A FILM BY
FZ: Dominus vobiscum et cum spiritu tuo.
Mark: A rock & roll guitar player!
FZ: Beyond notes. In the real world you are never going to get a completely perfectly recorded performance of every note of what you wrote. Beyond the overtone series. It began in nature, and then was re-interpreted by the computer to be a synthesizer sound. Beyond serial organization. Irrespective of any kind of compositional system. It came out of nowhere, and it all seemed perfectly logical to me. Beyond love. I'm very interested in making structures. You can literally make compositions out of dust. The whole body of my work is one composition.
FZ: That's what music should be. You should be able to organize any kind of a sound and put it into your music, so I wound up with a style of music that has snorks, burps, and dissonant chords, and nice tunes, and triads, and straight rhythms and complicated rhythms, and just about anything. In any order.
Henning Lohner: All right.
FZ: And, the easiest way to sum up the aesthetic would be ANYTHING ANYTIME ANYPLACE FOR NO REASON AT ALL, and I think with an aesthetic like that you can have pretty good latitude for being creative.
John Cage: There is nothing that is free of the network of cause and effect. Everything causes everything else. Everything results from everything else.
FZ: There's two things you ought to consider here. One is the possibility that the whole body of my work is one composition.
Henning Lohner: Right.
FZ: And only separated into individual tracks, so to speak, because I'm releasing it on records. And it takes me years to put it together. But, if I was all done, and you stuffed it all together, it's one composition, basically. And a theme that started off in uh, on the first record, could just as easily occur later on with no uh, no reason other than since the whole massive work is one composition, why can't you recapitulate a theme that started off years ago?
Iannis Xenakis: So when I say Varèse, that I like Varèse music, they think that I'm a pupil of Varèse. But I'm not a pupil of Varèse. Because in that case, I should be a pupil of Brahms, as I'm just [...] (laughter). I'm not a pupil of Brahms. I don't think my music looks like the music of Brahms.
FZ: One of the reasons why my music wound up sounding the way that it does is for the whole idea of what melody is. There are many people who can listen to Varèse and say, "Well, there's no tune there." But I hear melody in Varèse. And I hear uh, the intervals that he uses, I hear as melodic intervals that all seem, you know, real normal to my ear. I know that by ordinary standards that's very dissonant music, but uh, I liked it. And his concept of music being organized sound was an idea that I could understand on a molecular level, that was obvious to me.
Pierre Boulez: You know, you have a tendency when you are getting older, you have your own world and you are not satisfied with it, maybe, but I mean, you are involved more and more with it. When you are younger, you have the world for you, and you look always around. But I mean, the more you want to go deeper, of course, deeper you go, the deeper you go, the more closed in your own work you are.
Henning Lohner: When you were younger, you went to these monster movies, you did get involved with Stockhausen's music, with Varèse's music, all at the same time. Did that just come out of nowhere?
FZ: Yeah, it came out of nowhere. And it all seemed perfectly logical to me. Now, first of all, a European audience is probably not familiar with what the US term "monster movie" really means. Or the reason why a person could enjoy looking at monster movies. Monster movies in the '50s were black & white, cheap, really stupid things that were supposedly done to be serious and scary, but to the trained eye were absolutely hilarious. And I used to look at these things not because I thought that, you know, monsters were something fascinating or terrifying, but because the production values of these films were so cheap, and the idea that somebody would actually spend four, five million dollars to make an object like this, and present it to the public as entertainment, the NERVE that they would show you a giant spider where you could see the nylon strings making the legs go up and down, and expect you to be scared by that, I thought it was hilarious.
Ray Wallace?: Ohh . . . oh . . .
FZ: So I used to enjoy seeing those things. And at the same time, and that's something that I would do for recreation, but at the same time I was just learning about music, and my particular taste in music was in the direction of contemporary classical music, and also rhythm & blues. I mean, I was— At the same time I would buy the Varèse album, I was buying R&B records by black singing groups, quintets doing, you know, harmony vocals, with very simple chord progressions. And I liked that just as much as I liked what Varèse was doing.
Interviewer: How many encounters have you had with Bigfoot?
Ray Wallace: Well, I've probably seen him probably a thousand times.
