SONG ANALYSIS:The March Of The Black Queen Written by Freddie Mercury meter: 4/4, 6/8, keys: B-major, G-major, C-major, D-major, ... form: Intro | Part A | Connector 1 | Part B | Connector 2 | Part C | Connector 3 | Part D | Connetcor 4 | Part E | Connector 5 | Outro This song contributed much to lift Queen's second album to one of the most cultic albums for hard core Queen fans. With it's acyclic form and extended harmony material it shows some similarity to My Fairy Queen, The Fairy Feller's Master-Stroke and Bohemian Rhapsody. Liar and Great King Rat (from the first album) are acyclic too, but the harmonic material of those is not that extended, probably because Freddie composed them on guitar (I can be wrong with this). This song uses about 25-30 different chords with all the twelve chromatic notes involved as root. This big number of chords is a result of the long form, some appogiaturas, and Freddie's adventurous approach of composing: A A7 Am Am7 A# A#6 A#dim B B7 C C7 Cm C# C#m D Dm D# E Em F F# G Gm G#m plus the appogiatura-chords: F#-half-dim (=x04210), Eaug/A (=x02110), B11, Cm7, A-half-dim, Gaug/C (=x35443), Baug/E (=021000). The form of this song can be best described as a chain of sections that are connected with wordless connectors (what else). In spite the acyclic form you can find some (single) repeated subsections and melody variants in the song, sections but we can't find anything we could call "verse" or "bridge". In the whole song there is only one melody that appears (varied) in two different sections (A and E). Section by section: Intro (-0:20) The song opens with a slow, dramatic sounding intro on piano which is six measures long. The piano plays appoggiatura upon B chord reaching once the Em/B chord. Interestingly the pitch-set is E melodic minor, but the B "pedal" bass and the way the E note on top is always resolved to Dis giving the strong sensation of B-major key. The six measures can be divided to three similar part. The second one is features two short guitar fills. Part A (0:20-0:43) On the first beat enter bass and backing vocals. During most of this section (and many times later in the songs) the sustained backing vocals are responsible for creating the harmonic carpet. The Part A is seven measures long. In the first two measures we can hear three "Do you mean it?" phrases entering on the even beats and dividing this two measures to three part. In the third measure double track rhythm guitar enters. Note that the vocal harmony is off during this measure. In the fourth and fifth measures two part harmonies (by Freddie) are supplying the harmonies with slowly descending piano appogiatura starting on Am and arriving on F#-half-dim. Roger applies here mostly percussive style. The last two (sixth and seventh) measures contain only the appogiatura, that is supported by the guitar. This appogiatura however appears several times in the song. Part A starts in G-major key, the lead melody is pentatonic. At the end of the third measure a we can find a single Gis note. This easily can be interpreted as the third degree of an E chord (V-of-ii) or a leader note to A-natural or as a kind of introduction of the next coming Am appoggiatura. Harmonic map: | Em | D | G (Gis)| Am* G:| vi | V | I | ii Connector 1 (0:43-1:05) The tempo is abruptly doubled. Maybe I should change the meter to 2/4 but I keep the meter of 4/4. The lenght of the Connector 1 is nine measures. The first four measures feature three part harmonies, piano, low toms. The third measure features quickly oscillating vocal harmonies This lick appears several times in this song, in the song Funny How Love Is, I couldn't find more examples. The fourth measure features a descending arpeggio upon a G chord. Special effect is here that the entering voices are cutted. The same trick is applied in Bohemian Rhapsody at the "Magnifico-o-o-o" part. guitar chords | B | D | F | G | B... harmonies | B F#m | Bm Am | Eb F | G | What is the key is a good question. In these measures you can't find a key that could survive the second change of chord (including the harmonies). Let's see exactly what creates this tonal ambiguity! In the harmonies we can find Eb-F-G chord progression. They call it "chord stream" and can be found in "Crazy Little Thing..." (1979) and in "Misfire" (1974) too. The rythm-guitar chords also shows something similar but with flat-3 steps: B > D > F. Similar chain of flat-3 chords (downwards) can be found in Bicycle Race. This is however a quite rare chord progression in pop music. The remaining part of Connector 1 goes with B(7) chord. The fifth measure adds the bass, the sixth measure adds another group of voices moving around the B chord. Some volume and pan control is applied on these. Part B (1:05-2:23) This part is the longest, and can be divided into more subsection. Among these subsection we can find repetition and variants. The first subsection is six measure long | G Em/G E/G# Am | Am* D | G | E Am | G:| I vi V-of-ii ii | ii V | I | V-of-ii ii | The first two and the last two measures above have similar rhythm and chords. This rhythm is belied on even sixteenth, and works as unifying element in the song. The last two measures feature interesting piano licks. The next coming four measures are a kind of refrain, the only melody that appears in two different section ie. in Part E. The chords are the already introduced Am-appogiatura, the form is AA'. Note how the lead melody picks up those descending notes. The next coming part starts with one and a half measure in (6/8) meter followed by one and a half in 4/4 meter. This subsection is the only part of the song that is repeated without major variation. Note that at the end of this subsection the vocal harmony is not resolved perfectly, as in it's repetition (after the solo). Here the harmonic texture is carried primarily by the vocals. 