Friday, February 22, 2008

110. FRANK ZAPPA: It Can't Happen Here

A detailed analysis of the above Frank Zappa composition, including notated musical examples.
It Can't Happen Here



No key signature
Begins in 4/4; many changes
Quarter note = ca. 66, much rubato
There are 135 bars (with a two-beat pick-up bar)

BARFINDER: The word "here" is on the first beat of Bar 1

PERCEIVED INSTRUMENTATION: Vocals, piano, winds(?), drums and percussion.

Part 1
Bars 1-8
"Here" ... "Can't happen here"

The segue from "Help, I'm a Rock" is sudden and surprising. As is the stark contrast between the washy sound of "Help, I'm a Rock" and the close-miked intensity we hear presently. Stunning four-part barbershop.

Part 2
Bars 9-11
"Who could imagine" ... "Kansas"

Scary, too.

Part 3
Bars 12-27
"Kansas Kansas" ... "could imagine" ... tritone chord

The chord in Bar 27:

Notice the bleed-through before the actual chord! The chord serves as a "found sound" (Musique Concrète term) transition from the peppy Minnesota/Who could imagine section to the

Part 4
Bars 28-54
3/4 (piano and drums)

3/4 section which jumps out of the chord. Just piano and drums, Cecil Taylor-style, except Cecil would have lost the pedestrian beat, and we can count bars here! It's still very hip, though. Compare the intervalic relationships in the piano part below with the chord we just notated from Bar 27. Anything jump out at you? Like the tritone in the chord (Eb-A) and the constant tritone in the piano's left hand and Bar 31 in the right hand!

Part 5
Bars 55-98
"Who could imagine" ... "everything's cool"

If you observe our notation of the LYRIC above in this section, you will note that we have transcribed three simultaneous vocal parts. The one marked "(JCB?)" which begins, AC DC duh-duh-duh-duh-duh contains a very secret clue! Listen carefully and name the popular Italian folk song represented by the syllables duh-duh-duh-duh-duh. A lot going on here! We enjoy the ruggi-boogi part, too.

Part 6
Bars 99-119
3/4 ("I remember" ... "swimming pool")


Part 7
Bars 120-135
"And they thought" to end

At around Bar 128, right after Suzy, we hear a voice say yes, yes. Right after the second yes ANOTHER VOICE says, very calmly, oh yes. Another hilarious headphone moment at the Institute. See if you agree, man -- it really makes it! Nice electronic fermata at the end!

Next track

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