Subject: zappaDate: Thu, 21 Dec 2006 08:49:34 -0700
It's the birthday of the singer, songwriter, and composer Frank Zappa, ( books by this author) born in Baltimore, Maryland (1940). When he was 15, he read a magazine article that described the work of the avant-garde classical composer Edgar Varese as "the ugliest music in the world," and he decided he had to hear it. That turned him into a huge fan of 20th-century classical music. He later said, " I didn't have any kind of musical training, so it didn't make any difference to me if I was listening to Lightnin' Slim ... or Stravinsky. To me, it was all good music."
Out of high school, Zappa supported himself as a greeting-card designer, window dresser, and encyclopedia salesman. At night, he played with various bar bands, and he began experimenting with playing atonal classical music on an electric guitar, backed by a rock-and-roll rhythm. He said his goal at the time was to make music that would cause people to run from the room the moment they heard it. Eventually, he formed the band that became known as the Mothers of Invention.
Their first album, Freak Out (1966), is generally regarded as the first concept album released by a rock group, and it was also the first rock album to satirize rock and roll music itself. It included songs such as "Go Cry on Somebody Else's Shoulder," and "You're Probably Wondering Why I'm Here." Other hits of his include "Don't Eat the Yellow Snow," and "Valley Girls," and he is also known for composing wildly avant-garde music, mixing jazz and blues with sound collages and tape manipulations.
Zappa once said that he first fell in love with music as a kid after he had a kind of religious experience at his grandmother's funeral. He said, "The choir was singing, and I could see from the way that the candle flames were wavering that they were responding to the sound waves coming from the choir. That was when I realized that sound, music, had a physical presence and that it could move the air around. ... [I realized that] music is, literally, a recipe for sculpted air."