While You Were Out

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Drum track: Village Recorders, Spring 1979; engineer: Joe Chiccarelli.
Overdubs: UMRK, Autumn 1979; engineer: Steve Nye.

From The Real Frank Zappa Book, section "While You Were Art" = Art Jarvinen is a percussionist and former instructor at Cal-Arts. He put together a chamber ensemble called the E.A.R. Unit: two percussion, two keyboards, clarinet and cello. He asked me to write an arrangement of "While You Were Out," a solo from the Shut Up 'n Play Yer Guitar album, for his ensemble to play at one of the Monday Evening Concerts (remember the postcard with "We will be unable to play your piece because it requires a left-handed piano"? -- those guys -- they're still in business). I created the arrangement on the Synclavier, and, using another of the machine's features, printed out the parts. When he saw them, he realized that it was a difficult piece, and worried that his ensemble wouldn't have enough time to rehearse it, as the concert was imminent. "You're in luck," I told him, "because you won't even have to play it. All you have to do is learn to pretend to play it, and I'll have the Synclavier take care of the rest. Just go out there and do what all the 'Big Rock Groups' have done for years -- lip-sync it and make sure you look good on stage." I made them a tape copy of the Synclavier performance and told him, "The way to pull this off is to have wires hanging out of your instruments leading into amplifiers and effects boxes on the floor. Any sound the audience hears that might be deemed 'synthesized' will be overlooked because there's a wire coming out of your instrument." Final result? The man who ran the concert series didn't know the difference. The two classical reviewers from the major Los Angeles newspapers didn't notice anything either. Nobody in the audience knew, except for David Ocker, my computer assistant, who had helped prepare the materials. Nobody knew that the musicians never played a note. It produced quite a scandal in 'modern music circles.' Several members of the ensemble, mortified by all the hoo-ha, swore they would never "do it again." (Do what again? Prove to the world that nobody really knows what the fuck is going on at a contemporary music concert?)

CC Clues In This Song

This solo was transcribed by Steve Vai and later released on Jazz From Hell as While You Were Art II