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PD: Blag21 Dec 2008 06:47

Title: Blag
Composer: Roger Taylor
Meter: 4/4
Key: modal E-Major, b-minor

Intro I - II - Build-up - III - Build up - IV |
     | Verse | Solo - link - Build Up | Outro |

Blag is songwriting-wise the least catchy and least worked out song off the six recorded Smile songs. The semi-official credit goes to Taylor, but May also had major share: the solo section is the proto-version of the Brighton Rock solo. We don't know much of Taylor's guitar skills in the eraly years, but by that time he already must have been familiar with basic chords and power chord style playing as well. The harmony and the form is somewhat too complex for a first song composed by a drummer, so a group effort is strongly expected.
Form-wise the song is quite irregular. We have a very long intro with lots of subsections. There is an odd vocal build up that is sung twice in the intro and once before the outro. There is only one verse.

The intro is a chain of several subsections. The song starts with drum figure of slowing down triplets closing with a guitar power chord that exposes the tonic. This power chord is repeated further two times closing with a tremolo dive. Then Roger on drums starts another rhythm groove that introduces the main hook of the song which is an ascending vocal build up outlining the E7 chord. First time it's acapella only drums are backing. The six voices enter one by one:

|E   |G#  |B   |D   |G#  |B   |
|1st |3rd |5th |7th |3rd |5th |

Both second and third build-up is backed with guitar power chords as well.
Back to the first one: it is closed with triplet closing that also closes the song. A.W.Pollack (in his notes on "I Want To Hold Your Hand") compared this effect to a slowing down locomotive. The song also closes with this figure.

| E5   | D5  A5 G1  | E5   |
| I    |bVII IV b3rd| I    |

The guitar starts another repeated one bar riff, that is backing the next vocal build up.

|D5-E5 D5-E5 |
|bVII-I      |

Rhythmically the guitar and the vocals creat contrasting syncopations:

1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4
**  *   **  *  : guitar
  *  *  *      : vocals

After the second buld up the music slows down, the backing track introduces the verse with blues scale pentatonic runs on guitar and bass. Just before the Verse starts the riff changes the another cliche-like syncopated figure
(see "Tequila" or "Sympathy For The Devil").

We have only one verse with square phrasing. The form is harmony wise ABBB', lyrics-wise ABCB. In the second phrase the rhythmic pattern of the guitar and bass slows down temporary to one played chord/note per bar. Then in the third phrase returns the previous beat pattern. Roger sings here a short additional vocals. The harmony modulates to b-minor. The tonic chord is prolonged while the bassline goes down and back. In m.7 and m.11 bass plays A in bass while guitar goes down to G. The concept of this chord/bass progression is reminiscent of "White Queen" backing up the rumour of that song was written in the Smile era. Considering that Taylor's first song and he probably had not mastered yet special chord/bass concepts by that time (who knows?), the credit of this gambit can be assigned to May. The sus4>3 resolution also apperas in "White Queen". The whole section closes with a Pickardy third (B instead of Bm) that leads the harmony back to E serving yet another crossreference to "White Queen".

|  E5   | D56   | G5   | F#sus4 F# |
E: I    | bVII  | bIII | V/V       |
               b: VI   | V         |

/------------ 2x -------------\
| Bm   | /A   | /G    | /A    |
b: i   | /7th | /6 th | /7th  |

| Bm   | /A   | /G    | F#sus4 F# || B
| i    | /7th | /6th  | V         || I!
                                  E: V

This is the first recorded version of the legendary Brighton Rock solo. There are some motifs that appear in later versions:
the chopped tremolo pickig on the low E string in m.1-4
The pentatonic ascending figure that leads to highers frets in m5...
... and te way it is followed by a bluesy solo figure over the 12th fret on the top strings in m.10.
The backing track is resting, drums enter for just a few beats.

The phrase-map contains the main notes transcribed. As you can see the basic pitch set is e-minor pentatonic.

PD. 2008 dec.


| E       | E  A-E  |

| E D-E-G | B A-G-E |

| A-D D-G | B-D D-E |

| E-G A-E | A-D E-A |

| A-D D-G | "solo"  |

| E-D     | E-D     |

| E   E-D | E  D-E  |

/-------- 2x -------\
| E       | E       |

| E       |

In m.13 we have a 5/4 measure, probably unintentionally generated.
After 19 bar the backing track completes with bass and drums, introcucing the verse last build-up.

Post was edited on 07 Jan 2009 05:57
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