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While You Were Out, Art  
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drdork
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Post 2012-07-09 22:54   [Quote] 
Has anyone ever compared the three versions of While You Were Out/Art?

1. While You Were Out (Shut Up 'N Play Yer Guitar, The Frank Zappa Guitar Book)
2. While You Were Art I (Apocrypha, <http://www.zappateers.com/bb/viewtopic.php?t=2567>)
3. While You Were Art II (Jazz From Hell)

The duration of While You Were Out is 5:59. The duration of While You Were Art (I and II) is 7:19. So the Synclavier versions are 1:20 longer than the guitar version.

I believe that twenty seconds of that is due to a tempo discrepancy. I'm unsure about the last seven seconds of WYWO, but 5:52 of While You Were Out corresponds to 6:12 of While You Were Art.

So where does the last minute of While You Were Art come from? Is WYWA based on a transcription of a longer edit of WYWO? The extra minute does not appear in The Frank Zappa Guitar Book.

Did FZ compose the last minute on the Synclavier, perhaps as further development of material heard earlier in the piece? It does seem to be based on one or two repeated phrases.

And how about the difference between WYWA I and WYWA II? FZ didn't just substitute samples for synthesized voices. Some of the pitches have been changed as well. Just looking at the beginning and end of the piece, I found three instances:

1. For the second and third notes in (FZ's part in) non-measure 4 (p. 44, system 3), WYWO and WYWA I have C# D. WYWA II has C# A. (0:09-0:10 in all versions)

2. Near the end of WYWO (and shortly before the extra minute in WYWA), in measures 184-187 (pp. 68f.), WYWO (5:44-5:52) and WYWA I (6:05-6:14) have

C# A B D, E A B D,

but WYWA II (6:03-6:12) has something like

Ab C D F, E C D F.

The notes A B D vs. C D F are a major sixth apart (though that doesn't apply to the first and fifth notes).

3. At the end of the extra minute, WYWA I (7:13-7:15) has

F E D E A,

while in WYWA II (7:10-7:12) it's transposed down a major sixth to

Ab G F G C.

I'd appreciate any insights anyone can offer regarding

a) where the last minute of WYWA may have come from

b) whether the last seven seconds of WYWO (mm. 189f.) made it into WYWA

c) whether WYWA I is generally faithful to (FZ's part in) WYWO

d) whether there are similar revisions throughout WYWA II like the three I mentioned above
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brettclem
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Post 2012-07-10 01:01   [Quote] 
I haven't looked into this myself.

However, you might want to contact Joti Rockwell, a professor at Pomona College. I believe he has written a paper on the subject (though maybe not dealing with WYWA I).
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Post 2012-07-10 01:15   [Quote] 
Thanks for the tip.
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yetanother
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Post 2012-07-10 01:28   [Quote] 
I was about to reply to your email, then I saw this... so I might as well answer here.

drdork wrote:
Did FZ compose the last minute on the Synclavier, perhaps as further development of material heard earlier in the piece? It does seem to be based on one or two repeated phrases.

Yes, that's my perception - not as further development, but rather as a coda. It's actually the same gesture repeated over and over with minimal variations.

drdork wrote:
b) whether the last seven seconds of WYWO (mm. 189f.) made it into WYWA

That final bit is more evident in WYWAI, but if you listen close it's still there - it's just that m. 190 overlaps with the beginning of the aforementioned "coda".

As for the differences you list:

drdork wrote:
1. For the second and third notes in (FZ's part in) non-measure 4 (p. 44, system 3), WYWO and WYWA I have C# D. WYWA II has C# A. (0:09-0:10 in all versions)

Actually the D is still there, only not in the melody - it sounds at a lower octave, and is held for a little longer after the A stops.

drdork wrote:

2. Near the end of WYWO (and shortly before the extra minute in WYWA), in measures 184-187 (pp. 68f.), WYWO (5:44-5:52) and WYWA I (6:05-6:14) have

C# A B D, E A B D,

but WYWA II (6:03-6:12) has something like

Ab C D F, E C D F.

The notes A B D vs. C D F are a major sixth apart (though that doesn't apply to the first and fifth notes).

I hear both E and G# at both the first and fifth "notes" (which are not single notes, but rather chords - doublestops in WYWO), and E is a major sixth below C# (the first "note" in the original version).

drdork wrote:

3. At the end of the extra minute, WYWA I (7:13-7:15) has

F E D E A,

while in WYWA II (7:10-7:12) it's transposed down a major sixth to

Ab G F G C.

