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Posts Tagged ‘Frank Zappa’

A person with a feel for rhythm can walk into a factory and hear the machine noise as a composition.  If we expand that concept to include light, behavior, weather factors, moon phases, anything (whether it’s a rhythm that can be heard or a rhythm that is perceived, i.e., a color change over time — or a season), it can be consumed as music.
If it can be conceived as music, it can be executed as music, and presented to an audience in such a way that they will perceive it as music
When someone writes a piece of music, what he or she puts on the paper is roughly the equivalent of a recipe — in the sense that the recipe is not the food, only instructions for the preparation of the food.  Unless you are very weird, you don’t eat the recipe.
If I write something on a piece of paper, I can’t actually ‘hear’ it.  I can conjure up visions of what the symbols on the page mean, and imagine a piece of music as it might sound in performance, but that sensation is nontransferable;  it can’t be shared or transmitted.
It doesn’t become a ‘musical experience’ in normal terms until ‘the recipe’ has been converted into wiggling air molecules.
Music, in performance, is a type of sculpture. The air in the performance space is sculpted into something.  This ‘molecule-sculpture-over-time’ is then ‘looked at’ by the ears of the listeners — or a microphone.
SOUND is ‘ear-decoded data.’ Things which MAKE SOUND are things which are capable of creating perturbations. This perturbations modify (or sculpt) the raw material (the ‘static air’ in the room — the way it was ‘at rest’ before the musicians started fu**ing around with it).  If you purposefully generate atmospheric perturbations (‘air shapes’), you are composing.
    —     Frank Zappa
From his book:  “The Real Frank Zappa Book
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On This Day In:
2021 An Afternoon Nap
How Should I feel?
2020 Magical Voices In My Head
I Still Need Educating
2019 And I’m Not Letting Go
2018 The Continuing Failure Of Speaker Paul Ryan
Day 3: Approaching The Half Way Point
2017 Orange Comb-Overs Unite!
2016 Speaking Of Which
2015 Complexity Has A Strict Architecture
2014 Just Support
2013 Wandering Free
2012 Contribute = Paying Taxes
2011 How Will You Be Judged?

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All the old history was written for the amusement of the ruling classes.  The lower classes couldn’t read, and their rulers didn’t care about remembering what happened to them.
    —     Francis Zappa
As quoted by his son:  Frank Zappa
From his book:  “The Real Frank Zappa Book
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On This Day In:
2021 Together Forever
Think It Over
Small But Fun
2020 Still Learning
2019 Almost Hallmark
Beyond All Reason
2018 Daydreams And Wanna-Be’s
Or Work For #45
2017 Summer Pale
2016 Ain’t It Funny
2015 At Both Ends
2014 Whiner(s)
2013 Just Passing Through
2012 Dog-gone Heaven
2011 Occasional, Sad Results

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Failure is nothing to get upset about.  It’s a fairly normal condition;  an inevitability in ninety-nine percent of all human undertakings.  Success is rare — that’s why people get so cranked up about it.
    —     Frank Zappa
From his book:  “The Real Frank Zappa Book
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On This Day In:
2021 Don’t Let The Violent Take It From Us
Scratch Me
2020 Or Frightens Us
2019 The Best Gifts
2018 Sweep!!!
We Must Be Living In TRULY Historic Times
2017 The Best?
2016 Timely Opinions On “The Donald”
Even Allowing For Coincidence
2015 First Things First
2014 Without The Other
2013 Earn This
Seeking A View
2012 Stumblin’ Along My Way
We’re Proud Of You, Jr!
Union Card
Two Philosophies
2011 Simply Unpredictable

