You might ask yourself what on earth is an article about frank Zappa doing in the 'world music' section, but the more important question you should ask yourself is why are you talking to yourself. I have to admit your question is indeed valid, but not from the point of view that you think.
Frank Zappa is indeed a strange choice to put in the 'world music' section, but only for the basic reason that frank Zappa is not really of this world. A moustached mutation of some alien being with guitar hands, straw hair and way too long legs that can't dance.
Information is not knowledge.
Knowledge is not wisdom. Wisdom is not truth.
Truth is not beauty. Beauty is not love.
Love is not music. Music is THE BEST.
What category would YOU put Zappa in? the only other solution I could think of was to do a separate category just for Zappa. Not a bad idea actually. This is exactly what HE has done for years, invented his own style of music. if your music had a split personality where cabaret had a really bad day from one side, and cabaret had a really wonderful day from the other side, all you needed to add was some rock, blues, a lot of classical music with a jazz twist and some African rythms mixed with random xylophone music and then….no, you know what, not even then.
I'll tell you what classical music is, for those of you who don't know. Classical music is this music that was written by a bunch of dead people a long time ago.
And it's formula music, the same as top forty music is formula music. In order to have a piece be classical, it has to conform to academic standards that were the current norms of that day and age.
... I think that people are entitled to be amused, and entertained. If they see deviations from this classical norm, it's probably good for their mental health.
Zappa didn’t make music that you can listen to. He made music that you experienced, that you were triggered by, that made you move uneasily in your chair with that sense of discomfot that you might find when you realize you have just stepped in quicksand, and you felt embarrassed you actually like it.
The arrangements. That is all I can say. Well, I can say much more, I can say around fifteen thick books about Zappa's arrangements, but we don’t have that kind of space here so I will just say this : the arrangements.
Let's not be too rough on our own ignorance,
it's what makes America great."
The lyrics are funny. The music is flowing. The players are the top of the top. The atmosphere is hilarious. But all of that? Dwarfed in the face of those magnificent arrangements which are nothing less than a reall symphony, usually a cacophony of a symphony, but a perfect cacophony. If a tuba player and an electric guitar player were trying to carry their instruments to the twentieth floor by stairs, and when they got almost to the top they bump into each other and tumble all the way down with their instruments, this is how it would sound. But in a good way.
Without deviation from the norm,
'progress' is not possible."
Frank Zappa used to do excruciating auditions to people who were brave enough to want to play with him. Worse than any philharmonic orchestra, and less forgiving than an Asian mother whose son dared to come home with an A minus. He was pushing the players who wanted to walk in his path to the limit of human capabilities and then some. Not playing faster or louder. Playing smarter. Reading music, changing rythms, doing ad hock manipulations and seeing how well they can adjust to on the spot changes he showered them with.
To me, absurdity is the only reality."
And he did that for a good reason. Nothing in the circus gone wild atmosphere was actually wild. It was orchestrated. What seems like an effortless group of nincompoops playing around on stage is actually a well written piece from the feverish genius mind of the head nincompoop.
A mind is like a parachute.
It doesnt work if it's not open."
Zappa was against drugs. Like Dali who declared he didn’t use drugs because he was drugs, Zappa didn’t need them . (the fact he admitted he lives mainly on black coffee and canned beans is disturbing enough)
Jazz is not dead, it just smells funny."
Zappa left us to go back to his home planet a while ago, and left in his home recording studio material for around three hundred records, which I am sure will come out in some Christmas special deal package some day. this was the essence of Zappa. He did. Did. Did. If nothing else, this is the reason to admire him. And I do.
A composer is a guy who goes around forcing his will on unsuspecting air molecules, often with the assistance of unsuspecting musicians.