There the leaps get progressively bigger or wider (disjunct),

There are both similarities and differences between the
approach Queen and Led Zeppelin have taken to write the melody and the rhythm
in their respective pieces. Queen’s piece ‘Killer Queen’ and Led Zeppelin’s
piece ‘Stairway to Heaven’ were both written in the 1970’s – with Zeppelin’s in
1971 and Queen’s in 1974 – with both pieces taking on the rock style format. In
both pieces, there is vocals, piano, electric guitar, bass guitar, drums and
percussion (including finger snaps and the tambourine); however, Led Zeppelin
added a twelve-string guitar to their piece.

In terms of melody, Queen’s piece the
melody initially moves step by step (conjunct or stepwise) and with smaller
intervals, however, the leaps get progressively bigger or wider (disjunct),
this means that you are able to follow the song more easily and as you get into
the song the jumps get bigger. However, Led Zeppelin’s piece uses conjunct movements
when the band is singing but during the instrumentals, there are some big
leaps.

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Queen’s piece has a little bit of word
painting including the upward slide to emphasize the sarcastic use of the word ‘queen’
in the chorus, the phaser effect, which is an electronic
sound processor used to filter a signal, to
make ‘laser beam’ sound unwordly two bars later. However, in Led Zeppelin’s
piece, the song doesn’t include any word painting of any kind.

In both Queen’s ‘Killer Queen’ and Led
Zeppelin’s ‘Stairway to Heaven’ the texture that they have used is a homophonic
texture. This is because both of these pieces of music have a very clear melody
with chords supporting them. However in Led Zeppelin’s ‘Stairway to Heaven’ it
is melody-dominated even though the melodic line doesn’t follow the melody
line.

Queen’s
‘Killer Queen’ has an anacrusis and it is found at the beginning of every verse
and chorus. An anacrusis is one or more unstressed note before the first bar line of a piece or
passage. Also Led Zeppelin’s ‘Stairway to Heaven’ uses some anacrusis too.

In terms of rhythm, Killer Queen is much faster than Stairway to
Heaven as it has a tempo of 112 dotted crotchet beats per minute (bpm); however,
it is only moderately fast. Led Zeppelin’s piece says slowly at the top of it so
is less than 100 bpm which is very slow and is actually 82 bpm. In ‘Killer
Queen’, the time signature is mainly 12/8 compound quadruple time, however, it
does insert a few bars of 6/8, which has the effect of extending the phrase
length. On the other hand, ‘Stairway to Heaven is only a 4/4 time which is
simple time.

 

In Queen’s ‘Killer Queen’ the rhythm is
quite swung which means that the pairs of quavers should be played with the first one
slightly longer than the second. Swing
timing is where the beat is split into two-third plus one-third subdivisions (a
ratio of 2:1), swung rhythms have a more laid back, cruisy feel. However in Led Zeppelin’s ‘Stairway to Heaven’ the rhythm
is straight, which is where the beat is split into equal subdivisions (a ratio
of 1:1) for playing notes. Straight rhythms have more of a driving regular rhythm.

In both Queen’s ‘Killer Queen’ and Led
Zeppelin’s ‘Stairway to Heaven’ syncopation is quite frequent. The definition
of syncopation is a temporary displacement
of the regular metrical accent in music caused typically by stressing the weak
beat. Also, both pieces use triplets, for example in ‘Killer Queen’
Queen uses them in bar 18 and in ‘Stairway to Heaven’ Led Zeppelin uses them in
bars 17, 19, 22 and 23.

Overall, I believe
that there are more melodies in Queen’s ‘Killer Queen’, especially when the
guitars are playing different parts as the piece is very layered then. However,
there are some layers at the beginning of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Stairway to Heaven’
when the recorders are used. I also find ‘Killer Queen’ more enjoyable to
listen to and the lyrics are also easier to learn as I find the melody nicer to
hear.