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Sebastian: my first article!05 May 2003 20:00
hi PD

In order to improve my website I'm going in the difficult labor of writing one article per song. I'm not going to be in a competence with you, of course.

My artciles don't discuss functions or modulations, because I'm dense about that. They talk about what I do know a little, which is "who is singing", "who is playing" and "who came up with it"

And do you want to know a freakish coincidence? my first article (just finished) is Bicycle Race!
1.PD 05 May 2003 20:57
Seb, I think it's a good news for every posters here, not just for me.
I don't feel it something competitive either, go for it. Philipp's articles are more closely related I think. Iw ish Philipp was still around you two could improve eachothers writes.
Bicycle Race? :) A nice choice.
In my case it was a big surprise: I knew the song was interesting, but to face all those musical tricks so densely and tastefully used, it was a big surprise for me. Since then I respect Bicycle Race as the most progressive ever three minute popsong, and desperately try to find a (non-Queen) contest for it.


2.Sebastian 06 May 2003 04:10
here it goes, it will be a while before I put them all on my site, so:

This is a great masterpiece written by Freddie. One of his last really complex songs in a long time. Of course, it has to be written on the piano. I must say I have an endless love for it, even though I don't listen to it very often.
Brian once said that the quality of the backing tracks that Freddie, Roger and John would put down was amazing, and it's true. Considering they didn't change them once they were done. The rhythm quality of Freddie is wonderful
John's bass is really different from left hand piano, which suggests that the melodic arrangement of it is John's, after an idea of Fred of course. The track must have been recorded at Nice, as it was written after Freddie saw the tour de France, then it's logical that they didn't wait for being in Switzerland. That suggests it was one of the first songs recorded for the album because the band was first at Super Bear and then at Mountain Studios.
The piano is awesome as well, Freddie was a genius in any style he thought about, he was not only classical-influenced ballads, he knew how to have fun with weird keys.
The first couple of guitars that enter do the same thing (each one in different panning). They play sustained notes at first. Then sustained chords on the break. At the end of another double-tracked guitar enters and does the typical Red Special crying noises.
The solo is arranged in a kind of race, the bass is wonderful there. It seems more like Freddie's invention. It has four guitars. Freddie sang lead vocals on the centre channel. Now to the tricky part: harmony vocals.
The intro is a capella (the first since Bohemian Rhapsody and the second found on the band, along with Fat Bottomed Girls from the same album). The vocal sound is the typical Queen sound, i.e. Roger, Freddie and Brian. It's a four-part (three of them are paralell octaves) with Freddie in the top and bottom voices. Roger is on the second and Brian on the third. Then there's just the same but with instrument supporting. They give the sensation as if the harmony had become bigger, but it didn't.
The first sentences "say rolls" are said by unison Roger and Freddie. "All I wanna do" is a three-part of Freddie. Now the four-part choruses are done exclusively by Freddie. At the end "I want to ride my bicycle" has another Freddie supporting the lead.
The bridge backing vocals are the typical live formation: Roger on top, Freddie on middle and Brian on bottom (it's not a sexual act by the way). The "on your marks" thing is giving the big choir impression, that was got putting all of them singing each line (this time it's a three-part).
The next part comprehends two bounces, the first one is two parallel octaves made by Freddie, they just say "bi" and become each time higher (a trademark from Freddie, also see We Are The Champions).  On the last "bi" falsetto Freddie sung an F4, the highest note he did on the entire album. The other bounce is also a two-part parallel octave harmony done by Freddie. Then there are a couple of words exactly the same as the intro, with the same settings.
Then the tempo is slowed, the words "bicycle bicycle bicycle bicycle race" are said by a five-part harmony, totally Freddie's. On the last "bicycle" a sixth part is added: falsetto Roger hits a G4, the highest note he made on the album. On that same syllable Freddie sings an Ab1, his lowest note on the album. The word race itself is only two-part. The choruses found later are in the same way as the previous ones.
It's important to note that bicycle rings were added, probably by Freddie. All the guitars were played by Brian.
Brian (2000): "Freddie wrote in strange keys. Most guitar bands play in A or E, and probably D and G, but beyond that there's not much. Most of our stuff, particularly Freddie's songs, was in oddball keys that his fingers naturally seemed to go to: E-flat, F, A-flat. They're the last things you want to be playing on a guitar, so as a guitarist you're forced to find new chords. Freddie's songs were so rich in chord-structures, you always found yourself making strange shapes with your fingers. Songs like Bicycle Race have a billion chords in them"
3.Sebastian 06 May 2003 05:16
I just wrote my second, of course, it had to be about All Dead, here it goes, it's a lot shorter because the song is much simpler


