And what I'm working on right at the moment is a Synclavier album called 'Dance Me This', which is designed to be used by modern dance groups. It's probably not going to come out until next year.
It is the last title FZ finished in 1993 along with Trance-Fusion; the last chapter in his Master Work, Civilization, Phase III; and of course, The Rage & The Fury, The Music of Edgard Varèse.
Frank approached music the way a sculptor tackles a piece of stone. He'd chisel away until it all made sense. This is what he did here. He had compositions which went back a decade or so, and they suddenly came into focus in the context of this album. He would take a small section of notes and work at this—chisel away—until he was satisfied.
I received the following info from a source whose identity I will not reveal here. Here are song lists from soon to be released albums of Mr. Zappa. Apparently advance cassettes have been made.
Dance Me This -
Dance Me This
Wolf Harbor Movement I
Wolf Harbor Movement II
Wolf Harbor Movement III
Wolf Harbor Movement IV
Wolf Harbor Movement V
In BP#77 Mats Oberg talks about having played at the house for FZ in 1991.
He then says: "We might just have contributed to Dance Me This"
There's an '93 Irish Times article on Zappa (on one of the better FZ web sites—Evil Bob's, I think) in which Zappa mentions the Chieftains/Tuvan tapes—one of the pieces, he stressed, was based on calculus. And there is a track listing on Dance Me This (not released yet—who knows when?) called "Calculus." Maybe that's it.
I wonder if that would be integral or differential calculus?
If the latter, you could make a case that all music is based on calculus, because something changes over time. Not to be condescending or anything, but a mental picture of the Tuvans crouching over a table scribbling squiggly integral lines and sigmas, and arguing whether the limits should be from negative infinity to 0 or from negative infinity to positive infinity, strikes me as unlikely. And then, even if they do it, how do they explain it to the Chieftains?—"Okay, man. like here—we've calculated the spectral density of a saturated saline solution and mapped it across a mobious toroid whose surface degenerates over time according to a formula based on the Heisenberg paradox, so that means you guys start out in D-flat minor and we'll start chuggin away in 7/8—Everbody ready?"
Zappa presented the Tuvans with a tape of the performances they did for him during Zappa-Tuva I, and a little "extra something." The performances were very good, and the tape (to my ignorant ears) sounded well engineered. The "extra something" turned out to be a solo track by Anatoly Kuular, to which Zappa's engineer had overdubbed some funky bass and rhythm ("using calculus!" Zappa repeated many times).
The Tuvans sang in "Free Time" (no click track for reference). Todd Yvega wanted to show FZ how it is possible to have the Synclavier match a constantly changing external tempo. Todd wrote a neat musical sequence in Script (a music/computer language in the Synclavier).
Tempos were approximated at every realistic interval. Todd then used Cubic Splines (something used in Calculus) to "fill in the spaces" (speeding up and slowing down in a non- linear manner). The Synclavier now accurately followed the Tuvans.
The late Frank Zappa's last work, "Civilization, Phaze III", has just been released. The two CD set features an amazing composition featuring the throat-singing of Kaigal-ool Khovalyg and Anatoli Kuular, recorded at Zappa's studio in January, 1993. The composition is awesome—when I heard it, I imagined Frank Zappa out in the cosmos, tapping into the energies of the universe.
PostScript: As it turns out, the only throat-singing apparent on the "Civilization, Phaze III" CD is some sampled kargyraa at the start of the track "Dio Fa". The amazing composition referred to is actually scheduled to appear as part of "Dance Me This", which has not yet been released. —October, 1998.
"Dance Me This"— An album of Synclavier works in the tradition of Zappa's Grammy-winning "Jazz From Hell." It was named for a remarkable track featuring Tuvan "throat singers," members of a northern China tribe able to sing in nasal multitones. A group of Tuvan musicians visiting L.A. paid Zappa a visit in 1993 and promptly was recorded. A Synclavier piece was later added to the Tuvans, with the aid of a computerized "tempo map" to match it with their changing, imprecise rhythms—yielding a sort of avant-garde Tuvan hiphop. Zappa reportedly was "tickled" with the result.
[Artis The Spoonman] might be appearing on Dance Me This. He was recorded at chez FZ circa 1991-93.
I had the great pleasure of spending a few moments with Artis the Spoonman yesterday, and asked him about his encounters with Zappa. [...] I asked him where exactly does he appear on an FZ recording. His answer is Dance Me This and Civilization Phaze III. No foolin.
Now that Frank has the six-channel, surround-sound environment he's always wanted, he's loving it to death, and his recent recordings of a guy playing spoons spinning around the room is really stellar stuff, really quite exciting. Got to get it around you!
Now look at the html-source of that page. (http://www.zappa.com/)
Subject: Re: new release in febuary
just trust me
"dance me this"
The Zappa Family Trust plans to issue several archive audio and video recordings by Frank Zappa later this year, overseen by Frank's wife, Gail, and his son, Dweezil Zappa. A documentary film about Zappa's classical music, directed by Frank Scheffer, should emerge by Christmas. Remastered reissues of the Dance Me This and Trance-Fusion albums are planned too, along with two films and their soundtracks. One is about one of Zappa's inspirations, Edgard Varese, and the other a revamp of the 1974 in-concert film, Roxy And Elsewhere.
Dance Me This?—2011
Within the year from now.
The 100th [album] will actually turn out to be the one Frank actually made which is "Dance Me This."
Dance Me This
FZ’s last album.
Tap your foot algorithmically to this!
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ZPCD170 PRE-ORDER Frank Zappa - Dance Me This (CD) 1 1
The cover is new. What happened is that I became friends with a woman called Kathy Eldon, whose son Dan Eldon was a photojournalist. He was 22 when he was stoned to death in Somalia by the people he was trying to help. He left behind an incredible journal, with his drawings. I saw this photo in the last several years of a drawing he did of these elephants. They seemed to be dancing in the face of their own extinction. It was a remarkable statement, and I instantly thought that this was the perfect cover for Dance Me This.
Regarding Dance Me This, Todd [Yvega] spoke about the final track, which came about from what Frank referred to as 'burglar music'; he'd frequently ask Todd to use algorithms to create new pieces, but told him not to spend more than five minutes on them (a quick in-and-out, see?). Calculus is one such piece.
Type of Work: Music
Registration Number / Date: PAu001959058 / 1995-02-06
Supplement to: PAu001909997 / 1994
Title: Calculus. By Frank Zappa, 1940-1993.
Notes: Statement re transfer.
Copyright Claimant: Todd Yvega d.b.a. Propeller-head Publishing (on original appl.: Zappa Family Trust)
Authorship on Application: Todd Yvega (additional author)
Supplement to Registration: PAu 1-909-997, 1994
Variant title: Calculus.
Maintained by Román García Albertos