Composition Study Results: “Inca Roads” by Frank Zappa
Written by Ethan Sherman
Inca Roads by Frank Zappa starts with a pretty constant tempo & meter, the first pattern is a unison with marimba and bass (!)
the vocal melody starts over that and it feels really off-kilter rhythmically but it somehow fits.
the pulse through all of this is constant
there’s a quick spoken word section where it’s a number of voices going off at the same time and blending together really well, it sounds contrapuntal in terms of melody and rhythm but none of it is actually sung, just said
the key center is very much constant, but the vocal doesn’t seem focus on any particular scale within that key center.
lots of unisons everywhere
the guitar solo has a lot of odd rhythmic groupings but again,they fit really well within the groove. mostly lydian.
each section is clearly defined and flows to the next one well… so far
back to weird, I-know-it’s-tonal-and-not-diatonic-but-I’m-not-sure-how-it’s-not-diatonic vocal melodies.
unisons really stick out again
later sections have some meter changes under the unisons
electric piano/synth solo near the end sounds like it’s part of another song
chordal and rhythmic stabs punctuate the middle and end of sections a lot
vocals from the middle come back, meter changes under them
I haven’t actually figured out most of the harmony and meter changes are, I think it would be a fun project to maybe sit down for a couple hours and dissect this song a little more.