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Teen-age Prostitute

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  Recorded Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. December 11, 1981. This was the famous show that featured Nicholas Slonimsky as one piece keyboard player with Zappa band.
From: (Mike Quigley)
  This is an excerpt from Nicolas Slonimsky's PERFECT PITCH (Oxford 1988).
  One late Saturday evening in the spring of 1981, I received a telephone call. "Nicolas Slonimsky?" (correctly pronounced) the caller inquired. "This is Frank Zappa. I never realized you were in Los Angeles, and I want so much to get in touch with you about your book of scales." I was startled. Frank Zappa was the last person who, to my mind, could be interested in my theoretico-musical inventions. His name was familiar to me from a promotional record jacket showing him seated on the john with his denuded left thigh in view, and a legend in large letters: PHI KRAPPA ZAPPA.
  We arranged to meet on the following Monday at 2.30 in the afternoon, and, at the appointed time on the appointed day, his assistant knocked at my door. I stepped out of my apart- ment and beheld something that looked like a space shuttle -- a black Mercedes taking up almost half a block of Wilshire Boulevard. I could not refrain from asking the driver how much such a machine cost. "Sixty," he replied.
  It took us nearly an hour to get to Zappa's place in the hills of Hollywood. Zappa met me at the door. He looked like a leading man in the movies -- tall, slender, sporting a slight Italian moustache. For starters, I asked him the origin of his last name; he replied it meant "the plough" in Italian.
  Zappa's wife came in, an ample, young woman, and served coffee and tea. Zappa told me he did not drink alcoholic beverages; contrary to the legendary habits of most rock-and-roll musicians, he never partook of drugs. But he smoked cigarettes incessantly, tobacco being his only, and quite venial, sin. Zappa led me to his studio, which housed a huge Bosendorfer piano. I asked how much he paid for this keyboard monster. "Seventy," he replied.
  Zappa declared himself an admirer of Varese and said he had been composing orchestral works according to Varese's principles of composition, with unrelated themes following in free succession. To substantiate this claim, he brought out three scores, in manuscript and each measuring 13 x 20 inches, beautifully copied and handsomely bound. Indeed, the configurations of notes and contrapuntal combinations looked remarkably Varesian. Yet he never went to a music school, and had learned the tech- nique of composition from the study of actual editions. He had had a contract with an orchestra in Holland to play one of his works, but they had demanded a piece from his recording royal- ties on top of the regular fee. "I offered the a quarter," Zappa said, "if they would put up a quarter." It took me some time to figure out that the fractions he used were those in millions of dollars.
  Zappa's teenage daughter flitted in, introduced by Mrs. Zappa as Moon Unit. She did not seem to be embarrassed at all by this esoteric appellation...<There follows a discussion of Valley Girl Talk>...About that time, I acquired a cat, black and white and plenty mischievous, which I christened Grody to the Max...
  Zappa invited me to try out his Bosendorfer. I sat down at the keyboard and played the coronation scene from BORIS GUDUNOV which required deep bass sounds. Zappa was impressed by these Russian harmonies. He asked me to play some of my own composi- tions, and I launched into the last piece in my MINITUDES, based on an interplay of mutually exclusive triads and covering the entire piano keyboard. "Why don't you play this piece at my next concert?" Zappa asked. "When will that be?" I inquired. "Tomorrow. We can rehearse in the afternoon." I was somewhat taken aback by the sudden offer, but after all, I had nothing to lose. So I decided to take my chance as a soloist at a rock concert.
  The next day I arrived at the large Coliseum in Santa Monica where Zappa's concert was to take place. A huge, towering man led me to Zappa's room. "Mr. Zappa is expecting you," he said, satisfied with my identity. He was Zappa's bodyguard, hired after Zappa had been attacked during a concert by a besotted admirer and hurt his back.
  On stage I sat at the electric piano and played my piece. For better effect, I added sixteen bars to the coda, ending in re- peated alternation of C major and F-sharp major chords in the highest treble and lowest bass registers. Zappa dictated to his players the principal tonalities of my piece, and they picked up the modulations with extraordinary assurance. I had never played the electric piano before, but I adjusted to it without much trouble.
  The hall began to fill rapidly. Zappa's bodyguard gave me ear plugs, for, when Zappa's band went into action, the decibels were extremely high. Zappa sang and danced while conducting, with a professional verve that astounded me. A soprano soloist came out and sang a ballad about being a hooker, using a variety of obscenities. Then came my turn. Balancing a ciga- rette between his lips, Zappa introduced me to the audience as "our national treasure." I pulled out the ear plugs, and sat down at the electric piano. With demoniac energy Zappa launched us into my piece. To my surprise I sensed a growing consanguinity with my youthful audience as I played. My fortissimo ending brought out screams and whistles the like of which I had never imagined possible. Dancing Zappa, wild audi- ence, and befuddled me -- I felt like an intruder in a mad scene from ALICE IN WONDERLAND. I had entered my Age of Absurdity.
  --from Chapter 23, "The Age of Absurdity"
  (Nicoloas Slonimsky was born in St. Petersburg in 1894, fled the Revolution in 1917, and was a composer, concert pianist, and conductor, before settling into a career as musical lexicogra- pher. Among his works are LECTIONARY OF MUSIC, THE LEXICON OF MUSICAL INVECTIVE, MUSIC SINCE 1900, and at least three editions of BAKER'S BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY OF MUSICIANS. He appears to have outlived Frank Zappa, and many others besides.)
