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PD: Seven Seas Of Rhye17 Aug 2008 07:11

Just to make the album complete:

I'm sure many things will have to be corrected in this one.


Title: Seven Seas Of Rhye
Composer: Freddie Mercury
Meter: 4/4
Key: D-Major, Bb-Major, G-Major

Form: Intro | Verse | Verse | Bridge | intro riff | Solo |
            | Verse'| Verse"| Outro |

"Seven Seas" was the lead-in single of the album. The song had an own lead-in track, a taster with the same title on the first Queen album.
Compared to the pop music of the era this song is quite creative with section variants and more key changes.

The song starts with solo piano playing a hook riff that uses alternating arpeggios with 3+3+3+3+3+1 grouping of 1/16t notes. If you try to pick up the 4/4 beat you may find it difficult. The other instruments join in for the third hook including a bent up guitar harmony (something very Queenesque right from the start). The harmony guitars keep playing until the end of the intro.

| D G D G D | -   | -   | -   | G-C | -    | D-G  | -   | ... |     |piano
|           | -   | D   | -   | G   | -    | D    | -   | E   | A   |guitar
| I         | -   | -   | -   | IV  | -    | I    | -   | V/V | V   |

The verses tune is syncopated. The dominance of stepwise motions and the phrase by phrase development makes it somewat predictable until the  fourth phrase.

| D   | -   |
| I   | -   |

| D   | G   |
| I   | IV  |

| G   | D   |
| IV  | I   |

| E5 | A5  | D   | -   |
| V/V| V   | I   | -   |

The last bars reprise the intro piano hook.

The second verse adds guitar harmonies throughout and alter the last phrase by changing the half measure to 4/4.

The third verse that follows the solo is in G-Major. The lead vocal tune and the bass line is changed from m4 with some assymetric accents dropped in. The lead vocal is harmonized throughout. The ending of the second phrase is echoed by the harmony singers. The closing dominant chord serves as pivot for the last verse which returns "home" to D-Major.

| G   | -   |
| I   | -   |

| G   | C  B1|
| I   | IV
| A1  B1 | C1 C#1  | D    | -   |

The fourth verse returns to the homekey. The lead melody harmonized throughout. We have a 3+3+3+3+2+2 patterned syncopation in the second phrase. The third phrase closes with a brief guitar fanfare preparing a dramatic slow down (just virtually). The drama is strengthened by a diminised chord that sound like a "sad" minor subdominant.

| Em(sus4) D/F# | Edim/G  | -    | 
| ii       I    | "iv"    | -    |

There is only one bridge in the song. Contrasting elements are the harmonysed lead vocals and the metallic palm muted guitar work, and the modal infections: bVII chord and a melodic b3rd. The second phrase (a variant of the first) ends with a bass glissando (see "Killer Queen"). The third phrase starst with a stepwise chord progression also heard arpeggiated in the bass line.

| D  Dsus2|      |  harmony singing
| D5   C5 | G5   |  guitar
| I   bVII| IV   |

| D  -sus2| F-Em-Dm |
| D5   C5 | G5      |
| I   bVII| IV      |

| D Em/B | F#m/C# | G D/F# | Em   | D/E  |
| I  ii  | iii    | IV I   | ii   |      |

The closing harmony is resolved to the tonic with two iteration of the intro hook joined by an introductory fragment of the next guitar solo.

The solo shifts the tonal center abrubtly to the distant bVI key, Bb major. The instrumental backing repeats a one measure pattern of two chords.

| Bb  Eb | -     | -    | -    | -    | -    |
| I   IV | -  ...

| D     |

The solo at its end seemingly modulates back to D major, but it's just a pivot chord to modulate to G-Major. The D chord is "backed" with echoed D Major scales fading into a distorted D5 guitar chord.

The outro is droning the tonic (D) chord while lead guitar plays some figures. Then soon fades in the sing-along chorus which is quoted from an english musichall era "summer hit" called "I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside". It was composed by John A. Glover-Kind in 1907 and was first recorded by Mark Sheridan (1909) and also by Florrie Forde (1909). (An early example of using pre-chorus btw.)
The tune remained wellknown even long deceades later. Also the Beatles were captured singing it two times. The quoted fragment of the song is the chorus. For the first time the tune quote is fading out almost thoroughly, then fades back after a dramatic C1 guitar closing. The "poom-poom" fragment preceding the second "...Seaside" chorus is not reely like in the original tune. It is backed with violin sound-alike solo guitar and also some false singing creating the feel of a bunch of happy drunken sailors.

Post was edited on 09 Jan 2009 05:50
1.Sebastian 17 Aug 2008 14:08

Nice analysis, clear and concrete. I remember when I first heard it, I didn't quite like it, though the solo sounded interesting (actually, at first I thought it was a fiddle). Some years later I watched Wembley on telly and during the medley I thought 'I've heard that one somewhere...'. Now, while not a favourite of mine, I can stand it more than before.

The way the guitar choir has an ascending glissando during the intro is then quoted by vocals during the middle-eight ('eveeeeeeeer'), a nice cross-reference.

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