Killer Queen

  • Created by: kamna03
  • Created on: 18-12-18 20:07


The vocal part is performed by Freddie Mercury and is a high male voice – tenor. 

‘Killer Queen’ uses lead and backing vocals, piano, overdubbed with a honky-tonk (jangle) piano, four electric guitars, bass guitar and drum kit. Guitars and vocals are overdubbed to create a richer colour.
The guitars use techniques such as slides, bends, pull-offs and vibrato. The song uses plenty of recording techniques and effects including multi-tracking, EQ, flanger, distortion, reverb, wah-wah, panning and overdubbing. 

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The main texture is homophonic.

  • Use of imitation. 
  • Use of layering 
  • Three-part texture during the guitar solo. 
  • Use of panning (e.g. bars 42-43 backing vocals) 
  • Antiphonal (e.g. bars 67-68)
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  • The text setting is mainly syllabic.  
  • The backing vocals use a mixture of words and vocalisation (e.g. bars 8–9) to the sound ‘ooh’ and bar 18 to the sound ‘ba’.  
  • The melody starts mostly conjunct with small leaps of a third or fourth.  
  • Bars 7 and 8 show an altered descending sequence.  
  • The verse and chorus combine conjunct and wide angular leaps in the melodic line. 
  • Leaps often feature a rising major sixth (e.g. bars 6–7). There are some exceptionally large leaps such as an octave in bar 62.  
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  • Moderato tempo with a dotted crotchet pulse of 112 beats per minute. 
  • The time signature is mainly in 12/8 compound quadruple time. 
  • Swung feel 
  • It does occasionally insert a bar of 6/8, which has the effect of extending the phrase length.   Every verse and chorus start with an anacrusis (upbeat). 
  • Syncopation is frequent throughout (e.g. bars 44–46). 
  • Triplets in bar 18.
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  • The song is in Eb major. 
  • Opening in C minor and closing on an E♭ major chord, the tonality is ambiguous at times. There are many 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 a first or second inversion. 
  • There is some use of dissonance (e.g. bar 30).  
  • Seventh chords (e.g. bar 4). 
  • Circle of fifths (e.g. bars 20–21). 
  • Use of altered and extended chords (e.g. F11 bar 47). 
  • Pedal used bars 27–30.
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Killer Queen’ is in verse-chorus form.

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‘Killer Queen’ was written by Freddie Mercury and featured on Queen’s third studio album Sheer Heart Attack released in November 1974.
Freddie Mercury was born Farrokh Bulsara on 5 September 1946 in Stone Town, Sultanate of Zanzibar (now Tanzania) and grew up in India, where he was educated at St Peter’s Boys School and took up the piano at the age of 7. At the age of 17, his family moved to Middlesex, England.
Queen was formed in London in 1970 with singer Freddie Mercury, guitarist Brian May, drummer Roger Taylor and bassist John Deacon. Sheer Heart Attack and A Night at the Opera (1975) brought them international success.
‘Killer Queen’ was the first single from the album and it is one of the few songs where Freddie Mercury wrote the lyrics first, which are about an upper-class prostitute.
‘Killer Queen’ reached number 2 in the British charts and provided them with their first top 20 hit in the US, peaking at number 12 on the Billboard singles chart. The song won Freddie Mercury his first Ivor Novello Award.

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