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PD: Polar Bear31 Oct 2008 05:39


Title: Polar Bear
Composer: Brian May
Meter: 4/4
Key: e-minor, D-Major, A-Major
Form:     Intro (AA) | Verse (BBCD) | Chorus |
               Intro | Verse        | Chorus | Solo |
                     | Verse (CE)   | Chorus - tag |

Polar Bear is a slow paced ballad. It was also demo-recorded later by Queen. The form shows three cycles the second of which is closing with a guitar solo. The climax falls on the second half of the verses, especially the one in the second and third cycles. The intro hook is reused for starting the second cycle.
The harmony during verse walks through two neighbour keys. The sum of three keys is something remarkbale in the world of pop music. It clearly shows that May was either very talented, or he had already enough craftmanship even for this early stage of his carrier to handle three keys in a single song.

The intro repeats a four measure figure with in 2x2(x2) bar phrasing. The arrangement is thickening as it starts with solo guitar joined by drums and bass respectively. The repeated intro is also thickening but more aburuptly. The homekey is e-minor, the second chord (ii) is borrowed from the parallel Major key.

| Em7 Fm7 | Am7-6-7-6 |
| i   ii  | iv        |

| E5    | -     |
| i     | -     |

The rhythm of the guitar figures is heavily off-beat:

1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1
****** * * ** * *...

The verse has foursquared phrasing except m.13 with a 3+3+3+3 figure of eigths. The first phrase is in e-minor with a borrowed chord (IV). The third phrase modulates abruptly to D not convincingly strong though (except the pitch seto of the first two bars). Then the fourth one modulates further to A preparing the chorus. This is also neighbour type modulation.
Interesting how the guitar echoes the lead vocal a third above in m.4. The lead vocal is backed with static two part harmony during third phrase.

/-------------- 2x---------------\
| Em   | D    | Asus4-3 | Am6-7  |
| i    | VII  | IV      | iv     |

|  D    |D/C# Bm7| C#    | F#m    |
D: I    | I   vi | V/iii | iii    |

| D       | E    | -  F#m/E  |
D: I...
A:IV      | V    | -    vi   |

The second verse closes the third phrase with a passionate falsetto. The third verse skips the first two phrases and starts with changes the 12/8 bar in the last phrase to a descending vocal harmony followed by another descending lead vocal subphrase starting with an octave slide up.

The one phrase chorus (3-4 subphrases) has three part harmonized lead vocal. The lead vocal prolonges a C# creating dissonances in the midlle bars. The harmony is closed at both end.

| A    | Dmaj7  | Bmadd6 | Asus4-3 |
| I    | IV     | ii     | I       |

The song also closes with a chorus that repeats the last two bars slowed down.

The solo is built upon a chord progression in weakly established e-minor with chords borrowed from the parallel key. The solo itself has a "spanish" feel, and we can capture probably the first time Brian May using his signature D/A lick on a record. Beside the D/A lick we have a similar E/B lick as well and rhythm-wise some rubato parts and triplets.


| Em   | D     | A - D/A | B    |
| i    | VII   | IV      | V    |  

| Em   | D   | A - D/A | B - E/B  | B - Em/B |
| i    | VII | IV      | V   I    | V - i    |


The Queen version contains the chords without the solo guitar.

PD. 2008 oct



Post was edited on 03 Nov 2008 05:39
1.Sebastian 06 Nov 2008 18:13

I like this one, both the song and the analysis.

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