Freak List – Randomized, Homogenized And Scrutinized (Igor Stravinsky)
Another episode in a ongoing series that takes a casual look at the members of the Frank Zappa Freak Out List. In the spirit of aimlessness, the list has been randomized.
Dang!…day number two and the ol’ randomizer hits me with Igor Stravinsky. Sort of like having to face Nolan Ryan on your second day in the bigs, I suppose.
One problem is, there is a copious amount of stuff written about Stravinsky that is easily found and readily available.
And as far as Igor’s influence on the music of FZ goes…well, there are scholarly types that have thoroughly researched and have published extensive, exhaustive pieces.
So, I have decided to point out a few parallels between Stravinsky and Zappa that go beyond the normal things you hear about (rhythmic structure, stylistic diversity, harmonic deconstruction)…you know stuff like; they both enjoyed a good laugh, a good smoke…
…a shared love of Coco Chanel and…both Frank and Igor were more than willing to work with cartoonish animals…
He also composed a commissioned work for dancing elephants which eventually become George Balanchine’s Circus Polka. Stravinsky was able to negotiate a high commission from the circus for his composition.
Balanchine: “I wonder if you’d like to do a little ballet with me.”
Stravinsky: “For whom?”
Balanchine: “For some elephants.”
Stravinsky: “How old?”
Balanchine: “Very young.”
Stravinsky: “All right. If they are very young elephants, I will do it.”
You can’t always write a chord ugly enough to say what you want to say, so sometimes you have to rely on a giraffe filled with whipped cream. – Frank Zappa
Also, I found a couple of fascinating, behind the scenes, videos (no really, these are a bit lengthy but well woth the time) that demonstrate a common rehearsal ethic and an uncanny ability to coax high level performances of complex ideas from large groups of musicians.