Frank Zappa's musical language
Frank Zappa's musical language
A study of the music of Frank Zappa

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"Joe's garage" and the 1981 live album "Tinsel town rebellion" show the growing importance of Zappa's guitar soloing on his albums. The first one with Joe's imaginary guitar solos, the second one having two complex ones on "Easy meat" and "Now you see it, now you don't". From 1970 onwards Zappa recorded almost all of his gigs, always including several guitar solos. The majority of the solos are improvised all through, only the accompaniment type and meter are agreed upon in advance so that the band knows what to do. Zappa's guitar solos aren't meant to show off technically (Zappa hasn't claimed to be a big virtuoso on the instrument), but for the pleasure it gives trying to build a composition right in front of an audience without knowing what the outcome will be.
Zappa wanted to compile an album with his guitar solos for some time, but Warner Bros. weren't cooperative. Now he had new chances. The 1981 three record set "Shut up 'n play yer guitar" contains two hours of soloing, mostly taken from the 1979 and 1980 tour, and it sold above expectations. Thus reinforced he could do it again in 1987 with a two CD set, briefly called "Guitar", with solos mostly recorded between 1981 and 1984. And yet again for the 1988 tour with "Trance-fusion" (see the "Guitar" and "Trance-fusion" section for the latter collections). When you're unfamiliar with them, these two large issues combined with the many guitar solos on the regular albums, may very well lead to some prejudice that music in such quantities can't be good. But when you start listening carefully you can also come to the opposite conclusion that his level is always high and that he just can't miss. Both views don't appear to be accurate. As Zappa himself pointed out in "The Real Frank Zappa book" the number of released guitar solos is only a fragment of the recorded number and most guitar solos didn't work out. The issues are the result of listening to all tapes and selecting the best ones.

The Frank Zappa guitar book In 1979 Zappa hired the virtuoso guitar player Steve Vai to transcribe a number of his guitar solos, which he continued to do till 1981. The transcriptions included most of the "Joe's Garage" solos, more than half of the "Shut up 'n play yer guitar" solos and a few others. They were published in 1982 as the 300 pages issue "The Frank Zappa guitar book" (cover to the right, publisher Munchkin Music). Steve Vai made the transcriptions with a great deal of accuracy, including a broad range of irregular rhythmic groupings and some occasional quartertones. Zappa's improvised speech influenced rhythms frequently look horrible on paper (see for instance the bars from "Shut up 'n play yer guitar" below). Whereas Zappa took all rhythmic freedom during his solos and used all types of chords, he wanted the accompaniment to remain simple, playing in a constant metre and with easy harmonies. Mostly he is playing over a pedal note, two alternating chords or a vamp (alternating chords may also be called a vamp, but in this study I'm treating alternating chords as a separate category). He needed this to build a contrast with his own soloing; if the accompaniment would play with a flexible metre, it would become everybody playing rubato, he noted in "The Real Frank Zappa book". Zappa's early solos can be relatively friendly from the rhythmical point of view as the "Orange County" solo from the Roxy and elsewhere section and the "Call any vegetable" solo from the Beat the boots section. Zappa's later solos however are full of these wild irregular rhythmic groupings. Also the drum parts during the later solos had become very vivid and complex and totally different from the elementary drumming of Jimmy Carl Black during the sixties.

Zappa's preference to keep playing in one key becomes clear by looking through the pages of the "The Frank Zappa guitar book" and the transcribed sections in this study. Also in the pieces that use more scales, the scales are closely related with only the keynote changed or one or two notes altered, and the modulations are never abrupt. See also the Guitar section for more upon this topic. The scales of the "Shut up 'n play yer guitar" solos are given beneath, with some comment on the choice of the keynote (several of them are indicated in the Guitar book, others by me). These keynotes of the scales are given by the accompaniment. It doesn't mean that the solo has to open on the keynote or confirm it (often it doesn't), but that it's using the notes of that key. As an exception to the rule can be taken the ending of "Black napkins" from "Zoot Allures". The piece is using the closely related keys of C sharp Minor (Aeolian)/Dorian and D Lydian, that differ by one or two notes (D sharp versus D natural; see also the remarks about the A/A# at the "Pink napkins" example below). At the end there's a sudden change to the unrelated scale of G Dorian (the bass is here playing a G pedal note). This change takes place at the 8th bar on page 300 of "The Frank Zappa guitar book" or at 3:41 on the CD. After playing up and down through this scale the solo ends in A Dorian (pedal A). In 2010 the ZFT released "Hammersmith Odeon", where you can hear Zappa soloing over two unrelated keys during "King Kong" (see the Hammersmith Odeon section). Next is a table of the scales used for the 73 guitar solo examples from this study. When you compare this table to the general one from the Burnt weeny sandwich section, it leads to two conclusions:
- It confirms Zappa's preference to stay in one scale, as already mentioned. The solos normally follow just one scale, whereas in the general table the examples often have more than one scale or the scales are varying thus rapidly that I didn't assign the example to specific scales. So the solos are different from Zappa's composed music, where frequent modulations are normal.
- For his solos Zappa has a preference for the three modal scales: Dorian, Lydian and Mixolydian. This is other than for his music in general, that uses these scales as more equal to major and minor, though also in general you have a preference for Dorian over minor as it comes to the minor type scales.

- Major10
- Dorian78
- Phrygian5
- Lydian34
- Mixolydian56
- Minor/Aeolian17
- Others and varying26

Table of keys per solo (Html page).
Table of keys per solo (Excel sheet).

Another thing to note is that there is a relationship between the accompanying type of a solo and the choice for a scale. The Guitar section continues with the subject of accompanying types. Of the 13 solos with alternating chords 8 are a I-II alternation in Lydian; three have two alternating scales including Lydian. Only "Yo' mama" and "Bowling on Charen" are in Mixolydian. For solos using alternating chords Zappa thus has a clear preference for Lydian. When you get at the solos, using a bass pedal note or a vamp, it's the other way round. These solos form the majority and the larger part of them are in Dorian or Mixolydian. The "Theme from Sinister Footwear III" is an example of a pedal note solo in Lydian in my study. This is not exceptional though, because you've got more of them on "Guitar" and "Trance-Fusion", like the "Them or us" variants "Move it or park it" and "Do not try this at home" (Bb Lydian).


