Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
GNU is Not Unix It's funny.  Laugh. Music Linux

Frank Zappa's Influence On Linux and FOSS Development 195

Posted by timothy
from the oh-yeah-try-to-disprove-it dept.
Roblimo writes "Zappa's 'Dinah-Moe Hummm' is totally about Linux, at least in spirit, while the song 'Montana,' with its talk of zirconium-encrusted tweezers and dental floss, 'is obviously about Mac users.' Not only that: In the early '70s Zappa wrote a song called 'Penguin in Bondage,' an obvious foretelling of the anti-Linux lawsuits and threats from SCO, Microsoft, and other evildoers. Zappa was also a heavy user of the Synclavier, an electronic music machine that was a precursor to today's 'studio on a computer' recording and sound editing software. According to an article on DevX, today Zappa would no doubt be using Linux and Ardour for most of his recording and composition."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Frank Zappa's Influence On Linux and FOSS Development

Comments Filter:
  • Well Hold on There (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <[moc.liamg] [ta] [nhojovadle]> on Thursday June 03, 2010 @04:13PM (#32450014) Journal

    According to an article on DevX, today Zappa would no doubt be using Linux and Ardour for most of his recording and composition.

    I do not agree with this statement. There is a lot of doubt in my mind. As I listen to Zappa albums, I constantly find new things mixed into them. Often I tell a friend about a great Zappa song but they haven't the patience to listen through five minutes of weirdness just to get to a great guitar lick intricately backed. Anyhow, I would wager that Zappa's thirst for this kind of mixing would lead him to the industry standard: Pro Tools [wikipedia.org]. I highly doubt a professional musician would stray from that but if Zappa dumped some cash into Ardour development and increased its support then maybe. But right now, audio recording on Linux isn't the greatest. Pro Tools is often augmented with dedicated hardware ... I am unaware of how you would do this with Ardour. I also have had one hell of a time trying to get a dual core processor with plenty of ram to record in Linux and also play back what you're recording on top of several tracks without delay.

    In my hobby projects, I have given up on audio recordings in Linux although I must say I was impressed with Ubuntu Studio [ubuntustudio.org] when I was trying to layer guitar tracks a few years ago. It just seemed that the audio bus could not keep up when recording through my M-Audio USB input box ... like a lot of things in Linux it could have been a configuration error but I spent a lot of time on that. Unfortunately, all musicians are not computer savvy and they certainly do not like messing around with getting software working in the studio.

    • by Beelzebud (1361137) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @04:18PM (#32450088)
      Is there any professional musician that is on the record as using Linux and/or Ardour?

      Even a guy like Trent Reznor, who has released entire albums under the Creative Commons License seem to stick with Pro Tools.
      • by farrellj (563) * on Thursday June 03, 2010 @04:53PM (#32450548) Homepage Journal

        I just finished recording a pilot for a radio series using Audacity. It's easy to use, and being under the GPL2, I know what the license contains, and thus won't be blindsided by some obscure clause in a non-opensource license.

        • by Hatta (162192) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @05:03PM (#32450672) Journal

          Audacity is hardly comparable to ProTools, or even Ardour. If you're recording voice over tracks, or a live performance, Audacity is pretty good. If you're mixing an album, forget about it.

          • by Miseph (979059) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @05:21PM (#32450890) Journal

            They are for different usage levels. Audacity is the best tool I've encountered for doing quick and dirty edits, where the end result is a track that only slightly varies from the original (eg. I spliced the beginning of Jorge Quintero's 300 Violin Concierto into an intro for They Might Be Giant's Particle Man a few weeks ago... the entire edit took less than 5 minutes) and there just isn't much value in spending more time than absolutely necessary doing them.

            That is not what Pro Tools is for.

        • by westlake (615356) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @06:14PM (#32451588)

          I just finished recording a pilot for a radio series using Audacity. I know what the license contains, and thus won't be blindsided by some obscure clause in a non-opensource license.

          Have I missed something?

          Won't the broadcaster - your client or customer - be making most of the big decisions here? Audio formats and media acceptable for submission? Audio formats and media acceptable for broadcast?

    • by maharg (182366) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @04:20PM (#32450122) Homepage Journal

      Ardour / JACK rocks on my ubuntu studio, I'm using a presonus firepod. YMMV.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 03, 2010 @04:35PM (#32450302)

      Ardour is embedded in some of the products by Harrison Consoles, like the Xdubber ( http://tinyurl.com/328peem ).

