Thursday, February 21, 2008

97. FRANK ZAPPA: I Ain't Got No Heart

A detailed analysis of the above Frank Zappa composition, including notated musical examples.
I Ain't Got No Heart


NOTES ON THE COMPOSITIONS INCLUDED HEREIN: "I AIN'T GOT NO HEART is a summary of my feelings in social-sexual relationships."

Key of G Major
Quarter-note = ca. 138
There are 83 barsBARFINDER: The word "ain't" is on the first beat of Bar 5; the word "got" is on the first beat of Bar 10.

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

Part 1
Bars 1-4

Traditional diatonic harmony is quickly established. On the third and fourth beat of Bars 2 and 4 the dominant is presented, and he situates us firmly in G.

Part 2
Bars 5-22
"Ain't got no heart" ... "up above today"

A fascinating "turn-around" occurs at Bars 19-22

Note the E chord in Bar 19 -- we'll get to why it is so crucial to things in a few moments -- for now, note that the harmony in that bar is the VI degree (of G). The beautiful descending notes in the second half of Bar 20 serve to return us to the strong V-I sense we mentioned in Part 1.

Part 3
Bars 23-38
"Girl I don't believe" ... "you're so fine"

This is identical to Part 2 until we get to Bars 37-38 -- now watch what FZ does here!

This time we stay on that E chord -- the VI degree. Now comes a modulation . . . notice how beautifully he pulls this off -- The E chord in G functions as the VI degree. Any chord can become what is called a "pivot" chord and serve two different functions in two different key signatures! In this case, Frank asks our ear to suddenly hear this "VI" chord (in G) as a "V" chord (in A minor). And he does so and we do so, and all arrive together at Bar 39 in A minor. This is a very traditional modulation, but very well done.

Part 4
Bars 39-51
"That I would throw away" ... "what I need"

A Minor. Several things happen at Bar 46 ("need"):

In order to get to G now, he simply stays put on a G chord (which was heading up to A); and he starts this nifty 1/8-note riff which travels across the barline in such a jazz-like manner (four triplets in the space of six quarter notes!), suspending the rhythm for a moment

Part 5
Bars 52-67
"Girl you better go" ... "see my way"

Prominent trumpet backbeats are new here. But check out this little gem: Listen for a deep bass voice (this is best with headphones) singing the syllable "-ay" from the syllable "-way" from the word "a-way" (phew...). It's really low and for some reason -- to us -- very funny! Our transcription:

Isn't that cool?

Part 6
Bars 68-77
"Why should I" ... "I ain't got no heart to give a-"

Again he modulates to A minor. As in Part 4, he circles around four chords, but this time, instead of the barline-crossing 1/8th notes, we get accents on the same chords on the title lyric, dramatically emphasizing it, and then suddenly...

Part 7
Bars 78-83
"Wow" to end

We knew things would start to get wild pretty soon, didn't we? At Bars 78-81, all hell breaks loose and in our counting, we kick the tempo up to about 1/4-note = 160. The screaming and pyooee's, etc. are all very musical. To prove it, check out Bars 78-81 below!

Next Track


pat2e215 said...

Hi Lewis,
This is great! By any chance, do you have the sheet music for the whole piece?
- Pat

Lewis Saul said...

Sure, but I don't give them away. You can get the "official" transcription from - or perhaps it's OOP -- but you should be able to find one on e-bay or wherever...