Forums > Queen - Serious Discussion > "Queen: What were the musical & cultural roots of their success?"

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miko user not visiting Queenzone.com

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Posted: 27 May 08, 09:15 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Hello people, my name is Michael, i am 16 years old. Recently my school assigned us to write a 4000-word essay on any topic we liked. I picked the following: "The British rock legend Queen: What were the musical & cultural roots of their success?". In other words which were the things that distinguished Queen in terms of music, ideology & appearance. Primary sources are usually highly recommended for our essays but since it was rather difficult to contact real Queen members I though that people who are keen on the band would have something interesting to say and would be, of course, more easily approachable. Therefore, I would be rather grateful if you could post your opinions on the topic! thank you!

miko user not visiting Queenzone.com

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Posted: 27 May 08, 09:27 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Thats me again, sorry for posting the topic twice, it happened by mistake. Answer wherever you want.

Yara user not visiting Queenzone.com

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Posted: 27 May 08, 10:07 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Hi, Michael!

Do you have the 30th Anniversary Edition of Queen's "A Night At the Opera"? It could be one of your sources, for sure, because there's a very good documentary on the dvd which comes with the cd.

They talk about Queen's musical influences, from Jazz to Vaudeville and Hard Rock, the culture of the times, which band made big and why, what was particularly appealing about Queen's sound, why was it different from the other bands, how the album was made - it's Queen's most important album! -, its reception, and so on. All the four guys talk about it.

There's also a documentary about the making of "A Night At the Opera" which deals with a lot of these questions: it's a DVD.

So, it's acessible, fun, it's primary source and would give you some good material for the essay, ok? ;-))

So, good luck and keep checking your thread because there are always thoughtful helpful Queenzoners who give many good infos and recommendations.

Yours,

Yara.


Yara
Sebastian user not visiting Queenzone.com
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Posted: 27 May 08, 10:14 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Things that distinguished them in the studio:

- Roger's hi-hat thing (which gave them a unique drum sound)

- 'Saturated' drums (especially in early 70's)

- John's melodic+rhythmic approach to bass-playing

- Brian's melodic solos, syncopated rhythm guitars (sometimes), and the unique sound of the guitar 'singing'

- Multi-tracked layered approach for vocals and electric guitars

- Freddie's piano style was influenced by his keen sense of rhythm (very percussive, which fitted-in well with Roger and John for backing tracks, and at the same time supported Brian's guitar perfectly) and his odd 'lazy-hand' position

- Freddie's unique voice: ornaments, phrasing, change of 'mood'

- In the early days, there was a nice use of acoustic guitars, either by John or Brian, and the way they were combined with electric ('39, White Queen, Someday One Day, Misfire)

- In the 80's, there are several songs which cleverly combine machines and 'back to humans': synth-bass, e-drums, drum-machines, synth-pads on the one hand, and electric bass, acoustic drums, acoustic piano (occasionally) and electric guitar on the other.

- Dramatic changes in arrangement (e.g. the way everything's 'cut-off' for the ballad section in 'Black Queen').


Things that distinguished them live:

- Again, the particular way each one played their instruments (including vocals)

- Use of delay in guitar (KYA, Waltz...)

- Dramatic changes (e.g. Ogre Battle intro)

- E-piano (live mid-80's, either grand or sampled)

- More cymbal-rolls than studio versions (e.g. 'Magic' intro, 'Forever')

- Audience participation


John hated HS. Fred's fave singer was not PR. Roger didn't compose 'Innuendo.' Witness testimonies are often inaccurate. Scotland's not in England. 'Bo Rhap' hasn't got 180 voices.
Benn user not visiting Queenzone.com

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Posted: 27 May 08, 12:13 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

What a great piece of work to have been set!!!!!!!! I WISH I'd had stuff like this at school!