      You might have had issues with it, but there are a number of Linux based pro studios, and Stanford's Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA) is not only Linux based, but provides an audiocentric spin of Fedora that I have found to be very stable. ( https://ccrma.stanford.edu/software )

      As for problems with a USB-based audio interface, well, you get what you pay for!! I run 16 tracks of input using 2 MAudio Delta 1010 interfaces and I've done hours of recordings with no issues.

      Frank was always interested in new tech - he was one of the first adopters of the Synclavier, and released an entire album of the 18th century Italian composer Francesco Zappa's music performed entirely on that machine.

      I'd like to think Frank would have loved the open source movement and been an enthusiastic supporter. We'll never get to find out, sadly.

    • by elgo (1751690) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @04:38PM (#32450340)

      According to an article on DevX, today Zappa would no doubt be using Linux and Ardour for most of his recording and composition.

      ...I would wager that Zappa's thirst for this kind of mixing would lead him to the industry standard: Pro Tools [wikipedia.org]. I highly doubt a professional musician would stray from that but if Zappa dumped some cash into Ardour development and increased its support then maybe.

      You highly doubt a professional musician would stray from Pro Tools? What about Logic Studio, Digital Performer, SONAR, and the reams of other Digital Audio Workstaitons? Many professionals use these as well, often integrated with Digidesign's high-end TDM hardware. Logic in particular destroys Pro Tools in terms of features and price and many are making the switch. Pro Tools' integration with Digidesign's proprietary hardware has become a handicap in the prosumer price range particularly, as Digidesign's hardware is trounced, in terms of features and sound quality, by other less expensive offerings.

      But right now, audio recording on Linux isn't the greatest. Pro Tools is often augmented with dedicated hardware ... I am unaware of how you would do this with Ardour. I also have had one hell of a time trying to get a dual core processor with plenty of ram to record in Linux and also play back what you're recording on top of several tracks without delay. In my hobby projects, I have given up on audio recordings in Linux although I must say I was impressed with Ubuntu Studio [ubuntustudio.org] when I was trying to layer guitar tracks a few years ago. It just seemed that the audio bus could not keep up when recording through my M-Audio USB input box ...

      That might be where your problem lies. M-Audio's hardware is worse than Digidesign's (although they are the same company) ! All kidding aside though, M-Audio driver support for Linux is sketchy. My M-Audio Delta 1010LT works beautifully under Linux with the ICE driver. It requires some configuration, but so does setting up a digital audio workstation in OSX or Windows - especially Windows. Also, latency and the like depends on the distro you're using. The reality is that Linux has tons of free audio software, and could easily be used to replace my Logic Pro setup, except for the lack of commercial plugins and sound libraries. As this is fixed, Linux will be more viable.

      Like a lot of things in Linux it could have been a configuration error but I spent a lot of time on that. Unfortunately, all musicians are not computer savvy and they certainly do not like messing around with getting software working in the studio.

      Good point. Once Linux is packaged well for musicians and audio professionals, I believe it could supersede Windows as the #2 platform for digital audio. Then again, in 10 years, maybe Haiku will be up there as well, with its BeOS underpinnings. For a good example of what Ardour can do/be when combined with proprietary DSP, check out Harrison Mixbus. http://www.harrisonconsoles.com/joomla/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=108&Itemid=42 [harrisonconsoles.com] It is under $100 (or was last time I checked) and features that Harrison sound combined with Ardour's power. It is OSX-only at the moment, but it will be available for Linux eventually. I've already used Mixbus to mix a few projects via Logic; once it is available for Linux it will replace Ardour as my main Linux DAW of choice.

      • by sg_oneill (159032) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @04:50PM (#32450516)

        Theres a reason Zappa might well be using Pro Tools.

        Its because he already was. Zappa was one of the original pro-tools users, before his death. I cant find a reference online, but I do remember him marvelling in one of the music magazines about pro-tools crossfades and how he used them extensively.

        Now the thing with musical software, is people tend to pick a DAW and stick with it. Pro-tools , other than the hardware capabilities which is where pro-tools does shine , is no greater, or necesarily worse than say cubase or sonar, but people stick with what they know and stick there.

        That said, he might well have been impressed with Sonar's score transcribing capabilities. Cakewalk was always good at that stuff.

        What's ardour's midi capabilities like these days? I havent used it since early versions (when admitedly setting up JACK taxed me so far I ended up reformatting and returning to cubase.

