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PD: Ibex: Vagabond Outcast07 Dec 2008 06:46


Title: Vagabond Outcast
Composer: Freddie Mercury
Meter: 4/4, occasional 6/8 bars.
Key: bluesy A-Major, B-Major

 intro AAAA | Verse (AA BB' CCCC')|
        AA | Verse (AA BB' CCCC')| Break | Solo |
           | Verse (   BB' CCCC )| Outro C"C"C"C" D |

Vagabond Outcast is an Ibex & Freddie composition that remained as live recording. This performance is painfully out of key as the bass was tuned higher compared to the guitar. The bass player makes some mistakes and supresses the guitar most of the time as the recorder was placed in front of the bass amp. The whole thing sounds like amateur kids' effort. Reportedly the band was much better, than what this poor recording suggests.
Beneath the ugly surface the music itself is relatively interesting. Especially if you consider what a tipical "my first song" can offer songwriting-wise in 1969 and what not: changing meter, key and altered verse melody.

The song is riff based metal. The form consists of three cycles. A distinct chorus section cannot be outlined beside the verses. Instead of a bridge we have a contrasting break and solo section.

The intro exposes the main guitar riff. The basic power chord progression (1-b3-b7) is peppered with a 4th chord dropped in (A4).

"A" riff
| A5  C5 | G5  A4 |
| I  bIII|bVII I4 |

The riff is repeated 4 times. Bass and drums enter for the third harmonic phrase.

The backing "track" of the verse is sequence of repeated riffs. Lead vocal starts on downbeat. Lead guitar fills fill up the gaps between the melodic phrases.

The second riff is the same as the first shifted up by one whole step:

"B" riff
| B5  D5 | A5  B5 |

The lead melody is not shifted/repeated with the riff. Its repetition is cutted off...

| B5  D5 |

... and leads to the next riff. Behind the bassline the chords are hardly recognizable.
The lead meoldy of the three "B" phrases are different. In the third cycle the "B" phrase sound like in the second, but missed as Freddie started it lower.

   6/8      4/4
| B1  A1  | E/G#   |
| 1st b7th| IV     |

This riff is altering the meter between 6/8 and 4/4. In the third and fourth "C" phrase the bassline descends chromatically.

The third verse omits the 'A' phrases.


Growing out from the descending bass-figure starts the Break section. From here the bass is hard to transcribe. It sounds like going down to A where the guitar starts its subsequent ascent. But the next guitar figure starts on Bb!

| B    | -    | Bb    | A - Bb |

The next subsection is harmony-wise the most interesting part of the song while performance-wise it's definitely a low point. You can hear the bass player getting lost and trying to find back to the guitar's pitch, but it's a hard task with a detuned bass guitar... Freddie too sounds out of pitch, even skipping some words. The guitar chords are rising stepwise to D. The tonality is ambigous here, thus no functional harmony.

| Bb   | -    |

| C    | -    |

| D    | -    |

| D  G | D  G | D  G | D    |

The guitar solo consists of four phrases. From the second one on the phrases start with two heavy beats of bass that are followed by the guitar solo phrases. The solo makes use of some triplets. The whole solo concept sounds like it was stolen from Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love". That solo that was released on the second Led Zeppelin album... two months after this recording. Consequently Page (L.Z.) too must have stolen this concept from somewhere else. Playing-wise the Vagabond solo is quite good. The second phrase is the most interesting with the aforementioned triplets and two downward tritone leaps built in the crazy oscillating tune.



| A1  B1 |       |
| 1st

| A1     |       |

| A1     |       |

| A1     |       |


The outro grows out of the "C" phrases that close the third verse. While the bass repeats "C"-variant figures further four times the guitar plays almost the same descending figure: the bass is lagging compared to the guitar because the bass prolonged the fourth G# note one beat longer (5 instead of 4). For the fourth phrase the guitar finally syngronizes with the bass playing just three chords.
In the closing fifth phrase bass plays fermata note on "B" while guitar plays strange slow down chords in triplets:

A G E */B

The closing * chord is probably the "Hendix chord" with B bass. A generic drum closing figure is played and the song closes abruptly with a staccato note.

PD 2008 dec.

Post was edited on 09 Dec 2008 05:58
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