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Composer: Brian May
Key: A Major, E mixolydian,
Intro I - II (A) | Verse (AAAA-...A'...)| Chorus /AA | | Verse ( ...AAA'...)| Chorus /A' | Bridge | Solo I-II | | Verse' | Chorus' | Outro |
This song was the last real Queen epic for a long years. The genre is simple to determine: hard rock.
The form consists of three cycles the second of which ends with a predictable bridge and solo. The album sleve lyrics suggest theatrical concept where the three cycles are assigned to three scenes.
The BBC version of the song features a weird psychadelic harmonizer/delay interlude after the second chorus which leads directly to the outro. It is a distant version of the "Get Down Make Love" interlude.
The harmony is full of basic chords including Brian's favourite D/A lick.
The arrangement is as usual as ever: doubltracked rhythmguitars in stereo, vocals, lead guitar and bass in the center, drums, backing vocals.
The first part of the intro is arranged for "solo" doubletracked guitars. The first two phrases show 2+4 and 2+4+2 inner emphases respectively.
| A D/A | - | | I IV | - | | D2 Fm7| - | | IV vi | - | | D... | - | | IV | - | | A |sus4>3| - | - | | I | - | - | - |
The second part of the Intro is one phrase of the main riff of the verse providing place for its upbeat.
The verse is 32 measures long. The first verse is accompanied by doubletracked rhythm guitar until m29 where the rest of the ensemble joins. The first four phrases are accompanied by the main riff which also returns in variant form for the last vocal phrase. The riffs other riffs also show microscopic changes. The vocal phrases start with long pickup of varying length before the downbeat of the actual harmonic phrase. The rhythm guitar part makes use of 3+5 type of syncopation.
/---------- 4x -----------\\ | A | - | A D| - | | I | - | I IV| - | | A | - |C#(4>3)| - | F#m | - /E | D | - | | I | - | V/vi | - | vi | - | IV | - | | A | - | A E11| - | | I | - | I V | - | 3+3+3+3 = three measures | A | A E |
The section is closed by 3+3+3+3 punctuation equal to three measures in length, followed by one measure for the upbeat of the chorus with pre-downbeat accent.
The second Verse already with full rock ensemble. At the end of the section the main riff returns three times with two vocal phrases. In the third measure of the riff phrases (including the preceding chorus' closing riffs) the bass plays non-root notes for the D chord: 3rd, 3rd - 3rd, 1rd, 3rd, 3rd - 3rd, 3rd, 3rd degrees respectively.
The ending third verse alters the lead melody in m1-2 and shortens the 3+3+3+3 figure to just 3+3.
We have three choruses next to each three verses. The title syllables creat pre-downbeat accents. The two measure phrases (1st to 6th) feature antiphonal vocal arrangement (vocal harmonies then lead vocal).
...A E | I V | |(E) | - | | I | - | | A | - E | | I | - V | |(E) | - | | V | - | | A | - D | | I | - IV| |(D) A |E11 A | | IV I | V I | | D A/C# | B E | | IV I |V/V V | | A M7 |D/A E(4>3)| | I | IV V | | main riff x 2 | | I... |
The seventh phrase feautures a climactic concluding vocal harmony which is extended in the third chorus.
The characteristic start of the harmony (see something similar in "Crazy Nights" by Kiss):
A A A ... : top A G# F#... : middle E E D ... : low The extension in the third chorus: | A5 | A5maj7 | D | B7 | E | C#7 | | I | - | IV | V/V | V | V/vi | | F#m | - E | D | - | | vi | - V | IV | - | | A | - | | | | I | - | | |
The first phrase is driven by vocal harmonies. The harmony of the second phrase is quoted from the intro. The closing phrase lets the A chord ring throughout (fermata) then in the last two measures drum tremolo introduce the outro.
The bridge takes the tonal center to E. The section starts with two measure phrases (2+2+2+2 + 2+2+4 AAAB,A'A"C).
E: /----- 4x ----\\ | E | - A | | I | - IV| /----- 2x ----\\ | E | - A | | I | - IV| | E A/E | - | D/E E | - | | I IV | - |bVII I | - | f#: VI VII| - |
The first solo is shows f# minor (pentatonic) mode. The guitar solo itself features the so called tapping technique which counted as quite novel before the first Van Halen album (1978 - see also in "Moonlight Knight" - Genesis). Brian combines the tapping with string bending (see also "Don't Lose Your Head"). Brian learned it from the ZZ-Top guitarist. The backing track consists of four four measure harmonic phrases.
f: /----------- 3x ----------\\ | F#5 | - | - | - B5 | | i | - | - | - iv | | F#5 | - | - | G5 | | i | - | - |V of C|
The next subsection starts with a connector like phrase setting the tonal center to C using a pedal bass throughout.
M7-8 provides a rhythmic transition to the next subsection...
| C5 | - | Bb5/C | - | C1,2>m3 | - | C* | - | | i
... which is backed by static harmony: simple riffs with bluesy 5-6-5-6 and 5-b7-6-b6-5 built in figures around the C tonal center for 16 measures. The lead guitar part plays more of those tapping-bending licks less memorable melodies than in then in Solo I.
| C*... |
The section closes with a vocal subsection with dotted harmonic rhythm. The harmony is too transitory to deterermine the key and the related harmonic functions except the last measures where following verse orients one's ear toward A-Major.
C5| G | - D5| A5 | - E5| B5 | - | | E | sus4 | E | | A: V
Following a drumroll we have a 16 measure (4x4) fast-rock paced outro with some ad-lib vocals.
/----------- 4x----------\\ | E5 | - D5 | A5 | - |
The fourth phrase closes with 3+3+3+3 + 3+3+3+3 patterned punctuation on rhythm guitar accompanied by drum-roll (triplets for kick-drum and toms). The song closes on the tonic chord.