5 min readDec 29, 2020


ReTylerize As Musical MashUp by Gerry Fialka

ReTylerize As Musical MashUp by Gerry Fialka

When I published the 2020 book Strange Questions: Experimental Film as Conversation, my friend and legendary drummer, Morgan Agren posted a one minute video entitled

Fialka Book Release

At age 20, Agren played with Frank Zappa

Agren composed an original solo drum piece which he plays with the book balancing on the drum skins. Then I asked Tyler Bartram to add visuals and an original guitar composition to Agren’s video.

The fine, fine, super fine result is called Fialka Book Release (Redux) and can be viewed on YouTube. I am grateful that Agren and Bartram are nurturing our potential “to learn the secret songs that orchestrate the universe.” — Marshall McLuhan.

The following delves into a survey of some of the methods involved in musical mashup. The alchemist combines two known things resulting in a third unknown new thing. Mashup culture is rooted in Marcel Duchamp, dada and conceptual art.

Some Musical MashUp Methods:

1= ReTylerize: to take an existing soundscape and add guitar orchestration and visuals. Tyler Bartram double duty interrobangs the sonic into the multimedia. Check his YouTube channel

He likes to recall Zappa’s description of Hot Rats as “a movie for your ears.”

2= Vocalese: a style or musical genre of jazz singing in which words are added to an instrumental soloist’s improvisation. Example: Annie Ross Twisted

3= Reverse Vocalesing Instrumentals: Musical lines are added to existing talking phrases. Similar to what Frank Zappa called “singsong tone talking.”

4= MonoNeonize: Take #3 RV and add a short funky groove after the melody is established. Example: You’re a BadAss

Be sure to read the MonoNeon Art Manifesto at the end of his videos.

Some history: Sprechgesang and Sprechstimme are expressionist vocal techniques between singing and speaking. Though sometimes used interchangeably, Sprechgesang is directly related to the operatic recitative manner of singing, whereas Sprechstimme is closer to speech itself.

Frank Zappa words further suss out the roots of these methods:

In 1979, Zappa said, “Not only did John Lee Hooker invent sprechstimme, but Boozoo Chavis invented quarter-tone rock. Know what sprechstimme is? Schoenberg wrote this famous piece with a chamber ensemble and a female soprano singing settings of these famous abstract poems. But instead of singing them, she sings, and in some parts, speaks on pitch. And the German word for this is sprechstimme, and it was revolutionary. The notation for it shows the note head on the line, with the accidental, and on the stem there’s an ‘x’, which means you half-speak, half-sing. This was the rage of the early 20th century, but, I mean, listen to a John Lee Hooker record. People aren’t aware of the great strides made in the world of modern music by these people of Negro persuasion in the early part of our century.”

In the Zappa song, ‘The Radio Is Broken,’ Frank called it “singsong tone talking . . . I’d start talking in singsong tone of voice and then Tommy Mars would chop changes behind it. Now that’s very freeform, kind of like ‘The Dangerous Kitchen’ or ‘The Jazz Discharge Party Hats’; those both are meltdown events. In the case of ‘Dangerous Kitchen’, it’s a fixed set of lyrics that has variable pitches and variable rhythms. In the case of ‘The Jazz Discharge Party Hats’, it was completely spontaneous, 100% improvised by me and the band.”

Also closely review the following:

FRANK KOFSKY (1967 interview with Zappa): Ever since I got the John Coltrane Live at the Village Vanguard Again, I’ve been dancing around the house to it, and there’s not a fixed beat. From that, it occurred to me, people have said that one of the reasons jazz is losing an audience is because you can’t dance to it, but that’s nonsense. You can dance to it, but you can’t just do the boogaloo to it. You can dance to any piece of music you hear — in fact, you can dance even if you don’t hear music.To go back to that earlier question, I guess you see yourself as melding together all these things.

FRANK ZAPPA: Yes. We want to try and put together a theatre of a bizarre sort. The spoken word is differentiated from the sung word, in its rhythmic sense, as in poetry. But even normal speech patterns are beautiful in themselves. Because the way people talk, it doesn’t make a shit what they’re saying; in fact, most of the time what they’re saying is really ugly. But when you think about the rhythm, or the way certain gas-station attendants might speak, you know, what they’re saying is useless; but if you just listen to it as a piece of music … I like to simulate things like that.

KOFSKY: You’re very conscious of that, aren’t you? For instance, I notice when Jim Black sings, “TV dinner by the pool, I’m so glad I finished school” [in Brown Shoes Don’t Make It], he does it the way that guy would say it. I’ve heard that guy talk, I don’t know what his name is but — that’s a typical Southern migrant to Los Angeles at the age of seven, now working in a defense plant. There’s some Jungian symbol fixed in my brain that immediately clicked: “I’ve heard that voice before!”

ZAPPA: It’s all around you; it rules the world. It rules California.

KOFSKY: I think it rules the world. Actually, it’s cannon fodder like the rest of us.

To go a little deeper, please google the musical term “canon,” and “fodder” which is etymologically rooted in the word “food.” This tasty little sucker of an essay must include the word that Frank Zappa invented, “xenochrony,” which means strange synchronization.

What is your answer to this question: What is the function of music mashup?

‘Blue’ Gene Tyranny said that music is a means of “deeply informing myself that there’s another world. Music is my way of being in the world.” Maybe the function of music mashup is probed by people like McLuhan, who said we do art “to show what our world is made of.”

I welcome your input. Thank you, Gerry Fialka 310–306–7330

For more sense-ratio-shifting, check out: