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PostPosted: Wed Jul 30, 2014 4:51 am 
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And i don't mean his classical albums specifically, but his classical abilities in general, which can be discerned even in his rock music. As i'm collecting his discography, i like to read reviews and comments on his various albums, and invariably, it seems most of the people who rate his works seem to know very little about classical music, particularly 20th century classical music, or don't particular value his talents in that field. In particular, not a lot people seem to know that much of his music needs to be listened to "vertically", precisely like you would with real classical music, and that a lot of the "weirdness" of his compositions is nothing other than an harmony or counterpoint of colors and sounds, which requires a good talent for orchestration on top of a solid knowledge of the rules of harmony to pull off correctly, and cannot be listened to "horizontally" like you would with a rock or jazz composition. Particularly good is also his ability for thematic development, particularly as melodies are broken up and spread out through out the harmony, just the way a real classical composer would do. But what i find interesting is that he does it in a way that makes everything sound spontaneous or even improvised. Now many classical composers had a similar talent (Mozart above all), but not many 20th century musicians did (Stravinsky being one of the big exceptions, vis his late serial works), and that is what makes his avant-gard so easily digestible.

In a sense, i wonder whether Zappa himself didn't really understand where his real strengths lied (or perhaps he was a bit self conscious about it? Could it be that he really didn't think he could have made it as a real classical composer?), until very late. As a rock musician, he is good but not necessarily the best. As a satirist or social commentator he was so so. He was clever but his enfant terrible antics got real old after a while. Judging from his solos he would have been a great jazz musician but he also approached jazz music more as a Gil Evans of sort than as a soloist. But it is his classical leanings that seem to fill up the "gaps" one finds in his rock or jazz music. Waka-Jawaka is a good jazz fusion album but if you pay attention to the way all the various instruments interact with each other and the spontaneous counterpoint that results from their interplay the music becomes a lot more than just another jazz fusion album. And the same applies to much of his rock music as well.

I haven't looked into this, but i wonder how well he is rated by actual classical musicians. The more i listen to Yellow Shark, the more i think he is in the same ballpark as any of the major late 20th century composers, like Ligeti, Penderecki or Alfred Schnittke, you know, composers who's music is actually fun to listen to on top of being very well put together, unlike, say, the music of a certain Boulez.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 31, 2014 1:13 am 
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Somehow I believe FZ had a very clear understanding of his abilities as a composer.
Part of FZ's somewhere-in-the-middle position between rock and classical has to do with people putting stuff in boxes without looking at it. In fact it has to do with people needing to put stuff in boxes.
When I play Mozart or Chopin on my keyboard with the piano sound, it's classical. When I use the hilarious funksynth sound, it's exactly the same what I play; but somehow quite a few people within the classical music world wouldn't call it that - same instrument, same player, very similar performance; different box.

All the same, FZ did well for himself when you compare him to the classical career of other pop/rock musicians: I don't see the orchestral Deep Purple step-out being played on the Proms. But in what box Frank is put depends on the boxer; it might be a hundred years before he'll find a corner within music. Maybe his corner in music hasn't been created yet and is now only known as Frank's Corner.

[woke-up-way-too-early-rant. Don't take this seriously.]

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 31, 2014 9:30 pm 
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What the hell are you egg heads talking about?
All one has to do is look at some of his scores.
Paul MaCartney or any other pop/rock writer coudn't even get their heads
around what Frank wrote.

It's of my opinion that Zappa assimilated much of what Stravinsky and
Varese did (in regards to polyrhythms and 'vertical' composition)
and took it even further. Look at Moe and Herb's Vacation for example.
Who in the rock world could write anything like Ruth is Sleeping?
Nada.

His music approaches the complexity of Elliot Carter while being more melodic at the same time.


Look at the horn passages in Farther Oblivion...
Killer!


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 31, 2014 10:10 pm 
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What I'm getting at is I think he was one of if not the greatest American composer
of the last century.

His toilet humour ends up just shooting him in the foot in other composer's minds?