When you're looking at all guitar solos, you're getting the picture below. Most solos are part of a song or outtakes from a song. They are listed by their title. So I've included recurring songs like "The torture never stops" once. But the number of C Lydian solos, that are outtakes from "Inca roads", are listed separately by their individual titles. The table with the overview of types and scales includes the normal diatonic examples, which are most of the solos. Only occasionnaly you can have an irregular or chromatic solo, the gypsy scale or something in Locrian. Pentatonic gets commented upon below.

Table of all guitar solos (Html page).
Table of all guitar solos (Excel sheet).

Types and scalesIonianDorianPhrygianLydianMixolydianAeolian
- Solos over pedal notes374123559
- Solos over vamps63145173
- Solos over alternating chords262163
- Blues 11152
- Others 38161

The Guitar section from this study continues with the subject of solo types. The first column in the table above is a rather general categorization. Vamps stand for continuingly repeated accompanying figures. Alternating chords are a specific type of vamps. In case of Zappa it is useful to look at alternating chords as a seperate category. More precisely formulated the division should be 1) alternating chords and 2) vamps, other than alternating chords.
There are two remarks by Zappa himself about the keys of his solos in Guitar Player, October 1995, pages 74-75:
- "And harmonically they're either pentatonic or poly-scale oriented. And there's the Mixolydian mode, which I use a lot".
- "I don't like chord changes. I like to have one tonal center that stays there, or possibly a second chord that varies off the main tonal center and then I play around that".
The first quote re-appears in the "Uncle light" CD liner notes, so I felt obliged to include some comment here. It looks like some miscommunication took place. Zappa can't be asked anymore and maybe the reporter didn't reproduce it literally in the correct context. First, these two remarks are inconsistent with each other. Poly-scale and one chord are opposites. Secondly, along the findings of this study, the following can be said:
- Pentatonic passages happen frequently, but they are always embedded in a diatonic environment. When you go a little beyond a passage, or listen to all parts, you can hear a full diatonic scale. See also the Burnt weeny sandwich section of this study. "No waiting for the peanuts to dissolve" is an example of a guitar solo example in this study, that's pentatonic for all parts over a longer period.
- Zappa did compose on his guitar (and sometimes directly on paper or at the piano). Many of his written compositions are poly-scale, but his solos only occasionally.
- Mixolydian is used a lot, next to Dorian and Lydian.
- The one chord remark corresponds best with the pedal note solos. In the implied meaning of one key, it fits more generally.


1. Five-five-FIVE

All solos from what was originally record one of "Shut up 'n play yer guitar" have been transcribed in The FZ Guitar Book. "Five-five-FIVE" is not representative for Zappa's solos, using multiple scales. This "Shut up 'n play yer guitar" opening solo begins with an unusual chord progression in a 5/8 - 5/8 - 5/4 metre (hence its name). It's a progression of chords all using the open D and G string of the guitar as pedal notes, upon which the same chord type is played through keys that keep changing. The chord type is a 9th chord in the positioning fourth plus fourth plus major third. In the following note excerpt the first three bars are given in their complete form containing the first two 9th chords; next only the eight sequent 9th chords are given (all played in the same rhythm) plus the closing 5th chord. The origins of "Five-five-FIVE" go back to 1975, when this sequence was played using 5/8 only. In this study an example of this type of soloing during a "Chunga's revenge" performance is included in the FZ:OZ section.

Five-five-FIVE opening chord progression (midi file).

Five-five-FIVE opening chord progression (notes).

The 9th chord is played subsequently on the lowest notes F, E flat, G, A, B flat, A, C, D, hereafter ending with a 5th chord on D flat. The structure is thus completely determined by positioning the 9th chord and using the D and G string. Traditional harmony is totally ignored: the chords following upon each other don't have notes in common and the D and G don't have to be in the same scale as the 9th chord. Even the positioning of the chords with the last 5th chord on D flat becomes chromatic.

Zappa in Guitar Player, October 1995:
FZ: "It's in 5/8, 5/8, 5/4. You count it like this: One-two one-two-three, one-two one-two-three, one-and-two-and-three-and-four-and-five-and.
GP: "How would someone approach that without feeling as if they had two left feet?"
FZ: "It's a very guitar-oriented piece because of the way it uses the open string. So it's kind of an easy thing to pick-up on the guitar, in spite of the odd rhythm. As long as the numbers involved tend to frighten you, though, then the odd rhythms are not your meat. Don't worry about the numbers - you just have to worry about what the feel is. When I wrote that particular song I never even stopped to figure out what the time signature was. I don't worry about that when I'm playing the guitar. If I'm writing it for an orchestra, then I do. But I don't calculate how things that I make up on the guitar are going to look on paper or how it's ultimately going to be. I just play it and then figure out what it is later, after I've recorded it".

2. Hog heaven

A shorter solo in E Lydian, beginning with the picking on the lower guitar notes for about a minute. The bass guitar is giving a frequently recurring E as pedal note. It's transcribed in The FZ Guitar Book, pages 17-22. During the opening bars you can see how Steve tried to include guitar effects. The first note is a high feedback B, followed by a note indicated as "grosse" and sforzando. The sound gets described as using an "octave divider - serious earthquake sound". The metronome tempo is 168 eighth notes with the composition taking up 83 bars in 3/4, thus 498 eight notes in total. This would mean that this solo would last 2:58 minutes, while it actually lasts 2:42 minutes (without the spoken text). This suggests that Zappa might have sped up the tape a little, without changing the pitch.

Hog heaven

Opening from Hog heaven (FZ Guitar book, page 17).

In the Guitar Player interview with Steve Vai, February 1983 issue, Vai tells how he got hired to do this:
- GP: "So you we're taken aback by the complexity of Zappa's music."
- Steve: "I was just awed by it, and I tried to transcribe it. It took me months. [...] One thing led to another and I transcribed "The black page". I sent it to Frank and he wrote back, telling me that he liked it, and he offered me a job transcribing. I took it, of course: Frank was my favorite."
- GP: "How old were you then?"
- Steve: "I was 18 or 19 when I transcribed all the stuff that's in the book. I started transcribing then, and I just finished, right before the 1982 tour."

Hog heaven, end (midi file).

Hog heaven, end (transcription).

This last example is the end of "Hog heaven", 2:34 through 2:49. At the end the bass player is alternating E and F#, each lasting two beats, so I've notated this as 2/4. In the Guitar book "Hog heaven" starts in 3/4 as above and Steve Vai maintains this meter to the end, thus also during the E and F# alternation. I've indicated the Guitar book meter below the transcription during the first bars of this example. Each solo ends with an insertion, this time a high piano dissonant and a whispering voice.