I actually hear G A F E A (the first A being an octave below the second A) in WYWAI and Bb C Ab G C in WYWAII, which just goes to show how unreliable our perception is when trying to identify single-note "melodies" inside chord sequences. Still, the major sixth transposition is consistent with the previous point you mention.

drdork wrote:

c) whether WYWA I is generally faithful to (FZ's part in) WYWO

d) whether there are similar revisions throughout WYWA II like the three I mentioned above

I would need either a full note-for-note transcription or hundreds of repeated listening to make that comparison - neither of which I have time for - but maybe someone with perfect pitch will be able to give you a more precise answer...

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drdork
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Post 2012-07-10 04:32   [Quote] 
yetanother wrote:
I was about to reply to your email, then I saw this... so I might as well answer here.

Thanks.

yetanother wrote:
drdork wrote:
2. Near the end of WYWO (and shortly before the extra minute in WYWA), in measures 184-187 (pp. 68f.), WYWO (5:44-5:52) and WYWA I (6:05-6:14) have

C# A B D, E A B D,

but WYWA II (6:03-6:12) has something like

Ab C D F, E C D F.

The notes A B D vs. C D F are a major sixth apart (though that doesn't apply to the first and fifth notes).

I hear both E and G# at both the first and fifth "notes" (which are not single notes, but rather chords - doublestops in WYWO), and E is a major sixth below C# (the first "note" in the original version).

But it's still not the case that the whole phrase is transposed down a major sixth, because of the fifth "note":

WYWO: A+E
WYWA II: E+G#

(And is there a cover term for notes and chords? That fifth thing (the A+E chord in m. 186) is not the fifth chord in the phrase, since the fourth thing (the D in m. 185) is a single note.)

yetanother wrote:
drdork wrote:
c) whether WYWA I is generally faithful to (FZ's part in) WYWO

d) whether there are similar revisions throughout WYWA II like the three I mentioned above

I would need either a full note-for-note transcription or hundreds of repeated listening to make that comparison - neither of which I have time for - but maybe someone with perfect pitch will be able to give you a more precise answer...

Perhaps Dr. Rockwell has already done the comparison for us. I've written to him.
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Post 2012-07-10 04:45   [Quote] 
drdork wrote:

But it's still not the case that the whole phrase is transposed down a major sixth, because of the fifth "note":

WYWO: A+E
WYWA II: E+G#

Yes, my guess is FZ chose to repeat the notes from the first gesture so as to make the passage more homogeneous.

drdork wrote:
And is there a cover term for notes and chords?

You could say "attacks", for instance. Anyway, the D in m. 185 is a single note in the original, but it is converted to a chord in WYWA (again, presumably for the sake of homogeneity).

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Post 2012-07-10 06:20   [Quote] 
For what it's worth, the Absolute Ensemble has performed an arrangement of While You Were Art I (not II) by Charlie Porter (their trumpet player). Several performances are available on the tracker, including this one.
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Post 2012-07-10 07:38   [Quote] 
That looks interesting, thanks for the heads up. I see many of the numbers were arranged by Gene Pritsker, who happens to be a good friend of a good friend of mine.

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Post 2012-07-10 10:34   [Quote] 
Joti Rockwell (Pomona College, California, USA) :
“While You Were Art”: Frank Zappa, the Synclavier, and the Construction of New Music
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Post 2012-07-11 10:32   [Quote] 
I don't know absolutely nothing of the technicalities you are discussing, I stopped following on the tempo discrepancies, all I know that this is absolutely among my favourite FZ compositions...

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Post 2012-07-11 20:14   [Quote] 
drdork wrote:
a) where the last minute of WYWA may have come from

Rockwell suggests that the coda is related to the two-chord motive in measures 166, 168, 170, and 171, though I don't really follow this.

drdork wrote:
d) whether there are similar revisions throughout WYWA II like the three I mentioned above

Rockwell states that WYWA II modulates from D dorian to F dorian at 3:48, suggesting that the transposition down a major sixth (which I noticed in two short phrases) may actually have been applied to half the piece.
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Joti R.
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Post 2012-07-13 06:50   [Quote] 
Hi all,

I've corresponded some via email but wanted to post to this forum also. The evolution of WYWO/A is a fascinating topic and I have enjoyed learning more about it as a result of the expertise of the members of this forum.

