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Sebastian: Live tabs and cross arrangements29 Jan 2004 13:47
Those have been the two most recent (musical related) projects I've been working on. The first is about sheets and tabs for what the guys played on the songs live, because the arrangements did change. In some cases bass played more melodic lines and piano had different parts (e.g. in 'bicycle' fred didn't play during the verse, in 'need your loving tonight' and 'if you can't beat them' there was a piano, as opposed to the album versions, etc). Specially the guitars must be arranged differently because studio versions use to have more than four tracks and on stage (except Hammer To Fall and Staying Power) there was only one guitarist playing.

I was wondering if you can give me a hand (I know you're very busy, but you could help me with corrections and suggestions, I'm far from being an expert in transcriptions).

The other project was because I was so tired of my own way of arranging and modifying the song structures and forms, that I decided to put new limits and make a challenge: how would Bo Rhap sound if it was written by Paul McCartney? After a couple of weeks in the research (obviously some sections would be taken out and some chords would change inversions, there'd be no handcrossing piano playing or that guitar solo), I concluded that Paul never would write that song in the first place. Then I tried Axl Rose, who used creative extensions and shortenings of sections like Freddie, but somehow I couldn't figure out how wold be the final result (I can't picture Axl writing that song, although I can picture him arranging an orchestra and choir for it). In the end I tried out how would it sound if it was by Brian, and that's what I'm working on now. Just wanted to know if you've got any suggestions for that (it's half done, so far it's really wonderful, very Brian-esque and hence it sounds very very very different to the original version, and it's in Em, D and G keys). I hope I can finish soon the recordings and I'll find some way to share it.

I've been thinking about more possible projects like that (before I go back to my usual progressive arranging), perhaps Innuendo by Izzy Stradlin would be a nice option (the Am G F E chord progression isn't particular from Freddie, Brian, Roger, John or Steve, it's just the traditional flamenco progression, it's the equivalent there to the 12 bar blues or the 'Every Breath You Take' thing).
1.PD 29 Jan 2004 20:42
> on the songs live ... the arrangements did change.
Many times the songform was changed. The medley-songs were often reduced to half or so, but many times the song became extended compared to the studio cut.
The typical sections to be extended were the outro and the guitar solo (or the combination of the two).
The instrumentation itself was reduced most of the times, and just rarely changed in concept. Example for the latter is Dreamers Ball where the vocal harmonies were completly re-arranged: instead of "chordal" backing harmonies they used lead-melody harmonising harmonies.


> In some  cases bass played more melodic lines
I admit I can't say any example for this from the top of my head.

> I know you're very busy,
You shall adress your questions/request to the whole forum. To analyse arrangements one needs no deep knowledge in music theory.
 And yes I'm having a busy period, and it's getting busier. To abandon the song analysis series was not just a quick idea...


> but you could help me with corrections and suggestions,
The transcribing-related things we may discuss this privately.


> how would Bo Rhap sound if it was written by Paul McCartney?
> I concluded that Paul never would write that song in the first
> place.
They said somewhere that Paul could write songs in nearly any style,... except progressive rock. Bohemian Rhapsody could not have been written without the at least indirect influence of
the progressive rock.
Those disorienting rhythms in the opera part, and the polirhythms in the rock section were things not in the compositional vocabulary of sir Paul.
The Verses with those simple chord progressions and catchy melodies could have been written by Paul, except that Paul (at least in his Beatle years) not really wrote so long non-repetitive melodies. The outro modulates to II (from Eb to F), again something non-Paulesque detail.
The chord-progression behind "no-no-no-no-no-no-no" is IMO crazier than anything I've heard from Paul.
Some parts of the harmony arrangements (vocal and guitar) needed a higher level craftmanship than Macca's.
Macca (or Martin) surely could have written a nice earpleasing arrangement over the same framework, and Harrison probably could have created a beautiful guitar solo.


> who used creative extensions and shortenings of sections
We should research this.


> I couldn't figure out how wold be the final result
> (I can't picture Axl writing that song)
Freddie definitely had a richer vocabulary of compositional devices: the chords, the rhythms. Axl definitely wrote some epic songs with progressive songforms.


> (it's half done, so far it's really wonderful, very Brian-esque
> and hence it sounds very very very different to the original
What Freddie did in Bohemian Rhapsody goes beyond most of the wellknown songwriters. It's even beyond Brian May, and sometimes I think that even Freddie Mercury went this time beyond his own
limits putting 120% of what he was capable of into this song.


> version, and it's in Em, D and G keys
Check out May's guitar version of We Are The Champions. That may help.


> perhaps Innuendo by Izzy Stradlin would be a nice option
How do you imagine his version?

