"Little House I Used To Live In" provides an interesting study in Zappa's musical (as opposed to lyrical) conceptual continuity. Zappa shared the same music out among several pieces, known variously as "Little House," "Little House I Used To Live In," "Return Of The Hunchback Duke," "The Return Of The Son Of The Hunchback Duke," "The Duke," "200 Motels" and "Twinkle Tits." Curiously, the original "Little House" (the down beat score) has no musical material in common with the second released version of "Little House I Used To Live In" (from the Fillmore East June 1971 album); the two pieces are linked only insofar as both share material with the intervening Burnt Weeny Sandwich version.
- The Piano Solo: "Little House"
The October 30, 1969 issue of down beat featured an unfinished score, in Zappa's hand, of "Little House." This comprises 17 measures for piano, followed by 23 measures for an ensemble of seven woodwinds, two horns, tuba, four violins and piano, and then 43 more measures for solo piano. (Note: all measure numberings counted from the first full measure.) Zappa states in the introduction to the score that the piece had its origins in "a piano exercise dated approximately 1962." The score ends inconclusively, with the notation "More about this later..." The ensemble passage, as far as I can tell, has not reappeared elsewhere in Zappa's oeuvre. (It is not related to the chamber music sequence that appears 13 minutes into the Burnt Weeny Sandwich version of "Little House I Used To Live In.")
The Frank Zappa Songbook Vol. One, published in 1973, includes a score for the "Little House I Used To Live In" piano intro transcribed by Ian Underwood. The first 17 measures (the first page of the three-page score), up to the double bar, match the first 17 measures of the down beat score, apart from minor notational differences. It then jumps ahead to measure 60 of the down beat score. The two scores match for 20 measures, then there are four measures that are slightly different. The down beat score ends there, while the Songbook goes on for a further 12 measures, including a repeat of the opening theme (transposed up an octave).
What Ian Underwood actually plays on Burnt Weeny Sandwich matches both scores from the beginning through measure 16 (0:00-0:49 on the CD), except that he leaves out a difficult left-hand sextuplet in measure 10. What he plays after that doesn't match either score exactly, although it incorporates material from both.
Zappa's 1978 touring band performed a version of "Little House" that consisted of the Songbook score in its entirety, arranged for keyboards, percussion, bass and drums. The scored music segued directly into a jam spotlighting Tommy Mars.
- "Little House I Used To Live In": The Burnt Weeny Sandwich structure
(timings from the Ryko CD)
0:00 Piano set piece, described above
1:43 Theme A
2:09 Drum break -> 11/8 riff
2:18 Theme B
2:50 Theme C slow version
3:27 Theme C fast version
3:39 Theme B repeat
3:54 Theme C repeat
4:03 Break/guitar solo
5:13 Solos, plus chamber music interlude unique to this version
It is my speculation that the title "Little House I Used To Live In" originally referred only to the piano set piece. Zappa then edited this music together with a piece that was referred to live as "The Return Of The Son Of The Hunchbacked Duke" ("otherwise known as 'The Duke,'" as Zappa explained at Appleton). This piece thereby acquired the identity of "Little House I Used To Live In," and was identified as such when it appeared on the Fillmore East album without the original piano piece. For the sake of this discussion, I will refer to the piano set piece as "Little House," and the material involving the three themes as the "ABC" sequence. The two officially released versions will both be referred to as "Little House I Used To Live In," and the Freaks And Motherfu*#@%! version as "The Duke," because that's how Zappa announces it.
When I first heard "Little House I Used To Live In" in 1970, I interpreted the opening piano solo as a mere introduction, and the tune I have dubbed "Theme A" as the "main theme" of the piece. Perhaps this was Zappa's intention, and his rationale for later releasing a version of "Little House I Used To Live In" which consists of the "ABC" sequence alone.
"The Duke" seems to have been a catchall title for a suite or medley that began with the "ABC" sequence. Certainly this title continued to be used even after the release of Burnt Weeny Sandwich, with its identification of this music as part of "Little House I Used To Live In"--see Freaks And Motherfu*#@%!. Two versions were available for study, one by the final "original" Mothers lineup and one by the Flo & Eddie band. After the "ABC" section itself, both are completely different. Given Zappa's propensity for live segues, there is no way to be 100% sure whether all of the titles listed below as part of the suite were really thought of by each band as part of "The Duke," or whether at some point there was a conceptual division between "The Duke" itself and the ensuing tunes.
