This is a weird way to mark my birthday. In the history of Modern Music, Frank Zappa will go down as a Great American Composer. Embodying Experimentalism from the 1960s and surpassing it. 200 Motels was a culmination of the early work (my favorite period) of Zappa and The Mothers Of Invention. The conductor Zuben Mehta made Frank take his name off the credits. That’s his loss.
Archive for 200 motels
Here is a live version of the early Mothers. You might notice that Zappa proceeded the whole “Downtown” music scene and surpassed them long before they finished school. John Zorn eat your heart out. We hear the theme from “Pound For A Brown” which is orchestrated in the following video.
Near the end of his life, Zappa had his own orchestra in Paris. The Ensemble Modern (conduted by Peter Rundel) was something the young composer had to do without. The version of this composition on Uncle Meat has a certain charm. He might of originally done it orchestrally if he could. I prefere the early studio version, and the early Mothers of Invention of the late 60s.
Stravinsky is all over this piece. Frank’s orchestral music from that period sounds much more influenced by Edgar Varese. But Stravinsky was part of Zappa’s music. His melodies as much as the changing meters and pulsations reminicient of Igor Stravinsky. He took all the influences, including the experimental conceptual period he was part of in the 60s, and created his own style and musical legacy. He is one of America’s greatest composers, having redefined what that means.
The following two videos feature Zappa’s guitar playing. “Willie The Pimp,” with Capatain Beefheart, is a classic. “Black Napkins” is new to me. It shows the influence of The Mahavishnu Orchestra and John McLaughlin.