The Miracle

Composer: Queen, mostly Freddie Mercury
Album: Miracle (1989), 3th track
Single:
Meter: 4/4
Key: c minor, Eb Major, Db Major
Form: 

 | Intro | Verse | Chorus | Bridge | Solo 1 (Connector 1) - "Miracle" | 
   | Connector 2 | Verse | Chorus'| 
                 | Solo 2 (Chorus)| Bridge | Connector 1'- "Miracle"' | 
 | Solo 3 (Connector 3) - Coda (AAAA) | 

Except the predominant role of synths in the arrangement this song does not really embodies the trends that characterized the band's output or the whole pop/rock music in the eighties. Compared to it's single status it's a wonderfully clever and relatively long (five minutes) song, no wonder it was not a hit single.
It's a song that Freddie most likely wrote on piano, but there is not much piano in the arrangement of the album cut. Synths are responsible for creating the chordal backing most of the time. Whereas lots of guitars are put into the record there's no rhythm guitar except the arpeggiated outro figure.
The soongform consists of two long cylces plus a Coda. The latter is a rare feature in the band's cyclic songs. In the second cycle the Chorus is doubled up to provide place for the guitar solo.
The harmony makes frequent and tasful use of slash chords. A part of them is characterized by step-interval between the root and the bass: Ab7/Gb, Gb/Ab, Eb/Db, Db/Bb. The choice of flat-side keys shows Freddie's fingerprint.


Walkthrough

Intro:
It's a two measure long section that exposes the tonic chord on synth that mimics pizzicato strings and nicely resonates with the "raindrops" in the lyrics soon in the Verse. The four-in the bar vamping (shades of Death On Two Legs) is peppered with occassional dotted rhythms, and double appoggiaturas. The first downbeat is preceded by a slash on the open hi-hat, it is repeated one measure later, and thats all what the drums play until the last phrase of the Verse. Bass is played throughout.

| Cm add69 | Cm    |
| i        | -     |


Verse:
This section is characterized by uneven phrasing (3+3+3) with constant harmonic rhythm, and interesting chord progression that was co-written by Deacon and Mercury. The phrases parallel eachother in terms of melodic shape and rhythm, and the way how the last measures of each phrases abandon the vamping synth chords and add arpeggiator created arch shaped arpeggios that resonate with the word "miracle" (think of films and cartoons where the miracles are often underscored by arpeggios). The phrases respectively start on higher notes to creat a climactic effect for the start of the Chorus. For similar effect the last phrase adds drums and piano, moreover Freddie's lead vocal gets more intense. The last syllable slides down through five different notes, seven in the second Verse.

|  Cm   | Ab   | Bb7  |
c: i    | VI   | VII  |
      Eb: IV   |  V   |

|  Eb   | Cm   | G    |
c: III  | i    | V    |
Eb: I   | vi   | V/vi | 

|   Db   | Abm/B | Bb7 |
Eb: bVII | iv    | V   | 

The harmony quickly steers to the relative Major key that is established by a strong cadence. Right then the Cm > G progression is weak attempt to get back to c minor. The chord progression of the last phrase has chords all borrowed from the parallel minor key (eb minor). The stepwise bass makes it subtly reminiscent of the "Queen cliche" I > V6/4 > vi progression, but it surely does not sound even remotely cliche-like. Note the galopping bass figure in measure 6 and 9.

Chorus:
It's 14 measures long and builts up from two-measure phrases.
Similarly to the Verse the first two phrase parallel eachother in terms of harmonic rhythm. The chord progression makes use of borrowed chords: we have a so-called double plagal cadence, and the I > bVII > bVI progression that we have seen in reversed form in some earlier Mercury songs (ie. in Play The Game). Shape wise the lead melodies are identical, rhythm wise they are different, and the different chordal backing makes them sounding totally different partly because the bVI chord is pivoting to the key of Gb Major.
The lead melody is three part harmonized (Freddie x 3, lead in the middle) only in the frist phrase, and also "backing" lead guitar is added. The guitar cressendos sound like reversed records.

Eb:
| Eb  Db   | Ab   |
| I   bVII | IV   |

| Eb  Db   |  B   |
| I   bVII | bVI  |
          Gb: IV  |

The next subsection is accompanied by synth chords and pizzicato-mimicking arpeggios. An extra arpeggio pattern is added for the second phrase. The harmony is ambigously between Gb Major and its relative minor key (eb). The slash chords here don't really need roman numerals. The "miracles" of the third phrase rhythmically resonate with those in the Verse.

