ali n. askin

From 1991-93, Ali N Askin was Zappa's assistant.

Ali N. Askin arranged Frank Zappa's compositions for the Ensemble Modern's "Yellow Shark" concerts in 1992.

In 2000, he arranged Zappa's music for "200 motels, the suite", performed by the Nederlands Philharmonisch Orkest, Cappella Amsterdam, Morgan Ĺgren, Mats Öberg and Claron Mcfadden.

In 2002, he arranged and transcribed Zappa pieces for the Ensemble Modern's "Greggery Peccary" concerts.

In 2003, he also arranged Zappa pieces for the Dresden Sinfoniker.

September 2006, the MusikFabrik performed music by Zappa and by Varčse. The band had been gathered by Ali N.Askin, and included keyboardist Mats Öberg and drummer Morgan Ĺgren as special guests.

Friday, November 5, 2010, Ali N. Askin took part in a Q&A session at the "Frank Zappa At The Roundhouse" celebration of Frank Zappa’s music in London, UK..



frank zappa: civilization phaze III
   (1994, 2cd, usa, barking pumpkin)
  ensemble modern: ensemble modern plays frank zappa - greggery peccary & other persuasions
    (2003, cd, ger, bmg 82876 56061 2) - all compositions by frank zappa
  ali n. askin: eisenhans!
    (2008, cd ger, col legno) = a children's opera after the brothers grimm. score by ali n. askin
  original soundtrack: salami aleikum
    (2009, cd, ger, normal records normal 320 cd) - score composed by ali n.askin

askin_salami.jpg (17914 bytes)

  heaven and: bye and bye i'm going to see the king
    (2010, cd, ger, staubgold 098cd) - feat. ali n. askin

heavenand_bye.jpg (25348 bytes)

  the royal acadamy of music manson ensemble: zappa
    (2012, cd, uk, ram 045) - all compositions by frank zappa

manson_zappa.jpg (21755 bytes)



random notes

Reprinted from "Zappa!", published in '92 by Keyboard and Guitar Player magazines:

Ali Askin
Just Another Turkish-Bavarian Music Preparation Specialist

Seated behind Frank Zappa at Joe's Garage, in blistering heat and  a cloud of smoke from European cigarettes, is one Ali N. Askin, the Ensemble Modern's appointed copyist.

Askin spent two weeks in a music dictation nightmare, typing in the blur of notes as the assembled virtuosi imitated and expanded upon ideas improvised on guitar by Zappa.

Askin has the appealing and appalling challenge of making arrangements for Zappa's contribution to the Frankfurt Festival in
September. Besides the new material produced with the Ensemble last summer, Askin is working as an arranger, creating new versions of Zappa standards. Most difficult of all, he has been asked to make some of Frank's most rhythmically and melodically complex music from the Synclavier playable by human musicians.

A pianist from an early age and a composer in his own right, Askin is well prepared for these tasks. Little about even Zappa's most onerous "serious" music daunts him. "I'm very much into notation because I've been working as a copyist for so many publishers," he explains. A graduate in composition from the Munich Academy, he continues to perform everything from traditional classical music to modern pop in jazz and rock bands, write and arrange for local theaters and television stations, and serve as an accompanist for ballet and opera classes. "In modern music you cannot make a living just composing," he says. "You have to do something else."

When the Ensemble Modern decided to feature Zappa at the Frankfurt Festival, because of his prior association with the group, Askin received the call to come and start preparing scores on the spot. "It was fantastic, just fantastic," he recalls. "Frank had the idea to assemble so-called music objects- just dictating chords or lines on the guitar and getting the Ensemble to imitate them on their instruments. He was composing while playing trying every possibility. The musicians wrote down
what Frank dictated or what he told them to improvise, and I was sitting there with my small keyboard and writing it down also. And then I went through everyone's stuff and compared what I had written with what they had written, and we finally came up with the best version."

Ali had done most of his earlier copyist chores by hand or by Atari computer equipped with Amadeus software. For the Zappa project, he switched to a Macintosh IIci with Coda Finale software. "Frank is getting into something really fantastic now," he says. "He does a lot of hocketing on the Synclavier. You might have a line of sixteenth-notes, where one instrument is playing the first sixteenth, and a second instrument is playing the next one, and so forth. This is impossible for musicians to play. The Synclavier makes it possible to do it with very complicated tuplets, and then moving it in space with the six-channel mix just blows out your mind."

Besides creating finished scores in conventional notation, Askin is also now transcribing earlier Zappa recordings for new arrangements. In particular, he cites a Bruce Fowler trombone line doubling a Zappa guitar solo where one layer is recorded at half-speed and then speeded up to sound like a trumpet. "Frank wanted me to transcribe it so he can maybe use it for some composition where it might be played by a viola, for example. There's another very nice piece with just Frank and someone else on acoustic guitars which someone has now played into the Synclavier, and Frank is thinking about possibly using that as a solo piece for strings. He's always experimenting with taking solos of his earlier works, having them transcribed, and transferring them to another instrument. Some parts are obvious as to which instrument has to play what. The problem is more
with the Synclavier music, which is very difficult, often with very fast, tiny high notes that don't always have obvious relations to meters or measures. In general, orchestration and instrumentation are the hardest parts. You have to think about which instrument can play something so it sounds good. Is it in the range? Is it too hard to play? Can it be bowed by strings? I think about it, give my recommendations to Frank, and see what he thinks for a final decision."

Askin works from CDs, DAT tapes, and MIDI files, listening comparing, typing his interpretaion into Finale, and then listening back to what he's done through a Proteus II synth module. "I chose the Proteus because it makes pretty good orchestral sounds," he explains. His screen image- often containing as much as 20 to 24 staves- moves much slower than the audio playback, so he works with printouts during the review process.

All these tasks require a minimum of ten-hour shifts, six to seven days a week. "But I enjoy it very much," he emphasizes. "Long hours are not something new to me. I'm having a good time, so it doesn't matter. The thing is, it's challenging. Everybody who works with him is challenged to go to their limits. 'Can you do that? Can you do that? Can you transcribe
that?' He's always asking for limits."

* * *

From: Per Wikstrom (

Mats/Morgan "Live": This album was recorded during the bands latest tour and is jam-packed with knock-yer-socks-off performances. This year Mats/Morgan celebrate 20 years of being a musical entity, and to celebrate this they enbarke on yet another tour. If you have your way through Stockholm on February 27-28 (2001), WE are having a release party at Fasching, and You're Invited!!. Guests include Denny Walley, Ali Askin, Todd Yvega, and the ever so amazing Artis The Spoonman!



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