From: "Peter de B. Harrington" <Harring@helios.phy.ohiou.edu>
Sinister footwear is an orchesteral transcription of a guitar solo
that is rumored to have been performed at a 1978 Palladium show.
The orchesteral piece was performed by the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra in
1984. The piece has 3 movements, but I believe 26 parts. The piece was
performed as a ballet, but Zappa could not afford a ballet troupe, so they
used lifesize marionettes instead. I wish this performance would be released
on video (Gail, hear my pleas).
I can't remember the details of the story, but I believe it has a monster
in it, with some interesting reproductive organs. I have the storyline on
tape, if their is interest I can transcribe it.
From: Bill Lantz <firstname.lastname@example.org>
[Guitar solo is] Not a rumor. It is from October 27, 1978 Second show, The
From: email@example.com (johan wikberg)
I think it should be pointed out more clearly in the FAQ (I know it's there
but not just super duper clear the way it's placed and all) that while this
solo ended up transcribed and arranged in the ballet, the rest of the ballet
is NOT based on guitar solos, although many people think so and it's
admittedly a nice thought.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (David Ocker)
...The music is in three movements. The ballet (which is danced to the
music) has the sections you listed and is danced to the three movements.
The score has considerably more description of the action of the ballet.
That performance (the **only** performance) was broadcast live over KPFA
with Frank's permission. It was also video-taped against Frank's wishes.
It was just a single camera at the back of the hall. When he found out
about the video-taping he was FURIOUS! and demanded that the video be
destroyed. Whether it was destroyed or not I don't know - but I, for
one, certainly hope it wasn't - those puppets were pretty amazing.
They were 'puppets' in the same sense that "Big Bird" was a puppet - i.e.
they had dancers inside them. I do remember that they had to be
destroyed because of storage space problems. I don't remember the name
of the man who designed them but I do remember that he died soon
So, if the video doesn't exist - does anyone have still photos of some of
the puppets? I'd love to see some of them again.
From: Vladimir Sovetov
This puppets, they really smell of Stravinsky. You know, Petrouchka is
a Puppet! And to really feel it here is a snipet I re-typed from
Petrouchka CD booklet.
'Stravinsky retired to the Swiss town of Clarens on Lake Geneva to
work on his new ballet (The Rite Of Spring). But a new idea crowded it
out of his mind, and he wrote instead a concert piece for piano and
orchestra. "In composing the music", he writes in his biography, "I
had in mind a distinct of a puppet, suddenly endowed with life,
exasperating the patience of the orchestra with diabolical cascades of
arpeggios. The orchestra in trn retaliates with menacing trumpet blasts.
The outcome is a terrific noise which reaches its climax and ends in
the sorrowful and querulos collapse of the poor puppet." After a
considerable stthe composer finally struck upon a title for the work.
He called it Petrouchka - the Russian counterpart of Punch - "the
immortal and unhappy hero of every fair in all countries."'
Later under Diageliev influnce the piece was redone to become a ballet.
Premier: Theatre de Chatelet in Paris on June 13, 1911.
But back to Zappa
From: GPYF67A@prodigy.com (Jeremy Fleisher)
Only two of the movements are available in the audio medium legitimately
(mvmt 2--Them or Us, mvmt 3--YAWYI). Though there are tapes floating
around of the whole thing, as performed by the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra,
conducted by Kent Nagano in 1984, audio and performance quality --fair...
If you like it so much as to spend $500 for the full score, Barfko has them....
From: email@example.com (Pat Buzby)
Actually, this is true only of the "theme" from the 3rd movement (the
part that appears in a rock version on YAWYI), as far as I know. Zappa said
himself in a '92 interview in Society Pages that this solo was played at
the Palladium in '78, which seems likely to me, since the FZ Guitar Book
transcription includes Vinnie's original drum accompaniment.
From: Vladimir Sovetov <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Here is a little piece of info from Steve Vai's Intoduction to
The Frank Zappa Guitar Book p.5
"The "Them from the Third Movement of Sinister Footwear" (formely
titled "Persona Non Grata") appears on the album You Are What You Is.
On that track Frank's guitar line was doubled by electric guitar,
percussion, and bass clarinet. The original rhythm track was replaced
by what you hear on the album."
From: email@example.com (Sean Camden)
The complete Sinister Footwear (about 26 minutes worth) is performed by
the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra and is available as Side 2 of the bootleg
"Serious Music". Pretty Good sound quality. The liner notes don't have it
divided into movements but it is divided into 21 parts describing the
action (ie. "Jake goes to work" or "Jake's secretary eats some cottage
Side 1 of "Serious Music" has the Grand Wazoo Orchestra doing INCA
ROADS and RDNZL. Also, some music from the World's Greatest Sinner and
a bizarre piece called The Revenge of the Knick-Knack People.
From: Vladimir Sovetov <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The Berkeley Symphony Orchestra version is also available on Apocrypha
I attended the world premiere performance in Berkeley, CA, in 1984.
It was 26:54.
Check out also AJ Wilkes' Sinister Footwear Dissertation