FZ: I'm in high school, and I ran into Stockhausen at a water fountain out in the hall. And just said hello to him, but that was about it.
Henning Lohner: What did he say?
FZ: I think "Hello." Ha ha. Isn't that what you're supposed to say when you bump into somebody at the water fountain? What do you do? Should he have turned to me and said, "You know, that record that you have, that you've been listening to for years, it's full of mistakes!"
Henning Lohner: Ha, ha, ha!
FZ: That would've been good.
Ray Wallace: They didn't mean nothing to the Indians. (spit) Because . . .
Henning Lohner: Gold covered! Flashy.
FZ: Not my request, I assure you.
Henning Lohner: Ha ha. And down here there's something that people should see. Because we have— Wait a minute, this— Oh yeah, this is uh, a part from 200 Motels.
Henning Lohner: That's it. "Pour liquid into [...]." Ah, these are, these are . . .
FZ: "Blow bubbles with straw." You don't usually ask a chorus to do these things.
Henning Lohner: Right.
FZ: But there's no reason why they shouldn't.
Henning Lohner: Exactly.
FZ: You know. I mean, anybody knows how to go, "BRRRT!" like that through a straw .
Tinsel cock my baby
Would you like some broth?
Some nice soup
Some hot broth?
Henning Lohner: How did they react back then?
FZ: Uh, they didn't like it.
Henning Lohner: He he. Were you thinking in terms of collages of textures?
FZ: No, I'm thinking in terms of, you can hear this effects if you mike it right. 'Cause all of these things would be balanced out in the mix, 'cause I knew I was writing for a recording medium. This is something that probably would not sound correct just in a complete acoustical environment.
FZ: A little Xenakis lookin' there.
Henning Lohner: Yeah. Ha ha ha ha.
FZ: Architectal kind of uh . . .
Henning Lohner: Thick instrument chord harmonic kind of stackings. And there you have there too all the polyrhythms.
FZ: Yeah. Another one of those things you'll never hear played right in life.
Henning Lohner: Yeah. When did you write this?
FZ: This is about uh, '69 or '70.
Henning Lohner: There you have some more, some more of these. These rhythms that don't want to be played by orchestra musicians.
John Cage: I welcome whatever happens next. Or . . .
Henning Lohner: How aware are you uh, aware are you of the fact, of the difference between acoustical instruments and electronical instruments?
FZ: Well, I have quite a sensitivity to that, because from being in rock & roll for 25 years, and having to deal with something that most composers don't, which is multitrack mixing, you learn the behavio— the behavioral differences between electrical— instruments that go through a wire direct into the board, or instruments which are heard by a microphone. And you develop certain ideas or an aesthetic about what is a good sound. And uh, one of the things about writing for the Synclavier is each of the sounds, the individual samples that are in there, to the extent that you can control the manufacture of the sample itself, you can idealize that sound. So, if I have a clarinet part, for example—this would be a hypothetical example—let's suppose I had done a sampling session and had the absolutely most perfectly recorded clarinet, and each note in each register on the clarinet was perfectly played. I then build something called a patch, which tells the keyboard of the Synclavier which of these notes lives under which key, and I then write a clarinet concerto. Well, in the real world you are never going to get a completely perfectly recorded performance of every note of what you wrote, with a perfectly played sample on every note. That will never happen in the real world, but with this machine you can do it.
Henning Lohner: But is it really that desirable?
FZ: Why not? Nobody's ever heard it, let's listen to it.
Henning Lohner: All right.
FZ: That's the goal. I mean, if you just wanna do what everybody thinks music ought to be, then, you know, get another career. I wanna find out what happens if you get these idealized sounds, a whole library of idealized sounds, and then have an imaginary, idealized orchestra not only play with good tone on every note, the right amplitude on every note, plus, at the point where you mix it, you can create an— a separate environment for every instrument with the digital echo. For example, if you imagine a composition where you had a full orchestra hitting a strong chord, with all different orchestral timbres, balancing perfectly with a classical guitar, you will never get that in the real world. But you can imagine it, write it, execute it, and hear it, using this medium. So, this opens up possibilities for any composer who wanted to, you know, allow an audience to hear something he could hear in his brain, but the physics of acoustics would not let you do. That's one of the things that's great about writing in this medium.
