solution” from Sleep Dirt ) </li></ul>
    45. 56. Rubber Shirt ( Sheik Yerbouti 1979)
    46. 57. Examples of painters who have employed similar techniques
    47. 58. René Magritte The Man With The Bowler Hat (1964)
    48. 59. The Son of Man (1964)
    49. 60. Golconda (1953)
    50. 61. Mysteries of the Horizon (1955)
    51. 62. Salvador Dali -Anthromomorphic bread (1932)
    52. 63. The Persistence of Memory (1931)
    53. 64. Disintegration of the Persistence of memory (1954)
    54. 65. Soft watch at the moment of explosion (1954)
    55. 66. The ghost of Vermeer Van Delft which can be used as a table (1934)
    56. 67. The weaning of furniture nutrition (1934)
    57. 68. Autumn Cannibalism (1936)
    58. 69. Sleep (1937)
    59. 70. The Burning Giraffe (1937)
    60. 71. Warrior (1982) Conceptual Continuity?
    61. 72. Examples of musicians who have incorporated similar processes <ul><li>Monteverdi - incorporating material from L’Orfeo in the 1610 Vespers </li></ul><ul><li>Prokoviev’s 3 rd Symphony - instrumental version of his opera Fiery An gel </li></ul><ul><li>Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘Save The Life Of My Child’ ( Bookends 1968) - ‘samples’ part of ‘The Sound of Silence’ </li></ul><ul><li>Buffalo Springfield’s live version of ‘Broken Arrow’ incorporates a direct recording of their ‘Mr Soul’ </li></ul><ul><li>Pervasive throughout Hip Hop and some dance music. </li></ul>
    62. 73. Ontological Interest
    63. 74. Questions
    64. 75. Palatine Project <ul><li>Investigate viabilities of interdisciplinary teaching between Drama and Music </li></ul><ul><li>Proposed an ‘experiment’ – and documented a report demonstrating its effectiveness. </li></ul>
    65. 76. Project Aims <ul><li>Enable Staff from Drama and Music to work together </li></ul><ul><li>Assist the assimilation and awareness of sister disciplines </li></ul><ul><li>Assist a challenge for teaching staff who have little experience in other discipline </li></ul><ul><li>Consider other interdisciplinary units, and ultimately degree programmes. </li></ul>
    66. 77. The Process <ul><li>Students from both disciplines worked on – Zappa Fish – An Anti Off Off Off Broadway Musical . </li></ul><ul><li>Music and text of piece influenced by “Thing Fish”, and the Zappa portfolio in general. </li></ul><ul><li>Students worked in drama/music groups, prior to coming together toward the end (similar methodology to what Zappa himself employed) </li></ul><ul><li>Music/Drama staff – Transcribed the music in lead sheet form, documented the script, led rehearsals, and researched everything related to Zappa! </li></ul>
    67. 78. <ul><li>Once working together – students explored: </li></ul><ul><li>Musicological and dramatic challenges </li></ul><ul><li>Bilateral potential for integration into each others contexts </li></ul><ul><li>How can one art form substantiate the meaning of the other? </li></ul><ul><li>How Zappa’s philosophical approaches to art can be incorporated. </li></ul>
    68. 79. Potential Future Pedagogical Projects <ul><li>Interdisciplinary work exploring one or more of Zappa’s characters (Billy the Mountain, Gregory Peccary, ETC) </li></ul><ul><li>Interdisciplinary work exploring techniques such as Big Note, Conceptual Continuity, Archetypal American Music Icons, etc. </li></ul>
    69. 80. <ul><li>Academic text discussing his personal characteristics, political views, manipulation of the media, etc) </li></ul><ul><li>Compositional work incorporating his concepts. </li></ul><ul><li>Could begin with either a musical or dramatic starting point </li></ul>
    70. 81. <ul><li>Critical discussion of the process. </li></ul><ul><li>Use of space between music and narrative </li></ul><ul><li>Potential for improvisation </li></ul><ul><li>Acting is good for popular music performers – taking on a character seems to be liberating. </li></ul>