> the Am G F E chord progression isn't particular
> it's just the traditional flamenco progression,
yes, but the remaining 75% of the song is somewhat less traditional. And don't forget those time-changes!
2.Sebastian 29 Jan 2004 23:47
oh, back to the long posts era, I love that! I hope we can do this more times (even if we're busy, because I am too, but you know what they say "the less free time I have, the more things I do")

so, here I go again:

> Many times the songform was changed. The medley-songs were often reduced to half or so, but many times the song became extended compared to the studio cut.

The project is more related with transcriptions than proper analyses, although it'd be useful for many people to transcribe the extended solo Brian played between 'Killer' and 'March' or the piano spacers Fred did in the 85 medley.


> Example for the latter is Dreamers Ball where the vocal harmonies were completly re-arranged: instead of "chordal" backing harmonies they used lead-melody harmonising harmonies.

In many cases the vocal harmonies had a different arrangement although the same concept. Note that '39 loses the counterpoints (as far as I remember), and some positions changed (Doin' All Right was Fred - Roger - Brian from the top in the album and BBC versions, live it was Roger - Freddie - Brian and in the "ah" after the heavy part it was Roger - Brian - Freddie). Note that in Fat Bottomed Girls the bottom voice (John?) is done an octave higher by Roger. Freddie and Brian exchange their parts respect to what they sang in the studio.


> I admit I can't say any example for this from the top of my head.

Ogre Battle can be one example, in the interlude. Bass is clearly evolved from the album version. Also White Queen in the instrumental part.

> Bohemian Rhapsody could not have been written without the at least indirect influence of
the progressive rock.

The 'Bohemian Rhapsody by Yes' project also crossed my mind. I have more or less clear idea of how would it be in general terms, but I don't know enough subtle details of Chris's writing (and the combination of little details is what makes a song sound Yes or Queen or NSync or whatever)

> Those disorienting rhythms in the opera part, and the polirhythms in the rock section were things not in the compositional vocabulary of sir Paul.

It's clear that nobody but Freddie would have written the song as we know it. But that happens with everything, even with Yellow Submarine. Paul's version of Bo Rhap (as I thought at first) would loose the "additional sections" (intro, outro, etc) and radically change, then I realised Paul wouldn't write it even without that.

> The Verses with those simple chord progressions and catchy melodies could have been written by Paul,

What is complex to write about the ballad section of Bo Rhap is the structure, not the chords themselves. It's not the usual "verse begins, verse ends, chorus begins, chorus ends...". It's like they're all together, "as if nothing really matters" introduces a spacer, then second verse starts and after "I don't wanna die..." the solo starts over the same progression as the chorus, but again it's varied. Those little details are IMO what makes even that section beyond Paul (and Axl, although that'd be discussed later), together with what you said about the melody

> The outro modulates to II (from Eb to F), again something non-Paulesque detail.

That's a very clever modulation, because it's hard to note where exactly the key changes unless you play the song. Fred was specialist in doing some very clever things and some un-common modulations happening "in the background". It's a cool effect, it's like you're in a side of the subway, and another person is in the other side. You keep your eye on the person and the train runs between you two, when it's gone the person is not there even though you had been looking at the same point all the time.

'Killer Queen' and 'March Of The Black Queen' are further examples of that. In the hypotetical case I could have done the Paul version that little piano solo would be taken out obviously, and the key would have simply been shifted

> The chord-progression behind "no-no-no-no-no-no-no" is IMO crazier than anything I've heard from Paul.

Surely it is, but there's a solution for that: change the chords. In the 'Bo Rhap by Brian' score I wrote the ascending melody and added parallel thirds and fifths .

> Some parts of the harmony arrangements (vocal and guitar) needed a higher level craftmanship than Macca's.

Obviously all of that would change. The Brian version doesn't have harmonies over three part (maybe I did include some four-parts in a couple of lines), and several sections have simpler stuff: "very very frightening me" for example si very interestingly arranged in the original version: top voice is ascending (G G G G Ab Ab A), bottom voice goes down then up again, and the middle voices aren't parallel at all with neither the highest or the lowest. That was also changed.

> Macca (or Martin) surely could have written a nice earpleasing arrangement over the same framework, and Harrison probably could have created a beautiful guitar solo.

Writing a George-like solo would be more difficult than creating a Yngwie Malmsteen-like solo, because George was incredibly clever in creating wonderful solos without getting in weird scales or complex stuff. Writing a Malmsteen kind of solo is easier (although the solo would result way harder to play than the Harrison one), I do it all the time - and if I can do it anybody can -.

> We should research this.

