Read all 5 events for 17 June at diary.QueenSongs.info
Written by Freddie Mercury
Recording information by Philipp (PraxisNothaft@t-online.de)
Recorded in summer/autumn 1975 at Rockfield, Scorpio, Lansdowne, Sarm and The Roundhouse.
Released in October 1975 as a single and in November 1975 on the album A Night at the Opera.
What about the Vocals?
The studio-article for Bohemian Rhapsody is something I´ve been dealing (and working) with for a long time. In fact there are hundreds of articles and comments about this song, but nothing of this really tells us anything about the recording-process itself. Sure,there are those legends of the 180 vocal tracks and the tape, you could see through... but that´s not enough to write an article.
So I haven´t got much material to work with. One of the biggest problems with listening to the song to examine its tracks is: There´s so much bouncing (in cause of multi-layering), that you can´t examine anything with the karaoke-trick. In the end you have to fight with your ears against a wall of sound and you leave your half-finished article back. So I had to compromise: I wrote an article only for the instruments (which was hard enough). I just wanted to get out at least a bit of Bohemian Rhapsody. So please don´t be disappointed... there will be Bohemian Rhapsody-The vocals, it´s only a question of time.
The Ultimate Epos!
This song is absolutely Freddie. He had written out every single note for the song, and he knew exactly what he wanted. Even the guitar and bass-stuff was written exclusively by him and he was adding ideas to the song every day they recorded it.
Here are the three instruments that built the basic backing-track:
The drum-kit-track: Roger had a big selection of cymbals and toms. His cymbals are mostly panned around left/right (also with sweeping) of the center. The toms also are panned slightly left/right. Overdubs: There´s a gong at the very end of the song. This "wind-blows" -effect in the intro probably was done with a heavily flanged/filtered cymbal (sweeping from left to right, of course).
Jonh plays a Fender Precision Bass. His sound is very nice, containing a big bass-portion, but he also mixed enough treble into it. There also was a bit of compression used to get the long and full sustain.
The bass was recorded simultaneously on three tracks: DI, amp and speaker. Then Roy mixed the three signals to get a better sound.
Freddie played the Piano-parts on a Bechstein (a very expensive piano) - but, contrary to what the legend states, it's NOT the same Bechstein that had been used on The Beatles' 'Hey Jude'. That was another Bechstein, a black one (the 'Bo Rhap' one was white, and a bit smaller).
It was picked up with two mics: One mic for the higher-and one mic for the lower strings. The signals are mixed together left and right. The low notes are to hear more left, whilst the very high notes are more right.
Guitars and Orchestral Backdrops:
All guitars are played by Brian on the Red Special.
Let´s take a section by section look:
In the end of the 2nd verse, two rythm guitars are starting to play, one left-one right. Then the solo guitar plays its lines.
In the end of the opera-section, two rythm guitars are fading in left and right.
Then the rock-part starts. At 4:44 a third guitar is joining. After that, the scales are following. One guitar is always playing its scale, whilst the others are playing background-chords. One of the guitars plays its scale in the middle, the other two are playing left and right.
At first there´s the left and the right guitar, playing some arpeggios.
After this, a third guitar is joining playing some choir-stuff together with the right guitar in the right channel, whilst the left guitar plays along in left channel. Then two guitars are fading in, that are playing the melody in the middle. They´re getting very loud at first, but then they´re more in the background again.
In the end only one guitar continues with a clean sound, which is playing a line right and then is going left.
Most of the guitars are played with a VoxAc30, which was picked up with mics.
Except for the last notes, all guitars are distorted in different kinds. The rythm and solo-guitars in the verse have a bit of chorus-phasing. For the solo-and choir-guitars, Brian used his screeming pick-up-setting, a treble-booster and reverb.