147. FRANK ZAPPA: The Chrome-Plated Megaphone Of Destiny

A detailed analysis of the above Frank Zappa composition, including notated musical examples.
The Chrome-Plated Megaphone Of Destiny


Other Official Versions:

The Lumpy Money Project/Object (2009)

This is a MASTERPIECE! A short breakdown of what takes place:

  1. A hissing sound and a lower and slower electronic effect starts us off.
  2. The final "chord" appears here first, panned between channels! What does this sound like to you? To our "ever-alert for Musical CC" ears, it sounds like a PIANO WITH ITS DAMPER PEDAL DEPRESSED and the resulting resonance from an unheard note-event (just like we discussed in "Who Are The Brain Police?" from Freak Out! -- and which, of course, is a major "theme" of both Lumpy Gravy and Civilization Phaze III.
  3. The rhythm of the panning creates a "musique concrète" ("mc" from now on) accelerando leading to
  4. Piano music, which eventually covers the bottom, middle and top of the keyboard all at once and a chord is suspended in air until
  5. A typical nasty FZ downbeat composed of found sounds ... followed by a mix of orchestral music and "mc" -- lots of percussion and possibly an alto flute -- the "mc" sounds assert themselves in the mix as orchestral music fades lightly into the background.
  6. At 2:35 a voice is heard, faintly but distinctly...
  7. At 2:48 a gorgeous woodwind choir strettos (that means each instrument follows immediately after another instrument) into a strange chord. A contrabassoon splats out some low notes -- more "mc" and then
  8. 3:16. Sped up laughing and coughing. Once again, FZ achieves the perfect effect with the "tone" of the laughing to completely integrate the music into the "programme" (Kafka)! oh abatray
  9. At 3:41, a change in the "mc" background texture occurs as the vocal laughs become more like laugh-moans. The oh abatray line is repeated three more times at various speeds...
  10. 4:23. The voices drop out and a short quiet "mc" section. Then at
  11. 4:37 begins the beautiful "Harry Partch" section. Very nice Partch-like timbres. Can you say Just Intonation?
  12. 5:29 a few quick interesting "mc" sounds and then
  13. 5:35 the "chord"