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Session 7 zappa presentation 1


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This is an updated presentation of a lecture I give on Frank Zappa, as an example of how a musician can be used as a case study for musical research. After exploring some methodological themes, it uses 'Frank Zappa and Gesture' as an indicative example.

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Session 7 zappa presentation 1

  1. 1. Dr Paul Carr Research Skills Musicology
  2. 2. <ul><li>Zappa as methodological case study. </li></ul>
  3. 3. <ul><li>Can music communicate anything beyond notes, sounds and textures? How/Why/Why Not? </li></ul><ul><li>Is this ‘meaning’ universal or personal? </li></ul><ul><li>Can we/how do we or the artist, communicate this meaning to others? </li></ul><ul><li>How do we go about writing about this meaning? </li></ul>
  4. 4. <ul><li>A unique case study in intertextuality. </li></ul><ul><li>Represents a point of interest from both a formalist, rationalistic, empirical and ‘extra-musical’ 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 – very rare! </li></ul><ul><li>Bridges the gap between low art and high art. </li></ul><ul><li>Work includes what Lenard Mayer describes as ‘embodied’ and ‘designated’ meaning. </li></ul><ul><li>Interesting mix of ‘intentional’ and ‘extensional’ meaning (musical meaning in recording/ performance process and/or the score?). </li></ul><ul><li>Interesting use of the recording studio to experiment with time, space and place. </li></ul><ul><li>Low ‘convention probability’. “Anything, anytime, for no reason at all” (Frank Zappa) </li></ul>
  5. 16. <ul><li>Carr, P and Hand, R.J. (2007) Frank Zappa and musical Theatre: ugly ugly orphan Annie and really deep intense, thought-provoking Broadway symbolism . Studies in Musical Theatre, Intellect. 1:1, pp.41-56, dol: 10.1386/smt.1.1.41/1 </li></ul><ul><li>Carr, P and Hand, R.J. (2008) Twist n frugg in an arrogant gesture: Frank Zappa and the musical-theatrical gesture . Popular Musicology Online (March 2008). </li></ul><ul><li>Carr, P (2010) Make a Sex Noise Here: Frank Zappa, Sex and Popular Music. Book chapter in Thema Nr. 1: Sex und populäre Musik. Transcript. pp.135-149. </li></ul><ul><li>Carr, P (2011) An Autocratic Approach to Music Copyright?: The potential negative impacts of restrictive rights on a composers legacy: The case of the Zappa Family Trust . Contemporary Theatre Review. Forthcoming 2011 </li></ul><ul><li>Carr, P. (2012) Frank Zappa and the And: A Contextual Analysis of his legacy . Forthcoming edited book for Ashgate Publishing </li></ul><ul><li>Carr, P. and Hand, R. (2006) An Experiment in Interdisciplinary Teaching: The Music Theatre of Frank Zappa . Palatine, </li></ul><ul><li>Carr, P and Delville, M. (2009) King Kong: a conversational analysis . The Rondo Hatton Report, Issue 1. </li></ul><ul><li>Carr, P (2009) The means through which Frank Zappa translated and adapted both his own and other composers music . Encontros de Investigao em Performance. Universidade de Aveiro. ISBN: 978-972-789-209-7 (Conference Proceedings) </li></ul><ul><li>Carr, P.(2010) Frank Zappa Tribute . The Rondo Hatton Report, Issue 4. </li></ul>
  6. 17. <ul><li>Fair Use, Grand Rights and the Zappa Family Trust: A legal and ethical examination of the enforcement of restrictive rights by a copyright holder . The IASPM-Norden 2010 Conference on MUSIC, LAW AND BUSINESS. Helsinki, November 2010. </li></ul><ul><li>Dickies Such An Asshole: Frank Zappa, Popular Music and Politics . 20th Century Music and Politics Conference. Bristol University. Bristol. April 2010. </li></ul><ul><li>The Big Note: The Ultimate Gesture: The incorporation of time and space in performing, composing, arranging and producing Frank Zappas music . The Fifth Annual Art of Record Production Conference. University of Glamorgan, Cardiff. November 2009. </li></ul><ul><li>Make a Sex Noise Here: Frank Zappa, Sex and Popular Music . Sex und populre Musik. Halle an der Saale, Germany. September 2009. </li></ul><ul><li>An Autocratic Approach to Music Copyright?: The means through which Frank Zappa translated and adapted both his own and other composers music . Performa 09 Encontros de Investigao em Performance. University of Evora, Portugal. May 2009 </li></ul><ul><li>Stuff That Is Not Normal: Frank Zappa, Halloween and Horror. Halloween : An International Conference. Glasgow Caledonian University. October-November 2006 </li></ul><ul><li>Twist n frugg in an arrogant gesture: Frank Zappa and the musical-theatrical gesture . Second International Conference on Music and Gesture. Royal Northern College of Music and Drama, July 2006 </li></ul><ul><li>Ugly Orphan Annie and Really Deep, Intense, Thought-Provoking Broadway Symbolism . Song, Stage & Screen Interdisciplinary approaches to the stage and Screen. University of Portsmouth, April 2006 </li></ul>
  7. 18. <ul><li>Musical Gesture </li></ul><ul><li>Sexuality </li></ul><ul><li>Musical Theatre </li></ul><ul><li>Individual Pieces </li></ul><ul><li>Time and Space </li></ul><ul><li>Recording Studio Practice </li></ul><ul><li>Translation </li></ul><ul><li>Copyright </li></ul><ul><li>Politics </li></ul><ul><li>Horror </li></ul>