3. Shut up 'n play yer guitar (album) - Shut up 'n play yer guitar some more (Guitar book)

A solo in C Lydian with a C-D chords/bass alternation. To the right Zappa's comment upon tracks 2-3, Guitar Player, October 1995. The titles "Shut up 'n play yer guitar" and "Shut up 'n play yer guitar some more" are turned around in the FZ Guitar book, compared to the album. Both are official releases. They are of a comparable length, so probably Zappa changed his mind which one should be on record 1 and which one on record 2. The bootleg recordings of these concerts show that the recording dates of these two titles are still presented turned around in the CD booklet. I only realized this when I started including examples by myself. Up till the 5th pdf edition of this study, the samples from the Guitar book of these two titles are at the wrong track because of this. So it's actually transcribed in The FZ Guitar Book, pages 136-152, this one including the drum part. The drumset notation is included in the book on page 8, next to specific guitar effect notations. It's the notation Zappa himself used for "The black page drum solo". Below a sample from this piece (see the Zappa in New York section for more). It's also the notation I'm following in this study for the couple of instances where I've included the drum part.

Shut up 'n play yer guitar (album)/Shut up 'n play yer guitar some more (Guitar book), opening bars and drumset notation.

Zappa's solos could sometimes be individual pieces, but mostly they were part of songs. In this case the solo stems from "Inca roads" as included in the 1979 European winter tour. So you get a whole series of such C Lydian solos on tape, from which he would pick out the best. In this case Zappa was such pleased with the results that he would release five of them in total, four on this CD and one on "Guitar" ("System of edges"). See below at "Gee, I like your pants" and "The return of the Son of shut up 'n play yer guitar" for C Lydian solos with the I-II alternation from this set. Others from this study are "Holiday in Berlin", "Inca roads", "Orange county", "RDNZL", "Occam's razor", "Pick me, I'm clean" and "System of edges".

Shut up 'n play yer guitar (album)/Shut up 'n play yer guitar some more (Guitar book), end (midi file).

Shut up 'n play yer guitar (album)/Shut up 'n play yer guitar some more (Guitar book), end (transcription).

This second example is the end of this solo, 5:17 till 5:37. Bars 1-3 are variations upon a motif of one bar. The harmony notes in the background are mostly vague, being harmonic fill-in with a C-D chord alternation as basis. The drum part isn't included here, but can be found in the Guitar book. All titles on "Shut up 'n play yer guitar" end with snippets of spoken text with sometimes some irregular musical elements added to it. On this occasion a chromatic melody by a harpsichord. The information about who's talking and playing during these (studio) snippets is not given, only the participants during the solos. The solos get cut off brutally, seguing into such a snippet, that on its own turn gets directly followed by the next solo (hence a 1/16 meter notation for the last bar: it shouldn't be followed by a pause). By comparing bar 8 from my example with the final bar from the Guitar book, you can see that it got cut off just before it's actual end on stage. The slowing down of the pace and descending melody during bars 5-7 already indicate that the solo is probably reaching its end. On life footage you can see that Zappa turned around towards the band to indicate that the song the solo was part of should restart in the next bar.

Sample from the drum set notation from "The black page drum solo".

4. While you were out

The first of two solos with Zappa playing an acoustic guitar in the studio, accompanied by Warren Cucurullo on a 2nd acoustic guitar and Vinnie Colaiuta on drums. The key is sometimes D Mixolydian, sometimes D Dorian. The accompanying guitar frequently uses the bass string, tuned down from E to D, as pedal note for its chords. The meter of this solo isn't constant. There are even points where Steve Vai chose not to notate a meter division at all. Warren is picking out enlarged chords for the accompaniment, more common in jazz music than in rock. The transcription in The FZ Guitar Book, pages 44-69, contains both guitar parts plus the drum part. The Mixolydian F sharp and the Dorian F are both used. (I haven't checked this to the full, but there appear to be writing- or printing errors in the Guitar book. The F# during bars 94-6 is F natural and the F# on page 57 should be an E. Perhaps the Dorian element is stronger. This solo comes from a jam session from which also "Stucco homes" was taken. That one, and perhaps the session, has Mixolydian as starting point. Maybe the reason why Steve Vai also notates "While you were out" as in Mixolydian. The mingling of Mixolydian and Dorian is common in Zappa's music, however.)

While you were out, opening bars (midi file).

While you were out, opening bars (transcription).

The example above contains the opening bars with Zappa playing the sharply dissonant major seventh in bars 1 and 4. The other bars are melodic. Warren Cucurullo plays softly in the background. At this point the solo is in D Dorian. Steve Vai transcribed this by rewinding tapes dozens of times, while I've got the facility of a computer. A simple mouseclick is enough for going back and you've got the computer indicating durations on the time axis mathematically. I'm getting at a somewhat different rhythm, but all remains an approximation, basically sounding the same as how Vai notated this. There are no clear downbeats or patterns here, like the I-II alternation in 4/4 from the previous track, which complicates the transcribing in this case.
I'm continuing with this composition in the Jazz from hell section. Zappa used the score of "While you were out" as the starting point for a new synclavier piece, called "While you were art II". The sound of this synclavier composition is totally different and the score got thoroughly re-arranged. Still it's possible to detect the notes from "While you were out".

5. Treacherous cretins

Here we get at a solo over a vamp. In Guitar Player, October 1995, Zappa talked about a "harmonic climate" created by this vamp, implying D Minor and A chords:

Up to the 5th pdf version of this study and in my discussion with Brett Clement I took this for Zappa interpreting the scales as D minor and A, possibly D Dorian and A Mixolydian when you take into consideration people don't always make such distinctions. Below I've transcribed the opening of "Treacherous cretins" in detail, leading to some refinement upon this. Semantically the above might mean chords from D minor and A, but seen the transcription it's getting more likely that Zappa had just the Dm- and A-chord by themselves in mind. In that case "implied" would be an understatement. The accompanying chords by the keyboard and rhythm guitar(s) are explicitely using these two chords in the example below.
For the vamping melody (starting solo during bars 1-4), I'm using two staves. You can hear that these notes have their accents in the right or left channel of the stereo field and that their sound is slightly different. This only serves the midi file, but the other details are relevant for the analysis. The solo is transcribed in The FZ Guitar Book, pages 70-78. It begins with indicating Dm and A for the accompaniment and mostly this suggests a D and A bass pedal alternation as well (the bass part is never included in the Guitar book). I never gave this much thought and a D and A bass alternation would very well have been possible, but the actual bass pedal is an A for both bars from the vamp. In this study I'm always letting such bass pedals determine the scale, rather than the chords.

