Killer Queen

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  • Killer Queen
    • Background information and performance circumstances
      • Written by Freddie Mercury and featured on Queen's third studio album 'Sheer heart Attack' - released November 1974
      • Freddie Mercury was born Farrokh Bulsara on 5.9.1946 in Stone Town, Sultanate of Zanzibar (now Tanzania).
        • He grew up in India, educated at St Peter's Boys school
        • Started playing piano at the age of 7.
        • Age 17 - family moved to Middlesex, England.
      • Formed in London in 1970
      • Consists of Freddie Mercury, Roger Taylor, Brian May and John Deacon.
      • One of the few songs in which Freddie wrote the lyrics first.
      • About an upper-class prostitute
      • Reached 2 in the UK charts, and 12 on the US chart for the first time
      • Won Freddie Mercury his first Ivor Novello Award
    • Melody
      • Mainly syllabic text setting
      • Backing vocals use a mixture of words and vocables
        • Bars 8-9: 'ooh'
        • Bar 18: 'ba'
      • Mostly conjunct melody
        • Small leaps of a third or fourth
      • Bars 7-8 show an altered descending sequence
      • Verse and chorus combine conjunct and wide angular leaps in the melodic line
      • Leaps often feature a major sixth (E.g. bars 6 and 7)
        • Some exceptionally large leaps (An octave in bar 62)
    • Performing forces and their handling
      • Vocals performed by Freddie Mercury
        • Tenor
      • Lead and backing vocals, piano (overdubbed with honky tonk), four electric guitars, bass guitar, drum kit.
        • Guitars and vocals are overdubbed to create a richer sound
      • Guitar techniques
        • Slides
        • Bends
        • Pull-offs
        • Vibrato
      • Recording techniques and effects
        • Multi-tracking
        • EQ (Equalisation)
        • Flanger
        • Distortion
        • Reverb
        • Wah-wah
        • Panning
        • Overdubbing
    • Texture
      • Mainly homophonic
      • Imitation
      • Layering
      • Three part texture during the guitar solo
      • Use of panning
        • Bars 42-43: Backing vocals
      • Antiphonal
        • Bars 67-68
    • Harmony and Tonality
      • Mainly in E flat major
      • Opening in C minor, closing on an E flat major chord
      • Tonality is ambiguous at times
      • Passing modulations, strengthened by perfect cadences but often followed by parallel shifts, moving to a new key
      • Most chords are in root position
      • Some chords are in the first or second inversion
      • Some use of dissonance
        • Bar 30
      • Seventh (extended) chords
        • Bar 4
      • Circle of 5th s
        • Bars 20-21
      • Use of altered and extended chords
        • E.g. F11 bar 47
      • Pedal
        • Bars 27-30
    • Tempo, metre and Rhythm
      • Moderato tempo at 112 bpm
      • Time signature 12/8
        • Quadruple compound
      • Swung feel
      • Occasionally inserts a bar of 6/8
        • Extends the phrase length
      • Every verse and chorus starts with an anacrusis (upbeat)
      • Syncopation is used frequently
        • Bars 44-46
      • Triplets
        • Bar 18
    • Structure
      • Verse 1 (Bars 2-14)
        • Unusual start with 6 finger clicks (heard throughout) leading into Verse 1
        • Anacrusis on the melody
        • Voice accompanied by short, detached chords on the piano
        • Bass and drums enter - bar 6
        • Tonally unstable
          • Opens in C minor but quickly shifting
        • Descending sequence in Guitar 1 - bar 7
        • Bar 11 - Vocal falsetto
        • 4 bar phrase, then extended by a 6/8 bar to 5 bars in length
      • Chorus 1 (Bars 14-22)
        • Eight bars in length
          • 5 + 3 phrasing
        • Cadenced into B flat major
          • Moves to D minor, then C major before shifting in parallels to a circle of fifths then another slide to B flat.
        • Lead and backing vocals sing together in harmony
          • Creating a four-part texture
          • Bar 15
        • Backing vocals use vocables
          • Bar 18
        • Portamento slide
          • The word 'Queen' - Bar 15
        • Change of EQ and Flanger
          • 'Laser beam' - Bar 17
        • Backing vocal 'stabs'
          • Bar 18
      • Instrumental (Bars 23-26)
        • Guitar 1 and 3 play in thirds using slides and vibrato
      • Verse 2 (Bars 26-38)
        • As verse 1 - with the addition of four-part backing vocals
          • Bar 31
        • Drums enter early (with a drum roll) with guitar 2
        • Inner chromatic descending pattern
          • Bars 31-33
        • Main vocal uses spoken text for dramatic effect
          • Bar 38
        • Bass guitar develops to use pentatonic and chromatic scales
          • Bars 37-30
      • Chorus 2 (Bars 38-43)
        • As chorus 1.
        • Cut short using the first 5-bar phrase
      • Guitar solo (Bars 44-61)
        • Starts off mimicking the first part of the chorus (bars 20-21) before expanding into a three-part guitar solo (Bar 23)
        • Chords use a descending pattern between bars 44-47
        • Guitars 3 and 4 use imitation against guitar 1 before coming together in bar 50 to create a three-part texture
          • Bar 48
        • Harmony returns to the verse chord sequence, with the original melody, embellished.
          • Bar 51
        • Solo goes back to guitar 1 until bar 55, where guitar 2 and 3 again use hocketing before coming together.
        • Harmony is extended, repeated imperfect cadence for two bars
      • Verse 3 (bars 61-69)
        • Only 7 and a half bars long
          • First part is an extended variant of bars 12-13
        • Three-part guitar 'response' to vocal line
          • Beat 3 at the end of Bar 62
        • Word painting of the words 'drive you wild'
        • Climax at bar 67 on the work 'wild'.
          • Vocals singing very high in 4 parts followed by a response from the band.
      • Chorus 3 (Bars 69-78)
        • Sim ilar to previous choruses with the addition of a guitar solo
      • Outro (Bars 79-End)
        • Music fades over E flat major chord
        • Harmony suggests a repeated VI-V-I cadence
          • Fading on the subdominant with guitars 1 and 2 playing in thirds, imitation between guitars 3 and 4.

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