Friday, February 22, 2008

108. FRANK ZAPPA: Trouble Every Day

A detailed analysis of the above Frank Zappa composition, including notated musical examples.
Trouble Every Day


NOTES ON THE COMPOSITIONS INCLUDED HEREIN: "TROUBLE EVERY DAY ... is how I feel about racial unrest in general and the Watts situation in particular. It was written during the Watts riot as it developed. I shopped it briefly all over Hollywood but no one would touch it ... everybody worries so much about not getting any air play. My, my."

Don't forget everyone -- 1966! Can you imagine if someone had taken a chance on this single and pumped it up and watched it catch on and instead of Dylan ...


Key of E
Quarter note = ca. 120
There are 180 bars

BARFINDER: The syllable "-bout" from the word "a-bout" is on the first beat of Bar 7

PERCEIVED INSTRUMENTATION: Vocals, electric guitars, electric bass, harmonica, drums and percussion.

Part 1
Bars 1-6
Introduction ... "Well I'm a-"

A wailing, mournful sound is conveyed by the harmonica, of course, but also check out this fantastic two-bar vamp in the guitar repeated throughout the entire composition:

The seriously funky bass part is also worth reviewing:

FZ's vocals seems to be double-tracked. Very effective.

Part 2
Bars 7-14
"-bout to get ... so I'm"

Our transcription of FZ's vocals in Bars 6-15 is included to show a major musical element essential to understanding the fantastic appeal of FZ's music -- very natural-sounding syncopation! Very few white people are able to pull off this sort of thing and make it true and integral to their own personal vision. Frank isn't straining to try and sound "black" here, of course; he had just soaked up so much good black music in his youth, that as his own style evolved, those influences asserted themselves quite naturally into that developing style. Joe Zawinul is another white guy who managed to pull off a very natural "black" sound.

Please don't misunderstand what we're trying to say here, by the way! Blacks did not invent syncopation (or maybe they did!) -- but we can find many very early examples of its use, for example, in the music of Guillaume de Machaut [14th century -- you remember Bill?] and even earlier -- they just used it much more "naturally" than the white European composers, at least until very recently when such ridiculous distinctions have slowly begun to fall by the wayside. (There are white sax players, for example, who can play "Giant Steps" or "Impressions" so perfectly that in an A/B with the original Coltrane, you'd be hard pressed to hear the difference!)

The best example of all this is the pop music of the 60's, incidentally. Listen to anything that came out of Motown and compare it to the "white" bubblegum pop of the time. Some clever bubblegum pop tried hard to copy that "black" sound -- and the results were usually very stupid-sounding!

Part 3
Bars 15-26
"Watchin' and I'm" ... "every day"

A word of about "stylistic variation." Just as in "I'm Not Satisfied" where we discussed how FZ so cleverly avoided touching down on the tonic -- well, here the exact opposite is true! From the first nanosecond of this music: WE ARE IN E!

But here at Bars 15-17 we move up to the subdominant (IV-A) and in Bar 18 to the dominant (V-B)! Back to the E drone at Bar 19.

Part 4
Bars 27-52
"Wednesday I watched" ... "Well, you can"

FZ plays a nice little break beginning at Bar 47

Part 5
Bars 53-87
"Cool it you can" ... "Hey, ya know some-"

FZ adds a bunch of extra bars in this section to fit the lyric.

Part 6
Bars 88-93
"-thing people? I'm not" ... "well, I"

A classic spoken narrative, but again notice the "natural" syncopation pushing its way across barlines:

Part 7
Bars 94-115
"Seen the fires" ... "blood tonight"

Notice the upward change in the melody at Bar 102 ("it's the same across the nation")

Part 8
Bars 116-131
Guitar solo ... "Ya know we"

Here's Guitar Solo #002 in TCWOFZ! Bar 129 contains what would become a trademark FZ downward glissando, which he often used as a signal to band members to indicate that the solo was nearing its completion.

Part 9
Bars 132-157
"Got to sit" ... "harmonica, son"

Again an upward movement of the melody occurs in Bars 140-41 ("on any street in any town")

Part 10
Bars 158-180

Accelerando poco a poco al fine

Next track

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