Xenochrony

One of Zappa’s favourite tricks around the “Joe’s Garage” era and beyond was the practice he called “xenochrony” or “strange synchronisation”. This involved him taking a piece of music (often a studio backing track) and overdubbing it with a totally unrelated (usually a live guitar solo) track from a completely different song. After some fiddling about, the result was a melody that would play what appeared to be insanely complex polyrhythms over the top of the new song. It’s something I’ve always wanted to have a shot at, but lacked the source material to work with.

Then I came across a beautiful bass solo written by Doug Boucher over on his MySpace page. It’s called “Requiem For A Head Laying In A Field In Butler” and is dedicated to the very wonderful Mike Keneally. I really enjoyed the piece and tried playing some haunting theremin over the top, some of which came together quite nicely, and other parts of which were less successful. I then tried putting the piece together with some of Sean’s drumming for (I think) The Winning Smile – two unrelated bits of music coming together to form something new altogether. To this new hybrid track I set about playing guitar and theremin, with pretty good results. There are places where the bass and drums drift apart to give a very laid back feeling, and others where they synchronise exactly, including some where the drums and bass reach a crescendo at the same time before gently tailing off.

As usual, you can find more about the track over at The Lunacy Board site.