Thursday, February 21, 2008

99. FRANK ZAPPA: Who Are The Brain Police?

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

Who Are The Brain Police?
LYRICS

Let's go to the liner notes and see if FZ has provided any commentary on this lyric!

NOTES ON THE COMPOSITIONS INCLUDED HEREIN: "At five o'clock in the morning someone kept singing this in my mind and made me write it down. I will admit to being frightened when I finally played it out loud and sang the words."

This is one of my all-time favorite FZ lines because it so beautifully describes a composer's lonely occupation. He made me do it, rings with a strange CC-resonance when you think about one of the main themes of 200 Motels.



Key of G Major
3/4 -- 2/4 at Bars 30, 87 and 111 -- 4/4 at Bar 122
Quarter-note = ca. 116
There are 93 bars

BARFINDER: The word "what" is on the first beat of Bar 17; the word "do" is on the first beat of Bar 18.

PERCEIVED INSTRUMENTATION: Vocals, electric guitars, electric bass, trumpets, flute (other brass/winds?), vibraphone, drums, timpani and percussion.

Part 1
Bars 1-16
Introduction

No wonder this music scared him! It is scary music!

The bass slides around between D and C, but listen very carefully to the strange quiet piano vibrations! We believe someone has a damper pedal depressed on a piano and we're hearing (perhaps manipulated) piano harmonics. We believe this is the first example of the major "Inside The Piano" chapter of "The Big Note" book CC!

Bars 5-8: Massive, yet restrained, spewage occurs. This music is going to be strange, say the first eight bars . . . Zombie chanting at Bar 9 ...

Part 2
Bars 17-28
"What will you do" ... "and so is the chrome"

Great music is frequently constructed quite simply and naturally. Here we have a perfect example of a melody which flows from the composer's nightmare so naturally and logically. FZ had a wonderful knack for 3/4 time, which you, the fanatic, undoubtedly picked up on years ago! The harmony is unusual but suits the melody perfectly: I/II/I/bVII (all Major 9th chords! [or "2" chords, which is probably the way FZ thought it: the 9th is almost always squeezed into the voicing as a "2nd," right above the tonic]):

Part 3
Bars 29-40
"Who are the brain police?"

Bar 30 is in 2/4. Bar 31 returns to 3/4. Adjust your tapping accordingly. More zombie chanting.

Part 4
Bars 41-52
"What will you do" ... "chrome is too soft"

Same as Part 2.

Part 5
Bars 53-85
"I think I'm going to die"

If you're trying to follow along with our bar measurement, we've notated this as 33 measures of fast 4/4 based upon what we hear in the high repeated bass part. The first "I think I'm going to die" at this tempo is in Bar 59. Again, with what sounds like random noisy cacophony, is very musical.

Part 6
Bars 86-97
"Who are the brain police? ..."

Back to the original tempo and 3/4 at Bar 86; 2/4 in Bar 87; Back to 3/4 in Bar 88. The zombies return for some mo' chanting...

Part 7
Bars 98-113
"What will you do" ... "brain police"

Nice kazoo solo! If you are still following the bars, we've notated an accelerando beginning at Bar 118...and starting at Bar 122, we go into 4/4 with the previous 3/4 dotted half-note = new 4/4 quarter-note.

Next track

2 comments:

danny smith said...

What are the chorda for the intro and chorus?

Lewis Saul said...

The bass slides around between D and C, but listen very carefully to the strange quiet piano vibrations! We believe someone has a damper pedal depressed on a piano and we're hearing (perhaps manipulated) piano harmonics. We believe this is the first example of the major "Inside The Piano" chapter of "The Big Note" book CC!