Frank Zappa And The And: Zappa and Technology

Well – after a long break because of Computor problems – here is the intro to the eighth chapter of the Zappa book – my own. It looks like the book will be published around February 2013 – in fact it is possible to pre order it through Amazon. I will try and post the intro of the remaining chapters over the next few weeks, and after that there will be a gap while the ‘real thing’ is prepared m

Chapter 8
Zappa and Technology: His incorporation of Time, Space and Place when Performing, Composing and Arranging Music
Paul Carr
Frank Zappa’s ability to amalgamate popular music styles alongside musique concrète, electronic, and serial techniques make him a fascinating case study on the interdisciplinary roles of performer, composer, arranger and producer. One of the earliest musicians to consistently experiment with fusing these skill bases, his resultant stylistic fusion is also arguably one of the most prolific and original in the history of popular music. Using these factors as creative mediums, Zappa can also possibly be considered the only rock musician to consciously and consistently engage with time, space and place throughout his entire career, having a compulsive fascination with ensuring his entire life’s work was considered part of his Big Note philosophy, with many of his performances, compositions, arrangements and productions being part of an overarching Conceptual Continuity. The resultant music often incorporates countless semiological clues alluding to factors such as his politics, sexual tendencies and musical influences, and this chapter proposes to examine how Zappa pushed the boundaries of studio technology to develop compositions, (re)arrangements and (virtual) performances of his work, while creatively engaging with time, space and place. After presenting an overview of his interface with technology throughout the 1960s, the essay will progress to analyse albums such as Sheik Yerbouti and the You Can’t Do That On Stage Anymore series (1988 – 1992), cumulating with his work on the Synclavier during the late 1980s – early 1990s with albums such as Jazz From Hell and Make a Jazz Noise Here.

About Paul Carr

Academic working at the University of Glamorgan
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