Dreamers Ball

Composer: Brian May
Album: Jazz (1978), 9th track
Meter: 4/4, shuffle beat
key: Ab Major, transcribed in A Major

      Intro (Chorus) | Verse | Verse | Pre-Chorus | Chorus |
                     | Solo 1 (Verse)| Pre-Chorus | Chorus|
                     | Solo 2 (pre-Chorus) | Chorus - tag |

This song is May's homage to Elvis who died in 1977. In spite (or due to) its bluesy "jazz standard from the 30-ties"-like catchy tune Dreamers Ball makes many people associate to Elvis Presley. If he (or nearly any major singer of the swing era) would have sung this song it could easily have became a standard piece.
 Taking away the jazzy leading chords (diminished and augmented ones), the song has simple, cliche-driven harmony and square phrasing. The lead tune, the lead guitar fills and the backing harmonies are full of chromatic scale fragments which is a trademark of the style.
 Originally for the genre (less original for Queen though) three part guitar harmonies play what in jazz arrangements brasses would play (shades of Good Company). The backing track consists of slowly strummed buzzy acoustic guitar drums and fretless bass.
 The frequently tight three-four part vocal harmonies display again the band's and Brian's ability to adapt seemingly effortless a style of arrangement on high level that they had not major routin in before.
The songform is simple with two verse-prechorus-chorus cycles plus  closing chorus-cycle. Vocal verse(s) we have only in the first cycle. We have two guitar solos: one normal and a harmonized one. The guitar and the lead vocal have many bent/blue notes.
The rhythm of the song, especially the guitar tracks diplay a huge variety of syncopations.


The intro is an instrumental Chorus arranged for harmonized electric guitars. One of the three guitars plays the lead tune. In the last measure we can hear the Mantovani-esque "waterfall" harmonies (an augmented triad) that Brian liked using and we liked listening to so much. They appear in the end of the second verse again I guess the guitar parts were designed predominantly in horizontal approach one line after another, but the vertical harmonies are also immaculate.
The unplugged live vesrion started with the familiar A - D/A vamping closed with the chord progression of the last two measures of the Verse.

The is chord progression of this section is a variant of the twelve bar blues cliche. In the harmony map this time I separated the main chords (left side chart) from the leading chords (right side). The way how the passing chords creat a dotted harmonic rhythm with the basic chords is reminiscent to "Las Palabras De Amore"

the basic chords:             the passing chords:  
| A   | D   | A  E7| A   |              | C#aug | Adim7 |       | Amaj7 7 C#aug |
| I   | IV  | I  V | I   |

| D   | -   | A  E7| A   |              | Ddim  | Adim7 |       | Gdim7 |
| IV  | -   | I  V | I   |

| E   | D/F | A    | E7  |              |       | F7 E7 |Adim/D#|       |
| V   | IV  | I    | V   |

The melodic phrasing is not 4+4+4+4.
1 + 1 + 2 instrumental for each three harmonic phrase. The repetition pattern of the vocal phrases:

A - A'(5 up)A(5 up) - A'(5 up)B - C

Beside the lead tune the harmony is full of chromatic and semichormatic fragments (first verse) as well
bost of them ascending:

| B-C# | E-F# |      |       |
| C#-E | F#-A |      | A-G F-|

| E-F# |     D-E     |      A-
| -A  F-A     |      |       |

-B     | D#-C#|   C#-E F#-A  |
|     E-F#-E  |      |       |

The rhythm an the shape of the first two phrase is similar. Guitar harmonies enter in the 11th measure of the first Verse, and stay there through the second Verse. In the third Verse (the solo) only the last two measures have harmonies (guitar). Freddie's lead vocal bits toward the end of the solo-verse section are not from the original lead tune.
The first guitar solo in the beginning is developed from the lead vocal tune, the rest is different. Note the melodic augmented triad played on the lead guitar where the backing chord is augmented (measure 4). The rhythm of the solo is played with some rhythmic freedom especially in the last phrase.
In the live version the solo was performed by two of them (Roger and Brian) on "mouth-brasses" (shades of Seaside Rendezvous).

This section is 8 bar two phrases. The melodic phrases are located in the first half of the harmonic phrases. Backing harmonies reinforce the chordal support with just a few extra figures added. Guitar solo fills and harmony fills are also added.

| A    | Db7 (5+>5) | F#m   | A    |
| I    | V/vi       | vi    | I    |

| D7 A | D7 A | B7add9 | E7   |
| IV I | IV I | V/V    | V    |

The second pre-Chorus is similarly backed as the first with some differences: the vocal harmonies switch to a higher inversion, lyrics added to them in measures 5-6. The guitar harmony arrangement is varied too.

There is a pre-Chorus in the third cycle too, an instrumental one with harmonised (three part) guitars and spiced with a few extra figures in each parts in a Jazz-band fashion. The craftmanship presented here provokes the question "which rock guitarist else than Brian May could be able to write a jazz arrangement on this level?". A couple of them maybe could have, but rock bands usually were aware not to write jazz standard like songs and arrangements. OTOH for jazz-arrangers with enough practice it may be a "routinwork" (?)..

The last instrumental phrase is a harmonised version of the original lead vocal tune, the rest of the tunes in this section are new. This instrumental pre-Chorus changes the F#m chord in measure 3 to D.

The chorus is only one four measure catchy phrase.

| A Db7 | D Adim7 | A  E  | A Eaug |
| I V/vi| IV      | I  V  | I "V"  |

The last "hook" phrase is a cliche-like pattern that is based on two inner lines in contrary motion:

top   : A G# F# F# E
bottom: A C# D  D# E

Something like this (the I > III > IV progression) was used in My Melancholy Blues too ("So come and..."), no wonder it's a jazz cliche. Second chorus adds lyrics to the backing vocals in m3-4. The last Chorus is extended with a tag. The last two "woo" harmony stops on a weak beat, so does the last hit on the hi-hat.