        • by Critical Facilities (850111) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @05:09PM (#32450738) Homepage

          Its because he already was. Zappa was one of the original pro-tools users, before his death

          I don't think that's correct. According to this article [soundonsound.com] with Dweezil talking about updating the famed "Utility Muffin Research Kitchen",:

          The studio had accumulated not just an extensive vault of tapes, but a considerable collection of analogue hardware too. "Frank had several machines — I don't know if we have some of the earlier machines he recorded on. We have the Studer 24-track and we have three of the two-track machines. They all have different head stacks, and we even have a five-track head stack that was made by Paul Buff when Frank had a studio in Cucamonga — the Studio Z in the early '60s. We're curious to see if there's a way to get a machine to work with that head stack. It was before multitrack — Paul invented this thing and made it work, but I have never seen it in use. We found it in a box!"

          I'm not saying Frank never used Pro-Tools, but it sounds like analog hardware was his primary focus.

          Incidentally, it's a misconception among non-musicians that Pro Tools is the best/standard. There are several Pro Audio level DAWs out there that are just as powerful. My personal favorite is Cakewalk's SONAR [cakewalk.com], but that's just me.

          • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Thursday June 03, 2010 @05:27PM (#32450946) Homepage Journal

            I'm not saying Frank never used Pro-Tools, but it sounds like analog hardware was his primary focus.

            Actually, he was a pioneer of digital systems for music. He gave up composing for real musicians for a good long while, using only his Synclavier.

            However, I have to disagree with anyone who believes Zappa was some sort of FOSS pioneer. There is disagreement about his own beliefs regarding copyright and intellectual "property" but his legacy regarding IP is awful. His estate has gone to the very unusual length of sending cease and desist letters to cover bands simply for performing his music live. We're talking about tribute bands for god's sake, who are probably working for free beer and keeping his legacy alive. His wife has sicced lawyers on former members of the Mothers of Invention for performing his music or even mentioning his name. While trying to protect his legacy, it's a good way to insure that he's forgotten by future generations.

            While I admire Zappa's work, there are plenty of indications that when it comes to the music business, he was a dick to a lot of the people he worked with. The people who are in charge of his estate, especially his widow, are even worse.

            • by Dorkmaster Flek (1013045) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @05:49PM (#32451254)
              Yeah, but does that necessarily reflect his own personal beliefs? That's just his current estate being dicks.
            • by Critical Facilities (850111) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @08:51PM (#32453210) Homepage
              I agree that Frank was one of the first people to really embrace the Synclavier. As a pretty big Zappa fan myself, it certainly isn't lost on me his penchant for embracing technology. For crying out loud, the entire "Perfect Stranger" and "Jazz From Hell" albums wouldn't have existed if it weren't for his efforts on digital instruments (although, as an aside, there is a really good version of G-Spot Tornado played by a live orchestra on The Yellow Shark [amazon.com]).

              In his book, he extolled the virtues of the Synclavier, and certainly recognized the technology's ability as it evolved. With that said, it seems that for recording, he preferred analog (as did a lot of artists at the time). Keep in mind, Frank died in 1994, and the first "real" version of Pro Tools didn't hit the market until 1991 (and it was a 4 track version......I ASSURE you, Frank wasn't going to be limited to 4 tracks).

              I'd need to see some citation regarding Gail or Dweez sending cease and desist letters to bands covering Frank's stuff...sounds like baloney to me. However, I do agree with his (and subsequently their) right to protect what is done with his music and his name.
      • by Spiked_Three (626260) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @07:32PM (#32452466)
        Your list of software identifies you as a pro-sumer at best. Seriously, every pro uses pro tools, and nothing else has better than 2% of the market. The difference is in what you call a pro - a dude playing sax on the street corner had some money thrown into his case, is he a pro? I think not. You buddy that plays a gig at the local bar, is he a pro - I think not. Someone who spends a minimum of $10,000 to get an album recorded and produced, is he a pro - probably, and the odds are better than 98 to 1 he used pro tools in the process. I've seen over $14,000 spent on 30 year old analog channel strips restored from old consoles, you think those guys are going to run an open source program? Linux may make it to a home studio level someday - it has a long way to go now, but it will never in a million years make it to a professional studio.
      • It sounds like you're up on this stuff, so I have a question: What would you recommend to capture 4 tracks off a mixing board for recording and later editing? I'm playing in a trio and we prefer to do as much "live" as possible, so I simply need an easy and hopefully affordable way to record 4 tracks for later editing and mixing on a PC. I've been out of the loop for awhile so my analog experience isn't useful and the amount of devices and gadgets out there is truly overwhelming.

