Usually when someone identifies popular mainstream music with orchestral like implementations together they draw comparisons to elevator or mall music, but never the likes of Frank Zappa. The reality of an artist being both a pop musician and a classical composer seems a bit far-fetched too many. However, as rare as it might be, Zappa stood alone as one of the only men in popular music to have significant achievements in the field of composition, with the exception of the occasional piece produced by Paul McCartney and the Beatles. Although Frank Zappa is best known for his work as an innovative Jazz and Rock guitarist, political agitator, social critic and founder of the band Mothers of Invention, he had a long and passionate interest in contemporary music. Beginning from a very early age, Zappa became fascinated with the likes of innovative classical composers Igor Stravinsky, Anton Webern, and Edgard Varèse.
Strangely enough, prior to this course “Frank Zappa: Composer and Social Critic”, I, like most people I’m sure, was not particularly familiar with Zappa’s contributions to popular music. Sadly, it is only now, years after his death, that I have come to know this alternate artistic and strangely beautiful side of him and his music. Since making such discoveries, I have been continuously surprised about what I hear and discover about the man. It has almost come to the point where I am no longer shocked by what I hear, read, and discover about the man, I now see that the possibilities of his genius stretch farther then the eye or ear can interpret. Surely, out of all the pop musicians I’ve heard throughout the years, he would be the one most capable of both being so misunderstood. By appearance, one might gasp at the idea of his capability to compose such ground breaking work held in such high accord. He truly is a testament, to the saying “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover.”
Although his obvious unique and unmatched skill places him in a realm all his own, It is his attitude towards the business of music which truly singles him out. It appears as if he had no desire or time for the things associated with fame, his work was not meant to be for the sake of his reputation as a great musician, but for the work itself. This is something that not only a fan of his music can implore, but any human being with an appreciate and understanding for music or an individuals character. My discovery of Frank Zappa, both his music and character, has given me a new perspective on popular culture and the way I view and look at music. In my opinion, Zappa’s true legacy does not only exist in his music, but in his approach to it. Never again will I look at an absurd individual or piece of music with a cocked eye brow, but rather, with an open mind and new found acceptance.