Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Music (MM)

Document Type

Master's Thesis


Fine Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Ben Arnold


One of Zappa’s many cherished styles of music was the doo-wop of the mid-1950s through the early 1960s. His love for the style culminated in 1968 with a poor-selling and often forgotten doo-wop record, Cruising with Ruben & The Jets. While the record earned little praise from critics and fans, Zappa considered it as a landmark of his early career, as evidenced in his autobiography. This thesis investigates Zappa’s relationship to doo-wop and “perversion” of the style as it culminated in Cruising.

As revealed through autobiographical entries and interviews with Zappa, Ray Collins, and other collaborators, Zappa devised his unique doo-wop style from the early onset of his career until Cruising’s release in 1968. Moreover, he utilized his collagist composition techniques similar to those of postmodern American art music composers of the 1960s such as George Rochberg and David Del Tredici. Although outside of the realm of art music, Cruising is a highlight of Zappa’s early style and one of his finest representations of postmodernity.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)