Paradise, Pomp & Puppets

David Ocker writes in to point out his “longest blog post ever” — about performing FZ’s orchestra music. An interesting read, coming from a man who obviously knows what he’s talking about; with an appreciative tip of the hat to the recent Hungarian 100% Zappa concert.

21 Responses to “Paradise, Pomp & Puppets”

  1. bernard says:

    And this is my idea ’bout this post:
    kisskisskis
    skisskisski
    sskisskissk
    isskisskiss
    (from a great unknown poet)

  2. bernard says:

    A reminder, an interview with P. Boulez :
    http://www.andante.com/article/article.cfm?ID=12725
    Just read the end of the interview, it starts with the question : JD: There are only two American composers to whom you’ve devoted a complete CD. One is Elliott Carter. The other is Frank Zappa. Tell me about the Boulez/Zappa connection.

  3. bernard says:

    We often judge our teachers by what they teach us, and forget the ones who didn’t so much teach us as simply meet us at a crossroads and say, “Go that way. You’ll like it.”

  4. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from bernard:

    We often judge our teachers by what they teach us, and forget the ones who didn’t so much teach us as simply meet us at a crossroads and say, “Go that way. You’ll like it.”

    Quite true, bernard. The worst teachers I ever encountered were those who figured they knew everything, and couldn’t ever possibly be in error at any time. In contrast, the best teachers were more like guide posts of learning. FZ was one such guide post: if you want to learn something, go to the library. Don Van Vliet was another: if you want to be a different fish, you’ve got to jump out of the school.

  5. Balint says:

    Hi all! Thanks for this post, David & Barry!
    Hm, indeed a long one! :-) I’ll start it right now!

  6. bernard says:

    Just discovered two interesting texts, explaining how FZ was influenced by 20th century classisal composers ( sorry both are in dutch / flemish):
    http://www.littleumbrellas.nl/dawerdz/yellow%20shark.htm
    http://www.robertzuidam.com/essaysZappa.htm

  7. bernard says:

    Balint, try to meet this one, he’s in Budapest right now:
    http://soundsandtexts.blogspot.com/

  8. bernard says:

    Just another truly boring comment.
    Mixed meters says: “I would have a chance to watch Frank Zappa find his posthumous place in the history of music”.
    We, the KUR people, Barry in pole position, are actually contributing to that. You’ll see : this will happen to be the first steps. And indeed it will take some time before there’s something in written, that’s much better than B. Watsons book.
    Again: FZ was a border crosser. Academics, scholars, pretending to be the contrary of pigeon holing people, aren’t yet ready for that. The arts are far beyond academia.
    Compare it with with another puzzling US composer, John Cage. He was very innovating. However he limited himself to contemporary classical music. The result was that he earned – so to speak – a living as dish washer till the age of 50. Now there’s a biography.
    It’s http://www.press.uillinois.edu/books/catalog/49ctp3te9780252032158.html
    By the way what do academics & KUR people have in common? They’re no real artists. ( I for one am – amongst other- a very bad clarinet player). They thus took the ( wise ) decision to comment, archive.

  9. bee pee says:

    That was great Sunday morning reading. Thanks for the link.

  10. bee pee says:

    I tried to post this over at Ockers site but I didn’t have any luck (I think):
    fyi, awhile back on ebay I came across a copy of “The Puppetry Journal,” that contained an article by one Betty Polus entitled “A Zappa Affair.” Unfortunately, I forgot to bid on it but obviously this is something to track down if it has not been seen. Also, I’ve never heard the boots of the Barbicon show, but I’ve heard negative things about SinFoot. Do you have an opinion on this? Best, bp

  11. Roland says:

    Absolutely right bernard: My ukulele playing is not the best and I found out very soon, that it is hard to impossible for me to play and sing the at same time.

  12. brett says:

    Bernard,
    Are you absolutely sure that ALL academics are not artists?

  13. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from brett:

    Bernard,
    Are you absolutely sure that ALL academics are not artists?

