Thursday, February 21, 2008

96. FRANK ZAPPA: Hungry Freaks, Daddy (Part Two)

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

Hungry Freaks, Daddy

Key of A Minor
Quarter-note = ca. 138
There are 123 bars

BARFINDER: The syllable "Mis-" from the word "Mister" is on the first beat of Bar 9; the word "walk" is on the first beat of Bar 10

PERCEIVED INSTRUMENTATION: Vocals, electric guitars, electric basses, piano, vibraphone, kazoo, drums and percussion.

Part 1
Bars 1-8

The first three notes of TCWOFZ are A's. We happily reproduce Bars 1-4 of our transcription of this great "first" composition:

The fuzz guitar riff is doubled by one of two electric basses:

The similarity to "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" is obvious. But of course both Mick and FZ were "borrowing" from older blues sources, as Beethoven "borrowed" from Haydn. Big deal. FZ makes it a unique riff with a sharp snapping quality to it by accenting the second beat of Bar 1 (which we indicate in the notation above with the staccato accent mark). Next is the matter of these two bass guitars! [2005 note: Carol Kaye tells us that there was only one bass guitar, and that she is playing this line, probably on her 12-string.] One is doubling the above riff in the opposite channel from the fuzz guitar, and the other is playing this in Bars 1-4

But FZ has no intention of simply pounding out eight identical bars. At Bar 5 change occurs: The fuzz guitar part changes slightly, but listen to how he gets things moving in the Bass Guitar #2 part, switching from the long notes notated above, to:

All this happens in the first 13 seconds of The Complete Works Of Frank Zappa.

Part 2
Bars 9-30
"Mister America" ... "tide of Hungry Freaks, Daddy"

Sprechstimme -- a German term (literally "speak-voice") for a compositional technique used extensively by the composers of the "Viennese School" of the early 20th century (principally, Schoenberg, Webern, and Berg). Here, the vocals are actually pretty close to the notated pitch, but there is an unmistakable "spoken" quality. Sprechstimme is traditionally notated with a notehead like this

instead of like this

Later, in compositions such as "The Radio is Broken" from The Man From Utopia, he would move much closer to true Sprechstimme!

Bars 9-14

At Bar 27, the rush of eighths and quarters slows to half notes for pronouncement of the title lyric, to great dramatic effect:

Note the cool electronic effects on the vocals in Bars 29-30.

Part 3
Bars 31-46
"They won't" ... "Great Society"

This is a sequence. A sequence is a more or less exact repetition of a melody at another level, higher or lower. Notice how the notes in Bars 31-32 are repeated exactly one whole-step lower in Bars 35-36. The analysis of this section of the music is synergistically bound up with the lyric -- the tone and style of the lyric so closely matches the music. From They to What's forms an eight-bar musical sequence. The crux of the sequence, so to speak, is on the syllable "lo-" from the word "phi-lo-so-phy," when the sequence arrives at a D Major Seventh chord (repeated again on the word "those"). In our opinion, although the lyric is forceful and pointed, and there is no discernible change in the sneering "attitude/posture," there is, with these normally mellow jazzy chords, a strain of sadness, an almost incredulous sighing that such a lyric is necessary in such a plastic society, etc. This is a good example of music AND lyric together working to create something very expressive. In any case, this sequence occurs two additional times, once without lyrics during the guitar solo, and then again with the same lyric. The contrast between these tender-sounding seventh chords and the hard A Minor feel which is otherwise predominant is dramatic! (Another example of one chord functioning synergistically with the lyric is shown in "What's The Ugliest Part Of Your Body? from We're Only In It For The Money.)

Bars 45-46 cheerfully introduce us to the solo kazoo. If, as Ben Watson ("Frank Zappa: The Negative Dialectics of Poodle Play") implies, this was FZ's low budget response to being denied a budget for horns (he does use 'em elsewhere on this release), it is a typical FZ blessing-in-disguise. The kazoo adds a very important harmonic resonance to the Big Note of this very first project (and dovetails nicely with the whole Spike Jones sound we know FZ loved so much, and is a perfect aural equivalent of a Bronx Cheer!). The syllable "-ty" from the word "So-ci-e-ty" in Bar 61 is a whole note, as is the kazoo "echo" in Bar 63; (corresponding to the section with the lyric "Hungry Freaks"). Perhaps this is what led Watson to use the term "double time" referring to the guitar solo (page 41 of the paperback edition). Double time is a very specific term meaning an actual "doubling" of the tempo. If a quarter note equaled 80 bpm and you went to 160 bpm, THAT would be double time. In this case, the basic pulse remains the same, but the effect of the guitar solo's opening salvo of eighths, and -- a moment later -- triplets perhaps made it seem to Ben that the solo was in "double time." Just a little nit-picking.

Part 4
Bars 47-64
Guitar Solo (Part One)

GUITAR SOLO #001. This first solo cooks. FZ makes MUSICAL STATEMENTS (harmonically coherent, logical musical flow, etc.) from the first notes to the last! This stark transcription shows us exactly how he makes these statements, and we will attempt to detail why they are so musical. Let us raise the Zappafication a few levels and study this phenomenon:

Let us first agree that the following notes are important "blue" notes in the key of A: A, C, Eb, and G. Let us see how FZ approaches and incorporates these dynamic note events in his solo. We believe we hear a G at the end of Bar 47, but in any case we definitely have the A taken care of by Bar 49.

Bar 50 he wails away on the Eb in quarter note triplets followed immediately by eighth note triplets, a very effective rhythmic movement. Then Bar 51 -- in an amazing rhythmic shift to sixteenths, he ends the bar on a G, but that's still not the important G yet!

Bar 53. This is an amazing bar, very funky and with a very satisfying minor third, C, on the fourth beat.

Bar 54 is similar, except the satisfying note on the fourth beat is the seventh -- G (this is the "important" one).

Bars 55-58. He carefully navigates this section, with a different chord change each bar.

Bars 59-64. Having hit all the important "blue" notes, and having satisfied ten or twelve other criteria for great musicality in an improvisation, he now proceeds to simply get funky.

Part 5
Bars 65-68
"Hungry Freaks, Daddy" (interrupting solo)

He interrupts his solo to deliver a vocal message.

Part 6
Bars 69-84
Guitar Solo (Conclusion)

He continues his solo.

Bars 69-76 is our sequence. Notice how carefully he navigates these changes, as well.

Bars 77-80. This is an early STUNT GUITAR PART!!! Listen to the clean difficult sixteenths! Beautifully orchestrated (guitar, bass and vibes)

Part 7
Bars 85-123
"Mister America" to end

A nice touch, with the bottom voice dropping out for Bars 85-92, rejoining in Bar 93. Here at the third appearance of our sequence, Bar 107, the bottom voice harmonizes in more or less straightforward style. A guitar flourish finishes off this first official FZ composition!

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