I'm sure a lot of people just couldn't take him seriously.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 31, 2014 11:31 pm 
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It seems to me both sides err but for different reasons. Rock fans (who seem to be the majority among those who listen to Zappa, for obvious reasons) aren't accustomed to listen to music in a "vertical" manner and therefore are often unaware of many aspects of Zappa's music which their ears aren't able to recognize, at least not consciously. I think this goes for jazz fans as well, since their experience has also been limited when it comes to vertical music (jazz seems to be mostly about harmonic changes, not harmony as such).

On their part, classical music fans appear to be stuck on their own medium and aren't interested in something that crosses over to other genres, genres which they often know very little about. Thus, it is seems that a very big number of people who listen to Zappa are not getting the whole picture, but are focusing only on what they know, the result being that Zappa is rated lower than he should.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 31, 2014 11:46 pm 
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jeddy wrote:
His toilet humour ends up just shooting him in the foot in other composer's minds?


Possibly. Not because it was vulgar in itself but because it wasn't "serious". A lot of classical music fans have no trouble enjoying decadence or degeneracy if it is presented in an "intellectual" manner. Contemporary opera productions for instance are known for a lot of ridiculous shenanigans, occasionally even involving real nudity (image if Zappa had done that!). Hell, take the blow job scene in Thomas Ades's Powder Her Face , which i personally found to be extremely silly, but i know a lot of people who took that seriously.

Of course, to be fair, people who accept those things are in the minority, at least in my experience. It is usually the ultra moderns (and i would assume actual degenerates, which might be one and the same for all i know) who are partial to that kind of stuff. The point remains however that if Zappa had been a bit more pretentious, his antics might have been accepted as "serious", which i think bespeaks of a certain degree of hypocrisy in the academic world.

The only place where his antics have been counterproductive is among the more "traditional" classical music fans, whom i reckon are probably in the majority. Despite what everybody thinks, modernity hasn't really caught up with that crowd, and probably never will.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 01, 2014 1:53 pm 
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"Shall we take ourselves seriously?"


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 01, 2014 2:28 pm 
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Most classical musicians never did. The good ones at any rate. It seems that it generally those who understand the least about art that tend to take it much too seriously. There is a wonderful quote by Chesterton that deals with this very problem:

Quote:
Any man with a vital knowledge of the human psychology ought to have the most profound suspicion of anybody who claims to be an artist, and talks a great deal
about art. Art is a right and human thing, like walking or saying one’s prayers; but the moment it begins to be talked about very solemnly, a man may be fairly certain that the thing has come into a congestion and a kind of difficulty.

The artistic temperament is a disease that afflicts amateurs. It is a disease which arises from men not having sufficient power of expression to utter and get rid of the element of art in their being. It is healthful to every sane man to utter the art within him; it is essential to every sane man to get rid of the art within him at all costs. Artists of a large and wholesome vitality get rid of their art easily, as they breathe easily, or perspire easily. But in artists of less force, the thing becomes a pressure, and produces a definite pain, which is called the artistic temperament. Thus, very great artists are able to be ordinary men — men like Shakespeare or Browning. There are many real tragedies of the artistic temperament, tragedies of vanity or violence or fear. But the great tragedy of the artistic temperament is that it cannot produce any art...

There can be no stronger manifestation of the man who is a really great artist than the fact that he can dismiss the subject of art; that he can, upon due occasion, wish art at the bottom of the sea. Similarly, we should always be much more inclined to trust a solicitor who did not talk about conveyancing over the nuts and wine. What we really desire of any man conducting any business is that the full force of an ordinary man should be put into that particular study. We do not desire that the full force of that study should be put into an ordinary man. We do not in the least wish that our particular law-suit should pour its energy into our barrister’s games with his children, or rides on his bicycle, or meditations on the morning star. But we do, as a matter of fact, desire that his games with his children, and his rides on his bicycle, and his
meditations on the morning star should pour something of their energy into our law-suit. We do desire that if he has gained any especial lung development from the bicycle, or any bright and pleasing metaphors from the morning star, that the should be placed at our disposal in that particular forensic controversy. In a word, we are very glad that he is an ordinary man, since that may help him to be an exceptional lawyer.


