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Path: Queen Songs - Forum - Song Analysis: A Night At The OperaBookmark and Share

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Sebastian: A Night At The Opera27 Feb 2007 17:43

'Death On Two Legs' is imo the best analysis you've done. Brilliant work.

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'Lazing On A Sunday Afternoon': Another way to interpret the form (based on 4-bar sections):

| Intro | Verse I | Refrain | Verse II | Break |
                  | Refrain'|
        | Verse I'| Refrain"|


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'39:

> The live version dropped Intro I. It featured John on fretless bass and Roger on bass drum as well as tambourine

It'd be important to note that the vocal arrangement is notably different too (not only regarding "who-does-what", but the lines done by each one differ as well).

All in all I think the article is missing some deeper comments on the way harmonies are arranged (compared with 'Loverboy' or 'Bo Rhap', for instance).

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'Sweet Lady': IMO this one's missing some notes on the drum-arrangement (one of Bri's best ever).

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'The Prophet's Song':

> All Choruses have different lyrics with some recurring lines; the arrangement and even the final chord change

Brian would use that approach of notably different arrangements and twist-endings for the chorus section in several more songs later on, albeit in most cases more subtly ('Save Me', 'I Want It All'). A very nice one is 'Show Must Go On'.

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'Love Of My Life':

There are very few (if any) comments on the bass-part imo. A note on the live version: Brian deliberately arranged the melody to be played mostly on the G-strings in order to have it in octaves.

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'Good Company' is another one of your best analyses so far. If I may add something: throughout the band's catalogue, a constant was that the instrument the song ad been composed at was the main one. That's the case in 'Best Friend' having e-piano instead of acoustic, and 'Crazy Little Thing' being driven by Fred's strummed acoustic. 'Good Company' is a notable exception, because it was written on a ukelele-banjo, but recorded with baritone ukelele (a totally different instrument). Another one, btw, is 'Ogre Battle', reportedly composed on acoustic guitar.

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'Bohemian Rhapsody':

> The song covered more styles, including a stylized opera-choir unprecedented on the single market, maybe also in prog-rock circles

Sort of ... Man Who Sold The World (the album) flirts several times with opera, ballad and hard-rock within the same songs: 'Width Of A Circle', 'After All', 'Saviour Machine' (so-so), 'Supermen' (so-so) and on the title track (check out the outro vocal-layers). 'The Great Gig In The Sky' is another pre-BoRhap track with classical and operatic influences, although this one wasn't a single, still it receives much airplay (e.g. during the last British HOF).

> What particular composer influenced Mecrury is another interesting question

In this case, Mozart, most definitely.

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'God Save The Queen': Besides the Hendrix connexion, I only mean to point out that the piano part is worth analysing closely in order to compare it with the guitar orchestra. This is perhaps the only case where we've got that possibility.



Post was edited on 11 Mar 2008 00:36
1.angel 27 Feb 2007 23:10
> What particular composer influenced Mecrury is another interesting question
> In this case, Mozart, most definitely.

Could you tell more about that opinion? In what way do you think Mozart influenced Freddie and which sections of the song are the evidences of that?
2.Sebastian 28 Feb 2007 00:18
- The form during the ballad bit is rounded binary modulating to V
- "No" bit compared with 'Don Giovanni'
- The character of "Figaro" (although it may be inspired by Rossini's opera too)
- Bitonality (during "Galileo"), employing Phrygian mode on the bottom voice
- Crazy chain of chords finishing on the tonic ("no no no...") and dominant (end of rock bit)
- The slightly counterpunctual bits (e.g. "... monstrosity", and various bass-voice parts) are similar to some of Mozart's earlier works (which weren't as "classical" as the upcoming ones), and more to the point, to JC Bach.
3.angel 28 Feb 2007 00:52
I do agree with that but don´t you think that the vast majority of things you´ve mentioned is quite general? E.g. modulations to V... Well ;) This is the major factor in the mother of all song forms, the sonata form (used by almost everyone)
"No, no" compared to Giovanni... OK, I admit I don´t know Don Giovanni, but I can easily find out... Which section or phrase did you mean to be similar to "no,no"?