        It don't have to be fancy, or have lots of bells, just be affordable and hopefully not take a degree to work. We already have a really nice Yamaha board so mixing isn't a problem, we just need a good way to get the sound to tape/disc/whatever. Any ideas?

    • by gad_zuki! (70830) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @04:41PM (#32450388)

      >I would wager that Zappa's thirst for this kind of mixing would lead him to the industry standard: Pro Tools [wikipedia.org].

      Right. Do we really think techie artists are gravitating towards Linux? Lets not be naive. I don't think Thom Yorke is demanding that all Radiohead stuff be done strictly on OSS software. Outside of extremists and college students, you'll find that people are just practical and use the best tool they can afford for the job.

    • by CyDharttha (939997) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @05:30PM (#32450986) Homepage

      We went with MAudio Delta 1010 cards for recording with Ardour and associated tools. It started out on a system with a Sempron processor and 512MB RAM; songs averaged 25 tracks, and drums were recorded live on 6 separate tracks. There were no performance issues.

      http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1275379&cid=28397147&art_pos=25 [slashdot.org]

      I won't argue the fact that ProTools is industry standard :)

    • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Thursday June 03, 2010 @05:36PM (#32451074) Homepage Journal

      While Linux is not ready for prime time when it comes to professional recording/mixing chores, it is extremely useful in professional and project studios.

      Besides acting as a sample-server and archiving system, it works great for offloading real-time effects processing and rendering duties.

      I'm a big fan of Cockos' Reaper in place of ProTools, and Reaper has a technology called "ReaMote" which allows you to use a Linux system to handle real-time effects and virtual instrument (VSTi) over gigabit ethernet. Not only is Reaper much more stable than ProTools, but with ReaMote and a Linux box, I can have a dozen instances of Omnisphere playing simultaneously without having to "freeze" the tracks to save cycles.

      I've tried doing complete projects on Linux only and I just hate the way it handles audio hardware. Jack is a nightmare. But in its proper role, Linux is an essential part of a working studio.

    • by Pax681 (1002592) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @08:08PM (#32452862)
      Frank zappa's latter means of making music , even for live stuff was the [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synclavier]Synclavier[/url] which is far from open source.

      it enabled him to play what would be impossible to play music on traditional instruments.

      check out his [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Zappa#Synclavier]Wiki page[/url] where it gets it's own little scetion in his wiki entry.

      while i agree that Zappa would very much like and agree with FOSS and the concepts i don't think he'd be using them. he'd be using the best thing available to enable him to make fantastic music

      mind you to say dinah mo hum was totally about linux nearly made me piss myself laughing..... please find the lyrics below a linky to the lyrics..

      http://www.justsomelyrics.com/763646/Frank-Zappa-Dynamo-Hum-Lyrics

      erm... not very linux..... just my two cents but not very linux at all
    • by nurb432 (527695) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @08:52PM (#32453218) Homepage Journal

      Unfortunately, all musicians are not computer savvy and they certainly do not like messing around with getting software working in the studio.

      Right, they want to make music, not futz with the computer equipment. That is what the studio IT guy is for. The equipment should 'just work', so they can 'just play'.

    • by yanyan (302849) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @11:16PM (#32454162)

      It just seemed that the audio bus could not keep up when recording through my M-Audio USB input box

      USB adds a lot of latency when recording. Try a PCI-based card such as an M-audio Delta 1010LT or better yet an RME Hammerfall. The RME in particular is mentioned in the ardour docs.

  • by oldspewey (1303305) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @04:15PM (#32450042)
    What's the magic FOSS connection to the song "broken hearts are for assholes" and in particular the lyric "You're an asshole, you're an asshole, that's right! You're an asshole, you're an asshole, yes yes!"
  • by BitHive (578094) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @04:19PM (#32450112) Homepage

    Can someone explain the appeal of Zappa to me? Most of his songs seem weird for weirdness' sake, but I'm willing to learn.

    • by Beelzebud (1361137) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @04:21PM (#32450138)
      You either "get it" or you don't. I'm not even sure I'd put Zappa in the 'acquired taste' category.
    • by causality (777677) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @04:29PM (#32450244)

      Can someone explain the appeal of Zappa to me? Most of his songs seem weird for weirdness' sake, but I'm willing to learn.

      Sounds like you wouldn't like Mr. Bungle.