Henning Lohner: So, in other words, you're very aware of the fact that the advantages that come out of, let's say, the uh, the problems that acoustical instruments have are, at the moment, at this point in your career in composing, not your primary concern.
FZ: No, I'm— I want to surpass, I want to get beyond the problems of normal acoustical instruments. I like acoustical instruments. Basically what my machine reproduces is the sound of acoustical instruments.
FZ: It depends on how you write for the machine.
FZ: To the extent that I can afford the samples.
FZ: And you have to be crazy enough to invest your cash to teach somebody how to do something that nobody wanted to hear in the first place.
Was ist im das?
FZ: All right, let me re-route some of this stuff then. The horns are gonna come out of 5 and 6, the oboes are out of 1 and 2, and the violin pizz is out of 3 and 4. Okay, let's re-harmonize the oboes.
FZ: Can turn the pizzicato up, Bob? The pizzicato precedes the oboe notes slowly, uh, slightly . . . just by shifting the whole track.
Henning Lohner: [...] a couple of demonstration notes now?
Henning Lohner: Uh-huh.
FZ: Bring the uh, bring the oboes down a little bit in relationship to the pizzicato . . . Now let's change one of the oboes to a clarinet. If these samples are on there, I don't know whether they are. Uh? Not.
FZ: And we'll make him double the brass, bring the pizzicatos back . . . So we can take this sound and we can split it in half, we'll go like this. First we'll double the second brass track . . . and put this there . . . We'll take half of it off . . . so one Walt will play with one brass track and the other Walt play with the other . . . Part of this began as a human voice.
Henning Lohner: Then you have a couple of waveforms in there that sound very close.
FZ: It's four different partials all playing at the same time. One partial is this . . . One's this . . . One is this . . . It's a re-synthesized violin . . . That's an FM timbre . . . So, you can hear only three of 'em, this is minus the grit . . . You hear one of the pitches in there moves microtonally, and everything else moves according to the scale, that little . . .
FZ: This has textures in it that remind me of John Cage compositions that I've heard before . . .
FZ: Now, if we wanna have the piano doubling all of this, we just go like this . . . Yeah . . . Now we could decide that none of that was correct and just replace all the instruments.
FZ: If I were to tell you, out of the pieces that you've listen to, where the material was derived from, you might—even you might be shocked, to see how the stuff was arrived at. Because of the way that you can process data with that computer. It is unbelievable. This takes it like a step beyond serial organization, into—it would be a very technical description to show you what happens, but let's just say that the value of an aesthetic concept like the economy of means, which people often speak of in Stravinsky, where it has these little cells of melodies that get moved around—the Synclavier allows you to take that to a ridiculous extreme. I mean, where you can literally make compositions out of dust.
Henning Lohner: Don't you?
FZ: Of course. I mean but, like numerical dust.
FZ: I hear two glissandos going in opposite directions on a cello solo.
Iannis Xenakis: Yeah.
FZ: How do you perform that?
Iannis Xenakis: With the fingers.
FZ: Yes . . .
Iannis Xenakis: Let me show you my instruments, right?
Iannis Xenakis: Can I? . . . This is it.
Iannis Xenakis: So this is the . . . cello?
FZ: That's a cello fingerboard?
Iannis Xenakis: No, violin?
FZ: Oh-oh-oh, no!
Iannis Xenakis: Cello.
FZ: Oh, no . . . And so you calculated it on this.
Iannis Xenakis: Well, yes, I put my fingers like this.
FZ: Okay. So, if you're going to go in two different directions, the bow would have to go under the string, right? The two— The two outside strings?
FZ: If you try and do anything that nobody has done before, basically you don't know what, how to call it. You don't know what to say about it. So you gotta invent a little vocabulary for it, and uh, invent your own processes, and invent your own rules. And the rules should be based on whatever it was that sounded good to you when you did that particular experiment.
Iannis Xenakis: Because my idea is that if I can do that in a slow way, the virtuoso, the soloist can do that fast, see? So, the bass is here. And even strings.
FZ: Well, there's even a kind of a string on here, too, so . . .
FZ: I don't think a person should limit himself to writing for a synthesizer . . .