I didn't spend much time with "WYWA I" because I wasn't completely convinced at the time that the version I had was indeed the version played at the 4/30/1984 concert. But (thanks to Zappateers!) the 5/20/1984 Speaking of Music Series lecture (http://www.zappateers.com/bb/viewtopic.php?t=6461) verifies what the original Synclavier rendition sounds like.

drdork wrote:
1. For the second and third notes in (FZ's part in) non-measure 4 (p. 44, system 3), WYWO and WYWA I have C# D. WYWA II has C# A. (0:09-0:10 in all versions)


There are various ways in which WYWA II sonically expands WYWA I, much as WYWA I had expanded Zappa's WYWO guitar line. Here, the D gets assigned to another voice, just as the guitar part had been assigned to various voices in WYWA I. In other instances, musical material gets both added and left behind. For example, the Cmaj7 chord at 3:10 of WYWO appears in m. 107 of the Guitar Book transcription without the G above the E. At 3:20 of WYWA I it appears as a C major chord with G in the bass (no B!). And at 3:20 of WYWA II, C is not part of the sustained chord, while B returns to the mix.

drdork wrote:

a) where the last minute of WYWA may have come from

Rockwell suggests that the coda is related to the two-chord motive in measures 166, 168, 170, and 171, though I don't really follow this.

drdork wrote:
d) whether there are similar revisions throughout WYWA II like the three I mentioned above

Rockwell states that WYWA II modulates from D dorian to F dorian at 3:48, suggesting that the transposition down a major sixth (which I noticed in two short phrases) may actually have been applied to half the piece.


Yes, that's how I'd respond to questions a) and d), although I haven't completely sold myself on the motivic connection for a) either. I'd love to hear any other ideas on what accounts for the coda. And question b) does seem to involve a mix of the last 7 seconds of WYWO and the beginning of the coda, although that is a difficult passage to process sonically. As for c):

drdork wrote:
c) whether WYWA I is generally faithful to (FZ's part in) WYWO


I continue to wonder about this after having spent some time playing and analyzing the piece. My overall take is that WYWA I is reasonably faithful pitch-wise to the transcription of WYWO, which itself is not entirely faithful to the recording. For example, at 2:44 of WYWO, Zappa slides down to E on the guitar. The transcription has this notated in m. 102 as an F# (why did Vai transcribe what is clearly a D Dorian piece using a key signature of one sharp?). Around 2:55 of WYWA I and II, this note is an F natural. Other than changes in register, pitches don't generally change this markedly from one version to the next. But rhythmically, WYWA I isn't that faithful to WYWO or the transcription, because apparently the Synclavier couldn't easily handle the transcription's tuplets and required the rhythmic patterns to be straightened.

Thanks for bringing up this topic! I of course would love further correspondence on it either through this thread or through email (I'm easily tracked down through my Pomona College page). Best wishes,

Joti
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yetanother
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Post 2012-07-13 17:38   [Quote] 
Hi Joti, thanks for your post. I don't have much time now, but I'll look some more into this subject when I do (possibly next week). I'll send you a PM too as I'm very interested in your article concerning WYWO and WIWAII. Just one thing to comment on for now:

Joti R. wrote:
rhythmically, WYWA I isn't that faithful to WYWO or the transcription, because apparently the Synclavier couldn't easily handle the transcription's tuplets and required the rhythmic patterns to be straightened.

Actually the Synclavier seemed to handle most tuplets quite well, as shown by other pieces FZ wrote for it (for instance Jazz From Hell, or the Synclavier version of Black Page #1). In the case of WYWO, this "straightening" of the rhythms seems to have been intentional from the very beginning, as FZ's own comments suggest:

FZ said rather than wrote:
The solo on the LP had been transcribed by Steve Vai and was available in this guitar book of solos, so Bob Rice typed into the Synclavier the original rhythms, which were all real complicated, and then taking that basic material I put it through a bunch of permutations and came out with this piece.

[from http://www.afka.net/Articles/1987-03_MSO.htm]

FZ said rather than wrote:
[...] I had David Ocker, who was my assistant at that time, type into the Synclavier the actual transcription that Steve Vai did that is in the guitar book [The Frank Zappa Guitar Book, published by Hal Leonard]. That just gave me the chords and the melody line, which wasn't suitable for the instrumentation of their ensemble. Once the data was in there, then it was a matter of arranging it so that they could play it. So I put it through a bunch of permutations. For one thing, I squared off the rhythm to the nearest 32nd-note, instead of having all the tuplets and weird stuff going on.

[from http://home.online.no/~corneliu/keyboard87.htm]

(Interestingly enough, FZ himself seems to get confused about who actually typed the piece into the Synclavier... was it Rice or Ocker?)

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