18 Jul 2016

The Music and Harmonies of Queen

From Jesse Mulligan, 1–4pm, 2:13 pm on 18 July 2016
Queen

Queen Photo: queenonline.com

Nick Braae has immersed himself in the style and harmonies of the band Queen.

It's the subject of his PhD at Waikato University. He analysed the group's studio recordings between 1973 and 1980 to see how they developed their style and their musical relationships with contemporaries such as The Beatles, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd.

Braae says one of Queen's trademark sounds is their vocal harmonies, and there is particular structure and recording technique involved in creating this part of the 'Queen sound'. 

He says the singers sing in block chords - much like an Aretha Franklin or Elvis Presley record. These chords have three or four notes in "close position" which is different to a choir setup. But when recording, each singer (Mercury, May, Taylor) would sing each note of each chord; and then they would record the whole thing again. So a chord with four-notes has at least 24 "voices" singing on the record.