What to Listen for in Zappa: Philosophy, Allusion, and Structure in Frank Zappa's Music
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In this thesis I explore how music-text relations in Frank Zappa’s music work together to express a central narrative, with a particular focus on his use of musical allusion. First, I frame Zappa’s creative perspective from a Dadaist philosophy, illuminating an underlying critique of American culture through the use of musical and lyrical devices such as allusion. I explore how Zappa uses allusion as a narrative device and how these allusions affect a listener’s interpretation of a track. Finally, I provide an in-depth analysis of “Billy the Mountain” from the 1972 album Just Another Band From L.A. I first present an overview and analysis of the narrative as it is presented in the lyrics and then explore how musical parameters contribute to the narrative of the track. By understanding the interaction of music and text, I create a platform from which Zappa’s music can be better understood.