I remember thinking 'November Rain' and 'Stairway' were the only pieces that could be compared with 'Bo Rhap'. Later on I realised they were in a different level. In fact I still haven't found anything like 'Bohemian Rhapsody', even in progressive music (not in the sense of having over 30 chords, but in the sense of having all those changes and stuff and still be catchy and "pop", combining those two different fields of songwriting cleverness is something I haven't seen anywhere else).

'November' is very creative and still simple. The song uses just 10 chord progressions, one of them (the first one in the intro after the E notes) is a nice variation of the main verse cliche (instead of E C#m B B it's E G#m C#m B). Surely it's not in the same level Freddie shortened or extended his sections (and recycled some elements), but it's still an unsuual feature in a rock composer. I'd love to heard the 25 minute version of 'November', but a) I doubt they ever recorded it and b) perhaps Slash's comment was a little too exagerated. I think maybe people love to create legends: Brian said 'Millionaire Waltz' in a point had about 18 guitars all doing different stuff and with different sounds etc. Listening carefully I doubt they're more than seven. Still an amazing arrangement, but Brian's comment was way too far. That makes me think now that maybe the 180 voices thing of Bo Rhap is not exactly like that. They made that count once calculating 9 part harmonies per 20 times they did each thing. Now, the harmonies didn't go beyond 7 or 8 part ("for me" is the only one with 9), and some parts clearly aren't that overdone. A friend of mine told me that easily 20 voices can do that. I think that's too little, but perhaps the "180 voices" are in fact about 60.

I think I deviated from the point here... but "that's me" (sorry, too much ABBA these days, my daughter loves them, and so do I)

> Axl definitely wrote some epic songs with progressive songforms.

Yeah I remember that was I was talking about. What I ment is that Axl's crativeness (is that a word?) isn't so special if we compare him with progressive composers, but it is huge in the "normal" side of popular music. Even 'Stairway' is so ... normal (the whole song is based in four progressions and two spacers). In that sense songs like 'Estranged' are like a symphony compared to most commercial "classics" (from 'Dust In The Wind' to 'All The Small Things')

> What Freddie did in Bohemian Rhapsody goes beyond most of the well known songwriters.

Precisely the idea is do something different to what Freddie did. While I was in the waiting room at US Embassy I wrote the score for 'All Dead by Freddie' (it's a very long wait), but I left the papers there. I think it's very unlikely that I can do it again, the moment is gone. But anyway it was nice, also completely different from Brian's version.

> It's even beyond Brian May

Many parts are indeed, and that's the tricky part of the task ('Rape Me by Foo Fighters' would be much easier). The version I'm working on loses the intro, the outro, the cascades, some spacers, the piano scale and the 'Bismilah' sub-section. In fact the operatic interlude was divided in two and put in canons (similar to 'Prophet's Song') instead of having the mock operatic bit.

> I think that even Freddie Mercury went this time beyond his own limits putting 120% of what he was capable of into this song.

What I think is that most of Freddie's songs are very much below his limits, and this one is exactly at the end of them (the limits). A proper style and way of making stuff is born with practice, otherwise it's very hard (although not in all cases impossible).

Note that Freddie, in the beginning of Queen, was specialist in hard rock, and wrote heavy songs in his own style. His practice in piano ballads (from 'Nevermore' onwards) also helped him to learn very soon ('Lily Of The Valley' already sounds very Freddie-esque) how to do piano ballads by his own, with a personal touch. After 'Barcelona' he kept exploring an orchestral side for the rest of his life.

But with "foreign" styles or genres he used to adopt foreign trademarks. And of course he's not the only one. Lady Madonna sounds very a-typical for Paul, it's not like Paul learned to write in that style, it's more like Paul wrote some lyrics and used the chord progressions and scales he knew of that style. Note that 'Get Back' is much more Paul, because it's now his composition in all sense of the word, it's like Lady Madonna in a Paul way if you know what I mean. '39 is a-typical of Brian for the same reason. Those harmonies and the type of double bass playing is surely "borrowed" from some skiffle artists the band was aware of. 'Let Your Heart' sounds much more Brian-esque

Freddie's example is Leroy Brown: much more generic than Lazing On A Sunday Afternoon for instance. Note that 'Good Old Fashioned' has that old fashioned feel but at the same time it has Mercury's signature all over.

The case of Bo Rhap is IMO closer to the last one. Freddie surely made some research and perhaps borrowed a trick or two (you can read Wiz's book for further information), but it's amazing how he could arrange opera in a very rock sense and in a very Mercury sense (with the weird lyrics and the typical Freddie's eccentricity). That's because Freddie already had practice in creating those harmonies (check 'Lap Of The Gods' or 'Fairy Feller's Master Stroke'), he was clever enough to adapt them into the new style he was trying. Brian had a comparable achievement in 'Teo Torriate'.

