The Night Comes Down

Composer: Brian May
Meter: 4/4
Key: e-minor, D-Major
Form:

      Intro I-II-III-IV | Verse | Chorus |
               IntrO IV | Verse | Chorus'| Outro (Intro II') |

Intro II = harmony quoted off the Verse

This a ballad-type May composition with a relatively long intro and outro creating a frame for the core with a simple ballad form. The main instrument is the acoustic guitar. Vocal and guitar harmonies added for the chorus, guitar harmonies are also in Intro II. Another contrasting factor between the section is the usage / non usage of borrowed chords. The modulation between e-minor and D-major, neighbour key.


Intro
The intro consists of four distinct subsection the first of which is the longest. The song starts with a brief drum figure starting with upbeat and followed by a single power chord.

| E5   |
| i    |

Then we have six phrases backed by bass ostinato from the second phrase on. The first phrase with 1+6+9 inner grouping of notes is rhythmically tad disorienting if you try. The third phrase opens with a 1-2-3-1 - 2-3-4-2 melodic motif which is familiar from Bach's famous Toccatta in d-minor, but just shortly. The tune is climbing up step-wise with some 3 note fragmenst then the tune falls in pentaton with some triplets, then again some thee-note grooped fragments with blue notes. The sub-sub section is closed by a two measure sustained Em chord.

/----- 8x ----\\
| E*   | -    |
| 1... | -    |

The next sub-subsection is dominated by acoustic guitar arpeggios. The drums switch to a constant beat mode. The bass ostinato (see more frequently used in the Hot Space era) is kept played throughout. The arpeggios are built around the E minor (and C major chords). Brian created the arpeggios on higher frets enabling him arpeggiating neighbour notes (E - F# - G). 

/----- 2x-----\\
| E*   | -    |
| i    | -    |

| C*   | -    |
| VI   | -    |

| E*   | -    |
| i    | -    |

| C*   | -    |
| VI   | -    |

  The arpeggios are closed with falmenco flavoured dissonant chord with fast triplets.

                             3/4
| Am6,7| -    | -    | -    | B    |      |
| iv   | -    | -    | -    | V    |      |

The third subsection of the intro is dominated by three part harmony guitars. The harmony quotes the midle of the verse ("colories..."), but the lead tune is different. The homekey is ambigous here, even though we now that the verse is in D. You'll notice the familiar D/A chord, but it's just a parallel sixth motion lick here. 

|Am   | - Em | D F#m| C#   |
| v    | - IV | I iii| VII  |

| A D/A | -7   |
| V     | -    |

The guitar harmonies here feature a chromatic motion (F#-F-E) and a you'll also notice a crossrelation between C and C# in the top part.

C   B A   C# C#   C# : top
E   E D   F# F    E  : middle
A   D F#  A  G#   A  : bass (middle)

The final subsection of the intro is a vamping F#m guitar chord, which is re-interpreted as D major seventh once the bass is added. The chords are executed in chopped mode: chord - pause - chord - pause.

|F#m/C#| -     | Dmaj7  | -     |

This figure is recycled before the second verse.

Verse
The harmony of the first phrase features pedal bass, which is an early established May trademark, just like the Bb/D chord that also shows up in several later May compositions (eg. "One Vision"). The phrasing pattern is ABA'CA". The harmony features four borrowed chords making the song more expressive. Mercury swithes to falsetto for the fourth phrase.

| Dmaj7 | D7    | G/D   | D     | 
| I     | -     | IV    | I     |

| G     | C     | D G/D | Dmaj7 |
| IV    | bVII  | I...  | I     |

| Dmaj7 | D7    | G/D   | Bm    |
| I     | -     | IV    | vi    |

| Am7   | -     | D     | C#    | A D/A | A7    |
|  v    | -     | I     | VII   | V     | V     |

| Dmaj7 | D7    | Bm/D  | Bb/D  | D -maj7| -7    |
| I     | -     | vi    | bVI   | I      | -     |

The uneven numbered phrases are variants. Second verse alters further these variants.

Chorus
In contrast with the verse the chorus uses only the six diatonic chord: I ii iii IV V vi. The title phrases are harmonized and the vocal phrases are followed by brief guitar harmony motif.

| G   | A   | D  G | D Bm |
| IV  | V   | I  IV| I vi |

| F#m | G   | D -maj7| -7   |
| iii | IV  | I      | -    |

repeat first phrase

| F#m | G F#m |
| iii |IV iii |

| Em   | A    |
| ii   | V    |

In the second chorus the last phrase is repeated twice. TIn the third "dark again" phrase the bass switches to the ostinato motif we heard in the intro, and this is where the outro starts. Following another ostinato phrase starts the damped acoustic guitar figure a variant of Intro II, while the following arpeggio subsection is more or less the same as before. Feed back guitars fade in, one constant, one hardly moving and one with many trills and primarly step-wise motion. The closing of the figure is similar, but the Am chord resolves this time back to Em.

 e:
| Am   | Em   |
| iv   | i    |