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(TV) Re: Zappa, WSB and Lou Reed (was: Foxhole)

Repeating a theme or section within a single composition is perhaps 
not the same thing as using it in a completely different piece.

Repetition I believe is almost universal in music and certainly one 
of the oldest formal devices.  But there is supposed to be a relationship 
between what is repeated (or any other section) and the rest of the work--
at least during the "period of common practice".

A lot of composers have re-using thematic material in different works, 
but after a point this becomes self-plagiarism, doesn't it?   In any case, 
traditionally the new works are written with the mateial in mind and not 
dubbed together after the fact on the mixing board.

The example that was given was taking a solo from one song and inserting 
it into a different, pre-existing song.  Occasionally this might just 
happen to work brilliantly, but as compositional technique it relies upon 
chance and therefore is the stuff of conceptual art, explored by people 
like Brian Eno, and turned into an academic careers by hucksters like 
John Cage.

Guys like Cage, Zappa and WSB are expected to break all the rules and 
do unlikely things--it's part of the act.  

Incidentally, Zappa was a pretty decent composer in addition to being 
a genius at self-promotion.  I'm still trying to figure out what WSB 
was good at besides self-promotion.  In the case of John Cage, it's
obvious: flattering the vanity of academics.

Of course, once somebody becomes a big enough celebrity, he no longer 
has to be good at anything.  He just has to be seen with the right people.  
Take Lou Reed,  for example.  He and a lot of other NYC scene people who 
once did something good, now seem mostly to be famous for being famous.  
Next stop for Lou: center square.


"Philip P. Obbard" <pobbard@yahoo.com> wrote:
> I can't speak for Zappa, but I'll second Joe's point. Lots of music uses
> repeated figures, measures, etc., as a theme throughout a longer piece of
> music. To use the first pop/rock-type example to come into my head, Pink
> Floyd's FINAL CUT uses the music from the "What have we done, Maggie what have
> we done?" bit that first appears in the opening track throughout the record.
> The fragments of the Beach Boys' unfinished SMILE uses the same "bicycle rider"
> theme all over the place (probably because Brian Wilson couldn't make up his
> mind, but it still works nicely). 
> And of course, LOADS of "classical" music is built out upon repetitive motifs
> or themes.
> (There's a better word for what I'm describing - a musical term - but like the
> difference between adagio, allegro, and arpegio, it fell out of my head a long
> time ago).
> --Philip
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