The backdrop of late 60's and early 70's life for Queen can be traced through the following:

Imperial College, London
Kensington Market, London

Remember that in the 1960's, Britain was still coming to terms with the end of the 2nd World War - from 1965 onwards, teenagers began to find that they had a voice and were able to challenge their parents to gain an independance never before imagined. As music changed from the dreary music hall, through to skiffle, to rock and roll, to rock and then to Glam Rock, so did fashion (clothes) and the attitude of British youth. Queen came along in 1973/74, essentially at the end of the Glam Rock genre and just pre-dated Punk. Britain was a place where people left school at 14 and went straight to work until they were 65 and then retired. Music was not seen by anyone's parents as anything more than something to listen to in the background, let alone for their children to make a career out of. Unemployment was high for most of the time and when people were in jobs, they were bound to unions who took them out on strike at the drop of a hat. The Governments of the time projected prudence in all things, whilst as music developed, the audience demanded that the artist take them to places far removed from any hopes or dreams they dared to have.

It's worth having a look at the book "Mod - A Very British Phenomenon" and also watching the film "Quadrophenia" to see the evolution of my points above and a look at teenage life in the 60's in London. Dig out music by Howling Wolf, Wilson Pickett, James Brown, The Supremes, The Who, The Kinks, The Small Faces, The Stones, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Free, Marc Bolan, Ziggy Stardust and The Beatles - also any decent 60's collections you can get your hands on.

Performance-wise, you can add in to this Freddie being influenced by Liza Minelli, Shirley Bassey and Elvis Presley and obviously his flamboyance can be traced back through to his early experiences in the cultural center of Zanzibar. "The Freddie Mercury Story" DVD will also help here.

Queen's early days were distinguished by having the designer Zandra Rhodes work on their wardrobes. Also, Mick Rock the photographer - he took many of the outstanding, iconic images of the early Queen and his website (and Genesis Publications) would be a great place to start.

The book "Queen - The Early Years" is an essential read. There were also a number of Record Collector articles titled "Queen Before Queen" which ran monthly for a while and may also help.

AVOID "As It Began" by the OIQFC as well as the numerous unofficial biographies of Brian and Freddie. And also AVOID "Champions Of The World" and "Queen - The Magic Years" - all they are good for is imagery.

Get stuck in to the search engines with some of these key words, get across to the library and you'll have a good starting point.

Most importantly though, listen to the music - if you can also get hold of the Smile album and then follow Queen through from there to about 1979, you'll hear for yourself where they started and where they ended up. Make sure you use your own imagination and don't be swayed by anyone else unless you are convinced that their point of view is right.

Hope this helps.


Benn
Micrówave user not visiting Queenzone.com
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Posted: 27 May 08, 13:01 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I'll write your term paper for $20 bucks.

Penetration_Guru user not visiting Queenzone.com
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Posted: 27 May 08, 18:13 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I'll do it for $50...

Charlie Brown user not visiting Queenzone.com
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Posted: 28 May 08, 01:26 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Micrówave wrote:

I'll write your term paper for $20 bucks.
The kid wants a passing grade, so you can't possibly write it.

miko user not visiting Queenzone.com

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Posted: 28 May 08, 07:56 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Yara, Sebastian, Benn that was some great help you gave me!!!! Thank you indeed!!! I can understand that for some folks it would be a temptation to write that paper but apart from the passing grade I need, believe me, I really enjoy writing a paper about such a band!! Otherwise I wouldn't have chosen the topic! Sorry if you were joking but thank you for the offer anyway! It showed you wanted to assist in some way. The rest of you please post your opinions, no matter if you repeat stuff! Its vital that I have many views of the topic (plus mine) so i can present it better. Do it for Queen!! Thank you.

Donna13 user not visiting Queenzone.com

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Posted: 28 May 08, 12:00 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Are interviews considered primary sources if you say which article the quote is coming from?

Or, how about Brian's web site? He writes back to fans answering their letters. I'm sure that would be considered a primary source.

Or, you might try to ask Brian a few questions via email.

Good luck.