> How do you imagine his version?

I think Izzy's 'Double Talkin' Jive' can be at least partially influenced by 'Innuendo', judging by some subtle details that sound very familiar. It could be also that both Izzy and Freddie had the same influence for their respective tracks.

> but the remaining 75% of the song is somewhat less traditional.

I'll have to investigate deeper on that. I find Innuendo's structure is closer to a GnR composition than Bo Rhap. It was some subtle details that made me realise Axl wouldn't write Bo Rhap, now perhaps Innuendo is even further away from Axl or Duff or Izzy than Bo Rhap was and I haven't realised, but a quick check makes me think Innuendo is more possible, specially if we delete the orchestral section. Another option would be 'Innuendo by Tesla'. Note that 'Love Song' (written at the same time) has in the live version the same concept of doing the solo in acoustic guitar first (with a classical/spanish feeling) and then do it in electric (with a hard rock feeling). Who was first no idea.

Did they have the same idea without realising? Very possible, note that Bee Gees didn't know about 'Beatles' when they recorded the album 'First' (which isn't technically their 1st), but sadly the album was released two months after 'Please Please Me' (although recorded at the same time and in different places), and the brothers were accused of ripping off the fab four.

By the way, today I finished my own version of Bo Rhap (not the Brian one). I'd love if you (and by "you" I mean all the people of the forum) could listen to it. I'll try to share it somehow, tell me if you're interested.
3.Bruno 30 Jan 2004 22:00
I'd like to hear your version very much. How can I get it? Btw, what are the no-no-no-no chords?
4.PD 31 Jan 2004 07:58

the "no no no" chords/harmony:

   Top: Gb  G   A   B   E   F#  G       octaves are indicated with '
Middle: D   E   Gb  Ab  Bb  Db' Eb'
Bottom: B,  A,  D   Db  Gb  Bb, Eb      A7 and Db7 omit their 3rd,
Chords: Bm  A7  D   Db7 Gb7 Bb  Eb3     Gb7 omit its 5th degree.


Not only the chords are crazy, but the way it is harmonized: the individual harmony-lines have a rather different shape. Harmonies often fail to impress me complexity-wise, but this one took my breath away.

5.Sebastian 31 Jan 2004 12:18
You can give me your mail and I'll send it to you. Tell me also if your mail can accept big files (my Bo Rhap is 9 MB in mp3, quite a long version). I can lower the quality and the least the file takes without losing the stereo effects (which are fundamental) is 1.33 MB.

For the Brian version I think I did use the same chords in "no no no no no no no", but different arrangement: just a simple old-fashioned three-part of parallel thirds and fifhts.

I did today a 1:50 version of the ballad 'Bo Rhap' in a John Lennon style. That led me to the idea of putting Bo Rhap as a medley of Lennon songs combining different fields of his songwriting
6.Bruno 31 Jan 2004 19:15
My email is bruno@post.hinet.hr. I don't know if my mail can accept 9MB so the lower quality will do. I'd also like to hear Lennon's version, if it's not a problem
7.Sebastian 31 Jan 2004 22:59
I already sent my version to you. I haven't mixed the Lennon one yet and I still have just the ballad section. I'm planning it as a four movement track, in which the first (or second) would be what I have in this moment. If you want to listen the current demo let me now.

Libor and Denes, I´m very interested in your opinions about that version, please tell me if you want to listen to it and how are you able to receive it (either the 8 MB or the 1.3 MB file)
8.Bruno 03 Feb 2004 13:18
I'd love to hear the current Lennon demo. And later on, the all four movements of course
9.LG 03 Feb 2004 14:21
I can accept 5MB per day, not on weekends. You can send it to me by mail.
10.Sebastian 03 Feb 2004 23:54
Libor I just sent you the file. It's in medium quality (4 MB). Hope you like it
11.BrianMay 06 Feb 2004 09:30
Sebastian, could you send it to me someday thru msn?
12.LG 06 Feb 2004 10:19
I listened to it and it sounds good. The part before proper Bohemian Rhapsody reminds me Echoes by Ping Floyd. Also the variation before guitar fanfares in Bohemian Rhapsody is nice.
Good work.
13.Sebastian 06 Feb 2004 13:52
Niek of course I can, you know where to find me
14.Sebastian 08 Feb 2004 00:21
I´ll comment how I´m working on the versions (but obviously I'm saving some "surprises" for the time I can release them). Suggestions welcome:

---------

'Bohemian Rhapsody as A Four Movement Medley of Lennon's Songs'

1st Movement (F Major - G Major): Harpsichord plays four bars from Freddie's piano spacer in the original version (the one before the last lyric "anyway the windblows"). Those four bars are done four times, the last adds the other two so the key is changed. Second time the spacer is played an harmony vocal is added. Third time there are two harmonies. Fourth time there are three.