By the same token, Zappa was an ordinary man who succeeded in creating exceptional art, much like a Beethoven, or a Mozart. The thing called "classical music" was essentially invented by people who had an "artistic" or an "academic" temperament, as the case may be. The great geniuses of what we call classical music never had any such temperament. There is a difference between conforming yourself to an ideal which is ultimately relative and thus limited, as opposed to let the real thing, undefined and undefinable, breath out naturally out of your being. It is not the man who becomes an artist, but the art that becomes human.

The only tragedy is that many of those who approach classical music are put off by this "temperament". It would probably help to see a Bach or a Beethoven as the Zappa of their respective time, which might put their art in the proper context.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 01, 2014 2:48 pm 
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Opus131 wrote:
On their part, classical music fans appear to be stuck on their own medium and aren't interested in something that crosses over to other genres, genres which they often know very little about.


Most of the music listeners are stucked in their own genre/medium/whatsoever. Zappa, on the other hand could do everything he took his hands on (in music). He was not exceptional rock, jazz, classical or electronic musician, he was exceptional in putting things together the way nobody else did before. For example, his orchestral works are nice follow-ups of Stravinsky or Varese, but in his synclavier composition, he virtually mixed Varese, Nancarrow and electronic sounds to make something completely unique. Or he was fine novelty rock songwriter and it made him popular, but his rock albums are so strong, because he combined it with excellent musicianship, sonic explorations, jazz or classial arrangements, concepts, rock theatre, etc. He did manage to connect together absolutely different things nobody before did - and it worked. And that's why he is both exceptional and underrated as a composer - he was not "classical" composer, but all-genre composer, and you actually need to like (or at least understand to some point to) lots of different styles and genres to fully enjoy his work.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 01, 2014 4:58 pm 
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Yes!
Because he was such a skilled "synthesist" with his art (including the whole idea of conceptual continuity)
mixing genres and the like....he is widely known as the first proper post-modern composer.

He could write in any style of music with ease....
Combining very different elements into something that made sense!
All wrapped up in his absurdist DADA worldview.

Suck on THAT Paul MacCartney!


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 02, 2014 8:08 pm 
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I believe he was first a 'classical' composer, but his immersion in the culture of his time and his appreciation for the direct impact of rhythm and blues made him see the value in creating in a language which could be understood.

And he liked to rock like a motherfucker - ergo the name of the band.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 03, 2014 6:48 am 
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One of the reasons, why FZ stuck more to rock and roll music was, that rock and jazz musicians were obviously less problematic to work with, when compared orchestral and "classical" musicians. Also, one of the reasons, why FZ some times got into jazz was, that he worked frequently with jazz musicians. FZ had constantly problems finding the right people to play his music, so he had just work with what was available for him at the time. When he obtained Synclavier, he stopped touring for few years and also concentrated more on his orchestral work - Synclavier also made composition of orchestral music much easier. Some may wonder, what would FZ do, if he had such technology or more open "classical" musicians available at his beginnings.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 10, 2014 6:25 am 
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I just found this:

The Dangerous Kitchen
for chamber orchestra with voice
arranged by Ali N. Askin
transcribed by Steve Vai
Orchestra instrumentation: 1(whistle, plastic bag).1(newspaper).1(crickets, rattle).tsax.0.cbsn(cow
moo)-1(toy laser gun, softdrink can, chips bag).2(1.egg shaker, Chinese rattel drum 2.cow moo, sm
marac).1(ratchet, egg shaker).1-3perc(I. b.d, lg b.d, s.d, 4 toms, cym, casts; II. cym, cow bell, egg shaker,
drum set; III. b.d, 2 bng, s.d, cym, casts, sm cow bell, 4 tempbl, sm tam, guiro, chime
tree)-egtr.mandola.hp.pno.electric bass-str(1.1.1.2.0)-voice
3' 0''

note the instruments :D

here is the link: http://www.schott-music.com/shop/products/search/by_person/featured/result.html?order=relevanz&lastOrder=relevanz&ID_PKAT=8&ID_PERS=20901&tta=&page=0&hitsPerPage=10&lastNumResults=43&notPhonetic=false&searchQueryID=SQID_53e77cf59e722&maxPage=4&maxHitsPerPage=10&searchMode=SM_DISCOGRAPHY


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 05, 2014 4:41 pm 
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This was the playlist of a program devoted to Frank's "classical" side this past week on a Princeton, NJ, radio station. It was the final program in a ten part summer series of avant-garde music. Fantastic to hear radio programming like this. Marvin Rosen does an outstanding job.

