Frank Zappa's musical language
Frank Zappa's musical language
A study of the music of Frank Zappa

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Available via internet:
- BS: Barfko Swill, company name of the Zappa Family Trust. Available through the official site, "The real Frank Zappa page". Their supply is not constant, so it may be that some of the listed scores are momentarily unavailable or that unlisted ones can be ordered recently. Their current site mentions the major works. The complete list, as it used to be, could formerly be found at, of which I'm reproducing the content below.
The ZFT has recently delegated the daily business of distributing scores to Schott Inc., where the scores are today for rental. The primary interest of the ZFT in maintaining this service is to keep the scores available for ensembles that want to perform Zappa's music.

Books, articles:
- SB: The Frank Zappa songbook vol. I., Frank Zappa Music Inc./ Munchkin Music Co., Los Angeles, 1973. Transcriptions made by Ian Underwood with a few original scores. These transcriptions include piano excerpt accompaniments and guitar tabulatures.
- GB: The Frank Zappa guitar book, Munchkin Music, Los Angeles, 1982. Transcriptions mostly made by Steve Vai. These transcriptions include accompaniment indications and some drumset parts.
- AA: Hot rats, Apostrophe ('). Transcriptions by Andy Aledort. The scores are arrangements for guitars and include all solos. Hal Leonard publ. comp., Milwaukee, 2001 and 2002.
- PP: Overnite sensation. Idem by Paul Pappas, published in 2011.
- AB: One size fits all. Idem by Addi Booth, published in 2012.
- Issues of Guitar Player and Guitar magazine.

Transcribed excerpts in studies:
- WL (plus first page number): Wolfgang Ludwig. Untersuchungen zum musikalischen Schaffen von Frank Zappa. Verlag Peter Lang, 1992. The Ludwig transcriptions are mostly melody only.
- KS: Transcriptions by Kasper Sloots included in this study. Printed or pdf versions: 2000 (1st ed.), 2001 (2nd ed.), 2007 (3rd ed.) etc., additions deposited at the I-depot, The Hague.

Some scores known to have been copied for orchestras and chamber music ensembles are mentioned in notes.

Left: Part of the cover of the Frank Zappa songbook vol. I. This collection covers the repertoire from 1966-1971 in all its aspects. Regrettably it's unavailable today. Some libraries have a copy and every now and then a second hand example can be found on EBay. A vol. II follow up has never become realized.
Most of the scores that Zappa himself had printed for orchestras were also made available via Barfko Swill by mail order. The ZFT has continued this business on line.

The Ludwig study and my study include dozens of examples from various songs. The Berne Convention regarding copyright allows such examples for study purposes.

Former list of scores on the ZFT site (copied from the former site):

The Yellow Shark Scores
- For 2 pianos or piano 4 hands
MSC-037 Ruth is sleeping
- For chamber ensemble
MSC-029 Be-bop tango chamber orchestra
MSC-030 Dog/Meat chamber orchestra score
MSC-031 Get whitey chamber orchestra score
MSC-032 The girl in the magnesium dress chamber orchestra score
MSC-033 G-spot tornado chamber orchestra score
MSC-034 Outrage at Valdez chamber orchestra score

Arrangements for brass quintet and drums
(By Jon Nelson of The Meridian Arts Ensemble)
MBQ-040 Dupree's paradise
MBQ-041 Harry you´re a beast/Orange county lumber truck
MBQ-042 T´mershi Duween
MBQ-043 Big swifty

Alien orifice
MK-001 Piano
MG-001 Guitar
MP-001 Vibes
MB-001 Bass
MBb-001 Bb instruments
MD-001 Drumset

Be bop tango
MK-014 Piano and melody
MBb-0014 Bb instruments-melody (tenor sax or clarinet)

Black page #1
ML-002 Lead sheet
MD-002 Drumset
Black page #2
MP-002 Percussion
MK-002 Keyboard
MB-002 Bass
MBb-002 Bb instruments (tenor sax or clarinet)

Bob in Dacron and sad Jane
MS-004 Full orchestra score 1
MRPP-04 Two piano reduction 2
MD-004 Drumset

Bogus pomp
MS-003 Full orchestra score 1
MD-003 Drumset

The dangerous kitchen
MW-005 Wind ensemble 1

The dog breath variations
MW-005 Wind ensemble 1 MD-005 Drumset

Dupree's paradise
MSC-016 Chamber orchestra score 1

Drowning witch interlude
MK-006 Keyboard I
MKK-006 Keyboard II
MP-006 Percussion
MB-006 Bass
MGS-006 Guitar solo
MG-006 Guitar I
MGG-006 Guitar II
MD-006 Drumset

MS-007 Full orchestra score 1
MSW-007 Wind ensemble score 1
MD-007 Drumset

Freak out collection
ML-017 Lead sheets

It can't happen here
MS-018 Orchestra score (for 5 vocalists , piano & drumset)

Jazz discharge party hats
ML-019 Lead sheet

Mo 'n' Herb's vacation
MS-008 Full orchestra score 1
MSC-008 Conductor´s condensed score 1
MC-008 Clarinet 1
MD-008 Drumset

Pedro's dowry
MS-009 Full orchestra score 1
MRPP-009 Two piano reduction 1
MSS-009 Conductor reduced score 3
MSC-009 Chamber orchestra score 1
MD-009 Drumset

Penis dimension/I´m stealing the room
MS-010 Full orchestra score 1
MRP-010 One piano reduction
MD-010 Drumset

Naval aviation in art
MS-020 Chamber orchestra score 1

Perfect stranger
MSC-021 Chamber orchestra score 1

Revised music for low budget symphony orchestra
MSS-022 Study score (no performance) 3

Sinister footwear
MS-011 Full orchestra score
MRPP-11 Two piano reduction 2
MRP-011 One piano reduction 1
MD-011 Drumset

Strictly genteel
MS-012 Full orchestra score 1
MD-012 Drumset

Various short works
M6-023 Jumbo go away interlude keyboard & bass (1 part)
M8-024 Fembot in a wet t-shirt - keyboard
M7-025 #7 Keyboard
M8-026 #8 Keyboard
M9-027 #9 Keyboard
M9P-028 #9 Harp

What's the name of your group?
MD-013 Drumset

Wind quintets
MQ-006 Wind quintets #6 score
MQ5-006 Wind quintets #6 parts
MQ-001 Wind quintets score
MQ5-001 Parts

Earlier official list of available scores, before The yellow shark.

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