Henning Lohner: Right.
FZ: Or a sampler, or even a live musician. I think that the ideal would be a combination of all types of resources.
Ray Wallace: He's a-talkin' to this wild cougar and he's a-sayin' 'zooky zooky' in a deep tone of voice.
Interviewer: What is 'zooky zooky'?
Ray Wallace: Zooky zooky. Now, nobody knows.
FZ: Well, let's go back to what is a melody. A melody is like a— in one way it's like a word. You know, the whole melody is a word. The whole melody is also a complex waveform. Because if you look at the melody in terms of where the notes go up and where they go down, you could look at that as if the whole thing was a waveform. And, maybe it's an absurd concept, but maybe the human mind, which decodes all other waveforms—which are basically wiggles and shapes like that—in some way can perceive the melody as a waveform, over a longer period of time . . . So, if you take the melody and, you know, you see it going by like this, if you took it that way, and looked at it end to end, you're looking through a climate. Flip it back this way, and you're seeing it going this way, as it decays in time, as the reverbs decay, you're making harmonic statements throughout the melody that don't necessarily have to relate to the chord changes . . . Then you'd step back from that, and you could say, "Well, if the melody can be seen this way, then, in a much larger scale, the entire composition is a big word. A big complex waveform. A big climate." Now, all of those things have an effect on the human brain and on the people's— it affects people physiologically. What happens to you if you listen to Beethoven's Fifth as a big climate? You know, "Da-da-da-dah." It's a word, right? But then there's more, you know. Look at the whole thing, you get to live in that climate for the duration of the piece, if you choose to do it. What does that do to you? Or, what happens to you if you attend Lulu and sit through all of that? That did something to you, you know. Or, for those lucky people who can stand to sit through the entire Ring. You are physiologically modified by experiencing this world. And we've seen what the results of that can be.
FZ: It's the "make-it-talk" syndrome. Peo-ple-do-not-talk-like-this, un-less-they-are-ve-ry-sick. And that's the way normal music notation is, you see? People talk with rhythms that go all over the place, so why not have melodies that have the same rhythms that resemble human speech?
Karlheinz Stockhausen: [...] [A new wave form will be discovered to transport people to Sirius, the star. (...)]
FZ: There's a place in France, where they have the ice show, and it's got a 200 cycle hump in the room, and there's a lot of curtains, and so instead of getting a slap back, you get a thud back from the wall. And, I'll just keep it in the percussion so you can test that. That's a good test of it, is that— Take more top off of it.
Karlheinz Stockhausen: [...] [The movement of sound and with it the forming of the sound space is a new direction in musical composition.]
FZ: I like the idea of brass instruments where all the overtones come to life in a place where the room is feeding something back into the sound. What a microphone does is it's a substitute for a human ear. Could be a good ear, or a bad ear, depending on the quality of the microphone. You put the microphone in an ambient environment and you excite the air molecules in that environment. And if it's an interesting environment, it makes the instrument, which is playing in that environment, more interesting, more valuable, and it's a more memorable sample. So a lot of the samples that we've done here at this studio were done back in that room.
Henning Lohner: Are you saying that space in composition is a basic factor?
FZ: Always has been. For me, anyway.
Henning Lohner: Right. So, when you compose these—
FZ: Excuse me. In mixing that's called the "back to front" of the mix. In other words, not only you want to have stereo, like that—you want to be able to see individual instrumental placement in the stereo spectrum—but there's the depth of the mix. Certain instruments are drier than others in the mix, and they sit on the front of this imaginary stereo screen. Other instruments are more ambient, or you have added it a longer echo delay to it, reverberation delay to it, and they tend to appear to sit, recede in the stereo picture, so when you do— When I think of a composition, I also think of where are these instruments located. Not only in terms of an imaginary seating position, but what world are they living in. And when you have a multiplicity of echo devices at your disposal, then you can create individual environments for these instruments to live in. You get to compose in a way that goes beyond the notes. And goes beyond the overtone series. And goes beyond other normal compositional things. You're building a world. You're building— Your composition can now be its own personalized musical universe.
Henning Lohner: This is beyond Klangfarbenmelodie, for instance.
FZ: It's far beyond that.
