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Revista musical chilena

Print version ISSN 0716-2790


ZUNIGA CONTRERAS, Rodrigo. A man and a machine: A reflection on “Jazz From Hell” (1986), by Frank Zappa. Rev. music. chil. [online]. 2018, vol.72, n.229, pp.131-138. ISSN 0716-2790.

This essay offers an aesthetic reflection on the American musician Frank Zappa's album Jazz From Hell (1986), at 30 years from its release. In retrospective, this recording means a true milestone in the beginnings of the digital era. Zappa worked directly with a synclavier, which was the latest generation synthesizer at the time (manufactured by New England Corporation) and worked at the same time as a digital console, a sound processor unit, a stereo sampling system and an interface station connected directly to the recording studio. By these means, the musician opened unexpected routes and was capable of contributing with provocative clues about music creation at the end of the XXth century. The amazing control over the sound material that the synclavier made possible, especially in terms of rhythmic treatment, timbre and samples, lead the composer to emphasize the end of interpretation and the advent of a new figure: that of the sound creator-editor. In this sense, the present essay aims to orient a reflection on a disc that, moving through pop music and classical music, raised some deep questions about the musical process itself that, despite the years that have passed, are still ours.

Keywords : Digital composition; synthesizer; synclavier; polyrhythms; samples; timbre; interpretation; machine.

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