Who Wants To Live Forever

Composer: Brian May
Orchestration: Michael Kamen
Single:
Meter: 4/4
Key: e-minor, G-Major
Form:  

      Intro | Verse  | Chorus 1 |
            | Verse  | Chorus 1 - Chorus 1' |  Solo  |
            | Bridge | Chorus 2 | Chorus 2 - Outro I-II-III |

This power ballad is one of Brian May's finest peice of work, written for the movie "Highlander".
The arrangement is dominated by synths and orchestra. Michael Kamen's orchestration perfectly underscores the dramatic ***. It makes frequent and artistic use of appoggiaturas.
The songform looks relatively ordinary except the length over five minutes and the feature of an alternate Chorus (see also "...Christmas"). The outro has long instrumental parts which is partly cut out from the single version.
The first cycle of Verse-chorus is sung by May, the rest of the song by Mercury.

Intro:
The songs starts with instrumental intro played by May on synth-organ. The 4/4 meter is still very weakly recognisable.

e:
| Em  C | Em  E1 |
| i  VI | i      |


Verse
The 8 measure verse has 2+2+4 phrases all starting with an upbeat. The harmony is full with inverted chords. The approach of the halfdim chord in m.4 is reminiscent to "Spread Your Wings" and "... revisited" (Wembley version).
The tonality is ambiguous with hints for both e-minor and a-minor.

e:
 | Am   | - /F# |
e: iv   |       |
a: i    |       |

| Em   | /D /C#halfdim |
e: i   |               |
a: v   |               |

 | G/D  | A/E   | Dsus4 | D    |
e: III  | V/VII | VII   | -    |   
a: VII  | V/IV  | IV    | -    |  

The shape of the tune shows two arches. The second verse has different orchestration, and also added a double kick on bass drum.

Chorus
The first chorus has three phrases the first two of which paralelling each other.

| C  G/B | Am (6>5) |
|III VII | i        |

| C Gmaj7/B | Am7  |
|III VII    | i    |

| D7sus4>3 |
| IV       |

The second chorus is altered from the third phrase...

| C/D D3,7 G/B |
|              |

...which is followed by an instrumental first phrase followed by a vocal second phrase extended with climactic ending reflected in the high notes.

| C Gmaj7/B | Am   | D (6>5, 4>3) | Em    |
|III VII    | i    | IV           | v     |
                        e: VII    | i     |


Solo:
The guitar solo ispereced by a one meausre spacer introducing the 5-6-5-4-5 motif played in each phrases of the solo afterwards. The melodic phrasing is 2+2+2+2 AA'BC, while the harmonic phrasing shows AAAA form.

e:
| Em   | C    |
| i    | VI   |

| Em   | C    |
| i    | VI   |

| Em   | C    |
| i    | VI   |

| Em   | C    |
| i    | VI   |

The slow paced guitar solo with lots of fingerpicked notes is one of Brian May more simple but also most dramatic works.

Bridge:
This short, four measure section could be threated as pre-chorus.

e:
| Em   | C    |
| i    | VI   |

| Em   | C    |
| i    | VI   |

The arrangement is based on fade in guitar power chords sliding down, and a one-measure synth-string motif repeated.

Chorus 2
The first two phrases alternate chorus is partly paralelling the first Chorus, but the walk down to the C#-half-diminished chord is taken from the Verse.

G:
| G D/F# | Em    |
| I  V   | vi    |

| G D/F# | Em  /D|
| I  V   | vi    |

| C#haldfim A/C# | G(6>5)/D | Bb/D  |
|           V/V  | I        | bIII  |

The ending chord is Bb/D which is one of Brian favourite chord in the eighties ("...Created", "One Vision", "Hang On...")
The second Chorus 2 is added vocal harmonies and slightly changes the last chord (Gm7)  prolonged twice as long, and added a final phrase.

| Gm7  | -    |

| Em   |


Outro:
The instrumental outro can be divided to three subsections the first of which is characterized by a chain of minor chords with leaps of decsending thirds creating an ambiguous dramatic tonality hence the lack of functional analysis. This type of chord progression is frequently used in film scores for thillers and dramatic parts. It was probably Kamen's contribution, and was cut out from the single version to make the song shorter and more radio-friendly. It is also absent from Brian's piano version.

| C    | Em   | Cm   | Am   | Fm   | Dm   | Bm   | Em   | -   |

The second subsection starts with a minimalistic slow guitar solo with some nice countermelodies.

| Em   | - Bm | C/E  | Cadd6/E | 
| i    | - v  | VI   |  -      |

It is followed by a harmony progression combining pedal point an descending parallel thirds. The whol harmony is enveloped by the Em tonic chord.

| G  F#| E  D | C# B | A  G | : top harmony
| E  D | C# B | A  G | F# E | : low harmony
| E  -   -  -   -  -   -  - | : bass
| Em   | A    | A    | D  Em|
| i...

| Em   | -    |

The last subsection starts with an ascending synth organ arpeggio similar to the intro. It is resolved by a string chord.

e:
| D    | -    | E5   |
| VII  | -    | i    |

The solo piano version closes on D without resolution.