  8. 20. Stimulus What the meaning refers to The person or people who understand the meaning Can Be ‘ Designative’ or Embodied’ (Outside or Inside Music)
  9. 21. Music (channel) Emitter Receiver Intended ‘message’ ‘ adequate’ response Philip Tagg: Communication Model
  10. 22. PMFA Paramusical Fields of Association (relevant to IOCM) PMFA Paramusical Fields of Association (relevant to AO) AO Analysis Object IOCM Interobjective Comparison Material
  11. 23. <ul><li>Dyadic model </li></ul><ul><li>1) Signifier (a ‘sign’: For example a distorted guitar, or a type of fashion) </li></ul><ul><li>2) Signified (what it stands for: For example Rock Music) </li></ul>
  12. 24. <ul><li>Icon : Where the gesture resembles in some shape or form what it is representing. For example a guitar sounding like a motorbike, or a type of clothing resembling another fashion. </li></ul><ul><li>Index : Where the gesture points toward its meaning. For example distorted guitar points toward certain types of rock music. </li></ul><ul><li>Symbol : Connected by convention. Good for language, not as useful for music in my view. </li></ul>
  13. 25. <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 is to explain the processes that underlie his performances and recordings </li></ul>
  14. 26. <ul><li>I propose: </li></ul><ul><li>His ‘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>
  15. 32. <ul><li>But how does this, relate to - </li></ul>
  16. 34. <ul><li>See </li></ul>
  17. 36. <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>
  18. 43. <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>
  19. 44. <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>
  20. 45. <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>
  21. 46. Rock Blues Jazz CLASSICAL Reggae Doo Wop 'Low' Art 'High' Art
  22. 47. <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>
  23. 48. <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>
  24. 49. <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>
  25. 50. <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>
  26. 51. <ul><li>Freak Out! (July 1966) </li></ul><ul><li>Absolutely Free (April 1967) </li></ul><ul><li>Lumpy Gravy (December 1967) </li></ul><ul><li>We're Only In It For The Money (February 1968) </li></ul><ul><li>Cruising With Ruben & The Jets (November 1968) </li></ul><ul><li>Uncle Meat (March 1969) </li></ul>
  27. 52. <ul><li>A process he repeated with Orchestral Favourites (1979) ( Between Sheik Yerbouti (1979) and Joe’s Garage Act I (1979)). </li></ul>
  28. 53. <ul><li>Sheik Yerbouti (March 3, 1979) </li></ul><ul><li>Orchestral Favorites (4 May 1979 ) </li></ul><ul><li>Joe's Garage (19 November 1979) </li></ul>
  29. 54. <ul><li>And later - London Symphony Orchestra Volume 1 (1983) (Between The Man from Utopia (1983) and Them or Us (1984)). </li></ul>
  30. 55. <ul><li>The Man From Utopia (March 1983) </li></ul><ul><li>London Symphony Orchestra vol 1 (9 June 1983) </li></ul><ul><li>The Perfect Stranger (23 August 1984) </li></ul><ul><li>Them Or Us (18 October 1984) </li></ul><ul><li>Thing-Fish (21 November 1984) </li></ul>
  31. 56. <ul><li>Towards end of life he released three orchestral albums – a profound centrifugal gesture. </li></ul><ul><li>You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore vol 6 (July 1992) </li></ul><ul><li>Playground Psychotics (27 October 1992) </li></ul><ul><li>Ahead Of Their Time (April 1993) </li></ul><ul><li>The Yellow Shark (December 1993) </li></ul><ul><li>Civilization, Phaze III (December 1994) </li></ul>
  32. 57. <ul><li>Song For My Father (Horace Silver) </li></ul>
  33. 58. <ul><li>Ricky Don’t Lose That Number </li></ul>
  34. 59. <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>
  35. 60. <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>
  36. 61. <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>
  37. 62. <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>
  38. 63. <ul><li>Musical and non musical ‘Conceptual Continuity’ gestures were embedded into his entire creative output. </li></ul><ul><li>For example: </li></ul>
  39. 67. <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>
  40. 68. <ul><li>Fragments of this track are found throughout his compositional portfolio. </li></ul><ul><li>For example: </li></ul>
  41. 69. <ul><li>Original Track The Kingsman </li></ul><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>
  42. 70. <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>
  43. 71. <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 1979 ) </li></ul>
  44. 72. 11/4 bass part extracted from a performance in Gothenburg in 1974, with a 4/4 drum part recorded in 1976 in studio conditions
  45. 87. Conceptual Continuity?
  46. 88. <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>
  47. 89. <ul><li>Meyer, Leonard B., Emotion and meaning in music (University of Chicago Press, 1961).   </li></ul><ul><li>Meyer, Leonard B., Music, the arts, and ideas (University of Chicago Press, 1994). </li></ul><ul><li>Hanslick, Eduard, and Geoffrey Payzant, On the musically beautiful (Hackett Publishing, 1986). </li></ul><ul><li>Farmer, Frank, Landmark Essays on Bakhtin, Rhetoric, and Writing (Routledge, 1998).   </li></ul><ul><li>Phil Tagg, </li></ul>