Playing Rating: Advanced

Example 1

The first bar of this example contains a sliding chord sequence Zappa liked to use, the 2 chords are 1st inversion C# and D# minor triads, followed in bar 2 by 2nd inversion E and F# major triads, all triads built from notes within the F# mixolydian mode. Bars 3 and 4 are made up of 5ths which slide around in true Zappa fashion, on the 3rd triplet in bar 3 there is an A which is treated as a passing tone as is the E# in the next bar. Bar 5 begins a passage using the low E string to get those low end frequencies Zappa revered, check out the solo from Hog Heaven (Shut Up ‘n Play Yer Guitar). Careful with the quintuplet crossing the barline, at first, it is best to practise to a metronome counting 5 quavers in the time of 2 crotchets. In Bar 7 bend the string using your 3rd finger so that you have support with the 1st and 2nd fingers.

Example 1

Example 2

The note choices within bars 1 and 2 create tension because the major 3rd of F# (A#) is not played, suspending the overt mixolydian sound until bar 3. With the descending semiquaver triplets in bar 2, it’s a good idea to use sweep picking. On beat 4 of bar 2 there is another rhythm that crosses the barline, the principle is the same, practise to a metronome counting 8 quavers in the time of 3 crotchets. Don’t panic with these rhythms and go through them slowly, they are absurd, but they do give you an insight into the peculiar guitar practices of one of the greats.

Example 2

Example 3

Zappa revelled in the idea of playing irregular rhythms over a static beat, and here we have in bar 1 the repeating of a single note (C#) while accentuating an odd rhythmic group of notes, a regular occurrence in many of Zappa’s solos. The line continues to descend using notes of the F# mixolydian with odd rhythmic interruptions and the use of slides, pull offs and hammer ons. The interesting thing about this example is the lick is mostly played on the B string of the guitar; this is another Zappa trait whereby a long melodic line is played on one string.

Example 3