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PD: Green23 Nov 2008 07:17

 Title: Green
Composer: Freddie Mercury
Meter: 4/4
Key: B-Major, D-Major

V1.0:  Verse - Chorus | Verse/Chorus | Link I-II |
                          | Bridge 1 | Link I'   |

v1.1: Bridge ending | Link I |

V1.2: the same form as V1.0

V2.0:  Intro | Verse 2 AA'| Verse 2' |
             | Verse 2    | Verse 2" || Bridge 2 ... Coda

Green is a very important song for investigating the path that led to "Bohemian Rhapsody". We have to consider that by the time of the recording (late 1969 or early 1970) Freddie had been into songwriting for a while, thus Green cant be treated as a second songwriting attempt (Vagabond Outcast being the "first"). We don't know which instrument had Freddie used for writing this song: piano or guitar. The reference interviews mention only piano, but the chords are mostly guitarfriendly.
The recording features unplugged electric guitar, amplified bass, and the drum section is done by tapping on a cardboard box reportedly. The bassline is quite melodic and well syncopated, but you can catch many "glitches" both melody and rhythm wise.
The song has four recorded versions and fragments one of which is threated as the definite version, the other three labelled as "alternate". One of these is a shortened version, one is very close to the "definite" version, another one is completly different that we could easily consider to be an another song. Wreckage guitarist Mike Bersin recalled a particular chord progression from Green: E, A, D, G, D, A, E, A, D, G, D, A. This is mainly a chain of fifths progresssion executed up and down then again up and down. None of the recorded versions include such progression, so it must be off another lost Bulsara composition.
Thompson (drummer) recalls: "It is straightforward 4/4 in the middle, but we needed to learn the beginning and end of it. It had a weird beginning. Most of Freddie's songs were like that."

The song is preceded by "studio" chatting while the bass player plays doublestop slides. The intro starts with "normal" two bar guitar figure.

The verse has square phrasing (AABB') and interesting harmony with frequent use of melismas. The first two phrases is built upon a semichromatic descending bassline which is a cliche in minor mode. But we are in a Major key and the chord progression over the bassline is rather creative and exotic. Note the 10-9-8 motif that resonates with "White Queen". For the second half of the section the song modulates abruptly to D-Major. Also note the "chromatic bVII" progression (I > V > bVII > IV) in m.9-10 which can be a subtle influence of "Doing All Right". In the fourth phrase this progression is extended further to a six-chord progression. The chromatic inner line is not exposed at all. These progression are sung with triplets. The closing chord is a good link back to B-Major.

/------------- 2x --------------\
| B   | A   | G#m 10-9-8 | G    |
| I   | bVII| vi         |bVI   |

| D   | A   | C   G | D A |
| I   | V   |bVII IV| I V |

| D   | A   | C    G | Bb/D F  || E   | -   |
| I   | V   |bVIII IV| bVI bIII|| V/B | -   |

Link I-II
Growing out of the sustained last notes of the chorus the bass plays and keeps repeating a scalar descending half bar ostinato figure. The ostinato suggest us the first note (E) being the first degree, followed by the modal minor 7th degree. Guitar joins after eight repetition with 3+5 patterned chords. It is played eight times. The bass breaks out the ostinato for the end of the section, then starts yet another ostinato figure that exposes the main riff of the Bridge repeating it four times with small changes.
The outro of the song repeates the link's first subsection. The 4/8 beat riff is repeted 12 times then it is shifted up by two halfsteps repeated two more times then the song closes with an upwards F# major arpeggio (1-3-5-8). The "alternate" version repeats the 4/8 dirr 12 measure long with frequent alternations.

The bridge is built upon a variant-repeated phrase climbing up with whole step key shifts from E to Bb while the bass playing in ostinato mode. The Bb phrase is not a variant anymore. The shift up lick aleady appeared in Vagabod Outcast as well. The lead melody of the variant phrases is major pentatonic. The phrasing is twisted up with half long harmonic phrases altering the four bared ones disorienting the bass player is often misses the step up point.
Until the Bb chord every chord can be treated as a local tonic. The functional harmony of the last phrase is to ambigous to interpret, maybe B-major.

| E   | -   | -   | -   |

| E   | -   |

| F#  | -   | -   | -   |

| F#  | -   |

| G#  | -   | -   | -   |

| G#  | -   | Bb  | -   |

| Bb  | -   | B   | F#  | E   | -   |
           B: I   | V   | IV  | -   |

Alternate versions:

One of the alternate versions is a fragment that starts with the final phrase of the Bridge.
The second alternate versions is very close to the first.

The third "alternate" version:

This must be the weird intro that Thompson referred to. Harmony-wise very ambigous thus no roman numerals. The first phrase is driven by a descending bass line creating two inversions with the strummed guitar chords. The second phrase starts like the first one shifted up.

| D C | Em/B D/A |

| E D | F# B |

The semi-instrumental second phrase is a variant of the intro's second phrase. And there we are with one of Freddie's later trademark: a variant phrase appearing in another section. And also note the chromatic F#m > F > E progression that must have been "stolen" from "Step On Me" (Bridge) in a different key tough.

| A    | G    | D    | F#m  |
| I    | bVII | IV   | vi   |

| E /D |/C# Bm|
| V ...|... ii|

| A    | G    | D    | F#m  |
| I    | bVII | IV   | vi   |

| F    | -    | E    | /... |
| bVI  | -    | V    |      |

The second verse omits the bass walking down in the last measure.


| D(9) | C#m  | Bm   | - C#1|
| IV   | iii  | ii   | - 3rd|

| D    | - ...
| IV   | -

The section is abandonded by a short funky double-slide figure on guitar that leads to the next section.

This next section repeats an descending figure seven times. To make the square eight we have to consider the rhythm figure introduced just before the bass enters. This rhythm figure is an odd-timed (14/16 = 7/4) version of the 3+3+3+3+2+2 figure that Mercury so frequently especially in his early period. The lead vocal fragments are also descending, roughly parallel (not rhythm-wise) with the bass a third (plus octaves) above.

        3+ 3 +4 + 2+2
bass:   A  G  F#  F E
chords: Am... D   F E

PD. 2008 nov.

Post was edited on 10 Jan 2009 06:45
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