Inductee Spotlight: Frank Zappa and Rock's Avant-Garde

Suggested Grade Level: 7-12

Frank Zappa was one of rock and roll’s sharpest musical minds and an astute social critic. He bridged musical styles – rock, jazz, classical, and avant-garde – with masterful ease. This class examines his music by focusing on the moments when these various musical styles merged, sometimes comfortably, sometimes with contention. Students will explore Zappa’s music to hear how he was able to translate his musical ideas into everything from rock and roll to full orchestral scores. We will listen to examples from his rock music (Freak Out!), symphonic pieces (Orchestral Favorites), digitized extravaganzas for the Synclavier keyboard (Francesco Zappa), and satirical musicals (Joe’s Garage). Special interviews with members of the Cleveland based group Red: An Orchestra help students to understand Zappa’s connections to the Western Classical tradition and composers such as Igor Stravinsky and Edgard Varèse.

Suggested pairing – Ambassador to the Orchestra: The Arranger in Rock and Roll

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Selected Song List

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Class Resources

Students will explore the wide ranging influences on Frank Zappa's musical career

Registering for this Class

To sign up for this class, click on the REGISTER NOW button below and follow the instructions for program registration. An education department representative will contact you within 2-3 days of the program request submission. If a representative does not contact you within 5 business days, please call the Education Department at 216.515.1202.

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    The presenter was enthusiastic and knowledgeable, and the footage was great! This was a music class, so the curricular connection was very strong throughout. I was very pleased.
    - A high school piano teacher in Horseheads, NY
    After the pep rally, we loaded back up on the bus and headed over to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Not only did I get to tour the Museum, but I also got to participate in one of their “Science of Sound” classes. Any lesson where I can learn about science by singing Stevie Wonder is a winner in my book!
    - Margaret Spellings, U.S. Secretary of Education 
September 2007