Friday, February 22, 2008

106. FRANK ZAPPA: I'm Not Satisfied

A detailed analysis of the above Frank Zappa composition, including notated musical examples.
I'm Not Satisfied


NOTES ON THE COMPOSITIONS INCLUDED HEREIN: "I'M NOT SATISFIED ... is okay and safe and was designed that way on purpose."

Key of A Major
Quarter note = ca. 132
There are 85 bars (plus a one-beat pick-up)

BARFINDER: The word "yeah" is on the second beat of Bar 4; the word "got" is on the first beat of Bar 9.

PERCEIVED INSTRUMENTATION: Vocals, electric guitars, electric bass, piano, vibraphone, trumpet (other winds/brass?), drums and percussion.

Part 1
Bars 1-8
Introduction ... "Yeah"

Part 2
Bars 9-20
"Got no place" ... "the way I am"

FZ starts us off with the subdominant (IV) (D) before we finally reach the tonic in Bar 11! FZ works very hard to keep this music away from the tonic as much as possible (not satisfying our ears! We're "not satisfied" either!). In fact, in 85 bars, only 16 bars feature an A Major chord, Bars 11-14; 17-20; 47-50 and 53-56! Check it out! (and compare this sort of harmonic construction with the typical "pop" song of the day. Most of 'em had nothing but tonics and dominants throughout for three minutes!)

Part 3
Bars 21-28
"Why should I" ... "no more because"


Part 4
Bars 29-44
"I'm not satisfied" ... "yeah"

The harmony in Bars 29-30 is ii-iii-IV-iii-ii (B Minor-C# Minor-D Major-C# Minor-B Minor). To prove to your ear that this is in A Major play the B Minor, C# Minor, and D Major and then instead of going back down, go up to E Major (V) and then resolve to A Major (I). See? FZ gives us the ii, iii, IV, V and vi (Part 3) degrees without ever reaching the tonic!

Now what happens in Bars 35-36? The pattern is the same as above, but the chords are D Minor-E Minor-F Major-G Major-F Major-G Major-C# Minor. Could this be iv-v-VI-bVII-VI-bVII-iii in A Major? No, that's a little too convoluted. Although a iv could be a minor chord in a Major Key, the V is almost never a minor chord in a Major Key, and the bVII isn't right, etc.

And besides, the pattern is exactly the same as Bars 29-30 (sequence). Let's just repeat the little exercise for our ears! Play the chords exactly as FZ wrote it: D Minor, E Minor, F Major, G Major, F Major, G Major and -- instead of going to C# Minor as FZ does, resolve to C Major! See how he modulated to C Major, but without using a "pivot" chord such as in the previous two modulations we have discussed (assuming you're going through this chronologically) and without ever landing on the tonic of the new key (C)? So the pattern is just as it was in A: ii-iii-IV-V-IV-V (in C Major)...the C# Minor (very far away harmonically in C Major, but iii of A) now serves to draw us back to A Major (as he steps up to D (IV) and E (V) in the next chords)...

Part 5
Bars 45-64
"Who would care if" ... "happy for awhile because"

Like Parts 2 and 3

Part 6
Bars 65-76
"I'm not satisfied" ... "been abusing me"

Like Part 4

Part 7
Bars 77-85
Instrumental to end

This section shows an early affinity for "written-out" endings.

Next track

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