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The Real Frank Zappa Book” (1989©)   —   book review
Today’s review is for the autobiography:  “The Real Frank Zappa Book“;  written by:  Frank Zappa and co-written by / with:  Peter Occhiogrosso.
Background:  a network system admin colleague was listening to some music when I approached him for assistance.  I asked about what he was listening to and he said it was Frank Zappa and the “Mother’s of Invention”.  He then proceeded to tell me how great Zappa was and that he listened to a Zappa show on the radio every Friday night where this little station ran a two hour program on Zappa’s music.  My friend said there was nothing more relaxing than sitting in an easy chair with a tumbler of Jägermeister and listening to Zappa to kick off a weekend.  I was familiar with the “name” but (honestly) could not recall a single song or album, but I said I’d check it out based on his (my friend’s) recommendation.
Well, I still haven’t gotten around to listening to the radio and I don’t know if the broadcast is still happening every Friday evening, but I was in the used book store (several years ago) and I saw this book and picked it up to add to my reading list.  I keep seeing Zappa’s name referred to in my guitar studies, so I finally made a point of opening (and reading) it.
Who is Frank Zappa and why should we care about him or his views (on anything)?  Zappa is / was (died 1993) an American musician, singer, composer, songwriter and bandleader.  He self-produced over 50 albums and his estate had published another 30+ albums of “new” material since his death.  He was a self-taught musician and composer.  He claims to not be a very great guitarist, but that is the only instrument I ever knew him to play and he’s said to be one of the top 100 guitarists in history.  His book says he originally learned music on a drum set and picked up guitar later.  He was also reasonably well known for his libertarian political views particularly about free speech and the separation of church and state.  Zappa is in both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and has an album in the Library of Congress preserved for its historical significance.  Zappa’s music is a blend of rock, jazz, fusion, concert / symphonic music with a heavy dose of political / social satire – comedy.  He poked fun at both the left and the right.
What’s in this book and is it any good?  The book is really several parts:  1)  a personal biography;  2)  a discussion of his career and production thoughts about the music industry;  and,  3)  Zappa’s views on various political and social / societal trends.  I didn’t find his biography interesting.  I thought his comments on music and the industry were very insightful.  I was only mildly amused by his political stances and societal observations.  While I might personally agree with much of his stances and observations, I found his sarcasm / humor tiring long before the end of the book.
Part 1)  I grew up poor and we moved around a lot.  My escape was music.  I learned about it on my own by listening to an unfiltered variety of sound(s).  I got ripped off constantly by almost everyone else in the music business.  (Pgs 1 – 137)
Part 2)  Everybody is out to screw the composer / artist.  Including, but not limited to:  all production companies, all music unions, all venue owners, all governments (local and national), most fellow musicians, and, most hangers-on / groupies.  (Pgs 139 – 209)
Part 3)  Small, efficient government is the best.  Taxation should be limited to sales and should not include income – to have some hope of charging taxes on the wealthy as well as the workers.  All organized religion(s) and “church” institutions are corrupt (themselves) and corrupting to governments which allow them to have political influence.  There should be a full separation of Church and State.  Public education is a “mostly” a waste of money.  Education post-high school should be paid for by the individual only.  Special interest groups (guns and religion lobbies) have too much influence in America.  You cannot legislate morality and you should not be allowed to use morality to limit freedom of speech (particularly in the arts and music industries).  (Pgs 211 – 352 / end)
Final recommendation:  moderate to strong.  As stated previously, I didn’t find Zappa’s personal life (growing up or music performing) very interesting.  I found his thoughts about the concept of music (and art in general) VERY interesting.  This section was the strength of the book.  I would have been over the moon if he had devoted the rest of the book to elaborating on his theories of sound / art / artistry / and music production.  Unfortunately, he didn’t.  The final chunk of the book was “really” only moderately interesting.  My impression was:  “this is filler to add 80 extra pages”.  Again, just because I agree with an authors’ statements, doesn’t mean I like / enjoy how they choose to express the statements.  The book was worth the time invested in reading it , if only to gain an appreciation of a historic music figure.  I will be offering up some quotes from it in the future.  – BUT – except for the discussion on music / art, I can’t say the book inspired much after-thought / reflection.  (Actually, I’ve already posted a few of Zappa’s quotes, but didn’t know they were from this book.  I will probably get around to updating those prior posts at some point.)
Afterwords:  I have made an effort to go to YouTube and sample some of Zappa’s performances.  I’ve yet to be impressed.  Mostly, what I’ve heard has been ok.  JUST ok.  They remind me of what you’d hear at a county / state fair.  If anyone reading this can provide specific suggestions, I’d be more than happy to check them out.  I will say, I have found the video’s of his interviews to be much more interesting than the music I’ve listened to.
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On This Day In:
2021 Every Time It Gets Better
Distant!
2020 I’m Persuaded
2019 Hungry For Trust
2018 Mutual Assistance
2017 The Toughest Job
2016 Congratulations!!
Better Yet, Read!
2015 Even If It Kills Us Slowly
2014 Fun To Play God
Of Anything
2013 Legal (Almost)
2012 Great Scots!
2011 The GI Bill – A Simple History Lesson
Breaking Even

