A Poetical Analysis of Queen¡¯s Bohemian Rhapsody
This paper looks at Queen¡¯s 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 world¡¯s most popular all-time songs. It is an epic work that belongs to the musical genre ¡®Rock-Opera¡¯. The song is part of the band¡¯s Night at the Opera album that was released in 1975. This period is the so-called ¡®Golden Era¡¯ 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 singer¡¯s religion. Freddie Mercury¡¯s religion was ¡®Zoroastrianism¡¯. 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 ¡®lust¡¯ so Ahura counteracts this move by introducing ¡®love¡¯. 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 Queen¡¯s 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 Brian¡¯s 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. ¡®Bismillah¡¯ 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.
Queen¡¯s songs are characterized by being melodious, harmonious, and unique. Queen¡¯s 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". Queen¡¯s song is an excellent example of this. Another interesting aspect of Bohemian Rhapsody is its ¡®ritardando¡¯. Ritardando is the...
Cited: ¡°Bohemian Rhapsody¡± (lyrics). Queenwords.com. 2003.
¡°Bohemian Rhapsody Voted Best Single of All Time¡±. Reuters. London: May 8th 2002.
¡°World of Traditional Zoroastrianism¡±. 2003.
Queen. Night at the Opera (CD). EMI Records. 1975
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