Henning Lohner: Yeah.
FZ: But it's related to it.
Henning Lohner: Definitely. It's the same principle that is involved.
FZ: Yeah . . .
Henning Lohner: How . . .
FZ: But see, in normal tone-color melody, the instruments, like— Let's take Webern, for example. Big space in between the notes. It's a dramatic element. And I love to listen to that kind of music, it's great, 'cause you concentrate on what did that instrument sound like. But, an idealized performance of Webern is yet to happen, because a lot of the places where the Webern has been recorded were not interesting sound spaces. And so, when you have that exposed flute, or one tiny little thing over here, or one tiny little tenor sax note, you hear it, and it's in a boring room. If I were producing the complete works of Webern, I would certainly take a different approach to it. I would have—You know, you wanna hear the tone-color melody, well, let's color it up.
Henning Lohner: Don't you feel that that would be something for you to do actually?
FZ: What? To type it in?
Henning Lohner: Well, no, but to produce a recording of Webern with this idea behind it.
FZ: Who would pay for it? Who wants to hear my version of Webern? Only me.
Henning Lohner: Oh, I'm not so sure about that.
FZ: No, you could imagine. I go to Deutsche Grammophon, "Hey, listen, guys, why don't you pay me to do yet another version of the complete works of Anton Webern, or even the complete works of Varèse?"
Henning Lohner: I'm gonna take you up on that. I'm gonna go there and ask them.
FZ: Don't go— A guy from rock & roll producing this for our esteemed German record company? Henning, you must be out of your mind.
Henning Lohner: Well, we'll see.
FZ: Yeah. Okay . . . Speak for yourself, Henning. No, it's only a joke. Peefeeyatko.
Henning Lohner: Now, what did Varèse say, "The comp— The composer—"
FZ: "Modern day composer refuses to die."
Henning Lohner: "—refuses to die."
FZ: If you can imagine putting that into a manifesto. People don't even do manifestos anymore. What's happened to the world?
Ray Wallace: . . . the paper. And, uh, that's a male. No doubt about that, right there. That's a [...] of a track.
Interviewer: That's a male.
Ray Wallace: That's a male cast.
Interviewer: How can you tell?
Pierre Boulez: You know, we have— We are constantly on the search, first on the artistic side, of course, and—
Henning Lohner: Whether you could give an— both of you give an impression of the atmosphere of the beginning of the electronic music studio as you experienced it in Los Angeles, or in America, and you here in Paris, when you started out with musique concrète.
Pierre Boulez: Well, it was first in the French radio, as you know. I mean, at this time, it was a very small studio, and you know, we were looked at like more or less crazy people who had these funny ideas.
Iannis Xenakis: Let me tell you another anecdote from Le Corbusier and him. We were once at the place of Le Corbusier invited for dinner, and Le Corbusier had been saying about music, that he had invented the concrete music, that is, the recorded music, and therefore the music that you can produce by sounds that are pre-recorded. And he had written about that calling it musique en conserve, that is, the canned music. And Varèse afterwards—he didn't say anything, but afterwards he said, "How can this man pretend that he has discovered the concrète musique when I did that. It is the organized sounds!" Ha ha ha! It's interesting.
FZ: And then you had to perfect whatever technique that could be perfected using gear that was really primitive. I mean, really. And when I started working with tape, I didn't even own a tape recorder, I had to borrow machines from people. And like, somebody's father owned a reel to reel Pentron tape recorder, but he never used it, and it was in the closet.
FZ:You know, we could easily wind up wasting the entire show trying to find that reel of tape on the floor.
Henning Lohner: So all of the editing of that you do here.
FZ: Yeah, it's all done here. And this is parts of material that you would have to gather, little bits and pieces from different rolls, to collect them to print to master tape on this machine. And the mixes—most of the material for that is along this wall. I'll show ya.
Henning Lohner: Do you think that Xenakis solo could be along with it?
FZ: I'm—I can't remember whether or not we mixed that from Bremen. But, the '88 tour starts here, and goes—each one of these is an hour—all the way down to here, and then starts down this shelf, here, and runs all the way down to here. The things where there's missing, that means the things are probably down on the floor someplace.
