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Rock & Pop Frank Zappa's Occam's Razor...

Mike

Senior Member
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559
Xenochrony is a studio-based musical technique developed at an unknown date, but possibly as early as the early 1960s, by Frank Zappa, who used it on several albums. Xenochrony is executed by extracting a guitar solo or other musical part from its original context and placing it into a completely different song, in order to create an unexpected but pleasing effect. He said that this was the only way to achieve some rhythms.

I was pleased to learn that this was done by Frank, because without any knowledge of this technique, I too experimented with taking pieces of composed and improvised bits and extracting them like DNA into something not originally contemplated. I had no knowledge that this technique was ever performed actually. It's creates another field of creativity not ordinarily exemplified. I had some guitar guests perform on some of my work and I always kept a copy of their track dry so I could possibly dissect and re-rhythm the guitar into other pieces, which I've done.

Here is one INCREDIBLE piece of guitar work. In my humble opinion, Zappa played guitar like no one else. A true original approach with such mind bending concepts in both rhythm and melody.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dp93bcp4HCM&feature=related

Enjoy!
 

dubrosa22

Senior Member
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413
Zappa's 'xenochrony' works are some of his best!

Despite the smutty storyline and lyrics the 1979 album Joe's Garage has some superb xenochronous pieces (I believe they were his debut xenochrony works). Apparently the engineer thought he was nuts (and lame) playing solos over rhythm sections from 3 years earlier (or vice versa).

He makes it work though (solo starts at around 3:50):


WARNING: Contains FOUL language!
 
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dubrosa22

Senior Member
Messages
413
Oh, yeah so you said in your OP.

Well, Zappa practically invented a lot of modern multi-track studio techniques. He and Paul Buff built 3, 4 and 5 track mixing desks in the early 60s at Paul's and later Zappa studio Pal Studios.

I haven't heard of any 60s or even early 70s xenochronous works from Zappa. Mind you Frank would record and master albums that wouldn't hit the shelves for 3 - 5 years - he was prolific! Joe's Garage was mostly recorded mid-70s I believe.

I'll hit my record sleeves and books for further investigation...
 

dubrosa22

Senior Member
Messages
413
Remember, that in order to successfully 'xenochrone' a track you need at least an 8 track recording of the band in the live gig and have a good clean separated track of just the guitar solo (or the band without the guitar solo).

I really don't think Zappa recorded any live gigs by the Mothers or himself with more than a stereo recorder until the early 70s. Even the Roxy & Elsewhere gigs were only 8-track I believe.

Before about 1973 it's very murky stereo & 4-track recordings only.
 

jeremyjuicewah

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,890
Wouldnt know how to do it but agree about Zappa. Absolutely the original. Joes Garage, dont care about the smut, wonderful stuff.
 

Mike

Senior Member
Messages
559
Remember, that in order to successfully 'xenochrone' a track you need at least an 8 track recording of the band in the live gig and have a good clean separated track of just the guitar solo (or the band without the guitar solo).

I really don't think Zappa recorded any live gigs by the Mothers or himself with more than a stereo recorder until the early 70s. Even the Roxy & Elsewhere gigs were only 8-track I believe.

Before about 1973 it's very murky stereo & 4-track recordings only.

Not true. If an individual recorded, independently, the individual can place any type of sound source into something not originally in concept. Apparently, he did this as far back as Lumpy Gravy. He made a common practice of editing odd sounds and such into his work which made his editing an art form in itself. Xenochrony does not only apply to guitar solo's.

Actually, Zappa recorded just about everything he was associated with,4, 8 track or otherwise just for interesting knowledge sake. I'm not sure you have ever been on a tour of his 'vault'.
Joe Travers, who is one of Zappa's engineers and works with Dweezil Zappa, is in charge of what goes on in this vault as far as new releases. Zappa documented everything but his own snoring!

Here is a video based on Frank Zappa's vault...I'm sure you will be impressed!

 
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saxplorer

Senior Member
Messages
879
Zappa managed to smuggle some really sophisticated musical material, cloaked in his lyrics and general playfulness. I first listened to "Apostrophe" to laugh at the tale of Nanook and the Yellow Snow ... it left behind a receptiveness to weird chords, rhythms, polyphony, which has been a gift to me through my life. Listening to that now, I am still mildly amused by the lyrics, but always knocked out by the musicality.
 

dubrosa22

Senior Member
Messages
413
Not true. If an individual recorded, independently, the individual can place any type of sound source into something not originally in concept. Apparently, he did this as far back as Lumpy Gravy. He made a common practice of editing odd sounds and such into his work which made his editing an art form in itself. Xenochrony does not only apply to guitar solo's.

Technically true Mike, but that would make any editing and overdubs xenochrony. By definition 'xenochrony' is music from 'different times' put together - not just sampling and overdubs which were commonplace. Zappa's xenochrony really began in earnest with Joe's Garage.

Lumpy Gravy has a really interesting history - the recent boxset Lumpy Money is a great addition to have alongside the original album and We're Only In It For The Money because it has all the original recordings before he edited them into what was actually released.

The album Civilization Phaze III, which was pretty much Zappa's final hurrah, is the ultimate Zappa xenochrony I think. It merges the Lumpy Gravy piano voices with 90s piano voices and synclavier compositions. Unfortunately the sampling technology of the time renders some of synclavier pieces as sounding quite dated (to my ears at least) but the music is AMAZING!

 
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Pete Thomas

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Commercial Supporter
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14,538
I've never heard of the term Xenochrony.

Wouldn't George Martin's sampling of In the Mood in the Beatles all You need is Love (1976) qualify?
 

dubrosa22

Senior Member
Messages
413
My understanding is that both musical parts must be recorded solely for the purpose of xenochronistic merging - or at least not previously released in any other form. Otherwise, yeah, it's just sampling/overdubbing.
 

Mike

Senior Member
Messages
559
My understanding is that both musical parts must be recorded solely for the purpose of xenochronistic merging - or at least not previously released in any other form. Otherwise, yeah, it's just sampling/overdubbing.

Now, I'm not sure. Maybe you're correct dub!
My understanding was based on this.
Xenochrony is executed by extracting a guitar solo or other musical part from its original context and placing it into a completely different song, in order to create an unexpected but pleasing effect.

Now being that it states 'unexpected' I was led to believe that it wasn't intentional in concept for this sole purpose, but later contemplated as in, it might be a good idea.
The term zenochrony is based on the latin words strange or alien, and time, which could mean strange as in concept, or, strange as in chance based on future action.

However, Frank did say that this was the only way to achieve some rhythms. So , I'll relent and say I stand corrected.
Thank you!
 

altissimo

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,355
re xenochrony -
"In this technique various tracks from unrelated sources are randomly synchronized with each other to make a final composition with rhythmic relationships unachievable by other means. In ordinary polyrhythmic terms we speak of 5 in the space of 4, or 7 in the space of 6. In Xenochrony we deal with larger units of time; a complete solo at one metronomic rate in the space of a track at another ... sort of like Monday and Tuesday crammed into the space of Wednesday"
http://wiki.killuglyradio.com/wiki/Xenochrony

http://mixonline.com/recording/business/audio_mothers_sound/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xenochrony
 
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