Treacherous cretins, 0:00-0:45 (midi file).

Treacherous cretins, 0:00-0:45 (transcription).

An important topic of Brett's theory is that Lydian should be seen as the central scale. For that reason he's trying to put as much error marks behind my examples of the other scales as possible. About the previous "Shut up 'n play yer guitar" track and "Treacherous cretins" he writes:
- Shut up 'n play yer guitar, A Dorian: "X (C Lydian)".
- Treacherous cretins, D minor: "X (No, A is definitely the pitch center here)".
- Treacherous cretins, A: "X (No, the notes are A B C# D E F G; how is that Ionian)".
After checking things out he has a point. The A Dorian part in the Guitar book is happening during "Shut up 'n play yer guitar some more" on the album (see below). So it could be listed at another title, but it definitely should be listed among Dorian examples.
When Zappa starts soloing during "Treacherous cretins", as in bars 8-12 from the example above, he's using a C# with only one instance of a C natural by the accompaniment. The other notes are always natural. When following the approach of this study, I agree with Brett that A-B-C#-D-E-F-G should be seen as the primary scale (not a standard diatonic scale, but a major type of scale). The Guitar book suggests a C natural being used for a longer period at the bottom of page 73 and top of page 74, which would mean you're in A minor/Aeolian. This appears to be due to writing or setting errors. When you listen to these bars, it's also here a C sharp. The few genuine instances of a C natural concern altered notes.

6. Heavy duty Judy (1980)

Another solo over a vamp, here in E Mixolydian. It's transcribed in The FZ Guitar Book, pages 79-89. The vamp does I-II-VII in E Mixolydian, while the bass gives an E pedal note. The sound of the guitar and some of its licks are remindful of the "Easy meat" solo from "Tinsel town rebellion", recorded about a week later at Santa Monica, December 1980. The vamp returns with variations and extensions as a concert opener on "The best band you've never heard before" (see the corresponding section for the "Heavy duty Judy" version from 1988). It can also be heard during the second half of "Chalk pie". See the Guitar section for a number of such bars.

Heavy duty Judy

Vamp and opening of Heavy duty Judy (1980) (FZ Guitar book, page 79).

In Guitar Player, October 1995, Zappa comments upon the fact that a bass pedal note or the key of a vamp doesn't prescribe a keynote for his solos:
GP: "Heavy duty Judy" sounds as if it's based on more than one tonality.
FZ: I do that all the time. For instance, that's just an E7 vamp [I guess he calls it that way because of the VII chord being played upon the downbeat with an E by the bass below it], and I like to play in the key of A. It's just like playing in the tonality of the eleventh [Extending E7 to A would create an 11th chord on E. As a full chord you can see happening in bar 5 from the example below].
GP: That can be pretty hairy for someone used to playing only major and minor chords and 7ths.
FZ: They are missing out! The fun doesn't start until you get at the eleventh.
GP: Further complicating the piece are the many different rhythms.
FZ: Well, basically, in that tune you've got the band - bass, keyboards and rhythm guitar - playing the same shuffle rhythm, and the guitar and drums are going apeshit on top of that, but always knowing where the downbeat is going back. That doesn't mean you have to play the downbeat, because everybody else is doing it - playing hemiolas across the bar.

Heavy duty Judy, 1:00-1:26 (midi file).

Heavy duty Judy, 1:00-1:26 (transcription).

The section from above is an outtake from "Heavy duty Judy" from the point where Arthur Barrow starts playing something that you could call a vamping figure, an upgoing bass line. This figure gets maintained for a couple of bars. Zappa plays a couple of chords before he decides to sustain a lower B. A higher feedback F# is coming up, taking over the volume from the sustained B note, that is slowly fading. The F# note is vibrating and gets sustained for two more bars, that aren't shown in the example.

7. Soup 'n old clothes

A solo in D Dorian. The bass guitar is giving D as pedal note. It's transcribed in The FZ Guitar Book on pages 90-106. Steve notates the meter as 4/4 with a 12/8 feel at the beginning, becoming normal 4/4 after some 15 bars. The rhythm section is indeed playing in 12/8 during the opening. To keep things consistent for my meters table from the Roxy section, the example below is notated in 12/8. But 4/4 with triplets is just as well possible. See also my discussion of "Lucille" from the Joe's garage section of this study.

Soup 'n old clothes, opening bars (midi file).

Soup 'n old clothes, opening bars (transcription).

"Soup 'n old clothes" begins gently with some sustained notes. In bar 5 Zappa accelerates to fast strings. Then it costs me an hour to transcribe a single bar, double-checking included. The whole piece takes up some 125 bars, most of them containing figures like in bar 5.


1. Variations on the Carlos Santana secret chord progression

The vamp is I 7th and IV 5th alternating in G Dorian. It's transcribed in The FZ Guitar Book, pages 108-117. The Trance-fusion section contains a fragment of two bars from this solo, included at the quartertones examples at "Ask dr. Stupid". Zappa refers to it as "That ol' G Minor thing again" on "Guitar", where the vamp is used again. See the Guitar section for the opening of that particular execution. Depending upon the context you can notice that sometimes some people don't make a distinction between major and Mixolydian, or between minor and Dorian. They simply call both major and minor. Sometimes Zappa does this too, as on this occasion and by calling the A Mixolydian solo from Prague (1991) simply a solo in A. On other occasions he specifically mentions a modal scale (like in some of the citations above). This vamp as it can be found in The FZ Guitar Book, page 108:

Variations on the Carlos Santana secret chord progression

It's a vamp of two bars in 4/4, alternating the Gm7 and C chords. It gets it specific character by its rhythm (both off beat and on beat) and the inclusion of Bm (no third) add E as a passing chord. "Minor" in this context thus stands for minor type. The vamp returned once more on "Trance-fusion" with the "Scratch & sniff" solo from 1988, including a brass section. See the corresponding section for how the vamp got played at that moment.

In 1999 Arthur Barrow posted some comment on the newsgroup. He proposed to do a Santana parody, as well as the title for it. Zappa played it during a "City of tiny lights" performance and liked it enough to keep doing this. Two other such solos can be found on "Guitar" and "Trance-fusion". It can also be heard during complete "City of tiny lights" recordings from the eighties, both on Zappa's own CDs as ZFT releases. So, instead of being a parody, it has become a serious tribute to Carlos Santana.

