MUGC 4890/5890 — The Music of Frank Zappa: Course Archive

This page contains materials from previous offerings of the course, including final project topics, photographs, and recorded media.

Student Projects

A complete list of final project topics from past semesters is listed below:

  • Final Project Topics — Spring 2009
    Luke Angle: “Obsessive Creativity” (Comparison of MF Doom and Frank Zappa)
    Alec Bart: “Frank Zappa’s Musicians”
    Jason Bennett: “Frank Zappa’s Guitar and Gear: Up Close and Loud”
    Graham Black: “The Necessary Contradictions of Frank Zappa”
    Andrew Dittman: “The Adventures of Frank Zappa and Huckleberry Finn”
    Stephen Estes: “Dominus Vo’ Bisque ‘em Et Come Spear a Church of Appliantology: Zappa and Religion”
    Cody Forrest: Chasing Squirrels (an original composition styled after Frank Zappa)
    Michael Garman: “The Frank Zappa Secret Riff Collection”
    Jordan Gheen: “The Horn Players of Frank Zappa”
    Michael Giulietti: “Frank Zappa From A Progressive Perspective”
    Grant Goldberg: “Frank Zappa’s Unacknowledged Legacy”
    William Green: “Frank Zappa’s Social Commentary”
    Colton Harmon: “The Political and Social Views of Frank Zappa”
    Allie Harris: “Stevie’s Spanking” (a biography of Steve Vai)
    Jake Haygood: “Over-Nite Sensation: the Band’s Contribution”
    Colin Hinton: “The Influence of Frank Zappa’s Drummers on his Music”
    Adam Lockhart: “Frank Zappa: The Artist”
    Brooks Martin: “Not-so Lone Rhinoceros: Adrian Belew’s Performance and Conceptual Continuities”
    Derek Molacek: “Why Don’t You Like Me? The Critics’ Reactions to Frank Zappa and Frank Zappa’s Reaction to the Critics”
    Brady Morrison: “How Much Chance Did Zappa Partake In?”
    Ramon Muzquiz: “Frank Zappa: Punk Friend or Foe?”
    Manuel Oyarce: “Where Does Frank Get Off?”
    Brady Pitcher: “Breaking the Mold: How Frank Zappa & the Mothers of Invention Began Desensitizing Mainstream America”
    L. Scott Price: “Time and Macro-Rhythms within the Project/Object”
    Colby Schreck: “Frank Zappa's Drummers”
    Hamilton Skrabanek: “The Guitar Wizardry of Frank Zappa: An Exploration in the Evolution of Tone and Technique”
    Erik Stolpe: “Anything, Any Time, Anywhere – For No Reason At All: Frank Zappa’s Anti-Standard”
    Tyler Thomas: “Zappa vs. the Audiofetishists: An In-Depth Look At Zappa’s Revisionism to We’re Only in it for the Money and Crusin’ With Ruben and the Jets
    Colton Harmon: “The Political and Social Views of Frank Zappa”
    Danika Trierweiler: “Religion in the Life and Work of Frank Zappa”
    Simon Weaver: "The Roxy Band"
    Ashley Witherspoon: “Frank Zappa as a Teacher”

  • Final Project Topics — Summer 2007
    Paul Thomas: “Lumpy Gravy: Investigation and Analysis”
    Richard Dale, Jr.: “Frank Zappa the Guitarist"
    John Guari: “I Hear That Beat, I Jump Outta My Seat: Rhythm and Meter in Frank Zappa’s Music”
    Matthew Hough: “Zappa Guitar Muffin Cheese Compressor”
    Thad Bonduris: “Structural Improvisation as We Know It: Frank Zappa’s Aversion of Group Democracy”
    Oren Bruton: “Frank Zappa and the German Connection”
    Dane Ernst: “Zappa’s Credo”
    Sungjoon Lee: “Frank Zappa vs. Lou Reed”
    Chaz Underriner: “Frank Zappa in 1967: A Broken Satirist”
    Carolina Calvache: “Transcription of an Excerpt from ‘Inca Roads'”
    Sarah Hruzek: “The Sociological Perspectives of Frank Zappa”
    Gred Dixon: “Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart"
    Gabriel Arreola: “Frankie Z and the Wacky World of Drugs”

  • Final Project Topics — Summer 2006
    Levi Howard: "An Analysis of The Lyrics of Joe’s Garage as Postmodern Literature”
    Mark Douglass: “Joe’s Garage and A Clockwork Orange: Shock Value for a Higher Cause?”
    Joe Holmes: “FZ’s Methods of Surprise”
    Emily Crow: “An Analysis of High and Low Culture in Franz Zappa’s Lyrics”
    Adam Strange: “The Personal Side of Frank Zappa: FZ as a Husband/Father”
    Laura Marrero: “Unity of Rhythmic Motives Throughout Frank Zappa’s Sheik Yerbouti
    Chris Douglas: “Zappa’s Percussionists”
    Tim Mabrey: “Zappa and Censorship” Bret Crow: “Orchestral Maneuvers and Approaches”
    Tyler Huffman: “The Studio Genius of Frank Zappa”
    Jason Harron: “The Crux of Conceptual Continuity”
    Brian Felker: “Zappa’s Minstrel Show” Steve DeCrow: “Zappa and Censorship”
    Nick Groesch: “Frank Zappa vs. The Herd (in the Nietzschean sense)”
    Dennis Pitman: “Zappa, Politics, and Government”
    Tony Spiro: “Zappa the Rhythmic Fetishist”
    Stephen Lucas: “The Symbolic Context of Vegetables in the Music of Frank Zappa”
    Adam Lockhart: “Frank Zappa: An Artful Balance of Vernacular and Non-vernacular Musics”
    Brandon James: “Being Frank About Frank”

