The elements of music to consider

Instrumentation and timbre

As well as the usual rock band instruments and individual timbres, Killer Queen included a number of studio recording techniques. The instruments and sounds to be aware of are:

  • the band includes vocals, piano, electric six-string and bass guitars, and drums
  • a falsetto vocal range of two octaves and a minor third
  • overdubbing is used for four part vocals and three part guitar passages
  • reverb and stereo panning were added to the vocals in the recording studio
  • pitch bends, slides, palm muting and light distortion feature in the guitar part

Form and Structure

Killer Queen follows a standard popular music structure:

  • verse 1
  • chorus 1
  • instrumental link
  • verse 2
  • chorus 2
  • verse 3
  • chorus 3
  • outro

Dynamics and melody

Dynamics state how loud or quiet a piece of music is and a melody is a significant phrase of pitched notes with a given rhythm. Queen have taken many features from different genres to write an incredibly melodic song, such as:

  • the song is performed at a comfortable mezzo forte (mf), although this is not written on the score
  • each verse and chorus begins with an anacrusis
  • the melodic phrasing is not always symmetrical
  • stepwise melodic movement
  • sequences feature in bars 12 to 13 and 20 to 21
  • the text setting is syllabic
  • Melismas are used for ornamentation, for example in bars 34 to 35 on the lyric ‘inclined’

Texture

These techniques contribute to the texture in Killer Queen, they are:

Metre, tempo and rhythm

The time signatures, tempo and rhythmic devices are:

  • Killer Queen is in a 12/8 compound time that creates a swung feel
  • there are bars where the metre changes to 6/8, such as in bars 10 and 11
  • a tempo set at 112 bpm
  • the syncopation helps the melody reflect the theatrical energy of the piece

Harmony and tonality

The score includes many rich and complex chords and progressions, but the key devices to note are:

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