The comment by Arthur Barrow on

Steve Vai on how he started the transcribing job (from the Guitar Player interview, mentioned above):
"And I remember the first one I did that I was on salary was "Outside now". Then I did "He used to cut the grass". And this stuff was transcribed using a cassette recorder that was so small and weak and lousy. It was really hard. I used to sit and listen to one bar of music maybe a hundred times - hours and hours and hours of music. But it was fun: I enjoyed it. I felt useful. I was learning. I think that transcribing is one of the biggest learning experiences for a musician, and it's really good for a person."

Variations on the Carlos Santana secret chord progression, 2:02-2:20 (midi file).

Variations on the Carlos Santana secret chord progression, 2:02-2:20 (transcription).

Only at the beginning the vamp is played literally as above. First the keyboards start improvising more freely. After a minute Arthur Barrow starts varying his bass line more and more. The example above is from half-way this title. At this point the accompaniment has drifted away from the opening vamp pretty much. Only the characteristic syncope between the first and second bar of the vamp is still present, though also this feature is being replaced by playing on beat during a couple of bars. The keyboards are playing lightly in the background. Staff 2 of the transcription is only an indication, the individual keyboard notes and chords are hard to discern.

2. Gee, I like your pants

The accompanying chord scheme is I and II of C Lydian alternating. The band played four gigs between January 17th and 19th at the Odeon Hammersmith in London, doing an early and a late show on the second day. This solo is a cut-out of one of the two "Inca roads" solos as explained above, played on January 18th, namely during the late show. It's transcribed in The FZ Guitar Book on pages 118-123.

Gee, I like your pants, end (midi file).

Gee, I like your pants, end (transcription).

This solo can be roughly split into a few sections:
- 0:00 Regular C-D alternation in 4/4 with Zappa playing a melody.
- 0:16 Section with chords.
- 0:23 Block with ultrafast picking of notes (compare the Budapest solo from the Documentaries section of this study).
- 0:40 Melodic playing.
- 0:48 Larger block with chords, being variations upon a number of motifs.
- 2:08 Relatively slow melodic lines, ending with a sustained E note.
- 2:30 Spoken text as introduction to the next track (without a meter): "Identify your last ...".
- 2:35 End.
The example above is played between 1:52 and 2:31. It looks like Zappa has been editing the tape at this point:
- In bar 5 he's playing largely only by himself in a different tempo. In bar 6 the band continues in 4/4 as before.
- In bars 10-15 you've got a keyboard doubling Zappa's part with parallel fifths.
A bootleg copy of the entire solo can be found on Youtube, that shows that between bars 4 and 5 a block has been edited out. Bar 5 knows more bass notes than audible on the album. A form of keyboard doubling is also present on the bootleg, though not identical. There are also many differences with the transcription by Steve Vai. Possibly Vai (also) used an unedited tape. One may also notice that from bar 11 onwards the durations of the C and D pedal notes aren't equal anymore. You can compare this with the opening of "Shut up 'n play yer guitar some more". It's Arthur Barrow looking for some variation upon the scheme.

3. Canarsie

A restless solo, played over a vamp that is alternating C sharp and E. The solo itself is chromatic, not using a specific key and using many dissonant intervals. "Canarsie" and "Ship ahoy" are the two solos from "Shut up 'n play yer guitar some more", that aren't transcribed in the Guitar book.

Canarsie, opening (midi file).
Canarsie, 0:54 till 1:03 (midi file).

Canarsie, sections (transcription).

The basic tracks of "Canarsie" are taken from the 2/19/79 concert at the Odeon Hammersmith, London, with Arthur Barrow playing bass. There are some mysteries surrounding this solo. First the taped copies in the bootleg circuit apparently don't include this solo and no comparable ones from other concerts are reported. The bass overdub by Patrick O'hearn however, that replaces the original, gets confirmed in Greg Russo's book. The agenda of the Village Recorders studio in L.A. lists Patrick for May 11-12, 1979. Denny Walley plays a vamp on electric sitar. Secondly the exact rhythm of this solo is grueling. The pick-up bar consists of a drum intro lasting 7/8, followed by the first vamping figure of 5/16. Over this you get one of the many overdubbed comments that you can hear between the songs. The total vamp of two bars has two figures of unequal length alternating. The drum part is quite free. In the figures there is mostly an equality between drummer, sitar and bass, so the one must have known what the other was doing. There are a few instances with the drummer ticking eighth or sixteenth notes. From these instances I get the impression that the meter is a 14/8 - 13/8 alternation, though I can't give any guarantees for the solo as a whole. I still have the idea that the solo might be resynchronized to a degree. The transcription contains two fragments including the drum beats.

4. Ship ahoy

This is the oldest solo on "Shut up 'n play yer guitar", stemming from the 1976 tour in Japan and Australia. Two variants can be found on the Zappa Family Trust releases "FZ plays FZ" and "FZ:OZ". In the seventies he sometimes experimented with aftersounds, like the echo on "Leather goods" from "Läther". Here there are higher and lower as well as more irregular resonating aftersounds. A section of "Ship ahoy" also got included on "Läther", following upon the "Little green rosetta" theme. See the Läther section for a transcription.
"Ship ahoy" is played over a straight sustained bass D-pedal, using D Dorian and D Mixolydian (both F and F sharp are used).

5. The deathless horsie

This is a solo with a larger preset opening theme. It uses various scales. The modulation scheme is B Mixolydian, A Lydian, C sharp Minor/Dorian and back to B Mixolydian. The bass guitar is giving the sequent keynotes as pedal notes. These scales use the same set of notes, except for that during the C# pedal section both the A and A# sharp are used. Thus here minor (with the A) and Dorian (with an A#) are used as siblings. In the Guitar Book for the C# pedal part, pages 130-134, you'll only encounter an A. The second example below is using an A, but it looks like Steve Vai miswrote himself at some instances, that actually have an A# (something I noted when I checked things for my scales table from the Burnt weeny sandwich section).

The deathless horsie (YCDTOSA), section (midi file).
The deathless horsie (SUNPYG), section (midi file).

The deathless horsie, sections (transcription).

