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Music / Music for Children

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The "safe for work" album cover.

Click for the original uncensored version
The original more controversial cover featuring a Creepy Doll. Some prints still have it.

Music for Children is a 1998 album by John Zorn. It marked the first release in his Music Romance series. The album has three compositions dating from 1990 and written for his band Naked City, but performed by the band Relapse. The Abe-Steinberg-Winant Trio provides chamber music contributions.


  1. "Fils Des Étoiles" (2:16)
  2. "This Way Out" (1:10)
  3. "Music for Children" (14:17)
  4. "Bikini Atoll" (0:46)
  5. "Bone Crusher" (0:38)
  6. "Dreamer of Dreams" (5:48)
  7. "Cycles Du Nord" (20:54)
  8. "Sooki's Lullaby" (3:17)


  • John Zorn: alto saxophone, wind machine, acoustic feedback systems
  • David Abel: violin
  • Cyro Baptista: vocals, percussion
  • Greg Cohen: bass
  • Anthony Coleman: celeste, music box
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  • Erik Friedlander: cello
  • Marc Ribot: guitar
  • Julie Steinberg: piano
  • William Winant: percussion
  • Alex Lacamoire: Prelapse

Tropes du Nord

  • Alliterative Title: "Dreamer of Dreamers".
  • Avant-garde Music: Like every Zorn album.
  • Careful with That Axe: "Bikini Atoll" features a lot of screaming.
  • Children Are Innocent: Both Played Straight as well as averted. The dolls in the album art work all have an Uncanny Valley creepiness to them, while the liner notes make a stance for the benefits of childish innocence:
    Rich ground for love and enthusiasm, innocence is delight in the natural charm of being and the unconscious experience of contradictions which no longer have a tragic character. To attain the virginal joy of innoence, one must not live contradictions consciously, or know tragedy and thoughts of death, because such knowledge is baffling, complex, and requires disjunction. Innocence resists tragedy but welcomes love, because the innocent, never troubled by inner contradictions have generous impulses.
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  • Classical Music: "Fils des Étoiles" and "Music for Children" sound close to chamber music and avant-garde classical music.
  • Contemptible Cover: The original album cover featured a naked female Creepy Doll with breasts. Despite being a doll it still looks frightening as well as disturbing.
  • Covers Always Lie: Several tracks are definitely too difficult, noisy or scary for children to appreciate them.
  • Creepy Doll: The doll on the original cover. Some of the dolls in the sleeve are quite uncanny too.
  • Death Metal: "Bikini Atoll" and "Bone Crusher" are closest to this trope.
  • Dream Within a Dream: "Dreamer of Dreams", as the title implies.
  • Epic Rocking: The 14:17 "Music for Children" and the 20:54 "Cycles du Nord".
  • Everything Is an Instrument: The track "Cycles du Nord" is a 20-minute composition for wind machines. "Sooki's Lullaby" is performed on music box.
  • Genre-Busting and Genre Roulette: Like all of Zorn's albums.
  • Gratuitous French: "Fils des Étoiles" and "Cycles du Nord".
  • Homage: "Cycles du Nord" is dedicated to Edgard Varèse.
  • Instrumentals: All tracks are instrumental.
  • Intentionally Awkward Title: A track called "Bone Crusher" on an album called "Music For Children".
  • Jazz: "This Way Out" has frenetic jazz solos.
  • Location Song: "Bikini Atoll", a loud and chaotic track, which references the atoll of the same name in the Marshall Islands. It's best known for nuclear testing and inspiring the swimsuit the bikini, which fits the album's theme of violence and eroticism perfectly.
  • Lonely Piano Piece: "Music For Children" has traces of this, though it also features a lot of percussion and violin.
  • Miniscule Rocking: The 1:10 "This Way Out", the 0:46 "Bikini Atoll" and the 0:38 "Bone Crusher".
  • Mood Whiplash: "This Way Out", "Bikini Atoll" and "Bone Crusher" all drastically change styles and moods within one and the same track. And these tracks are juxtaposed with gentle and charming pieces like "Fils des Étoiles" and "Sooki's Lullaby" and more extreme compositions like "Music For Children" and the 20 minute wind machines operation "Cycles du Nord".
  • Neo Classical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: Classical Music, Death Metal and Jazz are mixed together with all kinds of unexpected sounds.
  • One-Woman Song: "Sooki's Lullaby".
  • Record Producer: John Zorn.
  • Rock: "This Way Out", "Bikini Atoll" and "Bone Crusher" all have heavy guitar sound sandwiched in between other musical styles.
  • Refuge in Audacity: "Cycles du Nord" is 20:54 minutes of Zorn working with three wind machines and two acoustic feedback machines.
  • Repurposed Pop Song: "This Way Out", "Bikini Atoll" and "Bone Crusher" were originally written for Zorn's band Naked City in 1990, but hadn't found their way on an album yet.
  • Rock: "This Way Out" has hard rock solos.
  • Surprisingly Gentle Song: "Fils des Étoiles" and "Sooki's Lullaby" sound really charming between the harsher experimental tracks on the rest of the album. "Dreamer Of Dreams" is a melancholic guitar, bass and cello piece that wouldn't be out of place in a a David Lynch movie.
  • Title Track: "Music For Children".


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