III / None of the Above and III / The Girl in the Magnesium Dress

The Yellow Shark, An Appreciation. Merry Zappadan.

Before we begin today, a hat tip is required to Cleveland Jeff at the blog …Like Dancing About Architecture. He has generously commented here, has offered this series a nice mention and link on his blog, and has his own nice overview of Frank Zappa’s orchestral works. We are all over the map in Zappastan this year, certainly, and that’s what it’s all about. Thank you, Cleveland Jeff.

Now. We’re going to listen to III twice.

Because there are two scenarios for the piece. The first scenario is my fantasy scenario, where, again, the composer and the arrangers decided to leave well enough alone and keep stuff that was written together to stay together.

The second scenario is the way they ended up doing it. Both scenarios are worth considering. First is my fantasy scenario. Zappa mentions in the liner notes that III (or III Revised, as it is “revised” to be a string quintet rather than a quartet) is actually a movement of “None of the Above.” But, again, the program splits the pieces up. The CD listing is: III Revised, The Girl in the Magnesium Dress, Be-Bop Tango, Ruth is Sleeping, then None of the Above. I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen if you could hear it with the two string pieces played one after the other.

As it happens, it sounds pretty damned amazing. Hey, look, a mashup:

Then there’s what they actually did, which is III followed by The Girl in the Magnesium Dress:

It’s an interesting contrast, shooting from strings to rhythm like that. Quite a game changer. So I can see why the program was arranged this way.

It’s still pretty damned cool that the mashup works so well.

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