123123123 1 2 3 4 1 2 | F G C | C C G | bass and guitar: | A# A G | C:| IV V I |I(7) V | That A# note is borrowed from the F-major key which is the parallel key of C-major. Guitar solo: This guitar solo is imitates the beginning of a melody that appears twice -- a bit unusual way -- later in the song ("...you can be my sugar baby, you can be my honey child."), but also resonates with the melodies/rhythm behind the phrases "coming back alive", and "lily pool delight" from the former subsection. The solo is four measures long. | C | G Am | Dm | B7 | C:| I | V vi | ii | V-of-iii| The use of I >> V >> vi chord progression with the scale-wise descending bass on 1 > 7 > 6 scale degrees is a recurrent element of many Queen songs. Examples: Bohemian Rhapsody: "Good-bye everybody, I've got to go" Lilly Of The Valley: "I'm forever searching high and low" We Are The Champions: "I've had my share of sand kicked in my face..." moreover: It's A Hard Life, Fairy Fellers Master Stroke, Save Me, Who Wants To Live Forever,... Most of the times these start on Eb, C or G. In 1998 appeared an article in alt.music.queen. The poster (a Queen-fan who plays the piano) wrote that this chord-progression was a sign of Freddie's (or Brian's) limited knowledge on piano. The poster also wrote that Freddie's playing style was dominated by chord-bass-chord-bass progressions (instead of harp-like arpeggios) and Freddie rooky-like preferred to the F-major key and another cliches. As opposite examples he mentioned the likes of Elton John and Billy Joel and the Queen song Nevermore. He added that probably any piano-teacher would agree with these points. Think this over, listen to related songs and decide how much the article was right or wrong! The next subsection is four measures long. In the second measure we can find here the second measure of the melody that was already introduced in the first guitar solo but the chords are different to that one. The descending bass this time supports the same appogiatura upon the Am, that we've already seen. In the second two measures this chromatic descending bass uses another rhythmic pattern. There is a hard-to-detect guitar fill at 1:54. Here comes the repetition of the subsection with meter changes. Note that both of these are preceded by a subsection of similar harmonic shape (ie. Am appogiatura), and is continued harmonically similar way. Next subsection features the guitar solo-tune again, this time with the same chords and with the fisrt measure involved in contrast to the "sugarbaby" subsection. The lead vocal stops after two measures, but the next two measures continue with the same chords as the first guitar solo. So the second guitar solo starts with the same harmonic background that closed the first guitar solo, and it is extended with four and a half measure until the Connector 2 begins: |Em G | A7 D | A | A | D | bass |E Eb D | Db D ... C:|iii D: IV| V I | V | V | I | Second measure adds second guitar part (wah-pedal is applied on both guitar parts). Similarly to the guitar solo of Earth (Smile, 1969) the first notes are in harmony with each other, then the guitar parts go their own way. On later albums Brian didn't use this approach of multi track soloing anymore. Let's summarise how exactly these subsections with variants and repetitions follow each other: Unit 1 (6 measures) features ABA' harmonic (and rhythmic) pattern. Unit 2 (6 measures) features AA' form and its variant appears toward the end of the song in Part E. Unit 3 (2-3 measures) is the one with the changing meter Unit 4 (4 measures) is the guitar solo which rhythmically also resonates with two short phrases of Unit 1. Unit 5 (4 measures) features the same length and very similar harmonic background as Unit 2. The second measure features a variant of the second measure of the guitar solo (Unit 4) backed with different chords. Unit 6 (2-3 measures) except the lyrics this subsection is the same as Unit 3. Unit 7 (8 and a half measures). The first four measures feature the same harmonic pattern as the guitar solo (Unit 4). The first two measures feature lead vocal which is a variant of the guitar solo. We can get the outline of two cleverly hidden harmonic cycles: units 2-3-4 and units 5-6-7. The CD-timer shows 2:22, to be continued later... _______________________________________________________--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- STUDIO INFO PAGE:Dear Friends Written by Brian May Recording information Recorded in summer 1974 somewhere in England. Released in November 1974 on the album Sheer Heart Attack. General: That one is (for me to write) and were (for the guys to record) a quickie. A short and beautiful piece, which is rather a sung poem with some vocal harmonies and piano accompaignment that a proper song. It is surely good work and another proof for Queen's versaitility. Piano: Played by Brian. Picked up with two microphones, which went into two separate tracks to get the stereo-feel. Vocals: The backing-vocals were done exclusively by Freddie. He recorded three tracks (three voices). Then he put the lead vocals on a fourth track. The sounds of the voices were given lots of treble (by EQ) and they're very dry (no reverb or delay). By the way: This is the 6th-shortest Queen-track ever! It even had a place on a no.1-release: it is to find on some versions of the Five Live EP.