    • by Sponge Bath (413667) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @04:33PM (#32450284)
      If you don't enjoy his "weird" stuff, then check out his instrumental only albums like "Shut Up and Play Yer Guitar". Personally I like it all, but it can be an acquired taste.
    • by Pojut (1027544) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @04:37PM (#32450314) Homepage

      I can explain why Zappa appeals to me, but first a slight bit of backstory:

      For fun, I produce spacey, ambient tunes [www.last.fm]. Music like this involves layering textures together. What may sound like only one or two different noises is actually dozens of different synths and samples layered and mixed.

      Zappa was a master of layers. The way he could combine seemingly infinite noises into one, cohesive texture was a monumental achievement. Beyond that, if you really listened hard to his music, that cohesive texture could be broken down to the point where you could hear the individual components that served as a foundation for the whole sound. Being able to create rich textures that are simultaneously seamless yet individualized is, from a musician's standpoint, a mindfuck of an accomplishment.

      Zappa's appeal isn't in his sound so much as it is in his technique and sheer ability...at least for me. I find his work to be quite inspirational.

    • by Carik (205890) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @04:37PM (#32450324)

      I think Zappa mostly appeals to people who appreciate weirdness for weirdness' sake, honestly. I like some of his stuff, the rest is just too strange.

      • by bjb (3050) * on Thursday June 03, 2010 @05:32PM (#32451010) Homepage Journal

        I think Zappa mostly appeals to people who appreciate weirdness for weirdness' sake, honestly. I like some of his stuff, the rest is just too strange.

        No, if you want weirdness for weirdness' sake, listen to Captain Beefheart. Zappa was weird and was often categorized as "comedy music", but he was at heart a modern avant garde composer with heavy classical and R&B influences. The fact that he made rock and roll was because "nobody ever made any money playing classical music" (can't remember source of the quote).

        The guy was a genius, but of a flavor that most people would spit out and stay away from because it tasted weird. As others have said, you either get it or you don't, but no fault if you don't because it isn't easily consumed.

    • by Purity Of Essence (1007601) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @04:42PM (#32450398)

      I suggest starting with something tame like Hot Rats. Work your way through Apostrophe and Overnite Sensation and then You Are What You Is and One Size Fits All. If you've stuck with it that far, take on Joe's Garage and you'll be ready for almost anything Zappa can throw at you.

    • Pick and choose (Score:3, Interesting)

      by SIGBUS (8236) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @05:22PM (#32450902) Homepage

      In many Zappa albums, there are some tracks that are all-time favorites of mine, and others that I just can't stand. There are only a few albums of his that I can play through without interruption -- Hot Rats, the Shut Up 'N Play Yer Guitar series, Apostrophe ('), and Over-Nite Sensation come to mind.

    • by Bootsy Collins (549938) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @06:00PM (#32451412)

      Not all Zappa is weird. I don't even think of *most* Zappa as weird. However, most of it *is* pretty complex stuff. He occasionally wrote pieces for orchestra that had passages considered unplayable by human musicians. OTOH, that which isn't complex often tends to the opposite extreme: the ribald or scatalogical stuff is frequently very simple musically.

      So what's the appeal? Each fan would give you a different answer, and the answer would probably vary from track to track. I'll just pick two songs from his enormous repertoire and explain what their appeal is to me:

      "Watermelon in Easter Hay," from the pseudo-rock-opera Joe's Garage. This nine-minute instrumental is a vehicle for Zappa's guitar soloing. It appears on some other live albums of his, but I think this studio version [youtube.com] is the best, because it projects the somewhat sad feel of the piece the best. Prior to when I first heard this song, I always thought of guitar soloing as a means for lead guitarists with big egos to show off their technique; to the extent that electric lead guitar solos expressed emotion, those emotions tended to be upbeat, energetic ones, like anger or joy. Not here: the soloing in "Watermelon in Easter Hay" is instead evocative of a late afternoon, staring out the window into the rain while thinking of something sad. It is gorgeous melancholy, from the melody he works and plays with and twists, to the tone of the guitar itself. I loved this song for years purely on that level; but something about its structure always seemed odd to me until I realized that it's played in a non-standard time signature. The song is in 9/4 time, which subconsciously to us produces some discomfort or edginess, which adds to the emotional effect.