The first example stems from the other available version of "The deathless horsie", the one that is included in "You can't do that on stage anymore, Vol I." (YCDTOSA) from the The Pier concerts, New York, 1984. The preset part lasts a minute in total and goes much identical to the "Shut up 'n' play yer guitar" (SUNPYG) version. The most notable differences in the set-up are:
- For SUNPYG the vamp is notated as two times 5/4. The YCDTOSA has to be notated differently, 6/4 plus 4/4, because of a more specific bass pattern. Here it's more like a vamp with the pedal notes as indicated below at their starting point at 0:17.
- On YCDTOSA the following order of the pedal notes is different, namely C# first and then A.
The set-up on YCDTOSA is:
- 0:00 The vamp melody from staff 2 gets played twice.
- 0:08 The bass comes in with B pedal combined with a high keyboards B for the descant. This high B keeps being sustained all through the solo, the volume being less during the A pedal part. There's a little progression for the keyboards: II -I 7th - I.
- 0:17 The bass begins playing the pattern: B-F#-D#-A with as duration lengths 3+3+2+2 (in quarter notes).
- 0:26 The solo begins with the main theme played twice. The transcription above contains the second instance (bars 1-8), followed by the improvised soloing (bars 9-11). The main theme isn't played 100 % identical on all occasions, but with minor variations. It's made up of a little motif around B, played twice (bars 1-2), followed by a sequence of longer sustained chords (bars 3-8), at the end turning back to the I chord of B Mixolydian.
- 1:01 Improvised solo over B pedal.
- 1:36 Switch to C# pedal.
- 2:32 Switch to A pedal.
- 4:40 Return to B pedal with the main theme played twice again.
- 5:20 The vamp ends with being played by itself.
- 5:29 End of the track; the vamp segues into the "Dangerous kitchen".

6. Shut up 'n play yer guitar some more (album) - Shut up 'n play yer guitar (Guitar book)

C Lydian as above, for a while also A Dorian. This solo is transcribed in The FZ Guitar Book, pages 23-43, as "Shut up 'n play yer guitar". See also above for the titles "Shut up 'n play yer guitar" and "Shut up 'n play yer guitar some more" being turned around in the Guitar book compared to the album. The accompanying chord scheme is I and II of C Lydian alternating, later on for a moment I and IV of A Dorian alternating. The Dorian episode is happening on pages 30-31 of the Guitar book, with Steve Vai using the word modulation.

Two bars from Shut up 'n play yer guitar some more (album)/Shut up 'n play yer guitar (Guitar book).

Above are two bars from this solo with some examples of the difficult irregular groupings, which Steve Vai would use for transcribing. These two include tuplets within tuplets. For most of his albums Zappa tried to create a sound specific for an album. This also goes for how the guitar sounds, especially for the three title tracks. Taken from subsequent gigs, these have an outspoken use of the stereo field, where also the intonation of sustained notes can move during their duration. Zappa produced all of his albums himself (only the first two were contractually attributed to Tom Wilson). He was quite fanatic as it comes to production techniques. It's a subject I have no technical knowledge of, so I can't effectively describe it, but it's something you can readily notice. Many Zappa albums sound perfectly produced. Sometimes there was no alternative but to accept lesser conditions, something Zappa dreaded. On this specific track you can occasionally hear the high feedback tones that live systems sometimes generate. Apparently this didn't really bother him.

Bars from Shut up 'n play yer guitar some more (album)/Shut up 'n play yer guitar (Guitar book), page 30, with the modulation to A Dorian (the meter is 4/4). Some solos know a premeditated modulation scheme, like the previous "The deathless horsie" track. In this case this modulation must have been initiated by the bass player, Arthur Barrow, looking for some variation. The other three C Lydian solos from "Shut up 'n play yer guitar" don't know such a passage and, as Zappa himself is saying above at track 3, he had no plans in advance for this solo. The modulation is achieved by a pedal substitution. Theoretically it can also be identified as still being in C Lydian, with the I-II (C-D) alternation being replaced by a VI-II (A-D) alternation. In this study I'm interpreting changes of the bass pedal as key changes, when they last for more than a few bars, as also Steve Vai is doing.

Next is the opening of "Shut up 'n play yer guitar some more". Like above you can also here notice that Arthur Barrow is varying the C-D alternation. In fact, this solo starts more as a C pedal solo, with Barrow sometimes pausing on the downbeat or playing a syncopic note at this point. It takes quite a while before it becomes the standard C-D alternation.

Shut up 'n play yer guitar some more (album), 0:00-0:28 (midi file).

Shut up 'n play yer guitar some more (album), 0:00-0:28 (transcription).

In the Ulrich book it gets said that Zappa at first thought of including this solo as "More streets and roads" on an album that never came to be, "Warts and all". The intended tracks for this album actually became part of "Tinsel town rebellion" and "Shut up 'n play yer guitar". It looks like Steve Vai was given a tape that was planned for inclusion in "Warts and all", that at some point differs a little from "Shut up 'n play yer guitar some more" as included in the "Shut up 'n play yer guitar" box. An almost neglectable difference is the pick-up bar. In the Guitar book this bar seems to come from another title. Bootleg copies of the 02-18-2022 early show at the Hammersmith Odeon show that Zappa eventually released this solo exactly as it was played.

Shut up 'n play yer guitar some more (album), 6:14-6:21 (midi file).
Guitar book, bars from page 40 (midi file).

Shut up 'n play yer guitar some more (album), 6:14-6:21/Guitar book, bars from page 40 (transcription).

The differences are getting more serious towards the end, the part with chord progressions starting half-way page 40 in the Guitar book. The number of bars, as well as the general patterns, are the same, but at a detail level it can sound different. The example/midi files above are two versions of four bars from page 40. How this came into being I can't tell. What you can notice, as shown with the xenochrony examples in this study, is that Zappa had the means and interest in changing his solos almost at will. In the Joe's garage section at "He used to cut the grass" I'm pointing at two bars where Zappa apparently further edited a tape after having given a copy of this tape to Steve Vai.

Shut up 'n play yer guitar some more (album), 6:43-6:52 (midi file).
Guitar book, bars from pages 41-42 (midi file).

Shut up 'n play yer guitar some more (album), 6:43-6:52/Guitar book, bars from pages 41-42 (transcription).

The Guitar book also demonstrates that Zappa originally intended to end this solo with one of the themes from "Inca roads", the theme that is following upon the solo on "One size fits all". These last two examples are the final three bars from the album, ending with one of the add-ins (lasting only 3 seconds), and the same bars from the Guitar book, continuing with "Inca roads".

7. Pink napkins

C sharp Minor (Aeolian)/Dorian and D Lydian. The bass guitar is alternating C sharp and D. It's the same pattern as in "Black napkins", described above. Zappa loved "Black napkins", playing it on the road for three sequent years from 1976 to 1978. See the FZ:OZ - FZ plays FZ section for more about "Black napkins". For this particular 1977 concert Zappa chose not to play the regular "Black napkins" opening theme, but to go straight ahead to the soloing over the progression. The meter is also different, namely 6/8 instead of 3/4, subdivided as two times 3/8. It's transcribed in The FZ Guitar Book, pages 153-158.

