The Real Frank Zappa page
The Zappa Family trust site, including facilities to order scores.
"Information is not knowledge".
An interesting site for fact finding, maintained by Román García Albertos.
Maintained by Magnus Hoglund and Peder Andersson.
Maintained by Vladimir Sovetov. Contains an extensive bibliography.
For giglists: see the Live recordings section.
About Zappa's covers of and references to Richard Berry's Louie Louie.
Ed Seeman's Zappa site
Ed filmed the Mothers in the sixties and offers some clips in his site.
Zappa site by Elmar Luksch
A college graduation study in German, originally written in 1983. It remained unpublished, till Elmar made it available to the public via his site in 2013.
Zappa photo collection by Jorgen Angel.
Forums and opinions:
Kill ugly radio
The forum on the ZFT site
Mark Prindle's estimations per CD
Ensembles and former band members:
The Ensemble Modern
Contains some information about "The yellow shark" and "Everything is healing nicely".
Vai began working for Zappa as a transcriber, doing the Guitar book, and later contributed with
"impossible" guitar parts.
This keyboard player of the famous Roxy and elsewhere band has made a successful career of his own.
Napoleon Murphy Brock
Zappa's lead vocalist and saxophone player from the seventies has in 2006 taken part of the
Zappa plays Zappa tours and will be the frontman of the upcoming Project/Object tour.
Their latest fall tour from 2011 included Ike Willis and Ray White.
This site contains a study in Finnish about playing Zappa on baroque instruments. The black dots in it are
At this stage the literature section below is not bibliographical. I've spent most time transcribing,
the search for literature has been of secondary importance.
- Frank Zappa/Peter Occhiogrosso. The real Frank Zappa book.
Poseidon press, 1989.
The official biography, spoken on tape and finally edited by Zappa, written out by Peter Occhiogrosso.
It's subdivided into subjects, as "Brittania drools" and "A family as a dada concept".
Added all up it deals with about all aspects of Zappa's life. It's not restricted to his musical career and also
covers his family life and political opinions. It's written in Zappa's personal style, humoristic, unpredictable,
always arguing against things, using a lot of capitals and exclamation marks.
- Neil Slaven. Zappa, electric Don Quixote. Omnibus press, 1997.
A biography as it should be. Elaborate, informative, factual, not spoiled by a wish to publish
personal opinions. Neil Slaven has done a good deal of literature research, resulting in a 350 pages
work. A lot of journalist response to Zappa's albums gets quoted. In general journalists write positive
about Zappa, but if you look at the reviews of individual albums they appear rather arbitrary to me regarding content.
Someone as saying this or that, but you might as well say the opposite, often it doesn't even
relate to the specific content of an album.
- Julian Colbeck. Zappa, a biography. Virgin books, 1987.
Written ten years before Neil Slavens book, this one is less comprehensive. In representing
the facts it's plain good. The tone of the book is a bit negative, Julian likes to point at things that
didn't work out. Occasionally this works refreshing, but since Zappa is not the type to cover up
failures, this tone is also somewhat superfluous.
- Michael Gray. Mother! is the story of Frank Zappa. Poseidon press, 1984 (1st edition) and 1997 (2nd edition).
Michael Gray's book has appeared in two phases. The first edition was written more than halfway Zappa's career. The second one was has been published recently and now covers Zappa's whole career.
- Dominique Chevalier. Viva! Zappa. Omnibus press, 1986.
This one is a lot more interesting for its photos than for its text. It contains a fine picture collection, many are high
quality publicity photos. Much is in colour.
- Kevin Courrier. The dangerous kitchen, the subversive world of Frank Zappa. Toronto, 2002.
- Greg Russo. Cosmic debris, the collected history and improvisations of Frank Zappa.
Crossfire publications, 2006 (3rd edition).
A biography loaded with factual information. Two third is chronologically written, one third is about specific subjects.
The Zappa history continues from 1993 onwards with some 20 pages with activities by tribute bands, the ZFT etc.
- Barry Miles. Frank Zappa. Atlantic books, 2004.
About a dozen biographical works have appeared till now, the last ones getting more and more of
a copyist nature. But this one is original and a good one. It's built around many quotes from people who worked
with Zappa including his family. Half of the book is about Zappa as a person, at some points you
even get the idea of intimacy, like during Zappa's last days. Flaw in the book is that it is thus persistent
in portraying Zappa's character negatively that it tends to get inconsistent with other facts.
Exactly the same character trait Zappa has in his criticizing others.
Academic studies and articles:
- Wolfgang Ludwig. Untersuchungen zum musikalischen Schaffen von Frank Zappa. Verlag Peter Lang, 1992.
