Attempt to solve ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ mystery


OK – here’s my attempt to solve the mystery of my last post (assisted by Pro Tools genius Kris Fredriksson).

Brian May puzzle: Attempt to solve ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ timing mystery

What we see here is a digital transfer of the original 24-track analogue tape recording of Bo Rhap into the ‘Protools’ system (well, strictly, ONE of the original multi-tracks – because some ‘bouncing’ was done, duplicating onto copy tapes, at the time – probably because of the worries, referred to in the movie, that the oxide on the tape was wearing thin).

You can see here, as the Pro Tools cursor moves over the picture, it visually ‘plays’ what was recorded onto each track – and here we see three tracks playing back and two being used at the bottom to record what we’re listening to. The top track has the “1, 2, 3, 4” count from Freddie. The two tracks underneath are from a stereo pair of microphones placed above the piano strings. Freddie is putting down the guide piano, to which he will eventually sing lots of multi-tracked harmony vocals “Is this the real life” … etc.

But these mikes also pick up what is going on in the room – notably, just audible, Freddie softly singing the tune that he has in his head along with the words he is still writing. So here it’s pretty clear – Freddie goes “One two three four and comes in with the vocal on the following “one”. There is no ‘rest’ at the beginning of the bar. So that sheet music chart is wrong in its assumption.

There is one slightly grey area. The count was obviously added after the recording of the piano. This is very common practice – because in the initial takes you’re just worried about the rhythm and the notes – and it’s only later that you realise you need a ‘count in’ to time the entries of the vocals ! So that count could have been placed anywhere in time – but it’s unthinkable that Freddie would put it in a place where it didn’t feel natural to him.

Well, that’s my case. Now – what words is he singing ? The first two lines sound like what went on the record … but after that ? Well, tell me … what does he say ?