Saturday, December 13, 2008

Zappadan: Franktasia

"And just like a drunk who won't touch, say, rye except as a last resort, I rarely stray toward the poetry shelves; so it's peculiar that I ever stumbled onto The Wild Party.It was the twenties typography on the spine that made me pick up the book..." Art Spiegelman, intro to The Wild Party,1994

Like Little Big Man going through his different phases, Zappa progressed through many different phases of his musical life. The different phases have their fans and critics. Because I'm a big fan of blues music, alot of my posts this year have featured blues artists. Zappa's Blues Phase, for lack of a better term.

There's the Rock Phase, The Dada Phase, The Porno Phase, The Jazz-Fusion Phase,The Classical Phase, which is different from The Orchestral Phase. Like the drunk who avoids rye, there are Zappa fans who shy away from some of the different phases.Sample them all, folks, you might be pleasantly surprised.

Another favorite phase is what I call The Cartoon Phase. Zappa is the Red Headed Bastard Stepchild of Carl Stalling and Sun Ra. Paul posted the link to this video of Ruth Underwood, but I'm posting the actual video for those folks that missed it. At about the 3 minute mark, Ruth plays the bit from St Alphonso, and it is pure cartoon magic.

Here's a mid Fifties Looney Tunes, "The High and The Flighty" with only the musical score. They recorded the music separately so foreign langauage editions could be dubbed easily.

Like Carl Stalling weaving pop tunes, broadway show tunes, big band ,be-bop, and classical bits into one tapestry, Zappa would at times drop bits and pieces of different styles into the mix. For example, 5 seconds of the theme song to The Tonight Show followed quickly by a piece from the score to "Creature From The Black Lagoon" might show up in a live version of Billy The Mountain, or some rumbling blues line is abrubtly followed by a snippet of opera.

"Through careful attention to rhythm, dynamics, pacing, and technology, he was able to bring sound elements together in a way that was almost without precedent. The closest parallels would be cartoon music soundtrack recordings of the 1930s-1950's, such as the work of Carl Stalling, and the music of Zappa's favorite classical composer, Edgard Varèse."

As we've seen and heard during this year's Zappadan, Zappa was into scoring for film, and indeed making films. A visual and theatrical quality is, at times, an integral part of The Zappa Experience. I have this idea for a Fantasia like project I call Franktasia. Animation to Zappa music has already been done, like with The Amazing Mr. Bickford, but I think another feature length production is in order. Different animators could do different pieces. I'm sure Matt Groening would be interested, and he could probably finance the venture with some of that Simpsons cash.I'll send out an email to Munchkin Music at and make some inquiries...

I volunteer to do the Night on Billy The Mountain sequences. Let the Fireworks begin!

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