  More about Nicolas Slonimsky
From: (John V. Scialli)
  Date: Wed, 27 Apr 94 18:51:52 -0500
  Nicolas Slonimsky, eminent musicological lexicographer, will celebrate his 100th birthday on Wednesday, April 27, 1994 at his home in Laurel Canyon, California. Mr. Slonimsky is a neighbor and good friend of the Zappa's and a long time fan of Frank's music. He is the author of a standard text on chords (?-I'm not sure) and has appeared with Frank in some concerts (again the dates slip my mind and I don't have my references handy). Does anyone have an address for Mr. S?
  Nicolas Slonimsky is not the author of a standard text on chords, it is actually a lexicon of scales and melodic patterns entitled "Thesarus of Scales and Melodic Patterns." He is also the editor of Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians which contains an entry for Frank Zappa (one of the interesting facts contained therein is that Zappa means "hoe" in Italian). Slonimsky's performance with Zappa's band is available on a bootleg, but I can't remember which one. Maybe someone else in the Newsgroup can supply this information.
From: (Paul Remington)
  Date: Sat, 06 May 95 20:50:00 -0500
  I heard an uncomfirmed report from a reliable source that Nicolas Slonimsky passed away recently. Can anyone confirm this report, and provide any details?
  Nicolas Slonimsky was a musicologist who wrote many books, including the timeless "Lexicon of Musical Invective," "Thesaurus of Scales and Melodic Patterns," "Lectionary of Music," and the monstorous "Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians." He was preened a concert pianist at a young age, was exteremely active in the music scene throughout his lifetime, and knew and learned from some of the greatest composers and musical minds of the 20th century.
  Frank Zappa befriended Slonimsky in the spring of 1981 after reading the "Thesaurus of Scales and Melodic Patterns." Slonimsky turned 101 years of age on April 15.
From: (David Ocker)
  Date: Wed, 27 Dec 95 17:35:34 GMT
  I just learned that Nicholas Slonimsky (composer, lecturer, pianist, lexicographer, author and friend of Frank Zappa's) passed away on Christmas night. He was 101 years old.
  He was an amazing and unique man who, I can proudly say, I had the chance to know slightly. Although there were decades separating them, I think Nicholas and Frank recognized kindred spirits in each other when they met. Once again, the world is a poorer place for having lost an irreplacable intellect.
From: (Konrad)
  Date: Fri, 29 Dec 95 22:12:13 GMT
  Soon after David's post i got the following little tidbit from a mailing list i'm on. It's reproduced below. I know next to nothing about Mr. Slonimsky, but i'm getting more interested ...
  ---------- QUOTED MESSAGE FOLLOWS ----------
From: Jonathan Roberts
  Date: Thu, 28 Dec 1995 17:36:45 -0500
  On Wed, Nov 1, 1995 David J. Loftus wrote:
  I suggest that Chopin's music has ALWAYS been somewhat difficult to relate to; I'm sure classical music lovers of the time had trouble with it, and most common -- mercantile and working class -- people of Chopin's time and since WOULD have (had) trouble with it IF they heard much of it ...
  Nicolas Slonimski (who died just the other day--R.I.P.) gives some excerpts of contemporary reviews of Chopin in his book <Lexicon of Musical Invective>:
  "In search of ear-rending dissonances, torturous transitions, sharp modulations, repugnant contortions of melody and rhythm, Chopin is altogether indefatigable." (from 1833)
  "The entire works of Chopin present a motley surface of ranting hyperbole and excruciating cacaphony." (from 1841)
  "...dry and unattractive." (from 1843)
  To cite the favorite term thrown at our own favorite band, the "Invection" which is found in the book lists the term "pretentious" (in a few variations) as having been used to describe the music of Bruckner, Reger, Liszt, and Richard Strauss.
  (As the last time I mentioned this book I was asked for details by several people, I'll post the information again: "Lexicon of Musical Invective: Critical Assults on Composers since Beethoven's Time," second edition, by Nicolas Slonimski, 1953 and 1965, University of Washington Press [Seattle and London], ISBN 0-295-78579-9.)
  --------------- END OF QUOTE --------------
Lisa Popeil lead vocal
  Read more about Lisa YOU CAN'T DO THAT ON STAGE ANYMORE, vol 6. Lisa's Life Story
She's only seventeen
She's really sort of cute
She's working in the street
She's a teen-age prostitute

She ran away from home
Her mom was destitute
Her daddy doesn't care
She's a teen-age prostitute

  Greg Russo, the author of Cosmic Debris book, believes "The chase music in the middle of 'Teen-Age Prostitute' is similar to "Live And Let Die" by Paul McCartney an Wings.
  To Album Refs
To Global Refs
"I have got a pimp
He treats me like a dog . . . "
All the stuff she's shooting
Keeps her in a fog)

  Of course in her vein
  Technique, technique, technique
From: Tom Mulhern's 83 Guitar Player Zappa interview
  Q: Steve Vai said that the "Peter Gunn-sounding" guitar in "Teenage Prostitute" [Drowning Witch] sounded much different after it was mixed than when he recorded it.
  FZ: We can change the sound of just about anything because we have a lot of sound modifying tools in the studio. When you arrange something, the arrangement is always modified by what comes before it or after it on a side. If you want the side to play smoothly, you may equalize all the different parts of a tune to sound one way, but when you start mixing a whole side -- that's what we do: We start on song one and work through to the end -- to make the continuity work in terms of the tonal quality of the whole side, sometimes we have to change things around drastically.

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