Karlheinz Stockhausen: [...] [And still, even a computer he bought yesterday is not capable of performing things I imagined in the fifties.]
FZ: I think that probably that desire lurks in the back of every composer's mind, you know. That the more control they have over their idea, the better chance the audience has to hear what they really had in mind at the point where they came up with the idea.
Henning Lohner: Right.
FZ: And I hope that one day, you know, in a utopian world, that all composers will be able to do that. But that would be the most fanciful thing that I will say during this interview.
Henning Lohner: Ha ha ha . . .
Ray Wallace: We think Bigfoot's been let out of flying saucers. What do you think?
Henning Lohner: Don't you think it's even necessary, or it's in any case possible to heighten the understanding, and also that feeling, by what you can find in structures?
FZ: If you cared. But there are people who like it just because they like it and they have absolutely no musical training. If they knew—If you started talking to them about structures they would be turned off. They like it on a gut level and that's that. Or they hate it on a gut level and that's that. Either way, you can't persuade them by talking about the structure or the mechanics in it. The only people that would be interested are maybe musicians, maybe composers, maybe statisticians. Certainly not critics, because, you know, that would spoil all their fun. But, you know, suffice it to say that the music is structured no matter what you think it sounds like, there's a reason for everything to be in its place. It's planned that way, and it's, when, especially when it's played by the computer, it's being played correctly. Like it or lump it, there it is, that was my idea. So, I don't think that it's really worthwile to dwell on the idea of structural analysis of it, but I will mention that on three occasions I have been sent treatises, like graduate master's treatise or . . .
Ray Wallace: College kids here comes from all over the United States, man, they wanted to do a thesis on Bigfoot, they get one hundred on it.
FZ: So, I know there are some people who care about structure, but let's say they're really weird.
Henning Lohner: Still?
FZ: Oh, yeah.
Henning Lohner: Ha ha ha. What is—What is evolution, if you don't have the— if you don't concede the possibility to find these things that are, let's say, beyond the gut feeling?
FZ: Well, I'm glad you brought that up, because I always was under the impression that, you know, people think that love is something really wonderful to aspire to. And it always occured to me that love, that should be the basis of everything, and then the good stuff happens when you get beyond love, 'cause love is a mere thing, as far as I'm concerned. It's. And all the good stuff is out there, it's beyond love.
FZ: You have a whole generation of people that have never listened to a piece of music without a picture attached to it. They don't know that music originally didn't have some kind of picture there, you know. A record? What's that? Let's go see a video! You know? And if it's more than 3 minutes, they've already lost interest in it.
Karlheinz Stockhausen: [...] [I always say: You can just close your eyes.]
George Bush: Tonight, as our forces fight, they and their families are in our prayers. May God bless each and every one of them, and the coalition forces at our side in the Gulf, and may He continue to bless our nation, the United States of America.
FZ: So, in the midst of all this, if you wanna try and present something that's brand new to an audience, you have to find a visual element of one type or another. The music either has to be in conjunction with a film, a video, a stage event, dancing. Something. It's almost unimaginable for the US market that somebody would buy a ticket to go and sit in a room and hear something played.
Henning Lohner: You think this is a sign of the times, and it'll change again?
Henning Lohner: We're headed directly to a predominantly visual . . .
FZ: No, I wouldn't say it that way, I think we're heading into the Dark Ages. I think that Ronald Reagan helped with that a lot, that he opened the door to the past for us, and did everything that he could through his policies to set America on this course careening backwards in time, past the picket fence, back into this, you know, world of emptiness.
Das ende für lied. [...] [The end of the tune . . . old iron . . . junkyard . . . I'm so sorry.]
Henning Lohner: You don't like to go out too much, do you?
Henning Lohner: Do you ever go down like to Hollywood here and walk around the city for a while?
FZ: Ha ha ha ha! No. Ha ha ha . . . And if you're ever in a car with somebody who does that for a good time, run! That'd be a sure sign of bad mental health, boy. "Now, what do you do for a good time?" "I go down to Hollywood and walk around."
Ray Wallace: Well, I'm probably the only man who had ever came face to face to Bigfoot and lived to talk about it. I used to feed him apples right out of my hand. He'd take 'em out of my hand. He had a hand about a foot wide.