2nd Movement (C Major - F Major): Piano plays the chords of the ballad section (except the solo) with some variations and with 'Imagine' patters. I believe that song inspired a lot of Freddie's songwriting, including 'Bo Rhap' itself. Second chorus "... I don't wanna die..." adds harmony vocal. After the piano spacer drums and a string quartet enter, playing generic parts without ornaments ("virtuosos need not apply")

3rd Movement (G Major): The Bb > Eb > Bb > C#, Bb > Eb > G# > Fm > Bb > Fm > Bb > Fm > Bb sequence is done three times, omitting the C# and changing key (so the chords would be G, C, F and Dm). 'Day Tripper' like riff appears and is transposed in all the chords. First time the sequence is played it's instrumental, second time it adds double tracked vocals (same melody but of course transposed), thid time a 'Get Back'-like guitar solo is added. At the end there's some wild screaming and 4th movement fades in

4th Movement (A Minor): Fingerpicked acoustic guitar appears playing Am and Em chords with descending bass (so it'd be Am Am/G Am/F Em) while lead vocal sings "nothing really matters anyone can see". After four bars of singing and four instrumental another voice appears singing "anyway the windblows", again for four bars, then four more of just acoustic, then another voice enters singing "bohemian rhapsody" with a different melody, then eight bars instrumental (8 fading out 8 fading in) and then all three melodies enter at the same time and sing forever. That's what I usually call the 'I've Got A Feeling' effect and was used recently by Blink 182 in their hit 'Feeling This'

------------

'Bohemian Rhapsody as a song by Axl Rose'

Intro - Ballad - Metal - Opera - Ballad' - Metal'

Guitars and keyboards tuned down a half step

Intro (F#): Variations on the verse progression (F# > D#m > G#m > G#m C#). With variations I mean alternate order and duration (e.g. F# > G#m > C# > D#m). Arranged for piano arpeggios and synth strings. Later on drums, bass and guitar enter

Ballad (F# - B): 1st Verse and Chorus are played and then a break (I haven't invented it yet) that finishes with a scream. The break is somehow similar to the one in 'Civil War'

Metal (F# - C#): Drum solo (check the intro of Izzy's 'You Could Be Mine') is followed by the riff, the sung section and the riff again (same progression as in the original version). Then there's another break (any suggestions on how to do it?)

Opera (F# - C#): Same order as in the original (without ‘Magnifico’). "I see a little silhouette of a man" is just lead vocal, "Scaramouche... fandango" is in parallel octaves, "thunderbolt ... frightening me" is four part (but simpler than the original), the Galileo vocals sing G#3 and C#1 and repeat it forever (with fade in effect); “I’m just a poor boy nobody loves me” is parallel octaves while “he’s just a poor boy… monstrosity” is four-part. “Easy come easy go will you let me go” is again octave vocals. “Bismilah” is unison, “he will not let you go” is two-part, “let me go” ditto. The ‘Let Me Go’ cascade is five part. “No no no no no no no” starts off one part and each word das one until it’s seven. On order of appearance the notes are: G#3, C#1, F3, F2, C#3, G#2 and C#2. “Mamma mia let me go … for meeee” is six part, the last word has eight part (the same as the last “no” but adding a C#4).

Ballad ‘ (F# - B): Solo is played over verse progression, then second verse, then chorus, then break (similar to the one in ‘Novemeber Rain’) and then the song apparently finishes.

Metal ‘ (C# - F#): Piano solo similar to the one in ‘Estranged’ but with some chord progression of the song. Then piano plays the progression of the heavy riff and gradually the arrangement gets busier (also inspired by ‘Novemeber Rain’). Finally guitar solo enters as well as some backing vocals and the song ends.

* Additional Comments: I wish I could make this version less ‘November’-esque, if anybody can give me some advice I appreciate it.
15.Sebastian 04 Mar 2004 15:19
Hopefully my 'Bo Rhap' will be avaliable soon in queenzone, so all of you can have it in EX quality. I haven't worked in the Axl version lately but I hope I will
16.PD 05 Mar 2004 21:16
I'm holding my breath to hear it! I like fan recordings...
17.Sebastian 19 May 2004 11:25
Finally... Now you can hear my Bo Rhap in queenzone! Enjoy it in EX quality
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