Drowse

Composer: Roger Taylor
Album: A Day At The Races (1976), 9th track
Meter: 6/4
Keys: D-major, E-major, (e-minor)
Form:

Intro | Verse 1 || Verse 1 || Bridge || Verse 2 | Outro (Spacer') |

|| = Spacer (Intro')

This soulful song is many fans' secret favorite. Musically and lyrically, it is definitly one of the finest songs Roger has penned. The piece is at the same time very Rogeresque in respect of both harmony and melody. The arrangement is simple, without any multitrack harmonies. The form is also simple,containing only four non-instrumental sections, (see also Tenement Funster and Modern Times RnR), each of them being bordered by instrumental spacers. The range of the lead vocal is over one octave (A-D^), which is no problem for Roger.

Section by section walkthrough

Intro
The six measure long intro sets the key to D-major by simply alternating two chords (I > V > I > V > I > V ); the bass puts these into their second inversions.

Verse
The Verse is square sixteen measures long, and the phrasing is AABC. The first phrase has arch-like melody. Each phrase closes with a pause of half-to-one measure often filled with drum and guitar figures. The used syncopation unifies the phrase.

D:
/-----------  2x  ----------\\
| D    | C#m  | Bm   | G  A |
| I    | vii  |  vi  | IV V |

| D    | C#   | Bm   | A    |
| I    | VII  | vi   | V    |

| G    | D    | Dmaj7/A | A    |
| IV   | I    |         | V    |

The most "exotic" measures are definitely the ones with C#m and C# chords. C#m is possible to replace with F#m (iii) or A/C# (V 3/5), both of them being more traditional choices in a "non-Roger" Queen song. Such non-traditional chord choices became sort of a trademark of Mr. Taylor's songwriting.
The C# chord is harder to replace, as the lead vocal uses its 3rd and 5th degree. Such D > Dmaj7 progression can be found in Tenement Funster (1974) and She Makes Me (1974).

The last Verse has almost completly different melody (another example for this: Tenement Funster, Pain Is So Close To Pleasure; a non-Queen exapmle is Careless Whisper by Wham) that gradually turns into plain talking toward the end of the song.

Spacers
The sections are separated by spacers that are variants of one another. The first two spacers are only four measures long. Third spacer is five measures long because it starts on A, since the Bridge closed on D.

Bridge
The climactic Bridge is introduced with a cressendo drum figure. The section is in E-major and twelve measures long. The phrasing is AA'B. In each phrases the lead vocal pick up is after the downbeat. All the chords are major (another Roger-example: Coming Soon, 1980); no wonder they sound "strange".

 /------------- 2x -------------\\
 | E    | G#   | A    |  C    D |
E: I    | III  | IV   |         |
e:                    | VI  VII |

 | E    | G#   | A    | F#    D      |
E: I    | III  | IV   | II (flat-VII)|
                    D:  ...   I

Some non-diatonic chords and notes and the lack of the dominant make the sense of a definite key ambiguous. The G# (III) can be interpreted as the surrogate dominant of the next coming A chord. At the end of the first two phrases there is a measure with two borrowed chords (and notes) from the relative minor key. The last measure harmonically "hangs in the air", getting far from the key of E-major. Note the cross-relation between D-chord and C# in the lead vocal.

Outro
It is the 11-12 measures variant of the Intro/Spacer with Roger talking while the song fades out.