Micrówave user not visiting Queenzone.com
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Posted: 28 May 08, 12:58 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Charlie Brown wrote:

Micrówave wrote:

I'll write your term paper for $20 bucks.
The kid wants a passing grade, so you can't possibly write it.


That's why P_G offered the $50 special.

You might wanna give Linus his blanket back.

miko user not visiting Queenzone.com

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Posted: 28 May 08, 13:07 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Sadly only the information that YOU obtain from a person related to the topic can be considered primary sources. Thereby quotations from an interview are just "sources", so does the DVD that Yara mentioned above. Even though it contain the exact words of Mercury, May, Taylor & Deacon its not a primary source.

I have to thank though for reminding to mail Brian. I had thought of it once buSt then I had that crazy of a real interview!! After considerable efforts (bothering his children, to whom i owe an apology for being rather presumptuous) I managed to pass on to Brian an email asking for a short interview (such mails cannot be send through Brianmay.com)but he wouldn't answer as he probably had better thing to do than to bother for every 16 year old who does his "extended essay" on Queen. But if I posted directly on or two of the many questions i have in mind he might answer!

Apart from that, you people writing here, are some of the most devoted Queen fans, and your words do count ;-)

Penetration_Guru user not visiting Queenzone.com
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Posted: 28 May 08, 17:06 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Micrówave wrote:

Charlie Brown wrote:

Micrówave wrote:

I'll write your term paper for $20 bucks.
The kid wants a passing grade, so you can't possibly write it.


That's why P_G offered the $50 special.

You might wanna give Linus his blanket back.


Good recovery

Yara user not visiting Queenzone.com

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Posted: 28 May 08, 17:22 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Hi, Miko!

Glad to know it was helpful!

I was just wondering: are you sure the concept of primary source is being aptly use there? Cause, like, Freddie is dead! So, for better or for worse, you do have to resort to any kind of historical record - books, articles, cds, dvds - to read what he said, isn't that right? Otherwise, Historians would never deal with primary sources!

The music itself is a primary source. The DVDs I talked about, quite accessible, useful and full of interesting comments, they have been approved by the band itself, so it is a primary source - it's not a guy unrelated to the band quoting them, you see? Or interviweing them. It's THEIR release, it was authorized by them, it's as if you were talking to the guys.

You just can't make questions! :-)))))))

Hope it helps!!!

Good night, good luck!

Ya'ra


Yara
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Posted: 28 May 08, 17:56 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Micrówave wrote:

Charlie Brown wrote:

Micrówave wrote:

I'll write your term paper for $20 bucks.
The kid wants a passing grade, so you can't possibly write it.


That's why P_G offered the $50 special.

You might wanna give Linus his blanket back.
Microwave you know perfectly well that you kidnapped Linus and Lucy weeks ago and are keeping them in your dungeon.

inu-liger user not visiting Queenzone.com
inu-liger
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Posted: 29 May 08, 03:40 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Charlie Brown wrote:

Micrówave wrote:

Charlie Brown wrote:

Micrówave wrote:

I'll write your term paper for $20 bucks.
The kid wants a passing grade, so you can't possibly write it.


That's why P_G offered the $50 special.

You might wanna give Linus his blanket back.
Microwave you know perfectly well that you kidnapped Linus and Lucy weeks ago and are keeping them in your dungeon.


Meanwhile Snoopy and the Red Baron are fighting it out over Baghdad.

Charlie Brown user not visiting Queenzone.com
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Posted: 02 Jun 08, 20:55 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

inu-liger wrote:

Charlie Brown wrote:

Micrówave wrote:

Charlie Brown wrote:

Micrówave wrote:

I'll write your term paper for $20 bucks.
The kid wants a passing grade, so you can't possibly write it.


That's why P_G offered the $50 special.

You might wanna give Linus his blanket back.
Microwave you know perfectly well that you kidnapped Linus and Lucy weeks ago and are keeping them in your dungeon.


Meanwhile Snoopy and the Red Baron are fighting it out over Baghdad.
As Woodstock records this majestic aerial duel on his little helmet mounted camera.