A Kind Of Magic

Composer: Roger Taylor
Album: A Kind Of Magic
Single: 17 March, 1986
Meter: 4/4
Key: A Major
Form:

| Intro | Verse (AAB) | pre-Chorus | Chorus | 
        | Verse (AB') | Hook-Solo 1| Chorus ending' | Chorus | 
| Hook' | Solo 2 (Hook) - Outro | 

Roger in the eighties became a major songwriter of the band. Seemingly his style changed the most drastically compared to his early output, but closer look some Rogeresque songwriting details: simple and narrow set of chords dominated by major chords and spiced with two well-chosen borrowed chords that add the face for the song along with the catchy bass motif (that is absent in the Highlander-version). There is two chord progressions in this song with a chromatic cross-relation:

          1)                           2)
    chords : A >   B    > D  > A          A > E  >  G   > D 
 functions : I > V-of-V > IV > I          I > V  > bVII > IV
inner voice: E >   D#   > D  > C#         A > G# >  G   > F#

The first one is the "Eight Days A Week" progression, that Roger "re-invented" for himself when he penned Modern Times RnR ( I > V > bVII ) and Calling All Girls ( bVII > I > bIII ) with basicly the same cross-relation. Another similarity with the "Calling All Girl" (and also "Eight Day A Week") intro is how the root of the first chord is used as pedal point. The I > II > IV ( > V ) progression also appears in May's "I Go Crazy", while Radio Ga-Ga starts with I > ii > IV.

The second one is the "cromatic bVII" progression that appears in at least two other Queen songs: Doing All Right and Pain Is So Close To Pleasure, the latter from the same album as AKOM. In AKOM it is used with less emphasys, not as a turn-around.

The drum-line (synth drum) in the song is very simple and repetitive. The bassline is one of the first thigs that cathes one's ear. Unusual details in the songform:
- no sharp contrast between sections
- a pre-chorus that appears only once, while there are two and a half Choruses.
- second Verse is shorter
- solo section(s) with "new" chord-progression, the first of which is closed by the ending of the Chorus section.
- a short interlude (Spacer)
- relative non-repetive

Walktrough

Intro:
It is six measure long and consists of three melodic phrases (the title phrase) that will appear again in the backing vocals in the Verses, and in the Spacer section, but it also foreshadows the main bass-motif. Only fingerclicks (shades of Killer Queen) and psychadelic synth noises accompany the lead vocal.

Verse
This square 12 measure section consists of three phrases with the same chord-progression (closed at both end) and even harmonic rhythm. During the phrases two notes (A and C#) are prolonged:

/------------------------------ 3x -----------------------------\\
| A    | -    | B7add9  | -    | Dmaj7  | -     | A     | -     |
| I    | -    | V-of-V  | -    | IV     | -     | I     | -     |

The first Verse's phrasing is AAB. The first phrase is accompanied without the rhythm section (drums and bass) that enter on the downbeat of the last measure. The third phrase adds arpeggiated guitar chords with pedal point on top (shades of Calling All Girls). Note the assymetric rhythm in the bassline in the last measure.
The A melodic phrase is more or less arch-shaped. The B phrase open up higher range. Note the exotic diminished triadic figure in the lead vocal ("inside you mind").
The second Verse adds a single 9th guitar note in measure 4, oscillating guitar harmonies fading in and out in measures 7-8 ("... secret harmonies"). The last melodic phrase is closed differently (from the first verse), because it is followed by different section.

Pre-Chorus
Functionally this is a "tipical" short (two phrases AA', eight measure) pre-chorus (others call it "lift"), and strangely appears only befor the first Chorus. It is not sharply separated from the neighbour sections except certain harmonic contrast as only here you can find minor chords in the song, and there's no tonic used, which gives this section a Bridge-flavor. The dominant ending nicely introduces the Chorus even though it starts with the subdominant.

| F#m  | -    | D    | -    |
| vi   | -    | I    | -    |

| F#m  | -    | E    | -    |
| vi   | -    | V    | -    |

The first phrase adds lead guitar fills, the second one tight parallel rising vocal harmonies.

Chorus:
It grows out the pre-chorus without almost any contrast in the harmony and the arrangement. The phrasing is 4+4+6 ABC the first two phrases have the  same chord progression. The third phrase is the first in the song with non-square phrase length and varied harmonic rhythm. The arrangement is added some guitar chords and synth figures.

/------------ 2x -----------\\
| D    | -    | A    | -    |
| IV   | -    | I    | -    |


| E    | G    | D    | -    | E    | -    | 
| V    |bVII  | IV   | -    | V    | -    |

The last phrase of the section (with open harmonic shape at both end) is repeated after the Solo 1 section. It is followed by a full Chorus.

Hook - Solo 1
This is a square 16 (4x4) measure ection. The hook itself is the multitrack (?) recorded version of Brian's favourite A - D/A lick. Its a catchy hook with a distinct tone and played only in the first and third phrases. Harmonically there's nothing special here.

/------------ 4x -----------\\
| D    | -    | A    | -    |
| IV   | -    | I    | -    |

The chord progression is the same as in the first two phrases of the Chorus (the bass-motif is slightly altered though), that's why it sounds natural that the last phrase of the Chorus follows this section (with altered ending: repeated triplets).

Hook'
This is the "hook" phrase played twice without harmonies and chordal backing and added the lead vocal bit that imitates the bassline and we heard first in the intro, and several times since that. The second phrase is extended with a measure with antiphonal vocals and harmonies.

Hook" - Solo2 - Outro
The hook-phrase is repeated eight times (faded out). The first two and the last three phrases have that A - D/A lick. Both ascending and descending hocket-like arranged (shades of Bicycle Race) diatonic scales can be hear in the 3rd and 4th phrase and in the second half of the 5th phrase. A Major and D Major scales are played during the measures accompanied with A and D chords respectively. In the last measure of the 5th phrase the two guitar scales counterart-like go in the contrary direction and cross eachother. A nice ascending guitar harmony with 3+3+3+3+4 rhythm figure is in the first half of the 5th phrase. Let's see this harmony:

top   : A  C# D  F# F#  A
middle: F# G# A  B  C#  D
bottom: D  E  F# G#  A  B

It's completly diatonic. The lower two parts ascend stepwise in parallel thirds. The top line ascends irregularly causing some dissonances in the vertical harmonies. The following harmonised scales are heavily chromatic, but the vertical harmonies are all consonant here.