      "The Black Page (drum solo, part 1, and part 2)" from Zappa in New York. This song, in the three forms in which it appears on this album, is a fabulous opportunity for learning about music, or at least about Zappa's concept of music. The song was originally a drum/percussion solo; a second version, immediately following the first on this album, adds other instruments. When I first heard this, I knew less than nothing about music, and the percussion song just seemed like a bunch of pointless banging with no real rhyme or reason; and the version with additional instrumentation ("The Black Page Part One, the Hard Version") seemed kinda boring and pointless as well. Somewhat later in this live album, however, he revisits it again, this time with the full band and arranged to a upbeat vamp ("The Black Page Part Two, the Easy Teenage New York Version"). In this form, I found the song easy to follow, and reasonably entertaining. And then time passed, and I learned how to play the guitar, and listened to a lot of jazz and orechestral music in the interim. And then one day I was listening to this album, and I made the connection between the "Easy" version and the "Hard" version -- I realized what he was trying to do. And that made me go back and listen to it a few more times, and then go back some more and listen to the Black Page drum solo -- the song stripped down to nothing but percussion, and I could hear all kinds of things going on that I couldn't before. It's hard to explain, but there were levels of complexity there that weren't apparent to me at first, but came later. And I love a lot of his music for revealing its secrets over time like that.

      One of the problems in picking up Zappa discs is the range of music amongst them: orchestral music, jazz, free jazz, blues, straight-up rock, experimental music, etc. You could listen to ten FZ albums and not like anything on any of them, and that still wouldn't mean there isn't FZ stuff out there you'd like. There's often some commonality between recordings in a certain period of time (the first three Mothers albums, or the 73-75 band recordings); but even that's not consistently the case (his 80s recordings jumped all over the stylistic map going from release t

    • by Yergle143 (848772) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @06:13PM (#32451578)

      Weird just means art doesn't it. One of the most funny things I've noticed in this world is that "artistic" types who go to a gallery and blather on and on about the "freedom" of Picasso, and Jackson Pollock will positively run in terror from music that violates 32 bar AABA song structure. So Zappa is how much weird, he's kind of weird? But you know whenever I feel blue, I put on "Trout Mask Replica", (not Zappa but close) laugh my ass off, and am able to proceed mightily through this world which is much much weirder than Frank Zappa.

      http://www.othermusic.com/ [othermusic.com]

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kf8TM4CIk5g [youtube.com]

  • by jbeach (852844) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @04:23PM (#32450172) Homepage Journal
    While Zappa was clearly a tinkerer, he was also one into making music. And music programs simply aren't up to a professional musicians needs on Linux yet. I know, this program's great, that program's great...they are in theory. But they aren't standards in music for a reason. They don't have full feature sets for non-programmers, and more importantly they aren't stable and reliable.

    Zappa would probably be ProTools, as other's have suggested - or Nuendo, which actually has a final output sound that's a bit nicer in some ways than ProTools, due to Steinberg's sound algorithms. Both of these require Windows or Mac OS. Of the two, I find it very likely Zappa would prefer Mac - it is simply a better environment for non-text work.

    Also I think it's VERY likely Zappa would be using Max/MSP, which doesn't exist for Linux yet and won't be ported any time soon. Or he maybe would be using Symbolic Composer, or programming in Kyma - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kyma_(sound_design_language) [wikipedia.org] - but this also is aimed at programming DSP cards in Mac and WIndows environments

    However, it is also very likely that Zappa would want some crazy special computer software/hardware combinations, that may be most easily achieved by hiring a programmer, who would then be more likely to write the controlling software in Linux. But again, I doubt it would be Zappa himself.
  • I don't think so. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pojut (1027544) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @04:25PM (#32450184) Homepage

    Frank Zappa was one of the greatest musical geniuses that our species has ever produced. To even remotely insinuate that we could assume his intentions or possible course of action is douchebaggery of the highest order.

    Show some fucking respect.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 03, 2010 @04:25PM (#32450192)

    Not only that: In the early '70s Zappa wrote a song called 'Penguin in Bondage,' an obvious foretelling of the anti-Linux lawsuits and threats from SCO, Microsoft, and other evildoers.

    No.... No, I think that implies something else altogether. Something... something involving fat nerds in leather suits.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 03, 2010 @04:25PM (#32450202)

    Zappa was also a heavy user of the Synclavier, an electronic music machine that was a precursor to today's 'studio on a computer' recording and sound editing software.

    What does this have to do with anything at all? The synclavier was not open source or Linux based. Also, the synclavier did not lead to any FOSS music production tools. In fact, even now, the vast majority of studio work is done on mac OS or windows. How does this synclavier relate to the point they are trying to make? Sounds to me like they are drawing correlations that do not exist.

  • Nope. Not at all. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MarkvW (1037596) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @04:27PM (#32450216)

    Frank would be using the best stuff in whatever format. He wouldn't be constrained by Linux, or Windows, or Mac, or whatever.

    Appropriating Frank's memory to endorse anything is just wrong, man.