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A mind is like a parachute.  It doesn’t work if it is not open.
    —    Frank Zappa
From his book:  “The Real Frank Zappa Book
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On This Day In:
2013 Movies And A Lifetime Of Lyrics
This Truth
2012 Cheaper To Hold
2011 Resistance Is Futile
One Great, One Enjoyable, One Terrible…
Unfortunately, No Approval Is Required

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Take the Kama Sutra.  How many people died from the Kama Sutra as opposed to the Bible?  Who wins?
    —    Frank Zappa
From his book:  “The Real Frank Zappa Book
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On This Day In:
2013 Still Inventing
2012 Motivated
2011 Waiting In Line At Starbuck’s

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I never set out to be weird.  It was always other people who called me weird.
    —    Frank Zappa
From his book:  “The Real Frank Zappa Book
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On This Day In:
2013 Scott’s Inscription
2012 Good Knowledge
2011 Social Safety Nets

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Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible.
     —    Frank Zappa
From his book:  “The Real Frank Zappa Book
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On This Day In:
2012 High Anxiety
2011 And I’m Taking Me There
2010 1,000

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Without music to decorate it, time is just a bunch of boring production deadlines or dates by which bills must be paid.
     —    Frank Zappa
From his book:  “The Real Frank Zappa Book
[And love has nothing to dance to…     —    KMAB]
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On This Day In:
2012 The Beatitudes
2011 Good Fences Make Good Neighbors
2010 Back On The Asphalt
No Sweep – Rangers Win Game 3 by 4 to 2
Greek Myths For Kids

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A drug is not bad.  A drug is a chemical compound.  The problem comes in when people who take drugs treat them like a license to behave like an asshole.
    —    Frank Zappa
From his book:  “The Real Frank Zappa Book
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On This Day In:
2012 Giants Win Game 2 Of The 2012 World Series 2 To 0!!!
Adage, n.
Questions Women Should Ask Before Voting…
2011 What Are You Looking At?

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If you want to get laid, go to college.  If you want an education, go to the library.
     —    Frank Zappa
From his book:  “The Real Frank Zappa Book
[I knew there was a difference between college and education!    —    KMAB  🙂 ]
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On This Day In:
2012 Perceptions Of Worth
2011 Flavor
2010 Giants Win 1-0 !!

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Definition of rock journalism:  People who can’t write, doing interviews with people who can’t think, in order to prepare articles for people who can’t read.
    —    Frank Zappa
[I sometimes wonder if there might not be an internet (blogging) corollary to this observation.  Myself, included.    —    kmab]
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On This Day In:
2012 Working Retired
2011 The Web Is Not Authoritative! (Really?)

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It’s better to have something to remember than anything to regret.
    —    Frank Zappa
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On This Day In:
2012 Increasing Doubt
2011 You Can’t Touch This

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Interviewer: “So Frank, you have long hair.  Does that make you a woman?”
Frank Zappa: “You have a wooden leg.  Does that make you a table?”
    —     Frank Zappa
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On This Day In:
2012 Near Misses Aren’t Successes
2011 Uncomfortable Feelings
2010 San Francisco (favorites)…
Bullets or Butter?

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There is no such thing as a dirty word.  Nor is there a word so powerful, that it’s going to send the listener to the lake of fire upon hearing it.
    —    Frank Zappa
From his book:  “The Real Frank Zappa Book
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On This Day In:
2012 Wall-Crawler Reboot
Learning To Count
On Worshiping God
2011 Emancipated Differences
2010 A Little More Technology, Please…

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