Forums > Queen - Serious Discussion > Freddie's Piano

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Kuku user not visiting Queenzone.com

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Posted: 20 Aug 04, 22:28 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

It seems to me that there are a lot of technical discussions on Brian's guitar playing but not a whole lot on anyone else's instrumental part. Since all I know fairly extensively is piano, I'll just throw in my twopence for those of you professional pianists.

I personally think that the intros in Seven Seas or Death on Two Legs (i.e. "fast solos") are way easier to play than playing the piano parts in Doing All Right properly, for example. Sure, they do impress the audience in concerts, but they are just a simple repetition and variation on a short segment that does not need much practice to be able to play.

Freddie's skills as a pianist are decent, but I can't say he is a piano genius. He never takes risks (or he does but it doesn't sound like it) in improvising during the concert (granted that the piano is much less based on improvisation than guitar in general). His piano playing has rare high moments, except the fact that people go crazy about his piano playing at any time - I would say solos in White Queen (concerts), Fairy Feller, Love of My Life, Doing All Right, and a few other songs are the "better" piano songs.

Having said that, there are definite points to Freddie that makes him way beyond "a decent player". To list some:
1. His hands are very precise, which is THE most prized skill in piano-playing. So are the rhythms in his songs - they flow like a very sophisticated mechanical device, which I really love.
2. His playing is powerful, and he knows how to make good sound, which pianists at his level rarely achieve.
3. His improvisation skills are perfect for the songs. They may not be technical etc., but they enrich the song just right and do not get in the way of other instruments.

Lastly, his piano compositions are genius. It becomes apparent when you compare the piano parts from his songs to the piano parts from Brian's songs. Look at something like Fairy Feller, which I think is most technically difficult in terms of the piano. Also in other songs, Freddie's piano parts are quite tricky to play (i.e. Somebody to Love, We Are the Champions), regardless of how hard they are technically, simply because the right hand becomes out of sync with the vocal every so often. He wrote the piano with the vocal and it's extremely difficult to make the piano flow like Freddie did with the vocal (playing the smaller notes are a little awkward on piano when there are vocals that go with it).

Brian's songs do have beautiful (and not so simple at times) piano parts, but they are way less intricate and less "original" compared to Freddie (and it bores me). Here I mean, by the word "original", chord progression that piano composers do not often use. Even though I play Brian's songs on piano more often, that is because Freddie's songs so often require solos from other instruments in the middle of piano. (i.e. Fairy Feller, March of the Black Queen, Doing All Right). Of course, there are exceptions (i.e. You Take My Breath Away, Nevermore, Life Is Real). Brian could never write such simple and effective piano parts for complex songs like Lazing... or Lily of the Valley.


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egret user not visiting Queenzone.com

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Posted: 21 Aug 04, 00:10 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I do not have the technical musical knowledge to address all that you say there, but those seem like interesting points.
It's perhaps worth mentioning that the piano was popular in the 70s, e.g. Elton John, Billy Joel.
Freddie's playing/songs were the ones that made me appreciate the piano as a musical instrument though, rather than just a vocal accompaniment, which is kind of funny, as he was a better vocalist than the other two. His piano is just a really good sound, as you say.

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Posted: 21 Aug 04, 01:39 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Kukuuuuuuuuu... how's my fellow canuck doing?

Great post. I like posts that give us something to think about.


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Posted: 21 Aug 04, 06:35 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

It again depends on your skills. Paul McCartney had a lot more precision than Brian, his rhythm sense is better. Moreover as much as I don`t think Brian would be able to do properly the intro of `Martha My Dear` I don`t think Paul would perform properly a rubato piano piece like `Forever` or `All Dead`.

Of course Fred was more trained than both Paul & Brian, in both senses (precision and technique). Seven Seas is not hard, Death On Tow Legs... while you can do the notes easily, the difficult part is to do them with that classical-like feeling (as the album version, live ones are more "normal"). I don`t find anything impressive in Doin` All Right, for that matter `Save Me` (which is also simple) is much more difficult (or less easy) imo.


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.
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Posted: 21 Aug 04, 07:36 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

yeah I agree. it's the feeling in songs like Save Me and Death on two Legs that makes it hard to copy


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Posted: 21 Aug 04, 08:30 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

<<1. His hands are very precise, which is THE most prized skill in piano-playing. So are the rhythms in his songs - they flow like a very sophisticated mechanical device, which I really love.>>

I too do not possess the technical prowess on the piano but didn't Brian say that he played with flat hands instead of arches like he (Brian) does? Or is that not what you're talking about and am I embarrassing myself by interjecting into something I know little about?