  • by Ricdude (4163) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @04:40PM (#32450378) Homepage

    The tweezers in question are encrusted with "Zircon", and not Zirconium, as alleged.

    • by Roblimo (357) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @04:59PM (#32450628) Homepage Journal

      I've heard both Zircon and Zirconium on different versions. And Joe Volodorsky, the guy who told me Montana was about the Mac OS and its users, said Zirconium.

      This little article grew out of some loose talk, with lots of laughter, about how you really need to be from L.A. to understand some of Zappa's stuff.

      I mean, do you remember the Cheech and Chong line, where one says, "We're going to be bigger than Ruben and the Jets, man," or something like that?

      There is a Frank Zappa monument [youtube.com] in Vilnius, Lithuania.

      Not all talk, all articles or all monuments need to be serious, you know.

      - R

  • by $RANDOMLUSER (804576) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @04:43PM (#32450410)
    I'm pretty sure that "Don't eat the yellow snow" and "Let's make the water turn black" were about Windows.
  • by Delusion_ (56114) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @04:44PM (#32450434) Homepage

    The religious texts say a thing, such as when Jesus told his followers "Remember that all these things will happen before the people now living have all died". And they didn't.

    This leaves the religious with three choices, none of them good: either:

    1: Jesus was wrong
    2: Jesus was a liar
    or 3: the Bible doesn't mean what it says, and must be re-interpreted in order for it to remain relevant to us, who are not the audience it was written for.

    Needless to say, most of the faithful pick the third option. The Revelation of John is even worse; in modern times most of the faithful read it as if it were written for a modern audience rather than a then-contemporary audience, so we turn a warning about the political power of Rome into a warning about bizarre apocalypse destined to happen in the future (ours).

    This post reeks of this sort of post-hoc reasoning. Let's not do Zappa a disservice by deliberately reading him as if he were talking to us about something he clearly wasn't.

    While I'm sure (I hope) it was meant as a jest, does this sort of evangelical logic really promote Linux in a way that is useful? This reads like fanboy logic written for the converted. More damning, however, is that while it is supposedly humorous, it's not actually funny.

    • by washort (6555) on Friday June 04, 2010 @12:20AM (#32454488) Homepage

      The religious texts say a thing, such as when Jesus told his followers "Remember that all these things will happen before the people now living have all died". And they didn't.

      Eh, only a few Christians ever believed that, though most of them lived in 20th century America. All those prophecies about stuff happening in that generation did happen; much of the "end of the world" stuff discussed in the Bible was about the end of the Jewish world when Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 AD. I don't agree with all of these guys' conclusions but they cover most of the bases on this topic: http://www.preterist.org/preteristQA.asp [preterist.org] (Who's Frank Zappa? ;-)

  • by Pete Venkman (1659965) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @04:47PM (#32450474) Journal

    Did this author think to even talk with some of the still living Zappa clan? This article isn't much of anything if the author isn't going to even try to get some opinions from those closest to FZ himself.

  • by Locke2005 (849178) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @04:54PM (#32450562)
    Without Zappa's inspirational lyrics, titties and beer would be nowhere near as popular as they now are!
  • by lumenistan (1165199) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @04:56PM (#32450600)
    Newton - FreeBSD
    Leibniz - Solaris
    Donny from the Big Lebowski - QNX
    Phil Hartman - BeOS
    Moses - OS2/Warp
    Hammurabi - MS DOS 5
    Rush Limbaugh - Windows Vista
  • by DdJ (10790) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @05:12PM (#32450778) Homepage Journal

    ...is like dancing about architecture.

  • by bjb (3050) * on Thursday June 03, 2010 @05:20PM (#32450864) Homepage Journal
    OK, so someone was listening to Frank's music and thinking about how to make a Slashdot story about it. Some story moderator thought it was cool to accept. I can appreciate that someone thought about these things and tied them together into a Zappa reference. Hey, I can get into that and I'm as excited to see it on here as CmdrTaco was when he first posted a story related to The Who 10 years or so ago (no, I'm not going to look it up and hyperlink it! grin). But what does annoy me is the claim that he had anything more to do with Linux than Beethoven, Taco Bell, Ford Pintos or rubber dog biscuits.

    C'mon. Zappa's struggles over the years had nothing to do with computers or freedom of the tools he had. It was all about business, musician unions and satirical observations of "the world".

    Sure, I could come up with something like, "hey! Opus the penguin from Bloom County was all about the position in society of the Linux user, and obviously because of the penguin reference!". Why not. But if anything, Frank had over 60 studio albums of material released and I'm sure one could make a lot more connections if they thought about it.

