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A Poetical Analysis of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody

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A Poetical Analysis of QueenЎЇs Bohemian Rhapsody

This paper looks at QueenЎЇs Bohemian Rhapsody from a poetic perspective. Bohemian Rhapsody was written in 1975 by the British rock band Queen, whose lead singer Freddie Mercury died in 1991 from AIDS. The song is one of the worldЎЇs most popular all-time songs. It is an epic work that belongs to the musical genre ÐŽ®Rock-OperaЎЇ. The song is part of the bandЎЇs Night at the Opera album that was released in 1975. This period is the so-called ÐŽ®Golden EraЎЇ for Queen in which they came to be known as amongst the best in the music business.

There are a number of possible themes to Bohemian Rhapsody. It could be about the singerЎЇs religion. Freddie MercuryЎЇs religion was ÐŽ®ZoroastrianismЎЇ. Ahriman is the Black Queen (The Bad Spirit = the Bad Mind) versus Ahura the White Queen (The Good Spirit = the Good Mind). Also taken into consideration are the Cosmic Battles within Freddie's Religion. These Cosmic Battles and Struggles are between Ahriman and Ahura. Each tries to outsmart or outwit the other. For example, Ahriman introduces ÐŽ®lustЎЇ so Ahura counteracts this move by introducing ÐŽ®loveЎЇ. This particular example concerns the Cosmic Battle between The Blessed Man (Adam) and The Demon Whore (Lilith, she of the Night otherwise known as Eve, or Lily). The actual Cosmic Battle in Bohemian Rhapsody concerns the Denial of Love, both Black and White (The March Of The Black Queen etc.).

Bohemian Rhapsody could also be about the Lily and Phoenix story. The Lily and Phoenix Story is an overall theme that runs throughout QueenЎЇs music. Lily and the Phoenix play the roles of The Black Queen (Eve/Night) and the White Queen (Adam/Day). The Black Queen would obviously take on such roles (music-wise) as The Killer Queen, Mr. Bad Guy and so on whilst the White Queen would taken on such roles (music-wise) as The Lily of the Valley, The White Queen and so on. However, there is a twist to this, as both the Phoenix and Lily swap roles or masks - each taking a turn to play the role of the good guy and the role of the bad guy.

What the actual composer said about the song can also taken into consideration. Freddie Mercury stated that most of his songs were straightforward and easy to understand but some of co-writer BrianЎЇs songs held further meanings. In the case of Bohemian Rhapsody, Freddie said that the song was about the relationship between people and that the writing was done over two or three days. Bohemian Rhapsody is an opera unto itself, a story set to music.

The song is so rich in its lyrical content that it is impossible to cover in a short paper. I would therefore like to focus on its structure analysis and the etymology of some of the more unusual words. ÐŽ®BismillahЎЇ is the first word in the Qu'ran (Koran) and literally means "In the name of Allah." "Scaramouch" is a character who appears as a boastful coward.

"Beelzebub" is the Devil.

QueenЎЇs songs are characterized by being melodious, harmonious, and unique. QueenЎЇs songs are instantly enjoyable and appear simple but when we look at them closer they are actually quite complex. On an unconscious level, people can perceive many musical devices at work - like a tasteful change of key or a special chord or rhythm pattern. This enhances the beauty of the melody. Listeners that are more musically learned tend to notice such tricks right on the spot, whereas little children and throwaway-music listeners are less affected by special compositional devices. Queen use many compositional tricks.

Harmonizing a melody can be done simply with mostly parallel diatonic motions. More clever harmony arrangements can apply non-standard chords, tight intervals in harmony, non-parallel counterparts and antiphony. On the other hand, a good arrangement also makes clever use of the rule "less is more". QueenЎЇs song is an excellent example of this.

Another interesting aspect of Bohemian Rhapsody is its ÐŽ®ritardandoЎЇ. Ritardando is the slowing down of the pace of a musical work, usually at its end, to provide a more dramatic effect. Bohemian Rhapsody's ending from the "nothing really matters... anyone can see" till the end shows an almost textbook example of this. Note the difference between ritardando and rubato. The latter is a whole branch of musicology and studies the way a performer should increase or decrease the tempo in certain moments from a musical work. For instance, Chopin's pieces usually require such approach although he never put down in writing where he wanted to hurry up and where he wanted to slow down. That's why rubato is one of the most sophisticated techniques in music and demands a quite considerable musical sense and talent.

In ÐŽoBohemian RhapsodyÐŽ± certain chord progressions are used frequently. The heavy and looped use of such chord progressions often results in a very predictable song. For certain listeners this is good, and it even helps them to memorize the piece. For many others, though, the clichЁ¦-based songs get boring very quickly, especially if the melody is also predictable. Queen use a very limited and tasteful use of clichЁ¦s, a very nice example of this is Bohemian Rhapsody and the clichЁ¦s in the verses.

The tone and mood of Bohemian Rhapsody varies throughout the song. It begins with a slow and pitiful chorus that only murmuringly hints of the possible explosion later. MercuryЎЇs first verse gradually builds ЁC it is interesting to note the emphasis he gives to the word ÐŽoMamaÐŽ± not only in this verse but also throughout the song. Despite the addition of various instruments and screeching in the singerЎЇs voice, the overall tone is still rather melancholy. This all changes with the reintroduction of the chorus (ÐŽoI see a little ÐŽ­ÐŽ±) and the song from here spirals into anarchy before being brought back in control at the very end.

Overall, I enjoyed Bohemian Rhapsody the first time I listened to it and now enjoy it even more after studying it. There is a surprising amount of depth to the song ЁC everything from its themes to its content to its structure. It deserves its status as one of the best popular music songs ever written.

Lyrics to QueenЎЇs Bohemian Rhapsody

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