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Posted: 21 Aug 04, 09:06 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

if you hear exercises in free love , you can hear that freddies piano is far from easy to play. and verrry complicated

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Posted: 21 Aug 04, 09:18 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I don't think Freddie played piano on Exercises. I think it was Mike Moran, who played piano on all the songs of the Barcelona album.

the piano on the songs from Barcelona are imo beyond Freddie


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Posted: 21 Aug 04, 10:51 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

"didn't Brian say that he played with flat hands instead of arches like he (Brian) does?"

No, you're right! Brian said that in the Bo Rhap documentary on GVH1 -- Freddie did have a unique way of playing where he did have flat hands, not the arches.


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Posted: 21 Aug 04, 15:34 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

It wasn't that his hands were flat so much as that he dropped his wrists way down, so that there was not a nice line made by his forearms and wrists. This is not a good thing to do, and I'm surprised he didn't have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome because of it.

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Posted: 21 Aug 04, 19:53 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

i think that it is freddie on exercises in free love , you can hear the way it is played. And its on Mr bad guy album , but i think mike moran plays it on the barcelona album though , when its named Ensueno , cause you can hear that its played differently than the version on MR bad guy

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Posted: 21 Aug 04, 19:57 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Exercises is after Mr Bad Guy and after the Time sessions, Fred already knew Mike, so it makes sense to think he`d put him on the piano.


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.
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Posted: 26 Aug 04, 17:32 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Nice to hear from you again, Sir GH!

I find being precise on Doin' All Right is more difficult than being precise on Save Me, which has a very typical piano part (I have both scores at home). Also, in Doin' All Right the later part it is hard to be precise at the right time and right place - especially with small and less powerful hands like mine. However. Somebody to Love, March of the Black Queen and We Are the Champions top them all - quite difficult.

And Freddie does play in a very strange way. Looking at how he plays, one would think that he never got a formal training but trained himself.

And corrections, Doin' All Right is Brian's. :)


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Posted: 26 Aug 04, 17:57 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I have to say, that's one of the most interesting threads I've read in a while. Way to go :)


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Posted: 26 Aug 04, 18:34 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I agree with you, although I can't really relate with anything being said! It's all Greek to me.


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Posted: 26 Aug 04, 18:58 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Doin` All Right has piano from Brian only in the album version. The others - BBC & live - are all Freddie. But I even have doubts about the album version too, there are three different piano parts, the one at the beginning, the one in the interlude and the one at the end. Brian could have played one of them, two of them or the three. I personally would be almost certain that the middle part (during the heavy bit) is Freddie, it has his licks.


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.
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Posted: 26 Aug 04, 20:34 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

cool topic indeed.


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Posted: 26 Aug 04, 20:59 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Doin` All Right has piano from Brian only in the album version. The others - BBC & live - are all Freddie. But I even have doubts about the album version too, there are three different piano parts, the one at the beginning, the one in the interlude and the one at the end. Brian could have played one of them, two of them or the three. I personally would be almost certain that the middle part (during the heavy bit) is Freddie, it has his licks.


A very interesting point - in fact what you said suggests a whole lot of other things. When I first played Doing All Right the arrangement in the intro and the first verse came in very easy - which is what everyone is pointing out right now - until the small sixteenth notes that the left hand plays (barely audible in the studio version and that is regrettable because it makes such a nice variation) it is a tricky part to play smoothly. The fact that Brian played them may explain why those little notes sound so weak.

On the 22nd bar the piano is slightly out of sync - possibly because of triplets that were played in the previous bar. (If my notes are right, that is.)

So far the difficulties are just the little 16th notes and the triplets, but according to the version I play there are piano parts that come at 43rd bar (which is the loud, exciting, crashy rock part) and the hands play nearly the same thing as the lead guitar. That is where I referred to as the "hard part". Listening to the track again, it is difficult to tell if the official version has that part included, so my note may be arranged differently for the piano (but then again, if it is arranged, it is way sensible to include a piano part during Freddie's falsetto solo). It gets very fast and fairly complicated until the repeated verse which basically repeats the beginning (so it's possible that the mid part is arranged by Freddie, or whoever played it). Piano is extremely subdued in this song anyways so it is quite a hard job to transcribe it accurately.

But then again, it is a lot more challenging to play "Lily of the Valley" - Freddie's piano arrangement in that song is simply so effective and elegant.


Goodbye April lady, It's been good to have you around - Goodbye April lady, You've done a lot for the folks in this town...
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Posted: 27 Aug 04, 10:58 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I wish I could reach Freddie's level...Any newborn britneylike star should...;)
Anyway I love Freddie's piano playing in Don't Stop Me Now.


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Posted: 27 Aug 04, 16:27 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I don't have anything brilliant to add to this, but here's an example of why I enjoy Freddie's pianism:

**no longer available**

Just Freddie's piano by itself. Simply beautiful. Thanks to Dan the dangly puppet dude for providing me with 'The Eye' which this was taken from.