FZ: Bwe-waa-ee-eeh . . . Want me to charge this thistle for you? Oh, Van, tell her that secret word.
Van Carlson: Oh, yeah. Peefeeyatko.
Diva Zappa: What's that?
Matt Groening: Mickey Mouse is probably the most famous cartoon icon in the world. All you have to do is see this, and you know that's Mickey Mouse. And with Frank Zappa, he's got the most famous facial hair, I think. All you have to do is see this, and you know that's Frank Zappa. Just from that. And—
FZ: Look at this. This is Hollywood, now you see this corner here, where it says Fatburger? That used to be a record store, Wallichs Music City. This whole parking lot here was one of the biggest record stores in California. Now, it's a mini-mall, with things like Raging Fingers, Copymatic, Fatburger . . . I, I really am missing a lot by not walking around down here, that's for sure.
John Cage: I hope for intelligence rather than politics. Failing that, I hope for easily recognized general disaster that will bring the human race to its senses, before it is too late.
FZ: Oh, yeah. Or in the Bigfoot language, peefeeyatko.
Ray Wallace: What? Peefeeyatko?
FZ: Which means, "Give me some more apples."
FZ: It's just like what used to happen a long time ago. If the king didn't like what you wrote, you could have your head chopped off. And today, if the financier doesn't like what your event is, you have your finance chopped off, so you might as well be dead.
Henning Lohner: But still you continue.
FZ: Well, I'm in a unique situation—I can, you know, first of all, I can make enough money doing other things to afford to do my hobby, which is writing music. Secondly, I'm crazy enough to take the money that I'm making doing other things to invest it in that.
FZ: It's a combination of loops of pizzicato string sections from a full orchestra playing little, like . . . little passages that go over and over again. And the upper part is a short violin. Okay.
Someone off-camera: Welcome back.
FZ: In order for me to have the luxury of being a composer I have to do what they call business, I have to do things that generate income. Composing for me, especially this kind of contemporary music, generates nothing. And costs a lot of money. I have to do other things which are fairly— less interesting than composing.
FZ: Well, first of all, I am still doing business, and I'm actually in the studio now working on a new album for next year.
FZ: Let's say I've got a good week, where I don't have any of the business interruptions. I'll wake up whenever I wake up, I'll eat a bowl of cereal, I'll drink a cup of coffee, I'll smoke a cigarette, and I'll come downstairs and I'll go to work until I'm tired. (Did you go in there?) And then, I'll get up and go to bed. And then I'll do it all over again. (Come on up here.) Some weeks I'll spend like three or four days building imaginary instruments. What mattered in the end was whether you as a composer enjoyed listening to what you wrote. In the United States it's difficult to really feel that you're part of any kind of ongoing musical tradition, because . . .
Iannis Xenakis: I try to escape from any tradition.
Pierre Boulez: First, if I knew the direction, it would be terribly boring to go in— to go into this direction. Which is interesting is to go into the unknown, more or less.
FZ: Anything, anytime, anyplace, for any reason at all, that's the leitmotiv.
John Cage: Joyce preferred comedy to tragedy.
FZ: Well, the thing that's of the region of what I write is basically, you know— My region is my house, plus television. See, that's basically my contact with the outside world. You take where I live and add all the TV that you can receive in this place, which brings me normal American life through a wire. And add to that what I experience when I travel on tour, and that's my ethnic source material. So that's not quite like a guy living in a village writing a little doodad because the sheep are coming in on Wednesday. It's another thing. So, my cultural base is not really isolated, it's like . . . it's more mixed up.
FZ: [...] from Hollywood, anyway, I guess. Okay. The music is— No, it just went up again. Uh-oh. It's never gonna end. It'll end when this tape runs out.
DARIO SEDO, B.V.K.
P.C. NEUMANN, B.V.K.
UMRK Sound Engineer:
THE MOVING IMAGE COMPANY
Special Thanks to:
OPERA de LYON, France
black & white scenes from
DER HERR DER WELT
[Master of the world]
TRANSIT FILM, MÜNCHEN
Music video sequence
conceived and edited
© FRANK ZAPPA 1991
All compositions by Frank Zappa except as noted