CESEM / FCSH – NOVA University, Portugal
The relationship between the music of the English rock band Queen and the other visual media is quite complex and can be analysed following different paths: the iconography of the rock band spans several media and forms of communication, from the static LP and singles covers to the moving images of videoclips and the deep relationship with movies, not forgetting the use of studied costumes during live shows (for example citing the dancer and choreographer Vaslav Nijinskij) with the aim to increase the dramatic impact of the performance.
Another main direction started in 1980 with the soundtrack of the movie Flash Gordon, for which Queen wrote the music mixing together the sounds of synthesizers and orchestra giving the movie a similarity with a classical opera for the general conception and the proportions of the musical score; besides that the use of the leitmotiv recalls the Wagner’s revolutionary idea to connect the music and the character. And the use of electronic instruments gives the movie a clear musical direction, so in this case the music shapes the final perception of the movie itself.
Six years later Queen decided to write the music for another movie, the sci-fi Highlander. This time, they preferred focusing on more standard songs-form structure, but they were strongly influenced by the story itself and its characters and therefore the soundtrack keeps these elements and gives them new form: even in this case the collaboration with the movie director was a central point and it will go on in videoclips too, that are strongly related to the movie general atmosphere.
In 1998 the English group decided to give their music a new life bringing it to a videogame, for the project called The eye: this time the original songs were newly mixed in order to achieve a better integration with the action-adventure electronic videogame structure, focusing mainly on music and disregarding the lyrics. Even the structure of the songs themselves changed to better meet the needs of the new media: this can be read as new possibility of the music that shapes itself accordingly to the final media in which it will be used in a challenging transformation that is deeply connected with a new aesthetic never seen before.
Keywords: Queen, Soundtracks
Nicola Bizzo gained his degree in History of Music at Università degli Studi di Torino (Italy) in 2003, and has collaborated since then with the “Istituto per i beni musicali in Piemonte” among other national and international institutions. A composer of music, his studies vary from classical iconographical fonts to contemporary popular music, including many new ways of communication such as video clip and album covers; his last articles are focused on organology in the production of the output of Queen. Meanwhile he is preparing a book from his doctoral dissertation entitled “Forms and structures in Queen’s first production (1973-1980): analysis of musical dramaturgy in album and live shows.” He has published several articles in international magazines such as “Music in Art,” and he is member of several study groups such as IASPM (International Association Study Of Popular Music), AISS (Associazione Italiana Studi di Semiotica), and ICTM (International Council for Traditional Music). He has collaborated in many conferences around the world, as an expert on Queen, and is now part of the Iconography Study Group at the University of Lisbon (CESEM), where he is a researcher. In addition he assists on the collection of LP and singles vinyl covers on the site www.queenvinyls.com, with an iconographic approach, which includes several articles available online.