Zappa is best described in his own words, from The Real Frank Zappa Book:
"One day I happened across an article about Sam Goody's record store in Look magazine which raved about what a wonderful merchandizer he was. The writer said that Mr. Goody could sell anything—and as an example he mentioned that he had even managed to sell an album called Ionisation."
"The article went on to say something like: 'This album is nothing but drums—it’s dissonant and terrible; the worst music in the world' Ahh! Yes! That's for me!"
"I turned the volume all the way up (in order to get the maximum amount of 'fi') and carefully placed the all-purpose osmium-tipped needle on the lead-in spiral to 'Ionisation.' I have a nice Catholic mother who likes to watch Roller Derby. When she heard what came out of that little speaker at the bottom of the Decca, she looked at me like I was out of my fucking mind."
"I bought my first Boulez album when I was in the twelfth grade: a Columbia recording of 'Le Marteau Sans Maitre' (The Hammer Without a Master) conducted by Robert Craft, with 'Zeitmasse' (Time-mass) by Stockhausen on the other side."
"I didn’t know anything about twelve-tone music then, but I liked the way it sounded. Since I didn’t have any kind of formal training, it didn’t make any difference to me if I was listening to Lightnin’ Slim, or a vocal group called the Jewels […] or Webern, or Varèse, or Stravinsky. To me it was all good music.”
"What do you do for a living, dad? If one of my kids ever asked me that question, the answer would have to be: 'What I do is composition.' I just happen to use material other than notes for the pieces."
"A composer is a guy who goes around forcing his will on unsuspecting air molecules, often with the assistance of unsuspecting musicians. […] In my compositions, I employ a system of weights, balances, measured tensions and releases—in some way similar to Varese’s aesthetic. The similarities are best illustrated by comparison to a Calder mobile: a multicolored whatchamacallit, dangling in space, that has big blobs of metal connected to pieces of wire, balanced ingeniously against little metal dingleberries on the other end."
"The orchestra is the ultimate instrument, and conducting one is an unbelievable sensation. Nothing else is like it, except maybe singing doo-wop harmony and hearing the chords come out right."
"I find music of the classical period boring because it reminds me of 'painting by numbers'. There are certain things composers of that period were not allowed to do because they were considered to be outside the boundaries of the industrial regulations which determined whether the piece was a symphony, a sonata, or a whatever. All of the norms, as practiced during the olden days, came into being because the guys who paid the bills wanted the 'tunes' they were buying to ‘sound a certain way'".
"It’s all over, folks. Get smart—take out a real estate license. The least you can do is tell your students: 'DON'T DO IT! STOP THIS MADNESS! DON’T WRITE ANY MORE MODERN MUSIC!'"
"'Information is not knowledge, knowledge is not wisdom, wisdom is not truth, truth is not beauty, beauty is not love, love is not music. Music is the best.'" – Joe’s Garage, 1979.