- "The Return Of The Son Of The Hunchback Duke" (1969)
As performed at Appleton, Wisconsin, May 1969
Intro (with fast unison riff)
Drum break -> 11/8 riff
Theme C slow version
Theme C fast version
Theme B repeat
Theme C repeat
->"Help, I'm A Rock"
->reprise of "Transylvania Boogie" melody over "Help I'm A Rock" rhythm
->baritone sax solo to end
After the introductory material, the "ABC" structure here is basically identical to the Burnt Weeny Sandwich version. Note: the passage I have called the "blues motif" doesn't actually sound at all bluesy in this arrangement; in fact it sounds reminiscent of a cross between "Theme A" and "Holiday In Berlin." But in the later arrangements described below, the same notes will be phrased very differently to sound like a conventional jazz/blues tune. The above performance actually comes to a resting point after the first "Transylvania Boogie," but the reprise of that theme later leads me to include "Help, I'm A Rock" as part of the suite.
- "Return Of The Hunchback Duke" (1969)
This title appears on the album You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore Vol. 5 for an edited (joined in progress) version of the "ABC" material. The performance is from the Factory, Bronx, NYC, February 1969.
(timings from the Ryko CD)
0:00 Theme C slow version
0:35 Theme C fast version
0:47 Theme B
1:00 Theme C repeat
1:09 Break/guitar solo
1:19 Drum solo
-> segue into "Trouble Every Day," probably created by editing.
- "Twinkle Tits" (1970)
This composition, performed (possibly only once) by the short-lived Hot Rats ensemble, incorporates "Theme C" from "Little House I Used To Live In" as a secondary theme.
- Contempo '70: "200 Motels" (1970)
This never-released "concerto for Mothers and orchestra," as performed at UCLA in May of 1970, incorporates a rearranged version of the original "Little House" piano music, here played on an electric piano.
- "The Duke" (1970): As it appears on Freaks And Motherfu*#@%!
(timings from the Rhino/Foo-ee CD)
0:25 Opening chords (unique to this arrangement)
0:34 Intro (with fast unison riff)
0:56 10/8 riff
1:12 Blues motif ("Penis dimension" vocal)
1:27 Theme A ("We want a guy from a group..." vocal on third phrase)
1:50 Drum break -> 11/8 riff
2:10 Theme B ("His penis is a monster..." vocal)
2:38 Theme C slow version (not so slow here!)
3:01 Bridge (scat vocal)
3:15 Theme C fast version
3:21 Break/guitar solo
3:30 Theme C repeat
3:47 Theme B repeat ("My penis is a monster..." vocal)
4:13 Theme C repeat (scat vocal)
->"Would You Like A Snack"/"Holiday In Berlin"
->"Inca Roads" theme/guitar solo
->"Cruising For Burgers"
The "ABC" structure has now been expanded slightly with the addition of an extra repeat of "Theme C" and its ensuing break. The sung words are unique to this arrangement, and offer conceptual continuity with 200 Motels and the "groupie opera" song cycle of Fillmore East. (Note: the Rhino/Foo-eee CD incorrectly lists "Sleeping In A Jar" as appearing in this medley.)
- "Little House I Used To Live In" 1971: The Fillmore East structure
(timings from the Ryko CD)
0:00 Intro (with fast unison riff)
0:46 Secondary intro theme (unique to this arrangement)
1:06 10/8 riff
1:22 Blues motif
1:39 Theme A (scat vocal on third phrase)
2:04 Drum break -> 11/8 riff
2:18 Theme B (scat vocal)
2:34 Theme C slow version (scat vocal)
3:01 Bridge (Hoopla! vocal)
3:13 Theme C fast version
3:20 Guitar break
3:30 Variation of theme C (unique to this arrangement)
3:44 Break/guitar solo
3:58 Theme B repeat, slow version (scat vocal)
4:28 Theme C repeat, slow version (scat vocal) -> end
This is structurally similar to the previous version, but the introductory sequence has acquired a secondary theme (actually a greatly slowed down variation of the opening unison riff), and the arrangement has been improved by varying one of the "Theme C" repetitions. Although the sung words from the previous arrangement have been replaced by "la la" and "ya ya" scatting, note that again "Theme A" is given vocals only on the third of its four phrases. It is my guess that this version may have begun with the same opening chords heard on the previous arrangement, but that this part was edited off by Zappa. Can anyone with an audience tape of the show confirm or disprove this?
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