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Frank Zappa teaches Steve Allen to play The Bicycle (1963)

May 14, 2024
Hollywood is the Steve Allen Show from The Steve Allen

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house on H Street in the heart of Hollywood, we bring you 90 minutes of Madness and Melody with guest stars M doret Jenny Smith composer Samy F log roller Diane Ellison musical cyclist Frank Zappa best in your orchestra Sincerely Johnny J John Steve not only do we have the most beautiful girls in the audience here at the Steve Allen Show but you will also have to admit some of the strangest musical instruments and this gentleman

play

s perhaps the strangest one in the mall that plays .

bicycle

and his name is Frank Zappa thank you actually you play a

bicycle

yes you are in the Musicians Union uh no you play some other musical instrument something more conventional maybe guitar Vibes Bass and drums Guitar Vibes Bass drums and bicycle since the bicycle will travel From your base to your rums to your guitar, uh, how did you get your first bike?
frank zappa teaches steve allen to play the bicycle 1963
I was discussing this earlier with some of the people backstage. I think a lot of people have played bikes from time to time when When they're young, they take a piece of cardboard and a clothespin, they clip it to the back wheel and when it spins it makes that noise and you're playing bike, then oh , I see, you mean when they pretend they have a small motor, do it. it sounds like a motorcycle yeah we've all done it right is that what you do you make a motorcycle noise I see a couple of motorcycles around here maybe we better go and do a demonstration and show them what you do Frank Zappa zaap P paa eh , well, here we are friends, stereo bikes and you have what are these tools in your hands? uh, these uh, a pair of Louis Bson style drumsticks and a base bow that I borrowed from your base in the back.
frank zappa teaches steve allen to play the bicycle 1963

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frank zappa teaches steve allen to play the bicycle 1963...

