William Price, D.M.A., assistant professor of music, presented a paper, “The Anomalous Zappa: ‘Outrage at Valdez’” at the College Music Society Great Lakes Conference in Chicago, Ill., March 30-31, 2012.
Originally composed in 1989 for a Cousteau Society documentary, “Outrage at Valdez” is an anomaly within Zappa’s known oeuvre. The piece is a post-impressionistic homage to Jacques Cousteau. Gone are the hyper-frenetic, angular melodies and abrupt changes of style and tempo normally associated with Zappa’s work, and in their place are a lush and poignant orchestral soundscape that sounds as if it owes more to Claude Debussy than to Zappa’s spiritual mentor, Edgard Varèse, Price says.
“The purpose of this paper is to provide a brief musical and historical analysis of ‘Outrage at Valdez,’” Price says. “By examining the circumstances of its composition and comparing it to Zappa’s other orchestral works, I suggest that the work is not an anomalous work for hire, but a highly effective composition that was a natural outgrowth of his life-long musical development as a musician and composer.”
Several original works by Price were performed in March, including “Left of Center” at the Frontwave New Music Festival in West Palm Beach, Fla., and “Sans Titre II” at the North American Saxophone Alliance Biennial Conference in Tempe, Ariz.
Price teaches music theory and music technology in the UAB Department of Music.