Pink napkins, opening (midi file).

Pink napkins, opening (notes).

The scale over the the C# pedal can sometimes be Aeolian and sometimes Dorian, because there's an ongoing indecision to play an A or A# over the C# pedal for the various occasions the C#/D schedule is used. In the examples in this study it goes as:
- Black napkins (1975): the A is avoided.
- Black napkins (1976): an A.
- Pink napkins: the A in bar 5 becomes A# in bar 7.
- Panty rap: the A is avoided again.
This continues in the 1988 version: A# for the chord at 0:39, A for the sax at 1:12-1:15 and 1:28-1:30, A# for the trumpet at 2:02-2:05 and an A again at 2:24-2:25.


1. Beat it with your fist

A short solo in A Dorian over the bass playing an A pedal. As mentioned above, all solos from "Shut up 'n play yer guitar" begin or end with snippets of conversations, used as brief transitory elements in between solos. For a few of the solos, the title was derived from the introductory dialogues, like in this case. Zappa had a pretty rich imagination as it comes to naming solos, literary styled rather than referring to the musical content and context.

Beat it with your fist, 0:24-0:33 (midi file).

Beat it with your fist, 0:24-0:33 (transcription).

"Beat it with your fist" begins with the bass playing the A pedal note upon the downboat in straightforward 4/4, and only that note. This initial idea of simplicity gets torpedoed from 0:27 onwards by pausing upon the downbeat and/or playing the A pedal note upon beats two, three or four. The example from above includes this turning point. I've roughly indicated the drum part too, because the bass by itself does not indicate the meter anymore after this point. It gets played fast, at least in the way I've notated it. In his book about his career in music, "Of course I said yes!", bass player Arthur Barrow explains how this came about. It's a solo from "The torture never stops". Zappa had complained that he became too busy during this solo, asking him to play just the A pedal. So that is what he did the next time, but expressed his annoyment over this by starting to avoid the downbeat after a while. Of course Zappa noted this and liked the effect enough to include it on the album.

The FZ Guitar Book stops at the third "The return of the son of shut up 'n play yer guitar" album from the set, but it does contains nine other solos from "You are what you is", "Joe's garage", "Sheik Yerbouti" and "Zoot allures". Examples from the following titles are present in this study:
- "Theme from the 3rd movement of Sinister footwear" (Them or us section).
- "Watermelon in Easter hay" (Joe's garage section).
- "Sheik Yerbouti tango" (Roxy and elsewhere section).
- "Mo' mama" (Sheik Yerbouti section).
- "Black napkins" (FZ:OZ-FZ plays FZ section).

2. Return of the son of shut up 'n play yer guitar

Except for "Stucco Homes", the solos from the third "Return of the son of shut up 'n play yer guitar" album haven't been transcribed in the Guitar book, so here I can do some of the work.

Return of the son of shut up 'n play yer guitar, 0:55 till 1:25 (midi file).

Return of the son of shut up 'n play yer guitar, 0:55 till 1:25 (transcription).

This is the fourth and longest C Lydian solo included in this set. As it comes to irregular rhythmic groupings, you can hear a 17-tuplet going over a bar line in this example. I've also briefly notated how the I-II alternation is being played by the bass and keyboards.

Return of the son of shut up 'n play yer guitar, 4:36-4:49 (midi file).

Return of the son of shut up 'n play yer guitar, 4:36-4:49 (transcription).

During this second example you can see Arthur Barrow avoiding the downbeat of the second bar from the scheme for a while. He's either playing the D off-beat or on the second beat. In bar 5 Zappa begins playing ultrafast, which lasts some 10 seconds more on the album. There are a couple of other instances of him doing that. In the documentaries section of this study several bars from the Budapest solo are included with this type of playing, with also some comment upon how it's created. On "Shut up 'n play yer guitar" this is occurrring during "Gee, I like your pants" as well, with Steve Vai having transcribed these bars in full on page 119 of the FZ Guitar book. On this page a single bar takes up the whole width of a page.

Return of the son of shut up 'n play yer guitar, 7:30-7:52 (midi file).

Return of the son of shut up 'n play yer guitar, 7:30-7:52 (transcription).

This last section is played towards the end. In bar 2 of the example Arthur Barrow begins with using triplets frequently, which has become a full-blown triplets figure in bars 7-10, a 12/8 feel, on the album continued for some more bars. First the drummer follows suit (not shown in the example), next Zappa himself.

3. Pinocchio's furniture

For his three guitar solo sets Zappa is quite informative about the concert they were taken from, who's playing on it and even what type of guitar he was using. The Gibson Les Paul he mostly used can be seen on the album cover. Live solos are also included on many other Zappa albums, but normally without this sort of information. The vinyl albums had it printed on the back of the album sleeves. The CD has this in a booklet with a praising introduction by John Swenson, calling for instance "Pinocchio's furniture" brutally intense. It's a review, taken over form Guitar World, November 1981. The album box had a short introduction on the backside, probably written by Zappa himself. At that point he was talking about writers who forgot to listen what his guitar was talking about (not included on the CD). The set definitely helped to get Zappa better in the picture as a guitar player.

Pinocchio's furniture, bars 1-4 (midi file).

Pinocchio's furniture, bars 1-4 (transcription).

The example above are the first four bars from "Pinocchio's furniture", played between 0:00 and 0:13. How this solo should best be classified depends upon how you look at it.
- All bars start with a D, so it could be called a pedal note solo in D Dorian.
- The bass alternates D-A and D-G, so it could also be called a two-bar vamp. The D is actually the highest note from this vamp, not really a pedal note, so one might argue it's a I-VII alternation in A minor (up to the 4th edition of this study I called this solo G Mixolydian, but the A comes first).
No note has a dominating length. Since the D coincides with the downbeat, it gets a better accent, so I've listed this solo as a pedal note solo in D Dorian.

4. Why Johnny can't read

An agitated solo in E Mixolydian. The first minute Zappa is playing alone with only an E-pedal note coming up at the indicated point (and some harmonic fill-in in the background). After this minute the drummer joins in, but they never seem to get at a regular downbeat.

Why Johnny can't read, opening (midi file).

Why Johnny can't read, opening (transcription).