This academic publication hasn't received the attention it deserves. The general public doesn't read scores,
nor do much rock journalists, and it's difficult to commercialize material as this. Wolfgang's study is only available in
university libraries. Apart from the black dots, it also deals with sound and recording techniques, subjects that aren't included
in my study. I'm giving a summary of it in a separate section.
- William Morris Price. An analysis of the evolution of Frank Zappa's Be-bop Tango.
A detailed study of the construction of the Be-bop tango. See the Roxy and Elsewhere section for a quote.
- Jonathan Bernard. The musical world(s?) of Frank Zappa. In: Expression in pop-rock music, pp. 157-210, ed. Walter Everett.
New York, 2003. Examination of the different appearances of Dog Breath, A pound for a brown, Dupree's paradise and
Sinister footwear in Zappa's oeuvre.
- Jonathan Bernard. Listening to Zappa. In interesting look at Zappa's music from various angles, introduced by a personal
reflexion. In: Contemporary Music Review 2000, Vol. 18, part IV, pp. 63-103.
- James Borders. Frank Zappa's "The black page". In: Expression in pop-rock music, pp. 137-155, ed. Walter Everett.
New York, 2003. Analysis of the various appearances of The black page throughout Zappa's career.
- Arved Ashby. Frank Zappa and the anti-fetishist orchestra. The Musical Quarterly, winter 1999.
An academic article about Zappa's orchestration. See the Them or us section for a reference.
- Ulrik Volgsten. Music, mind and the serious Zappa: the passions of a virtual listener. Stockholm, 1999.
The Burnt weeny sandwich in my study shortly mentions what his main thesis is about.
- Martin Herraiz. O estranho perfeito, a musica orquestral de Frank Zappa. São Paulo, 2010. A study in Portuguese about Zappa’s orchestral works.
- Brett Clement. A study of the instrumental music of Frank Zappa. Cincinnati, 2009. In my opinion
his Lydian theory doesn’t represent Zappa’s diatonic instrumental music properly (see pages 554-563
of the 4th pdf version of my study).
- Brett Clement. A new Lydian Theory for Frank Zappa’s Modal Music. Music Theory Spectrum, Spring 2014, pages 146-166. In this article
a refence to my study is made, saying that I found only 28 examples of Lydian. This is an incorrect formulation. The number 28 is a relative
number from a random selection. It should not be confused with an attempt to estimate the total number of occurences of Lydian. Besides,
the pieces I identify as multi-scale can contain smaller sections as well. The point is the following order of scales: Lydian is not the central
scale in Zappa's instrumental music.
- Vu Nguyen. A historical overview, analysis, and wind transcription of
Frank Zappa’s “Sad Jane”. Washington, 2012.
- Frank Zappa. Them or us.
The 1984 book by Zappa, shining another light upon the topics that occupied his mind over the past twenty
years. Available via the Zappa Family trust site.
- Zappa! Special issue from the publishers of Keyboard and Guitar player, edited by Don Menn, 1992.
This is a tribute issue, published shortly before Zappa's death. It's made up of a dozen interviews. It contains a large one
of 40 pages with Zappa himself. Other persons who get interviewed are among others Kent Nagano and Gail Zappa.
- Guitar Player. Issues of February 1983 and October 1995.
The 1983 issue has an interview with Zappa about his recent "Drowning witch"
album and much more. Also interviewed is Steve Vai, telling about guitar playing
and his transcribing work for Zappa. The 1995 publication is about Zappa the guitar
- Patrice Zappa. My brother was a mother. California classic books, 2003.
A combination of a photo album and personal recollections of Patrice "Candy" Zappa about her brother Frank.
- Nigey Lennon. Being Frank: my time with Frank Zappa. California classic books, 2003.
An autobiographic book of a woman, who had a relation with Frank Zappa for some years
and travelled with the Mothers as a trainee. An interesting angle.
Though much of what she describes can't be corroborated, it's consistent with everything else. When you're looking
for between the sheets gossip, it ain't there.
- Ben Watson. The negative dialectics of poodle play. Quartet books, 1993.
This is a series of personal interpretations and lyric explanations, meant
to put Zappa into a larger social framework. Ben is also the self-appointed judge
in the "Best companion to...". I have problems reading stuff like this, it's too much
the interpretations and fantasies of the author, it has little to do with the music itself. I prefer factual information. Besides
every Zappa fan has his own ideas, favorite albums etc., so you can go on indefinitely
publishing texts this way. Zappa himself however seems to have liked it, so that's a pro.