Technology Shaped the Rhapsody
Queen’s 1975 classic ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ is extremely influenced by the recording technology used to create its sound and enhance its musical presentation. Multi-tracking phrases and over-dubbing instruments played a key role in the creation of the piece. The piece was revolutionary for the progressive rock musical period as maximised the use of recording technology at the time. This can be seen when compared to a contemporary classics of the time, Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven and Pink Floyd’s Eclipse.
The Acapella Introduction of Bohemian Rhapsody (refer to bars 1-4 in figure 1) began when lead singer, Freddie Mercury, created a chord progression consisting of Bb7, Cm7, F7.
Figure 1: Bars 1-4 of Acapella Introduction Brian May, lead guitarist of Queen reported in BBC News that: “[Freddie] came in and knew exactly what he wanted. [He] sang a guide vocal at the time, but he had all his harmonies written out, and it was really just a question of doing it.” Luckily for Queen, they were able to stretch the recording industry to a place it had never been before. After creating chords, Freddie then worked on lyrics and vocal harmonies, dividing the vocals into Solo, Soprano, Mezzo Soprano, Alto and Bass. Mercury used multi-tracking techniques and a Guide Track Piano to record the various vocal parts. A Guide Track Piano is a Piano used to pre-record a melodic guide for a vocalist to follow while recording vocals. Mercury recorded the