FZ album(s) in which song has appeared


FZ, The Midnight Special, NBC TV, January 30, 1976

I started writing music when I was 14. My earliest composition was a piece for snare drum, gong, tune-up machine—which is a little box that puts out a constant tone of an E or B flat, depending of what you're tuning up—, and a triangle, I think it was. This was not a popular piece.

I went on from that to something a little bit more dramatic, it was a snare drum solo. The name of that solo was "Mice," and I played this snare drum solo on a competition in my high school. It sounded like this, "Rat-a-tat-tat, ta-tat, rat-a-tat-tat, rat-a-tat," but faster. I can't really sing how fast the "Rat-a-tat-tat" was going. They gave me a certificate that said, "Okay."

[audio here]

FZ, American Songwriter, November 11, 1983

The very first thing I wrote was a solo for snare drum called "Mice," which I performed at one of those things that you— you know, when you're in school, you play a little solo for your class, and that was my first composition.

FZ interviewed by Robert Green, Hit Parader, June, 1971

The first thing I ever wrote was a drum solo . . . a piece for snare drum and it was called "Mice." I wrote that when I was about 14 and performed it at school—you know they have these little instrumental compositions.

FZ, interviewed by Paul Colbert, Musicians Only, January 26, 1980

I started composing when I was 14 and I've just turned 39. The first thing I wrote was, I believe, a solo for snare drum called "Mice" because I used to play snare drum in a school orchestra and we had year-end competitions where you go play your little solo.

Ben Watson, Frank Zappa: The Negative Dialectics Of Poodle Play, 1996, p. 25

Zappa's first score, 'Mice', was a solo for snare drum: 'Because I used to play snare drum in a school orchestra and we had a year-end competition where you go out and play your little solo.'
(quoted by John Colbert, 'Frank Zappa', Musicians Only, Jan. 28 1980, p. 15.)

David Walley, No Commercial Potential, 1996, p. 28

Frank Zappa's first piece of written music was a percussion tune called "Mice," done for a competition while he was playing in a junior high percussion ensemble.

Billy James, interviewed by Fred Tomsett, T'Mershi Duween, June, 1993

Steve [Vai] was up at the [Zappa] house one time. Frank had a bunch of file cabinets with charts in, some very early stuff, like the drum piece 'Mice' that Frank wrote as a kid.

Lewis Saul

Once upon a time when I did not automatically purchase any FZ not in my collection, I came across a massive boxed set which the folks at PDQ Records here in Tucson kept behind the counter. It had 10, maybe 12 LPs in it. I vaguely recall that they may have been colored discs.
My question:
I swear I remember seeing Mice (FZ's first composition for snare drum, I believe) listed, on the same disc which had other "early" efforts—I think the Mount St. Mary's concert, or something. Damn, I just wasn't insane in those days, or I would have snatched it up—I think it was $200 (before bargaining) . . . .


A) There are three "massive" bootleg LP boxes: History & Collected Improvisations . . . (10 LPs), 20 Years Of FZ & The MOI (12 LPs) and Mystery Box (10 LPs). None of these was on colored vinyl, although History was noted for its color-coded labels.

B) None of these claims to include "Mice." There may well be some other bootleg that does make such a claim, but all I can think of offhand is the made-up title for an improv, "Warts And Mice," on Dupree's Paradise (a mere 2_LP set).

C) The closest thing to an extant recording of "Mice" in circulation is the Midnight Special appearance where FZ reveals that the piece went "rat-a-tat-tat, ta-tat, ta-tat . . . "



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