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Composer: Freddie Mercury
Intro | Verse | Chorus | | Verse | Bridge | | Solo/Verse | Chorus | Outro (Intro)
"Don't Stop Me Now" is a great driving piano rock. The seemingly simple song (in terms of arrangement and form) is full of clever details that are well beyond the usual rnr songwriting. The most interesting details are the uneven phrasing, relatively non-repetitiv long lead melodies, the syncopations and the way how the phrases of the Verse and chorus are developed from the intro (or vica versa as for example in "Teo Torriate"?).
In contrast with the syncopations the drum work is quite simple and invariant throughout.
The harmony uses mostly the standard chord set of the homekey plus some secondary dominants, chord inversions, sevenths and simple step-wise figures built in the piano accompaniment (m.4-5).
The form shows mainly three cycles of Verse - Chorus the second cycle featuring a bridge (break) instead of chorus. The guitar solo is placed in the first half of the third verse.
The song starts with a long intro in slower pace then the rest of the song. The accompaniment is just piano until the second phrase where the bass joins in. The tempo speeds up qickly from the midle measure of the last phrase on.
The last two phrases are sung in harmony in staccatto mode except the last syllables. This 15 measure intro is a great example for uneven phrasing: 5+3+2+2+3, A B C D D-ext.
F: | F | Am | Dm | Gm | C | | I | iii | vi | ii | V | | F | F7/A | Bb | | I |V of IV| IV | | Gm7 | D7 | | ii | V/ii | | Gm F C | Gm | | ii I V | ii | | Gm F C | Gm(7)| C7 | | ii I v | ii | V |
The rhythm features some pre-downbeat emphases. The beat map of the first phrase:
1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 *** ***** *** * **** * * * *** Thr fourth phrase (and also the most of the title phrases) in this song: 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 * * * *
Mercury's use of special singing effects deserves a closer look many slided notes, some vibratos, short falsetto singing.
The verse and the chorus is developed from the intro in a rather clever way.
The phrasing 5+5+3+3+2+2, A A' B C'-E E' F where the "E" phrase is the extension of C' melodic phrase ("call me...").
/-------------- 2x ---------------\\ | F | Am | Dm | Gm | C | | I | iii | vi | ii | V | | F | F7/Eb| Bb | | I | V/IV | IV | | Gm7 | D7 | Gm | | ii | V/ii | ii | |D7/F#| Gm | | V/ii| ii | | F F F F | G | : Top/Lead | D C D D | E | : Middle | G A Bb B | C | : Bass | Gm7... | C | : chords
The second phrase closes with 3+3+3 syncopations. The beat map of the lead vocal:
1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 * * * * *** *
The first verse adds bells in the last measure. The second phrase of the second verse adds an explosive vocal harmony underscoring the lyrics ("...explode"). This sonic explosion is achived by the harmony extending and rising:
(F F) F G A Bb C Bb C D E F G A Bb A Bb... G A Bb C D E F
The first half of the verse following the break is occupied by the guitar solo that doesn't stop when the lead vocal returns but keeps adding fills.
The chorus also borrows melodies from the intro. The phrasing is 4+4+2+2+3, G G' D D H. The harmonized first half of the G phrase rhythm-wise parallels, melody-shape-wise mirrors the other title (D) phrases. The last melodic phrase also parallels the E phrase.
| F Gm Am | Dm | Gm | C | | I ii iii| vi | ii | V | | F Gm Am | Dm | Gm7 | D7 | | I ii iii| vi | ii | V/ii | | Gm F C | Gm | | ii I V | ii | | Gm F C | Gm | | ii I v | ii | | C | Bb11 | - | | V | IV | - |
The last phrase ends with the familiar 3+3+3+3+4 rhythm pattern. The last chorus closes differently: it abruptly slows down and adds harmony vocals. Two resolution of borrowed notes (ie. flat-3rd an flat-7th) results in special flavor to the plagal cadence more exposed than in the previous choruses (Bb11 > F).
F > F : lead vocal Eb> C : harmony vocal C > A : harmony vocal Ab> A : harmony vocal Bb> F : bass guitar
Beside the flat-7th (Eb) we Freddie sings a flat-3rd (Ab) as well.
The second verse is followed by a bridge setting the tonal center to the dominant chord (C or c). The lead melody uses flat 7th in contrast with the the hard to hear harmony vocal (better heard in 5.1 and the karaoke mix) in both last two phrases uses natural 7th (E-nat).
The accompaniment of the bridge stripped down to drums exposed in a two measure "intro".
...|(C) | | | C1 | - | | 5th | - | | C1 | Eb Dm Cm | | 5th |bVII vi v | | C3 | - | | V | - | | C3 | | | V | |
In the live versions the break was extended with mostly instrumental passages.
The outro is a close variant of the intro shortened to three phrases. The "wordless lyrics" and the fade out combined create a nice romantic feel. The live version of course uses complete ending instead of the fade out. For the third phrase the guitar takes over the leading. The chord progression is closed with a Piquardy third, but it sounds rather like a brief modulation to G.
| Gm7 | D | G |
| ii | V/ii | II |
G: | V | I |