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Frank Zappa Guitar Style

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The following are a few examples of the late great Frank Zappa. This file aims to demonstrate some different melodies he would use. With all of these examples, It's strongly recommend that you take the time to listen his songs, due to odd time signatures etc. They only really make sense if you can hear them!

Example 1: The Black Page

E-----------------------------5-6----------------------------------
B----------------6----------5-----6--------------------------------
G-----4-6-6-4-7-----------6---------5------------------------------
D-------------------7-7-8-------------5-7--------------------------
A------------------------------------------------------------------
E------------------------------------------------------------------

This motif runs throughout the Black Page and is first introduced about 25 seconds into the track, its actually played by sax and keyboard, but Mike Kenally plays it on guitar in the Zappa's Universe Video. If you find the ascending/descending section a bit awkward try the following alternative:

E-----------------------------0-(5)-6-------------------------------
B----------------6--------------------6-----------------------------
G-----4-6-6-4-7-----------6------------5----------------------------
D-------------------7-7-8----------------5-7------------------------
A-------------------------------------------------------------------
E-------------------------------------------------------------------
                              H

This way of playing it is pretty handy if your sweep picking is not up to speed
The first 9 notes themselves (up to the 8th fret on the D string) form a rhythmic pattern thats present in a lot of Zappa's playing.

(Check out the beginning of example 2!)

Example 2: Peaches En Regalia

E---------------------------------------------------------------
B----------------------5-------------5--------------------------
G----4----4-4-4--6--7----6-----7---7---7p5p4--5-4---------------
D--------------------------7-------------------------7-5--------  
A---------------------------------------------------------5-7---
E---------------------------------------------------------------

I've seen this played and tabbed in 2 different ways, the version above is the most common, but if you play along to the track and it's slightly out play with the following for the recorded version: This is the main theme of the tune which comes in just
after the tremolo picked intro.

E---------------------------------------------------------------
B---------------------------------------------------------------
G-----------------7-9--------7-7-9-7----------------------------
D---9--9-9-9-11--------11-7----------10-9-10-9-7---------------- 
A-------------------------------------------------10------7-----
E-----------------------------------------------------10--------
                       ///          ///

/// = Tremolo pick

This theme is repeated again to form part of the outro, but is played an octave higher starting on the 12th fret B string.

E-----------------------12-------------12----------------------------
B--12---12-12-12-14-15-----14----15-15----15-13-12-13-12-------------
G-----------------------------14-------------------------14-12-------
D--------------------------------------------------------------12-14- 
A--------------------------------------------------------------------
E--------------------------------------------------------------------

Repetition of a theme at different pitches can be found in a majority of Zappa's work.

Example 3: Willie the pimp

E--------------------------------------------------------------------
B--------------------------------------------------------------------
G-----------------5--------------------------------------------------
D--------------------7-5---------------------------------------------
A----0---0-5-7-5---------7-(5)--3--0---------------------------------
E-------------------------------------------------------------------- 
                         S 

This is doubled with violin at the beginning of the song, also the opening vocal line mirrors it. Overall it's a simple riff that drives the song. There are several great examples of Frank Zappa playing vocal lines on guitar, check out The Jazz discharge party hats for a talking guitar part (You can see this influence on Steve Vai in tracks like Yankee rose and The audience is listening)

Example 4: Chungas Revenge

The only version I had at the time of this lesson was the track by Dweezil
Zappa on Zappa's Universe. Its one of my favorites and shows a bit more of his sensitive side.

E--12---10--12-13-12-10------12-13-12-8------------------------------
B--------------------------------------------------------------------
G------------------------------------------12--12--12--12--12--------
D------------------------------------------12--12--12--12--12--------
A------------------------------------------10--10--10--10--10--------
E--------------------------------------------------------------------

                       Continued>
E--------------------------------------------------------------------
B--------------------------------------------------------------------
G---XXXX---10^^^^^^^-----12--12--12--12--12--------------------------
D------------------------12--12--12--12--12----PICK SCRAPES----------
A------------------------10--10--10--10--10--------------------------
E-------------------------------------------------------------------- 

      Continued>
E--12---10--12-13-12-10------12-13-12-8------------------------------
B--------------------------------------------------------------------
G-----------------------------------------------7--7--10--12---------
D-----------------------------------------------7--7--10--12---------
A-----------------------------------------------5--5---8--10---------
E-------------------------------------------------------------------- 

Play these last power chords with some force.

Well, that's it. I hope that this lesson has been of some interest to you.
Any comments or corrections would be appreciated!

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