Gb:
/------ 2x -----\\
| Gb   | Ab7/Gb |
| I    |  ....  |

| Gb/Ab Gb/Bb | -    |
|   ... 

The last pharse starts with a vocal cluster (a harmony with many neighbour notes): Eb +  Gb + Bb + C + Db.

|  Ebm*  | -    |
eb: i    | -    |
Db: ii   | -    |

|   Ab   | (-6) |
Db: V    |  -   |

The last phrase adds a rising lead guitar fill that is joined by a descending/concluding guitar fill.

The solo-chorus adds unisono staccatto vocals in measure 5 with triadic melody. The solo ends in measure 8, from here it continues as a normal chorus.

Bridge ("one thing"):
It's a six measure section played twice with the same lyrics, but with altered details in the arrangement and melody/phrasing. The lead guitar plays fills that are tad antiphonal-like in context of the lead vocal whose one-measure subphrases
The chord progression of the first phrase foreshadows the Coda's chord progression. Try to listen to this phrase and hum along the Coda's tune! The two different tunes counters eachother nicely.

| Db   | Eb/Db | Ab/C | Gb   |
| I    | V/V   |  V   | IV   |

| Db Bbm7 | Db/Eb |
| I   vi  |       |
        f:  "VII" |

The second Bridge echoes the lyrical phrases (spoken not sung). Note there's no antiphonal-like guitar fills here.

Connector 1, Solo 1, "miracle"
The harmony especially from measure 2 onwards is rather transitional. The key of f minor is just weakly established.

  bass: Eb || E    F  | Gb Ab | Bb Db  | Ab     |
chords: Db || C    Fm | Db    | -      | (Gb6)  |
         f:|| V    i  | VI
        Db:||V/iii iii| I     | -      |"V & II"|  

  The solo except the opening arpeggio is dominated by steps. Measure 9 shows a classic Brian trademark: long diatonic scales with alternated panning (see also in Bohemian Rhapsody, Breathrou). The brief closing harmony is also Brian/Queen trademark (See also in Let Me Live, It's A Hard Life). The diatonic scales are substituted by speed-up guitar harmony trills (see also in God Save The Queen).

The next phrase is characterized by tight harmonies and off-beat accents:

1 2 3 4 1
** * * *b    (b: bass)

Db:
| Gb/Ab Db/Ab Gb/Ab Db/Ab | Ebm7/Ab  |
| "V"                     | "V"      |

The last phase is predominantly instrumental and steers the key back to c minor. This is not pivot modulation. Note the 3+3+2 rhythm figure in measure 12.

bass: Db Eb Gb       ...G
    | Db       | Cm   | -    |
    | I 
             c:| i    | -    |

In the second circle this last phrase is omitted, and the previous phase is extended. More closely the one-measure off-beat figure is extended by a half measure, and a two extra measures with heavily flanged harmonies:

... Ebm7/Ab | Db7/Ab  | Ab7   || Db
               IV/V   |  V    ||  I


Solo 3 / pre-Coda
The tempo speeds up. Synth bass keeps playing a one measure ostinato-riff troughout, Brian soloes over that. He uses the bend-tapping technique (see also It's Late and Don't Lose Your Head). This solo is very extreme not really melodic. It's end overlaps the Coda.
Drums enter in measure 7 which the however square (4+4+4..) phrasing for a moment.

Coda:
This sections grows out of the Solo 3 section via a crossfade. The transition is just weakly synchronized partly because the Coda has a slower tempo (back to the original), so it sounds a bit chaotic first. The two different beats get into synchron by the downbeat of the second phrase, where the "old" beat (bass-ostinato, drums, guitar solo), stops and everything gets clear for a very nice effect. The Coda is arranged for unisono vocals, bass and guitar that plays mostly arpeggios that are varied by each repetition. The one measure subphrases start on the 2nd beats except the last one starting on a downbeat creating a concluding feel.

/--------------- 4x ---------------\\
| Db   | Eb/Db | Ab/C  | Gb (3>-5) |
| I    |  V/V  |  V    | IV        |

This is maybe the most catchy section of the song, no wonder it's repeated almost four times. Similarity with "Hey Jude" (Beatles): a four measure catchy tune not heard earlier in the song is repeated (18+ times in H.J.) to creat a singalong outro that is faded out.