Read all 6 events for 17 January at diary.QueenSongs.info
Composer: Freddie Mercury
Meter: 4/4, (occassional 5/4 and 7/4 measures)
Key: E-?, a-minor, D-Major, (e-minor), c-minor
Intro I-II-III | Verse | Chorus ||
| Verse | Chorus |
Solo 1 (Verse - Chorus -
- Verse)| Chorus |
| Bridge 1 (AA') | Break | Bridge 2 (Verse') | Solo 2 |
| Solo 3 (Verse)| Chorus - Outro |
Great King Rat is an early-type heavy metal song with a touch of progressivity regarding the long form that includes long solos and sharp changes. On the other hand the form shows cyclic desing until the Bridge 1 section.
Mercury wrote the song on guitar, no wonder the harmony is simple within the individual sections. Most of the song (the verse-chorus cycles) are in a-minor. This is the first time we run into a key (c-minor) with three flats, which afterwards became a favourite of Mercury for his piano songs.
The intro has three subsection. The first one starts with guitar feedback on E followed by some riff-work.
| E1 | - |
| E5 | D5/E | E7-8 | - | E1 |
The pitch-set (E, D, A) is too limited to determine the mode used, but the key-center is definitely E. Retrospectively it can be interpreted as the dominant of a-minor.
The next subsection is characterized by chomatic descending parallel fourths altered with palm muted low E notes. While the tecnique resonates with Roger's Jazz-era riffs ("Fun It") this intro riff is not really a riff to be repeated.
| D4-E1 | C#4-E1 | C4-E1 | B4 A#4 | A4 |
Drums enter in the last measure.
The third subsection exposes the homekey of the song. The ensemble is completed with more guitars. Electric guitar mimicks here the sound of a slide whistle achieved by feedback plus tremolo bar.
| Am | - | - F E |
| i | - | - VI V |
We have two vocal and two instrumental verses the latter two as a part of the first guitar solo. The Bridge 2 and Solo 3 sections also use a close variant of its chordal backing. The phrasing of the verse is 4+4, AA' harmony-wise, AB melody-wise.
| Am | G | E | Am /G |
| i | VII | V | i |
| Am | G | E | Am |
| i | VII | V | i |
The second Verse adds a guitar fill after the first vocal phrase. The second phrase adds lower harmony singing by Mercury.
We have four vocal choruses and an intrumental chorus built in the first guitar solo. We have some irregular phrasing here: 3+2+4. The harmony flirts with the relative-Major key (C), but without its strong establishment. The section closes on non-tonic chord.
| C | Em | C |
| III | v | III |
| D5 | - |
| IV | - |
| C G | Am | D | |
| III VII| i | IV | |
The second phrase adds marimbas galopping on the same two notes that is used later in "Loser In The End". The lead melody is changed for m.2-3 creating a b9 dissonance in m.2. The third phrase adds three-part backing vocal harmonies.
The third chorus prolonges the D chord for four measures instead of two.
The closing chorus is extended by a fading out drumroll that serves as the outro of the song. The drum roll is first slowing down then starts again in "tremolo"-style. Before the end of the track Roger drops in a 3+3+3+3+4 patterned puntuation.
The first solo incorporates the framework of three sections (Verse-chorus-verse). We have two lead guitars mixed left and right one played with wah-pedal. The guitars play simultaiously most of time troughout the section, but one is always leading while the other guitar is mixed lower. The wah-pedal guitar leads the last subsection (verse) and m.3-4 and m.7-8 of the fisrt subsection (Verse). The rest is led by the "normal" guitar.
The bridge is preceded by a "section intro" exposing the new tonic (D) four measures long (plus the preceding extended phrase ending). This length is necessery for one's ears to re-interpret the D chord as the tonic.
/---- 2x ---\\
| D | - |
| I | - |
The Bridge 1 itself consists of two melodic variant "verses". These "bridge-verses" can also be divided to two subsections that paralelling eachother. The phrasing is of the whole section is roughly 2+2+4 + 2+2+6 + 2+2+4 + 2+2+4. The harmonic rhythm is dotted. Taking away the "dotting" chords the harmonic rhythm is very slow.
The melodic phrases start on the second beat of the phrases. The melody uses major 7th, the rhthym guitar fills on the end of the phrases use minor 7ths.
| D | - G |
| I | - IV|
| D | - G |
| I | - IV|
| D | - G | A | - D |
| I | - IV| V | - I |
| A | - D |
| V | - I |
| A | - D |
| V | - I |
| A | - | D | - | Dadd2 | - |
| V | - | I | - | I | - |
The ending of the second "bridge-verse":
| A | - | G | |
| V | - | IV | |
Next to the Bridge we have a beautiful spanish flavored acoustic ad-lib rhythmized guitar interlude. With its placid mood it's in sharp contrast with the neighbour sections. The arpeggios don't outline the chords clearly. We have two phrases, the latter can be divided to two variant subphrases. The harmony table below refers to the two phrases:
| Em |
| i |
| Am - F/A |
| i - VI |
The section is introduced by two measures of strummed acoustic guitars exposing the tonic.
| Am | - |
The harmony and phrasing is a close variant of that of the Verses. The last (8th) measure is overlapped by the start of an instrumental connector, that leads the harmony from a-minor to c-minor through b-minor. The a > b transition is executed by a descending blues-scale riff shifted up a whole step. In the demo version the guitar plays an ascending counterpart for the bass playing the descending figure.
The second solo is 24 measures long (37 in the demo version) long dominated by two-measure phrases. The repetition pattern of the melodic phrases: A A A'B C D D' E A A A
The harmonic phrases: H H H H - H'H'H'H'- H"H"H"
The A-phrases start with 6+6 groups of 1/16-s. Both of the D phrases have 3+3 + 3+3 + 3+3 + 3+3 + 3+5 = 32/16 groupings of triadic notes. The next phrase (D') starts as a shitfted down variant of it.
We dont have a minor tonic chord, but the minor-pentatonic guitar work use exclusively minor thirds and sevenths. The rhythm guitar work:
/------ 2x ------\\
| C5 | C5 F5 D# |
| i | i VI III|
/------ 2x -----\\
| C5 | C5 F5 |
| i | i VI |
/---- 4x -----\\
| C5 | F5 |
| i | VI |
/------ 3x ------\\
| C5 | C5 F5 D# | - | - |
| i | i VI III| - | - |
Fragments of this solo (D, D', E) in variant form apperaed earlier in the demo version of "Liar". The section ends with sustained guitar chord added some applause.
Right next to the Solo 2 section there is another solo backed by the same chords as the Bridge 2 (verse') section. So we have an abrupt modulation back to a-minor. Another contrast to the preceding solo 2 is the melodic design is very static dominated by prolonged unisono-bent notes mimicked by Mercury in the last measures.