Classical Discoveries Goes Avant-Garde
Zappa-mania
with Marvin Rosen
other shows

Wednesday, September 3, 2014
11:00 to 13:00
Classical
marvinrosen@classicaldiscoveries.org
http://www.classicaldiscoveries.org

Composer Piece Ensemble/
Orchestra Conductor Soloist/
Performer
Castellano, Jennifer Marvin Goes Avant-Garde electronic http://www.castellanonet.com 11:00
Zappa, Frank G-Spot Tornado Ensemble Ambrosius BIS Northern Lights - 11:01
Zappa, Frank The Perfect Stranger Ensemble InterContemporain, Pierre Boulez, conductor Barking Pumpkin Records - 11:06
Zappa, Frank The Girl in the Magnesium Dress Ensemble Modern Rykodisc - 11:20
Zappa, Frank Bogus Pomp Michael Zearott conducts the Abnuceals Emuukha Electric Symphony Orchestra Rykodisc - 11:26
Zappa, Frank The Adventures of Greggery Peccary Ensemble Modern, Jonathan Stockhammer, conductor, Omar Ebrahim, Gregory Peccary, David Moss, Narrator, Billy the Mountain, Quentin Robert DeNameland RCA Red Seal - 11:40
Zappa, Frank Bob in Dacron London Symphony Orchestra, Kent Nagano, conductor Rykodisc - 12:07
Zappa, Frank Big Swifty Ensemble Ambrosius BIS Northern Lights - 12:22
Zappa, Frank Dupree's Paradise Ensemble InterContemporain, Pierre Boulez, conductor Barking Pumpkin Records - 12:25
Zappa, Frank Lumpy Gravy Abnuceals Emuukha Electric Symphony Orchestra Zappa Records - 12:33
Zappa, Frank Dwarf Nebula Processional March & Dwarf Nebula The Mothers of Invention Rykodisc - 12:57

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 05, 2014 5:47 pm 
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brunofulax wrote:
what would FZ do, if he had such technology or more open "classical" musicians available at his beginnings?

What would he do? The exact same thing. Otherwise he wouldn't be FZ. I don't see him as a man who would let his children starve while he tried to make a living working at a form of music that was basically dead. It was nice of him to revitalize it, though.
jeddy wrote:
Who in the rock world could write anything like Ruth is Sleeping?

And who in the classical world could write anything like Dirty Love?



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PostPosted: Sat Sep 06, 2014 12:33 am 
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Well, Mozart did, his Leck mich im Arsch for instance.

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 06, 2014 4:14 pm 
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^ I was talking about musical content not lyrics. :wink:


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 06, 2014 8:44 pm 
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LOL yes, that Mozart was a dirty little punk


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 07, 2014 4:18 am 
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Mozart's music was very daring in its day, the man caused a huge leap forward in many genres. We all throw him on a big pile called "classical" with Vivaldi and Ravel, but if you put him side to side with his contemporaries, you can see how much he did.

There's no reason not to love Mozart.

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 07, 2014 6:06 am 
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BBP wrote:
Mozart's music was very daring in its day, the man caused a huge leap forward in many genres. We all throw him on a big pile called "classical" with Vivaldi and Ravel, but if you put him side to side with his contemporaries, you can see how much he did.

There's no reason not to love Mozart.


Not to mention one of the greatest keyboard virtuosos and improvisers of his generation.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 08, 2014 11:03 am 
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BBP wrote:
There's no reason not to love Mozart.

Piano Concerto No 21 is one reason.

But Mozart was brilliant. I am more into Sibelius, Mahler, Shostakovich or Beethoven.


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