It's almost incredible that Zappa can keep this nerve-racking pace up for four minutes. The opening lick is an arpeggio figure picking on all seven notes of the scale once (figure a), so you get to the largest chord that's possible within a key, namely a 13th chord. This lick gets varied upon twice in my example (figures b and c). At points a and b the pedal E still has to come up. If you take the E as root it's I 13th for all three instances (with the third missing at points b and c).

5. Stucco homes

The second of the two solos with Zappa playing an acoustic guitar in the studio. It's the longest guitar solo from the set, lasting 9:08 minutes. It's transcribed in full by Steve Vai on pages 160-203 of the Guitar Book, taking up that many pages because it also involves a second guitar, with Steve having included the drum part as well:

Stucco homes

Stucco homes, bars 30-33 (FZ Guitar book, page 164). Staff one is FZ, staff 2 Warren Cucurullo and staff 3 Vinnie Colaiuta.

The set-up is the same as in "While you were out" from above (both titles are from the same session). In this case the F/F# is about always F#. So the scale becomes D Mixolydian and the occasional F natural can be seen as an altered note. The Trance-fusion section from this study contains another small outtake of three bars from this solo at the quartertones paragraph.

Stucco homes, 8:21-8:56 (midi file).

Stucco homes, 8:21-8:56 (transcription).

This last example is the end of this solo, corresponding with bars 306 through 322 in the FZ Guitar book. The principal accompanying chords are D (no 3rd, sometimes no 5th), Asus4 and C. These chords are mostly played lightly in the background. It sounds as a finished coda, so this was probably also a real end when it got recorded, rather than being cut off before the actual end. Exactly at the point where Steve lets end his transcription, Zappa added one of his insertions with spoken text. On this occasion this insertion begins with a sustained C on piano, which makes the end sound as evading from D as tonic. Zappa did this more often, as I'm also commenting upon at "Outrage at Valdez" in the Documentairies section of this study. During the final bars you can also hear a number of notes being altered.
In the Guitar section at "In-a-gadda-Stravinsky" I'm commenting upon notational difficulties arising from situations where players aren't following each other's tempo. At some points this is also happening during "Stucco homes". Next are two examples by Steve Vai regarding his notation of meters in combination with the rhythm of the soloing by Zappa. While most of the time Zappa is following the rhythm section, there are also moments where he himself is playing thus freely that his line seems to float over the rhythm section. This isn't the case in the two examples presented above. In the second example from above the meter is 4/4. I haven't included the drum part, but this part is available in the FZ Guitar book. The downbeats are clearly present and Zappa is following this downbeat most of the time. But freely floating over the rhythm section is the case in the next two examples.

Stucco homes, bars 270-4 and 239-242 (transcription).

Vinnie Colaiuta and Warren Cucurullo are using the quarter note as time unit almost all through this title with 3/4, 4/4 and 5/4 being the mostly occurring meters, depending on the moment when Vinnie Colaiuta chooses to beat a downbeat. Bars 46 and 47 are the only exception. These two are notated by Vai as 17/18 and 15/18 respectively. During the piece tempo changes are occurring as well. In bar 272 from the examples above, beat 4, Zappa starts a figure that lasts through the first eighth note of bar 274. Vai notates this as a 15:20-tuplet of 16th notes. It moves over a bar line and is also syncopically connected to bar 274. So this figure floats over the rhythm of the rhythm section rather than following it. Bars 239-242 are an example where this is happening over a longer period, where Vai chose not to use a tuplet notation for Zappa's soloing no more, but visually indicate what's happening without a meter for Zappa:
- Bar 239 in 3/4: over this Zappa plays circa 3,25 quarter notes (his C comes in a little after the downbeat, the preceding space being used by the E from the preceding bar, not represented in the example).
- Bar 240 in 5/4: over this Zappa plays circa 5,25 quarter notes.
- Bar 241 in 3/4: over this Zappa plays circa 3 quarter notes, but moving over the bar lines of the rhythm section.
- Bar 242 in 4/4: over this Zappa plays circa 4,5 quarter notes (the last B-D chord goes over the downbeat of the next bar, not represented in this example).
So, in effect, on the average Zappa is here playing a bit faster than his rhythm section, which is also indicated by Vai at the beginning of this block at bar 233: the guitar part has a metronome time of 144 quarter notes, compared to 138 by the rhythm section. The choices by Vai are understandable. Using the same meters for Zappa in combination with tuplets would make this look very complicated, maybe exaggeratedly complicated.

6. Canard du jour

Jean-Luc Ponty worked with Zappa from 1969 through 1973, but left the band in that year because he rather played jazz than the pieces Zappa had recorded for "Overnite sensation". Zappa wasn't amused, but also not vindictive, so here they are playing a duet without accompaniment. Zappa gave Jean-Luc equal space, crediting him as co-writer. So you get two personal styles mixed in this duet, giving it a special atmosphere. Jean-Luc can play softly, romantically, sustaining notes. Zappa is as good as always fast, an ongoing stream of rhythmic and harmonic combinations. To the right: Ponty and Zappa in 1969 (photo downloaded from the site).

Canard du jour, 5:50-6:19 (midi file).

Canard du jour, 5:50-6:19 (transcription).

This is a studio recording too with little information about when and how it got recorded. My guess is that it is an edited version of sections from various takes, including overdubs. Zappa is playing bouzouki in "rhythm guitar" style, that is by playing series of chords. Ponty plays electric baritone violin. They take turns in coming up with motifs and themes, that can get being varied upon for minutes. At a couple of points the players are using their lower strings for giving pedal notes, other sections are floating as it comes to key notes. The piece opens with Zappa playing motifs over an A pedal by Ponty, the main scale being A Mixolydian. The section above is from a larger block in G minor/Aeolian. At first Ponty is evenly playing a G on his lowest string. From bar 11 onwards this switches to a I-VII alternation in G minor. The strong pedal note feeling of this block gets accentuated by Zappa, who keeps hitting the G and C strings of the bouzouki, probably open strings. One can see that he's mostly playing chords with the descending line Eb-Dm-Cm standing central. The tempo is very high, about as high as Zappa could play, complicating an accurate transcription. At 9:12 the coda starts with playing around a C-Ab chord alternation.

For further reading in this study about the guitar solos:
- Guitar: solo types.
- One shot deal: xenochrony.
- Trance-fusion: chromatic notes and quarter-tones.
- Sheik Yerbouti: solo building of Yo' Mama.
- Roxy and elsewhere: harmonies of the Orange County solo.
- Zoot allures: idem of the Zoot Allures solo.
- Funky nothingness: stylistic development.

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