    Quite agree. It’s important not to over generalize. Not all people are capable of being self-taught as was FZ, thus, the need for music schools (if I recall, Steve Vai attended such a thing before becoming employed by FZ) to instruct students on the basics. Still, it’s up to the individual to find his/her own voice (and that is accomplished through personal exploration). But, believe me, as a young man, I could over generalize with the best of ‘em…

  14. mcnastie says:

    hey bernard, i found other parts of that boulez interview more interesting – like the part where he disparages improvisation as invalid.
    he reveals a very diverse set of perspectives and attitudes in his comments – namely, that he is slightly retarded, extremely elitist, intolerably smug, and probably doesn’t really like brown people all that much.
    ‘le marteau’ is always fun for a read-through, and he sure can conduct vast government-funded ensembles of highly specialized music-science technicians…
    YAWN.

  15. bernard says:

    As for Boulez and improvisation I fully agree. Even Jean Yves Bras in his excellent book ” Les Courants Musicaux Du XXe Siècle” ( all music genres-book is only avaolable in French) highlights this absence, black hole in Boulez activities.
    For higher art of improvisation in music : see Mills College Oakland CA/ US.
    Is Boulez & co elitist? Yes. I’m glad that this exists as well. And that it is – in Europe- strongly government funded. That’s another highly specialized musical source. By the way how is Ensemble Modern ( Frankfurt) financed?
    Contemporary classical music. There’s a public for it. In Feb. there will be a festival of that genre in.. Bruges ( BE) – of all places. Called Bad Boys. On 17.02 : a John Cage happening , from 10.30 am till 6.00 pm. http://concertgebouw.be/agenda_detail.php?type=reeks&rid=41&aid=16287 . Looks indigest & elitist. However its completely sold out since more than a month.
    Good to see that music florishes.

  16. Roland says:

    Wooly Boulez by Sam the Sham and The Pharoahs

  17. bernard says:

    Just another Boulez story.
    In an interview he – jealously – said : ” OK, FZ didn’ t come back to my Ircam/¨Paris at the end of his life, he accepted the generous German offer from Ensemble Modern”.
    And now? Boulez, 82 years old.
    See: http://www.ensemble-modern.com/english/index.htm , go to EMO/Boulez (2007)
    Boulez ( rehearsels) directing the E.M.
    Cooperation pays.

  18. mcnastie says:

    bernard – glad you agree with me re: boulez and improv. but i still think you’re insane.
    and the majority of projects that the ensemble modern involve themselves in bore me to tears. and i live in the middle of america, so i doubt i’ll ever be able to afford to see their fantastic elitist musical techinique in person any time soon. so fuck ‘em.
    and i don’t give a shit whether or not there’s a ‘public’ for avant-garde classical music these days or not. there’s a market for celebutard bimbettes like britney spears, too. does that mean i have to like it?

  19. urbangraffito says:

    Just imagine it, the ensemble modern putting out a CD devoted completely to britney spears (will the dancing stage puppets have shaved heads and bulging tummies — or is that shaved tummies and bulging heads?). Modern entertainment is so fickle…

  20. bernard says:

    The reason why I mentioned Boulez and ensemble Modern is that both actually belong to the FZ legacy, which happens to be very comprehensive.
    Ok, I like contemporary classical music. However I do not try to convince others to change their preferences or taste.
    And now another story. Yesterday evening I talked at lenght with a cartoonist ( comic strips) who’s very popular and well known over here, Herr Seele. See : http://www.sparehed.com/category/herr-seele/. People consider him as a sort of village idiot. However I knew that he has more than 200 pianos ( he rents an old cinema where they’re on display). We started talking about FZ. I mentioned this blog, Gails initiatives, etc. The first question he asked was : is Boulez still conducting FZ music as he is now working with E.S? And the second question was : did the family finally release the weird ” piano” music made by somebody living in the piano?
    Do not be surprised when all of a sudden FZ music starts a third ( or so ) life when it’s played by …classical ensembles.

  21. bernard says:

    My guess is that’s all about having discovered new music when you were just young enough.
    The +/- 15 years old , anyway teenager FZ discovered Varèse in a local record store. That discovery happened to be very inspiring, opening new perspectives ( scientist say : overlooking paradigms).
    Boulez conducting Varèse s Ionisations & Offrandes:
    http://rogerbourland.com/blog/2007/03/08/edgard-varese-ionisation/
    Roger Bourland is now teaching contrapunctus again. And he actually writes new scores, Madrigals.
    Yes, the style it takes.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kzzgFOLa63A