Also the point you´ve introduced like "character of Figaro"... Well, The Marriage Of Figaro is a perfect example of "opera buffa" which was one of the types of opera during classicism, but it wasn´t Mozart´s invention and this is important to say. There are several operas of another authors (Gluck, Piccini, Galuppi etc) of that rather comic, light character.

I would slightly agree with bitonality, which might be one of Mozart´s trademarks, but again, not only Mozart´s and I don´t need to go much far for the evidence. Just look at Beethovem´s Pathetique sonata (the first movement - Grave) There are many and many sections which are ambiguious throughout the tonality (especially during the Development, where the tonalic division or ambiguity is one of its feature in connection with sonata form)

Crazy chain of chords.... Well, I don´t dare that this is significant for Mozart´s... I would say that it is actually the other way round. Mozart´s composing in most cases works with voices that each of them makes sense. And right that is not a case of "no,no" section etc.

Again, contrapunctual composing is what Baroque is based on. And of course, Mozart was influented mainly by Bach etc (and he strongly wanted to meet him, but he has never achieved that), but, you know what I mean, again, it is not originally Mozart´s thing.

I don´t want to be negative to your opinions ;) I just don´t think BoRhap is influented by anyone, not even by Mozart..... But I might be wrong, of course
4.Sebastian 28 Feb 2007 01:38
Yes none of those things are exclusive to Mozart, I agree. Just as neither pedal bass nor chorus arrangement alterations nor parallel modulations nor D/A lick nor intro-based-on-bridge details nor guitars with delay are exclusive to Brian, yet you can tell when a song is probably influenced by him (e.g. 'Liberty' or even 'Estranged' for some extent).
5.angel 28 Feb 2007 15:21
Sorry, I don´t understand the main theme of what you are saying. Perhaps I should learn more English :D Anyway, it depends on how we understand the word "influence". What I meant by 3 was that I think, that BoRhap is directly influenced not by a person but by a genre.
6.angel 28 Feb 2007 15:26
Off-topic (sorry, it´ll be very brief):

Today I was talking to my future diploma-leadar bout my diploma paper (in the respect of the main concept etc.) And he was really enthusiastic about that, so I am going to need sources like this site and works that are here. I will tell you more about it later. As talking about sources, Sebastian, was it you who had told me that some italian book exists about Queen music? Am I right, or it was PD?
7.Sebastian 28 Feb 2007 18:49
It's actually a thesis or something like that. It's brill though.
8.PD 28 Feb 2007 19:05
The essay was written by "Wiz Eutropio". You will find him among the list of posters.
(last login in 2004)
9.angel 28 Feb 2007 22:59
Thanks a lot guys!
10.Sebastian 10 Mar 2008 20:39

Some comments on the 21 British #1 hits from 1975:

  • Lonely This Christmas (Mud): C Major, no modulation, all the song over the same chord progression (I > vi > IV > V), loads of chordal harmonies (parallel, and a bass-voice going down to a low G). Love the 6/8 beat, and the song is marvellous. This was the last #1 in 1974 as well.
  • Down Down (Status Quo): Can't help but thinking about Beatles' I'm Down, with a similar theme. B Major, three main chords (I, IV and V) and some passing ones by Rick's rhythm guitar (chromatic fragment from C to E after 'laughin' at me', similar to that in One Vision). Nice two-part vocals.
  • Ms Grace (The Tymes): First non-Brit #1 of the year. Loads of chordal soul harmonies, with one of the ladies hitting a soprano B in the intro (so, Roger's 'for me' wasn't the highest note of the year). D Major, no modulations.
  • January (Pilot): Quite Bee Gees-esque in terms of three-part harmonies. F Major, no modulations, ballad form with 'chorus' being very similar to verse. I love the verse progression btw: I > vi > iii > v > V/ii > IV > iv > iii > ii > V.
  • Make Me Smile (Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel): I never liked this bloke's voice, but I do like the solo here. Simple 4/4 rock with a marvellous acoustic lead guitar (makes me think about KISS' Forever, many years later). C major, four chords, chorus is over ii > IV > I > V. Very Dylan-esque melody and lyrics. Starts on IV.
  • If (Telly Savalas): Driven by a chromatic descending inner-line from A to E. Key: A Major. Metre: 4/4. Great vocal harmonies (all female), and although I've never been a fan of Telly's, his narrative fits the mood perfectly. No modulations. Second American #1 of the year.
  • Bye, Bye, Baby (Bay City Rollers): Reminds me of Do You Want to Know a Secret. Loads of vocal harmonies. One of my favourites. Compared to the original verison, it's a step down: G and E, rather than A and F#. I love the opening progression with that exquisite descending bass: Am > Am/G# > Am7/G > F > F/E > Dm > G, then the lift one, ascending: C > C+ > C6 > C#dim. At the end there's a key-shift, the first in this list. Starts on the 'ii' function.
  • Oh Boy (Mud): One of the last glam triumphs. Loads of vocal harmonies, and the intro is almost a capella (outro is, indeed). Compared to the original version, the key is different (D in this case). Three-chords, 12-bar and 8-bar things.
  • Stand By Your Man (Tammy Wynette): Third American #1, and yet another cover. A Major key, lovely voice. I > V > ii > V > I, IV > I > V/V > V, I > V/vi > IV > I > V/V/V > V/V > V progressions. I love it.
  • Whispering Grass (Windsor Davies & Don Estelle): My favourite hit from this year. C Major, shuffle beat, one-bridge model, three-octave range (low C to tenor C).
  • I'm Not in Love (10cc): Longer, and with more voices than Bo Rhap. I love the progressions: IV > iv > iii > III > vi. All in all there are fifteen chords, including alterations and stuff.
  • Tears on My Pillow (Johnny Nash): Fourth Yank #1. D Major. I like the organ part.
  • Give a Little Love (Bay City Rollers): C Major. Loads of semi-chordal harmonies.
  • Barbados (Typically Tropical): A really silly one hit wonder. C Major. Nice synths.
  • I Can't Give You Anything (Stylistics): Fifth American #1. Marvellous arrangement, simple harmony in F.
  • Sailing (Rod Stewart): I absolutely love it - what a voice! B Major, main progressions are I > vi > IV > I and ii > vi > ii > I. Marvellous May-esque guitar choir in the solo too. In the concert for Princes Di he lowered it a whole step.
  • Hold Me Close (David Essex): B Major. Very simple harmony, and sub-par vocals IMO. Nice arrangement though, catchy melody.
  • I Only Have Eyes for You (Art Garfunkel): Sixth Yank #1, and yet another cover. Fantastic voice. D Major / B minor, 6/8. Great harmonies.
  • Space Oddity (David Bowie): Reissue in the key of C Major (Tom).
  • DIVORCE (Billy Connolly): G Major, four chords (I > IV > V/V > V progression in the verse). This is the only #1 hit in the year not to have harmony vocals (or more than one instrument), although it's got loads of laughs and audience applause.
  • Bohemian Rhapsody (Queen): Well... you know the story.


Post was edited on 21 Mar 2008 23:10
11.PD 11 Mar 2008 05:54

An old dream of me to compare the chart hits of different decades in terms of musicality.
I like to read articles like yours.

Sailing: Rods single "every beat of my heart" starts with similar vocal phrases to that of Sailing.

12.Sebastian 11 Mar 2008 20:59

I love that album... but yes, maybe there's some plagiarism there. I'd blame Kevin for that one ;)

13.Sebastian 23 Mar 2008 19:52

A more thorough chord-count for 'I'm Not in Love':

Basic: E, F#m, G#m, A, B, C#m(7)

Other Diatonic: Badd11

Borrowed: G9, Am, D7

Secondary Dominants: G#7

Inversions: A6-7/C#, A/B, A/E

Bo Rhap is, harmonically, slightly richer (including passing chords formed by the choir) than this one only counting the intro. Impressive!



Post was edited on 23 Mar 2008 19:53
14.LG 23 Nov 2009 15:13
Have you guys seen the making of plus 30th anniversary dvd edition of ANATO? On first DVD there are special features when Brian plays piano track for God Save The Queen he recorded as a guide track for guitar and talks about the overall arrangement.
15.Sebastian 24 Nov 2009 03:11
Indeed. I've got to type their quotes and maybe sketch a brief analysis based on the guide track.
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