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Wed Jul 18, 2012 9:05 am
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sixbodied
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Post subject: Zappa Academy Reply with quote

[[ IF THEY ONLY COULDA HEARD IT

by Prof. Andy Hollinden

Since 1996, Ive taught a course for the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music called Z402 - The Music of Frank Zappa. On the final exam, I always ask students this question: How has your opinion of Frank Zappa changed over the course of this semester? Aside from being a good way to fish for compliments, its always nice to be reminded that once they start to pay attention, most students really do find that FZ starts to speak to them. Heres a selection of comments from the class of 2011. Hope you enjoy them as much as I have.

DAVID J - Prior to taking this class, I was a novice Zappa fan. I knew a handful of songs but was primarily interested in him through watching interviews and reading his autobiography. Taking this class exposed me to the varied side of his artistic and socially aware genius. Zappas willingness to put forth his entire effort and being into his work is deeply admirable. Yet, taking this class offers insight into the contextual circumstances of successes and failures (if either really exists) in Zappas career that bring him back down to the level of any human being. We are all caught in the same systems, and Zappa exemplified the way that art can bridge the gap between reality and possibility, giving humans a place, even for a moment, where they can conceive different worlds.

HALEY M My opinion has changed drastically. I always looked at him as a weird, drugged-out eccentric before this class, hearing the Mothers of Invention years and not caring for it as much. However, after these 16 weeks of information about FZs life - him being drug-free, his dedication to music, and hearing EVERYTHING else (such a wide variety of styles) I LOVE HIM as a musician, an artist, a free-thinker (whom I can relate to on SO many levels about religion, politics, life in general). He is great, and Im so happy I had the privilege to take a class about an American icon who actually matters in my book (a lot of the others are too straight-laced, they dont flow like Zappa). Im going to continue to listen to and enjoy his music. Thanks for teaching us about an eccentric, beautiful person.

MICHAEL S My opinion has definitely changed favorably over the course of this semester. All of his music is brilliant, and his performances are astounding. His bands were so well rehearsed that they could stop on a dime. Aside from his music, I really respect Zappa as a humanitarian. He really wanted to change the world, and for the better. He used his music as a vehicle to exploit the problems of society. Its no shock that the man was chosen to speak out against the PMRC in front of congress. So overall, I respect Zappa as composer, musician, and activist more than any figure in popular culture.

KATIE K Coming into this class, I knew almost nothing about Frank Zappa. I had heard some of his music, but thats it. Finishing this class, I can definitely say that Zappa is in my top 5 favorite musicians. I had no idea how prolific he was or that he was absolutely a genius. I think Zappa for president is exactly what this country needs. He experimented with every kind of music and did it well, and I have so much respect for him that I never even knew I could have. As much as I love Jimi Hendrix, I can still confidently say that I love Frank Zappa more. Thank you very much for a great semester. This was an incredible course. I am pleased to say that I lost any negative (misunderstood) feelings I had toward Frank Zappa.

JULIA B I honestly did not know anything about Zappa when I signed up for this class. It fit my schedule, my friend took it and liked it, and I needed another music class for my minor. Im so glad I did take it. At first, I thought this music was really strange and didnt really like it. Through the course, I have discovered what a genius and talent Frank Zappa was. Although I do not always agree with his music, I have great respect for him and his work. He was extremely misunderstood and was a unique musician. His music has inspired me to look at the world differently. Im very glad I took this class and will be recommending it to others!

DAVID C I came in thinking Frank was a genius, and now I leave knowing he was in every sense of the word. This class inspired me to stick with music for the rest of my life. I honestly can now tell people that this strange avant-garde musician is my biggest influence during this point of my life. He had techniques for composing that honestly need to be discussed. In every sense of the word, Frank was truly an original. Im gonna carry his music with me forever. Thanks for everything.

FRANK M Well, I came into the class knowing little more than the name, a few songs, that he was a classical composer, and he was vulgar as hell. I have to say the man went from just a normal rock n roll type icon (in my mind) to an absolute genius by the first week, and it only got better from there. He had a great sense of humor and really got things done. Makes me wonder what sort of world this would be if he did make it into some form of government power. I have great respect for this man and wish that he was still around so that I could support him in person.

AARON S Initially I thought Zappa was just some rocker who made crazy music. But that idea vanished right away. I now have such an appreciation for this mans brilliant career. He was able to morph with the times, but you still always knew a Zappa song when you heard one. He is an amazing human being, and I can definitely say he is one of my favorite artists of all time.

MAX Q I signed up for this class having never listened to any of Zappas music. Id heard the name thrown around before, but I never investigated him any further. I was pleasantly surprised when I first started listening to him to find that I actually liked the music, as opposed to being totally turned off to it. My opinion only became more positive with each listening section, as the music became more and more interesting with each album. I am most impressed with his prolific career and work ethic; it is something to aspire to be. I can safely say that at the end of this semester I am a Frank Zappa fan and found great pleasure in studying his life, music, and career.

DANIEL T I came into this course not knowing anything about Frank Zappa. I will be leaving with a genuine appreciation of Zappa, along with a love of atonal music, perverted rhythms, and musical experimentation. While I may not have a love for everything hes done, I understand that is because he has done SO MUCH. This class has made me want to apply Zappas experimentation, hard work, and out-of- the-box thinking to my own life and art. I am leaving this class convinced not only of Zappas musical genius, but also of the importance of his contributions to movie- making, thinking, political awareness, and commitment to freedom of speech.

STEPHEN O Growing up, Zappa was always a curious character to me. I heard his name thrown around a little and I knew he was prolific, but I just never knew anything about him. After reading the FZ book and taking this class, I understand really a lot more about what Zappas music means (his lyrical satire and compositional choices). I feel like even when I was beginning to get acquainted with Zappa, I understood him. Nothing that he ever did surprised me or shocked me (or offended me). I always knew there was a reason for everything he did. I guess throughout the semester, Zappa went from being some sort of enigma to being a real life person who I could very much relate to on many levels. Even though I didnt agree with everything he ever did, I am thankful for Zappas having written, performed, and recorded all that he did. I deeply admire his work ethic, and some day can only hope to accomplish a fraction of what Zappa did.

DAN T I entered this class thinking Frank Zappa was just some crazy guy who made funny music. Leaving, I know this is possibly the most ignorant thing to say about Frank. He was a pure genius. His musical ability is incomparable to anyone Ive ever heard. He lived without barriers. He made the music that he wanted to, no matter what kind it was. He wrote music that classically trained musicians could not play. Frank Zappa, as I know now, is a musical genius. Bottom line. ]]


Bob Dobbs
 
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Wed Jul 18, 2012 9:14 am
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sixbodied
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Post subject: Re: Zappa Academy Reply with quote

Someone wrote to me:

[[ This new PBS 'History Detectives' episode, that just aired tonight, was on Rock and one of the stories was on a 'collage' painting found in a thrift store with FZ signature on it. It was so fascinating especially since I have been educated as to the genius of Frank Zappa by you Bob! Here is the trailer on Frank's segment.
http://video.pbs.org/video/2249955756/

The episode should be up on the PBS site soon, they just have the preview now. http://video.pbs.org/video/1192734705/ ]]


Bob Dobbs
 
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