Read all 6 events for 17 January at diary.QueenSongs.info
Composer: Freddie Mercury
Album: A Night At The Opera, 2nd track
Meter: 4/4, shuffle beat (except slow down section)
Keys: Eb Major, g minor, A Major
Intro | Verse I | Bridge (with slow down in the middle) | Solo (Verse') |
second half of Verse = second half of Bridge
This happy little track is in sharp contrast with the vicious preceding track (ie. "Death On Two Legs"). This dramatic change of style is a recurring element in more songs on the album. Stylistically this song is one of those four-five vaudevillian/musichall influented Mercury compositions in the pre-News period.
The body of the song consists of Verse-Bridge couplet. They is preceded by and intro and followed by a guitar solo that also serves as outro. The phrasing is four-squared througout except the tag-ending of the sung section.
The song is in Eb Major, the Solo is a tritone interval lower (A Major), which is a rarely used leap for key shifts. It gives a the song a lift the same effectively as if a ususal whole step or half step up was used. Try it out!
The middle of the song is in g minor. Partly these distant keys are responsible for the sum of no less than 19 chords (not counting different inversions and sevenths) in this one-minute track: Ab, A, Bb, Bbm, Bbaug, Bm, C, Cm, C#m, D, Dm, Eb, E, Em, Eaug, F, Fm, F#, Gm. Note the lack of chain of fifths.
The slowdown middle section (a musichall-related gambit, see also in "Good Company" and "... Leroy Brown") combined with compressed vocals is probably a Beatles influence ("Honey Pie").
This four measure, two phrase section with its happy arpeggiated chords and altenating octave bass sounds like a playfull children song. The last piano run features a chromatic scale fragment. Only piano is played.
Eb: | Eb | - Bb | | I | - V | | Bb | - Eb | | V | - I |
Square phrasing here: 2+2+2+2. The chord progression makes useof the six diatonic chords, plus some chromatic chords.
Eb: | Eb Bbaug/Eb| Eb | | I "V" | I | | Eb Bbaug/Eb| Bbm/Db C7 | | I chromatic V/ii| | Fm Eb | Gm Cm | | ii I | iii vi | | Ab Bb7 | Eb | | IV V | I |
Note the 2+2+2 arpeggio pattern (in context of the 2+1+2+1 pulsing of the underlying shuffle beat) in the piano figure in measure 2. The third phrase features a double line cliche, similar to what is used in the opening of "Bicycle Race":
lead vocal : .... G G inner voice: G Gb F E inner voice: Eb D Db C inner voice: Bb Bb Bb Bb bass: Eb Eb Db C
The backing tracks have piano and bass and drums, no overdubes.
This section modulates abruptly to g minor which isthe relative minor key of Bb, which is the neighbour key (V) of Eb Major where we modualte back to in the fourth phrase. The middle two off the six two-measured phrases have slowed down ad-lib non-shuffle beat.
g: | D | Gm | | V | i | D Db C <-- bass | D A7 | F7 | | V V/V| VII | slow down: | Gm Dm | Eb/G D/Gb | | i v | VI V | | Eb/G Bb7/F | C (5+ > 5) | g: VI... Eb: I IV | V/ii | back to tempo: | Fm Eb | Gm Cm | | ii I | iii vi | Ab Bb C D Eb F E <-- bass | Ab Bb7 | Ab Bb7 | Ab Bb7 | Eb | | IV V | - | - | I |
Overdubs: bicycle rings (echoing the lead vocal in measure 2), tight harmonies in phrase 2 and 4.
Roger plays only on cymbals in the slow-down sub-section. The last two phrases are identical with those of the Verse, except the triple-tag ending with that happy scalar ascending bassline creating some inverted chords.
Harmony-wise this section is key-shifted version of the Verse. The lead guitar plays a close variant of original lead vocal's melody. Here the lead guitar is three part harmonized except the third phrase.
| A Eaug/A | A |
| I "V" | I |
| A Eaug/A | Em/Db F#7 |
| I chromatic V/ii|
| Bm A | C#m F#m |
| ii I | iii vi |
| D E | A |
| IV V | I |