Frank Zappa transcription project

brentcn

Platinum Member
The hardest Zappa passages for me are the spoken ones where the band plays a figure that seams to be based on the specific lyrics and not so much a clear musical line. There are a few like that in "Drowning Witch" and "Inca Roads".

Those spoken-word parts are usually pulled off by a visual cue, and not set to a specific tempo, like you’ll sometimes find in musical theater productions. So don’t get too wrapped up in resolving the spoken words to a meter.
 

Terry Branam

Official DW Chief Transcriber
Hi guys,

Not that long ago, I challenged myself in trying to transcribe one FZ song a week for a year. That year came to an end last September and even with covid slowing me down big time, I still managed to reach my goal of 52 songs in a year. I've kept on writing more just for my own fun and because I wanted to understand better what was going on these songs. It's been a lot of fun to listen closely to what Terry Bozzio, Vinnie Colaiuta, Chad Wackerman, Ralph Humphrey, Chester Thompson, Aynsley Dunbar, David Logeman and others are playing on these classic tracks. Here are a few sheets that I've been writing down. I don't have any precise plans regarding what do to with them other than playing them for my own purposes right now. I thought some of you might find this an interesting topic of discussion. (and I'll need to write them in Sibelius at some point).View attachment 101264View attachment 101272View attachment 101273View attachment 101274View attachment 101275View attachment 101276
Killer stuff, Daniel!

Zappa was a genius, and you can learn so much by doing projects like this.(y)

Have you done “I’m a Beautiful Guy”? I think I have that one scribbled down in a notebook somewhere. Fun times!
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
Gotta share my Zappa transcriptions from my site now. My favorite is Rubber Shirt-- drums/bass duet, drums are in 11/8, bass is an entirely different track in another time signature:


I did both versions of Flower Punk-- the original with Jimmy Carl Black, and the one where they replaced him with Chad Wackerman-- but it looks like I never posted them, wth-- I'll put that up and link to it.
 

renardvert

Silver Member
Killer stuff, Daniel!

Zappa was a genius, and you can learn so much by doing projects like this.(y)

Have you done “I’m a Beautiful Guy”? I think I have that one scribbled down in a notebook somewhere. Fun times!
Thank you Terry. I've been a fan of your transcribing for a while now.

Yes, I did "I'm A Beautiful Guy" and the 3 other songs that segue into one another. Those tracks are deceptively hard.
 

sumdrumguy

Senior Member
Gotta share my Zappa transcriptions from my site now. My favorite is Rubber Shirt-- drums/bass duet, drums are in 11/8, bass is an entirely different track in another time signature:

That track is another example of Zappa's genius. The bass and drums were recorded at/on completely separate venues/dates. Frank later peeled the tracks from their respective masters, and mixed them to create Rubber Shirt. :love:
 

Alain Rieder

Silver Member
This is a lot of work! I've never taken the time to do this myself, although I've been a FZ fan since I was a teenager, and I can play along many of the songs. Great job, I'd like to se more!
I basically learned The Black Page by ear when it came out, and later I remember being the only one to dare playing it in Ralph Humphrey's class at PIT.
I've had the good fortune to see FZ live ten times, from 1971 to 1988. The first concert I attended when I was 16 was the one that ended in a fire in Montreux.
 

renardvert

Silver Member
This is a lot of work! I've never taken the time to do this myself, although I've been a FZ fan since I was a teenager, and I can play along many of the songs. Great job, I'd like to se more!
I basically learned The Black Page by ear when it came out, and later I remember being the only one to dare playing it in Ralph Humphrey's class at PIT.
I've had the good fortune to see FZ live ten times, from 1971 to 1988. The first concert I attended when I was 16 was the one that ended in a fire in Montreux.
Thank you. I wish I could have seen him live but I wasn't even aware of him when he died sadly. This is a fun project, I like to understand more clearly what's going on in the songs. And that's pretty cool that you got to study with Ralph. I love his playing.
 

renardvert

Silver Member
Amazing job! I hope to do a transcription for "Moggio" sometime. To me, that's a tough one, plus l'm lazy.
I finally finished "Moggio". It was a very hard one. My biggest problem was knowing where to put the bars in. At first, I just transcribed very long bars of of something like 30/4 before I figured out where to put the fences in musically speaking. I'm happy with the result as I better hear and understand the piece now.
 

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CommanderRoss

Silver Member
Holy Smokes!! This is EPIC!
I'm envious of your skill to do this as i feel if I just committed to learning it, I'd be able to read it better.

Great job, brother!! 🤘 🤘
 

spelman

Senior Member
Awesome job! There's a "Frank Zappa- Moggio- Lead transcription " on Youtube if you want to compare time signature interpretations.
 

single-ply

Senior Member
Great work! If you can figure out the licensing bugaboos, these could be published in book form. We would jump all over these!

You might as well try to get your hard work to pay off!
 
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