    The author of the story says that Apple was influenced by LSD. While Jobs has been on record with the statement that it was one of the most important things he did in his life, I'm not ready to chalk up more than a few small points of that company's history to it. People claim to have grand visions and revelations under the influence, so maybe Jobs was just good at recording or remembering his revelations rather than just grabbing a bag of doritos and sitting on the couch listening to Pink Floyd. There were a lot of other things that contributed to Apple's success that had nothing to do with drugs or brainstorms thereof (see: Xerox, Homebrew Computer Club, IBM, Palm, etc).

    So how is Linux influenced by Zappa? Linux was influenced by the entire history of UNIX and other commercial operating systems, not some avant garde musician. As well, why would he be using Linux? As others have mentioned, I'm sure he would be using whatever the best tool is. He made heavy use of the Synclavier back in the day because it was THE tool for electronic music and was capable of playing the complex compositions he defined and had someone program in for him (see: G-Spot Tornado and just about everything on Civilization Phaze III). I appreciate the progress that we've made in regards to music production on Linux, but from everything I've ever read about Frank, he's not going to use Linux for music production because of the philosophy. Yes, he was a tinkerer, but there isn't anything about Linux that you couldn't do with another platform when it comes to music.

    Frank dedicated his time to his music and his family. I honestly don't think he'd have time for the difficulties involved with using Linux when he could just buy a Mac for Pro Tools or Digital Performer. Besides, I think I saw Mac Book Pro or two at a Dweezil Zappa show recently ;-)

    • by garyisabusyguy (732330) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @05:58PM (#32451384)

      Maybe... just maybe they can lay a claim that prior exposure to Zappa albums may make a person more likely to adopt Linux...

      For instance, my early years of tripping to Billy The Mountain while playing Risk might, just might, have made it easier for me to accept software packages that sings its own tune, an os that requires text file manipulation to properly use a display adapter and made me willing to install Linux on a Sparc10 even though it took me a couple of weeks to replace the Sun bitmap with a penguin

      So there you go, prepare for a career in Linux by receiving brain damage while listening to Zappa

  • by garyisabusyguy (732330) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @05:40PM (#32451124)

    Taking a bet with a hooker that you could get her off, then nailing her hooker-friend until dynamo finally got into it enough to get off???

    I mean, I can't say that I ever got a balky machine to install an rpm just by doing it to another machine in front of it.

    Am I missing something here?

  • by swb (14022) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @07:12PM (#32452268)

    Mind you, I'm not slagging on him, but he seems to have kind of faded into the background. He's been dead just shy of 20 years and his music was always a tad experimental, but he doesn't seem to get tied into "modern" rock music the same way someone like John Cale does or some of the other proto-punk artists do.

  • by Bemopolis (698691) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @07:24PM (#32452392)
    "Dinah-Moe Humm" might, in fact, be about Linux. Namely, the lyric "I got a spot that gets me hot, and you ain't been to it."
  • by bezenek (958723) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @09:02PM (#32453302) Journal

    In the early '70s Zappa wrote a song called 'Penguin in Bondage,' an obvious foretelling of the anti-Linux lawsuits and threats from SCO, Microsoft, and other evildoers.

    Since Tux came into being in April-May of 1996, it is impossible for Mr. Zappa to have used a penguin reference to suggest anything about Linus in the "early '70s." See: http://www.sjbaker.org/wiki/index.php?title=The_History_of_Tux_the_Linux_Penguin [sjbaker.org]

    -Todd

  • by ClosedSource (238333) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @09:30PM (#32453550)

    Buddy Holley, Ritchie Valens, and the "Big Bopper" are Windows fans. Kurt Cobain and Jim Morrison couldn't be reached for comment.

  • Zappa was a Pro... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 03, 2010 @10:53PM (#32453982)

    1. Take the current industry standard for PROFESSIONAL recording studios (not hobbiest or indi guys on a budget).
    2. Add custom hardware and software from the top engineers in the industry.

    THAT's what Zappa would be using. That's what Zappa has always used, dating back to the mid 1960s. You can find numerous references to his custom recording boards and equipment in assorted online archives. Doesn't the Zappa website have pictures of his homestudio?

    Zappa was a professional, a perfectionist and a business man. He didn't waste time on fads or tolerate incompetence (in people or hardware/software). He relied exclusively on experts (musical or otherwise) to execute is particular vision.

    "Arf!" she said.

All constants are variables.

Working...