That little ending sequence, a quirk of mine


[Brian was asked about trademark chord sequence at ends of songs – “use of the E flat chord after the G before the rousing finale [God Save The Queen, Buckingham Palace roof]…. the end of Too Much Love – and there are comparisons between that and D going to B flat (One Vision, Great Pretender etc…)” [see LETTERS]:

Yes, that little ending sequence is a quirk of mine, I suppose. Maybe it comes from a reluctance to let things go! You’re right, it was me who put it into One Vision. And a few other things besides. But I didn’t invent it. Well, I suppose I invented my own special version of it, but it certainly goes back quite a long way in essence. If you listen to The Beatles’ song “With A Little Help From My Friends”, you’ll hear something very similar – and actually I think McCartney has it written in his Genes too – because the end of the song proper in “Hello Goodbye” has the same feature. That’s before they start the “Hey-La Hey Lo Ha” coda section.

I think there must be lots of other examples, but at the moment I can’t think of many other rock groups who use it. Actually I can’t think of any!

I have a strong suspicion that we all heard something like it in our youth, maybe from Tchaikovsky or Saint-Sans … Or the Temperance Seven !

Well – there’s a nice subject for a dissertation ! Ha ha ! Actually, it’s my belief that there is nothing truly new under the sun. We all grow up listening and the things we hear influence the things we say for the rest of our lives. But hopefully we do a little bit of processing to assemble old concepts into new, and there is perhaps a little progress along the way.

Freddie’s song keys? Yes, that’s an interesting subject, and I wish I had talked to him more about it. Or maybe I wish that I could remember what we said.

One thing is certain. His fingers naturally fell on those E-flat and B-flat and F chords, and he liked the sound of it. For me it was a curse and a blessing, of course. Those keys are hard to play along with on the guitar, but it immediately made me look for new chord shapes and unusual use of the open strings, so it was part of the process that led me into developing my own way of doing things, which became distinctive. There are quite a few other things in there as well, such as Freddie’s use of diminished chords and their relatives, which also call for a new approach if you’re going to make them sound meaty on a guitar.