The Frank Zappa Guitar Book

Shut Up 'N Play Yer Guitar

Shut Up 'N Play Yer Guitar Some More

Return Of The Son Of Shut Up 'N Play Yer Guitar

You Are What You Is

Joe's Garage Acts II & III

Sheik Yerbouti

Zoot Allures

Transcriptions by Steve Vai. Except "Sheik Yerbouti Tango" and "Rat Tomago" by Richard Emmet.

Musical Calligraphy by David Ocker, Richard Emmet, Arthur Jarvinen and Lee Scott.


Notes & Comments

"Print On Print," Billboard, February 12, 1983, p. 44

Hal Leonard has issued "The Frank Zappa Guitar Book" ($14.95), described as a "deluxe" edition containing transcriptions from seven of Zappa's albums. A glossary is provided which identifies the various symbols used throughout the book, since the transcriptions contain notation for guitar, drums, cymbals and various other percussion instruments.

Steve Vai, The Frank Zappa Guitar Book, 1982, p. 5

The works in this book were transcribed between January, 1979, and August, 1981—whenever I wasn't touring with Frank.

The songs were first taken off the albums and put onto cassettes. The songs from Joe's Garage were transcribed off a small Sony tape machine. The stuff from the guitar albums were bounced to a four-track tape deck, and some were done at half speed.

[...] Some of the rhythmic notation may seem ambiguous. On a few licks, where there are several ways to write them, I chose the way which accents the phrasing.

David Ocker, The David Ocker Internet Interview, 1994-1995

[FZ] told me that he had gotten interested in these cross-rhythms listening to jazz and he mentioned Gene Krupa drum solos and fills and said something like "it all just reduces to fives and sevens if you keep a steady beat going as he slows down."

[...] Let me say something about Steve Vai's transcriptions of the guitar solos. I copied many of them and proofread the entire Frank Zappa Guitar book many times. In my opinion, the transcriptions were a lot more complicated than they needed to be—especially if they were intended to be used for anyone to play from. Often I would find places where Steve's notation could be reduced to something simpler, but Frank would always resolve the differences in favor of the most complicated notation. In Steve's preface to the book he says "on a few licks, where there are several ways to write them, I chose the way which accents the phrasing" Ultimately I never really believed that—no matter how precise the transcriptions got, a performer still has to add his own phrasing to a performance or listen to the tape of the original performance to get the little nuances that didn't get (or couldn't be) written down. In the Guitar Book there is a section of 25 over 24—I found it in Pink Napkins—but there may be some other examples of similarly high ratio rhythms in there. You have to wonder what exactly was going on in his mind as he played it—I sincerely doubt that he was consciously trying to play 25 notes in the time of 24. He may have been trying to play in a slightly different tempo than the rhythm section—a sort of live xenochrony. More likely however he was either rushing slightly or the rhythm section was slowing down slightly. In that sense, I guess it's just like a Gene Krupa drum solo.



Research, compilation and maintenance by Román García Albertos
This page updated: 2023-11-01