  • Final Project Topics — Summer 2005
    Hiro Ueno: "FZ & Captain Beefheart"
    Jeff Hodges: "Xenochrony and Postmodernism"
    Pete Saleh: "FZ’s Drummers"
    Mark Scott: "Analysis of 'The Dog Breath Variations' and 'Envelopes'"
    Tammy Walker: “Sheik Yerbouti and Broadway The Hard Way as Narrative Objects”
    Sarah Renfro: "1985 Senate Hearings (FZ and PMRC)"
    Clayton Freeman: "FZ and the Recording Studio"
    Eric Rodis: "FZ’s Satirical Legacy"
    Shannon Brady: "FZ’s Violinists"

  • Final Project Topics — Summer 2004
    Chris Cowart: “The [Studio] Wizardry of FZ”
    Jessica Leza: “My Elected Officials Want to Censor Your Mama”
    Isaac Lausell: "Analysis of 'Watermelon in Easter Hay'”
    Yvonne Canales: “FZ as Father and Husband”
    Steve Sayed: “Frank Zappa vs. the PMRC”
    Jake Vaught: “The Drummers of Frank Zappa”
    Jocelyn Hund: "Analysis of 'King Kong'”
    Jake Montgomery: “Zappa’s Influence on the Pop Careers of His Musicians”
    Rhett Butler: “Genre-crossing, Creative Control, and Artistic Independence”
    Eric Phelan: “Frank Zappa and His Involvement with Film/Video”
    Matt Nicholson: “The Zolo of Zappa”
    Kayo Momokawa: "FZ’s Thing Fish
    Ara Weller: “Zappa for President 2004”

  • Final Project Topics — Summer 2003
    Jeremy Thorn: FZ’s use of quotation
    Jack Forbis: Influences on FZ
    Bob Lanzetti: FZ’s Synclavier compositions
    Chad Wilbur: Influence of contemporary classical music on FZ
    Aki Hayakawa: FZ covers done by musicians from different genres/styles
    Rex Emerson: Relationships of FZ’s bandmates’ influences/styles and music
    Zack Rothenbuehler: FZ’s use of other styles
    Marjorie Owens: Influence of black culture on FZ
    Lynnea Edwards: Use of meter in FZ’s compositions
    Tim Hicks: PMRC hearings and FZ
    David Hall: FZ’s influence on his performers
    Ian Kelso: Recording techniques and equipment
    Tim Disen: FZ’s stunt guitarists: Vai and Keneally
    Lars Larson: Discussion of four albums from different periods

  • Final Project Topics — Summer 2002
    Doug Smitherman: "Comparison of FZ’s Joe’s Garage with The Who’s Tommy and Pink Floyd’s The Wall"
    Joe Ayoub: “Zappa and Dadaism”
    Dallas Morris: “The Elliptical Essence of Progress as Manifested in the Work of FZ”
    Lily Maase: “The Zappa Phenomenon: Analysis of Natural and Manufactured Irony in the Life and Works of Frank Zappa”
    Stefan Treber: “An Analysis of 'DuPree’s Paradise' by Frank Zappa”
    Todd Markey: “Arranging Zappa: Determining a Basis for Arranging 'Toads of the Short Forest'”
    Jorge Valenciano: “Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention: …And Re-Invention…and Re-Invention (Yet Again)”

  • Final Project Topics — Summer 2001
    Pamela D. Ward: “Sounds Like an Ugly Guy”
    Greg Turcotte: “The Fake Night Club”
    Parker Trevathan: Survey of FZ band lineups
    Thor F. Sanderson: FZ’s early popular music and his influence on other musicians
    Danny Smolenski: “Thing-Fish versus Broadway”


Click below to access a variety of media related to the course, including news articles, audio, and video files:

Photo Gallery

  • Residency with former Zappa musicians Arthur Barrow (bass) and Tommy Mars (keyboards), with students in the Music of Frank Zappa class (Spring 2012):



  • Former Zappa bassist Arthur Barrow working with students in the Music of Frank Zappa class during his Spring 2009 residency:



  • Bust of FZ to be donated to the city of Baltimore by Lithuanian artists and intellectuals (May 2008).

  • Frank-Zappa-Straße, dedicated in Berlin, Germany (August 2007):


  • Photos from Summer 2007 class:

    stills from video by Chuck Weatherall

  • Photos from Summer 2006 class:



    photos by Flossie Barnes

  • Bust of Frank Zappa in Bad Doberan, Germany, site of the annual Zappanale festival (1989-  ):

  • Bust of FZ in Vilnius, Lithuania, created by sculptor Konstantinas Bogdanas (1995):