Frank Zappa was a ground-breaking musician whose 30-year career spanned rock, pop, jazz, jazz fusion, classical and musique concréte. Born in America in 1940, Zappa developed an obsession with music from a young age, and was a self-taught composer and performer. The fusion of his eclectic tastes gave birth to a creative style which often side-stepped easy categorisation. In his teens he was as passionate about 20th Century classical music as he was about rhythm and blues and doo-wop.
In accordance with these tastes, his creative output at that time was split down the middle, writing classical works by day and playing the drums in rhythm and blues bands by night. Switching from drums to vocals and guitar, in 1966 Zappa released his debut album with the Mothers of Invention: Freak Out! Perhaps one of the most ambitious debuts ever, one side of the LP featured short, pop-oriented tunes whilst the other featured longer art pieces. Zappa’s genius for composition and arrangement was very much present on both.
A prolific writer, before his death in 1993 Zappa had released 62 albums (and if we count posthumous releases this number rises into the hundreds). Many of these were solo efforts, and many were released with The Mothers of Invention. Almost all of this work was produced by Zappa himself. Whilst many people know – or have at least heard of – Zappa’s more well-trodden vocal tracks and albums, his genius resides equally in his instrumental works. It’s these which will get an outing at Manchester Metropolitan University’s Union.
In order to mark the 25-year anniversary of Zappa’s death, students of RNCM’s Pop and Classical courses will be paying a very fitting tribute to the treasured musician. They will present brand new interpretations and arrangements of Zappa’s genre-defying instrumental works, alongside works that influenced his eclectic style. If you’re a die-hard Zappa fan, then this concert is for you. And if you’re not a die-hard Zappa fan, then this concert is for you. RNCM’s students will expertly guide you on your first step towards Zappa fandom.