In my opinion, the best song Brian ever happened to write. I think the arrangements are entirely by him again. Wonderful harmonies by Freddie, I must say.
News Of The World is in fact the only album where I see Brian very superior to his band mates as a musician and as singer.
The backing track of piano, drums and bass was amazing. Brian is a great pianist. That line has all his trademarks, it's just his unique style, and as well as Save Me, it's quite hard to follow in regular rhythm patterns.
Bass and drums are very subdued tough, and guitars only appear on a master break, doing a five-part harmony. Freddie's vocal harmonies are mostly two-part but at the very end they become four-part, the bottom of which sings a F1 on the words "and gone". It was Freddie's lowest note on the album.

Brian (1983): "That's one of my favorites. That was one of the ones which I thought came off best, and I was really pleased with the sound. It always gives me a surprise when I listen to it because it was meant to really bring tears to your eyes. It almost does it to me"

Brian (2003): "For the record, as far as I remember I played piano on Doin' All Right, Father To Son, Now I'm Here, Dear Friends and All Dead All Dead."

Peter Hince (2001): "The piano on All Dead was played by Brian"
4.PD 06 May 2003 08:39
I've read the "Bicyle" article.
Strangely my first impression was that it could have been written better, but don't take this critic hard from me. I admit I was similarly critical with my own first articles and also Philipp's initial works.
I think the text should be more structurized.
As I mentioned, Philipp's articles are more closely related to your approach. At the moment I personally like Philipp's "Bicycle" article better.

About the bass: the chorus figure does not follow the left hand, partly because it's played with only right hand (I guess). "On the other hand" the bass plays similar figures to what Freddie plays with right hand. This refers only to the chorus.

As for chorus with four voices with three of which in parallel octaves:
You may be right, but according to my ears the "Bicycle" vocals consisted of three (non-octave) parallel voices plus two static voices on bottom (right channel) one of which is hard to hear, but you can catch it at more points.

About "All Dead"
The chorus harmonies are strictly following the chords most of the time, in this way they are simple. The "take me back again" bit sounds more "coherent" which may be caused by Brian doing it alone. The harmony arrangement is different for each three choruses. Interesting, but not surprising from Queen.
"I'm old but..." - double (or more) tracked Brian.
Rhythmically the piano accompaniment is not that hard to follow, the only tricky aspect is the syncopation and the "rubato" (?) parts (intro, interlude).
5.Sebastian 06 May 2003 14:47
I didn't know Phillip had a bicycle article.

I forgot about the double-Brian part. On Bicycle I can hear many times that there's Freddie and another Freddie one octave lower.
6.PD 06 May 2003 17:31

I remembered wrong - there is no Bicycle article written by Philipp indeed. I remember arguing with him about it years ago, wrongly as it seems. My remark referred to an "average" Philipp article. He really developed himself onto a higher level during his series. He often corrected himself or just rephrased his essays.

Strangely I can't tell you exactly what I slightly missed from your article, but it has to do something with "structures"... But don't take it too hard.

When counting harmony vocals and identifying the individual voices is something difficoult, and sometimes the result is unsure. You could warn your readers about what you're unsure about.

One more a capella intro: You Take My Breath Away.

7.Sebastian 06 May 2003 21:55
thanks for the take my breath away thing, I hadn't thought about it, and I already corrected that on my article

the structures of my articles, my arrangements and my guitar/keyboard/bass solos are always weird at first, you just have to let them grow on you, of course I'm going to change a lot from those articles in new ones, unless I die today, there's still a lot to do
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