Louie Bson style drumsticks, does Louis know what you're doing? What are you doing with them? I don't think you approve. How long have you been playing bicycle? Frank. About two weeks. He was probably selling insurance or something. Thought. What's something really uneven that will bring me to the Steve Allen Show? bike what could be sillier than that and he did it and here we are this is probably how it happened really you've only been playing two weeks yeah what do you normally do besides this? I'm a songwriter, oh, could we be familiar with any of your songs? so far, well, you'll be familiar with some of my songs starting next week, but I did the score for the World's Largest Center and who could be Tommy Manville or who tells us that, that's the name of the The movie is the worst movie in the world and I did the music for it, the best center in the world, yes, it's a production frenzy by Tim KY.
frank zappa teaches steve allen to play the bicycle 1963
Production Frenzy Productions is an independent company, they all are these days, the way things go, but they filmed back then. list and my melon agent got shot, you know, that could happen to anyone who was on it, uh, Tim Cary and a cast of a thousand people he found on Main Street, somewhere in the biggest downtown in the world, Tim plays the main role?, uh, yeah. and you wrote the score for that, what instrumentation did you use three harmonicas and a bicycle or what? Well, we had a 55-piece orchestra and we had a very unusual reading section that we had, they couldn't read, we had contrabass clarinet, uh, two bassoons. no four bassoons uh two obos English horn four flutes and piccolo uh four trumpets four horns and four trombones and a tuba and uh I forgot that there are a lot a partridge in a couple of trees well it sounds very interesting uh inventory we recorded it we recorded it it was at the Chaffy High School Chaffy College Little Theater in Altaloma California, of course, it was a runaway production, so wasn't it for 12 hours?
frank zappa teaches steve allen to play the bicycle 1963
Well, we'll look forward to it now as for the job of the moment, um, you. If you want to play the new starting blues or exactly what you are going to play with us here. I'll just let you show us what happens. The first thing I need to do is show you the different types of sounds you can get. a bicycle because it actually makes some very interesting sounds and of course that's what we're all interested in, new sounds, yeah, that's one of the sounds you can, yeah, oh, you've got a microphone down there, I see well .
I'll need this microphone to pick up the next sound. You have to keep it there. Alright. Hello hello. Sorry, you'll have to leave a message. He is not here at the moment. That's pretty good. Oh, there's a hole in these. things aren't there, were you just whistling? It happened if you tried to blow air, you just blew air and made it whistle. Can I blow air and a little whistle? Blows real easy, blows real easy, oh you blow easy, yeah man it's alright Co. Once again this concludes my fix on a bike for when you get home tonight folks try this on your own bike when don't have many wise acres around, what else good, the next thing I would like to do?
Demonstrate some of the other possible noises and then I want you to participate with me in a little improvisation for two bikes. Pre-recorded tape and instrumental set. Okay, now this is what you can do. You can start the The spokes like a heart sound like the Koto of Japan. I can touch, uh, my nose, I actually do that again, I mean that other thing and then, as I was demonstrating, before you can pass the sticks over the spokes in rapid motion, this produces the stick of that spoke. Similar to the cardboard and clothespin effect, like the Jamaican and Trinidadian steel drums, you can also hit the frame and if you are lucky enough to have a bike that has a squeaky seat, you can make the seat squeak. up explosive handlebars you can explode The handlebar that premise is guaranteed there is no limit to what you can do well could you help me with this please?
I will be happy to accompany you. It seems quite uncomfortable to sit on. I must say that there is a different technique. For the inverted bicycle, the first thing you should do is lower the stand. I'm glad to know that you can turn the wheels, you know, and then, yeah, you need to brake, yeah, and where it says stop the bar wrist, just give it a little bit. of that, I'll have you put the lasso here, look, go like this, if you take this, please, and that's like nails on the blackboard, this may be a little new to you, but I don't think it's like that. comes up in ordinary conversation, well, I should suggest that you alternate between Boe and plucking a jet of arrow, that's two air plants here on the neighbor, you should bow it and pluck it and, if you can scratch the bow, bow it and pluck it. basket, yeah, now the idea that we're going to do here in this Improvised Concert for two bikes, a pre-recorded touch and the musicians behind it is that you're supposed to express yourself freely without any kind of uh. to lower the front and you have to, you have to feel your way because you are completely liberated, you are a composer and you know that the standard method of notation is very difficult, you know, I ignore it, yeah. well, this will help you now, uh, you write the music on a road map for this, this is how Route 66 was written, you think I'm kidding, I'm kidding, but not very successfully, and go ahead, I have to tell the man in the control cabin.
Who's ready to play the tape? If you give me a quick tap of the tape so we can start right now. The tape contains pre-recorded electrical noises that, uh, I glued together. I gave my wife a clarinet and told her to do it. Play it and uh she doesn't play corette and then even have a wife, how do you like it? And then I did some electric stuff to it and it's very interesting, you'll hear a woman singing there somewhere and I recorded it. I put the radio on, but now the way we work is when the man in the control cabin feels compelled to add his electronic part to our work here, he flips a little switch that lets some of this noise through and then I Request musicians who if they feel so moved make any noise possible on their instrument, do not try to abstain from musical tones, in fact, you would have no problem with that AR if it were possible in the usual way, friends.
I'm sorry, if it were possible for you to put some kind of object on the piano strings, you'll understand, that's good. I'd rather you play it like this all season long. Don, of course, no, we'll start, are we in it? Mary had a little lamb in her place, oh, this part was white as snow and in all the places where no, this is part of this, she told me to recite a poem while this was the voice in The Burning of Ruth rode on my moped on a seat in Behind me I got hit at 95 and kept going mercilessly, that's the end, it's 32 bars, we're playing like we're going to 32 bars tonight, you know it well Mr.
Zappa, I gotta say I am always in favor of expanding horizons. at least by looking eagerly beyond the horizons of any field of human endeavor or interest and therefore I congratulate you on your vision of the future and as for your music, don't do it again around here no, seriously, it was very fun and entertaining and stimulating experiment, is there anything you want to say in closing? Yes, I would do it next week. Their album called How's Your Bird Really will be released. Yes. I brought a dub here. I don't think you've heard it yet and it's uh I'm going to buy it it's wonderful I have everything but a bike okay thank you very much sir zapa thank you you know the music sounds a little like the music that a very talented thought I sat on the cake there for a minute woo that was close friends, you could have had me that time I wasn't looking for you guys, uh Alin Nikolai is his name a very talented choreographer I'll go to that microphone very talented choreographer uh we used to use it on the show when we went on Sunday nights and he makes his own music.
I guess music is the best word they can find for it and it sounds a lot like that, you know, he plays cans upside down and records them at weird tape speeds and then For this weird conglomeration of sounds, he creates dance choreographies and it's truly a genius in his particular field. I guess we should let someone across the country speak right now. Another Sammy Fain song will be performed for you in a moment. Great song. Secret Love Will Be Sung by Jenny Smith and then we'll bring out Sammy and we've got some other surprises, I guess even for me, hurry back.

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