Difference between revisions of "Knights of Cydonia (song)"

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Latest revision as of 20:45, 18 November 2019

Muse song
Name Knights of Cydonia
Album/single
Length
  • 6:06 »
  • 4:42 (radio edit)
  • 3:59 (edit 3'59)
Alternative titles -
First live performance 13th May 2006
Latest live performance
Recorded New York Avatar/Electric Lady Studios - 2005
Writer/composer Matthew Bellamy
Producer Rich Costey
Chart position 10 (UK), 10 (US Modern Rock), 72 (UK Download)


Description

Taking its cues from Mariachi bands and the 'Doctor Who' theme tune, the track sounds like a soundtrack to a spaghetti western set in the far reaches of the galaxy and features a chain-smoking trumpeter called Franco.[1]

Matt said about the meaning of Knights of Cydonia: "There is this feeling of waking up and trying to fight back, or it’s time to actually try and change yourself and the things that are going on around you. I think to me that’s very optimistic, this strength [...] at the end of “Knights of Cydonia,” when I’m just saying, “No one is going to take me alive” and all that kind of stuff. I think it’s the strength of the human spirit fighting against the forces that are manipulating it."[2]

Chris has described the song as "40 years of rock history in six minutes".[3] and Chris also said: "When we wrote 'Knights,' we were listening to a lot of Morricone and stuff like Dick Dale, surf stuff like that. Plus lots of fairly ridiculous '70s stuff too. When we started it, we decided to be quite open going into it. We knew we wanted to do something different." [4]

Howard: Matt was at the back of the bus in Arizona, repeating the jerky riff to death, outside we could see the desert rolling...all that went very well together. Galloping horses, Texas, trumpets etc. We wanted to depict a journey, to make it sound like Joe Meek.

Writing Process

Matt started to write the song thinking about Tex-Mex and Matt dad's band 'The Tornados' in mind, he was looking to do something more instrumental, without thinking in a vocal element, he liked the idea of writing a track that just had a lead guitar part as a vocal, with the intention of showing the more prog side of the band and looking for inspiration, he decided to listen to 'The Shadows' and watch some 'Clint Eastwood' movies like 'The Good, The Bad and The Ugly', by those films he started to listen to Ennio Morricone. The song started to get a 'retro' sound, sounding like something from the 50s with using a lot of tremolo, when Muse started to work on the song for the recording, the sound didn't fit the record since it sounded like something too old, so they tried to make it more contemporary by using a lot the 'most obscene ridiculous heavy distortion' pedal he had. The second part of the song originally was part of another tune they later decided to add to the song. [5]

The intro of the song, especially Bellamy's guitar, is significantly influenced by the sound of The Tornados' hit single, Telstar, of which Bellamy's father, George Bellamy, was the rhythm guitarist. Bellamy has even stated, regarding the similarities, when asked about them: "Absolutely... in the guitar sound. We were aware of that when we were making the album. My dad's band mainly played instrumental music, and I always wanted to bring some more instrumental elements into our albums, to have more abstract moments. On the opening part of that song, we made a conscious effort to make the guitar sound like a 1950s synth, one of the first synthesizers around, that they'd used for the sound of the 'Telstar' bit. That was deliberate."

Composition

Intro and chanting

Set at a fast tempo of 138 beats per minute, Knights of Cydonia opens like a futuristic cowboy movie, with galloping horses interspersed with the sound of lasers firing. These sound effects soon give way to a three-octave wall of vocals, with each layer further multitracked to create an epic chant. The introduction is based around an ascending chord progression in E Dorian mode.

Guitar solo and verse

As the song takes off, Wolstenholme and Howard begin to play a galloping motif, and Bellamy launches into a lengthy guitar solo. The verses follow a chord progression lasting 20 bars, which repeats three times, modulating to a new key each time. The modulation moves by major thirds, moving from E minor, to C minor, to G♯ minor, and finally back to E minor.

This chord progression can be best broken down into two parts.

Part 1: i - III - VI - III - V - VI - III/vi - V/vi

This part begins with a six-bar progression in E minor, including a noteworthy VI - III - V - VI progression. By the seventh bar, we’re introduced to the E♭ major chord, which doesn’t occur in E minor. Instead, we’re borrowing (modal interchange) from the key of C minor, and these chords are best thought of as the III and V chords of C minor. This leads us into Part 2, and our first key change.

Part 2: i - V - VI - III - V - VI - III - V - i

Here we see another chord pattern in C minor, including a familiar progression from Part 1: VI - III - V - VI (except in C minor). This time, instead of changing keys again, we end on the i chord for four bars.

This two-part progression repeats two more times, modulating to G♯ minor on the second repetition. The guitar solo switches from legato notes to tremolo picking, and Bellamy sings a high falsetto in unison with the guitar, reaching a peak of G5.

On the final repetition, the first and only verse lyrics are introduced. On the line “How can we win, when fools can be kings?” we finally modulate back to E minor, underpinning the desperation of the lyric.

Chanting, breakdown and outro

The chanting section repeats again, identical to the introduction.

Before long, the guitar, bass and drums abruptly disappear, replaced by an arpeggiated synth and more layered vocals, this time outlining a chord progression in E Dorian: i - v - IV - i. We also see a metric modulation, moving the song from its usual 4/4 time signature to a 12/8 rhythm. We maintain this key, chord progression and time signature for the rest of the song.

The layered vocals repeat, as the main instruments are reintroduced, building up before breaking into the final, iconic guitar riff. This riff repeats several times, before eventually resolving to an E chord to end the song, and close the album.

In live performances, the song is often played at the end of the setlist. Bellamy tends to play different guitar riffs for the outro, and the ending is frequently extended so the band members can go wild.

[6]

Additional information

First aired on KROQ radio on the 7th June, 2006.

The percussion bears similarity with I Want to Break Free, which they covered as an instrumental before Knights of Cydonia in Rolling Stone 2006.

The song has been featured in the video game Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock for Xbox 360, Playstation 3, 2 and the Wii. The Game was released in Autumn 2007.[7]

The song has been featured in commercials for the DVD of the movie 300. The 300 DVD Trailer can be seen here. It was also used, around the same time, on E4, for the E4 showing of the film A Knight's Tale which aired on Tuesday 9th October 2007.

Knights of Cydonia was voted number 1, defeating second place by only 13 votes in Australia's Triple J hottest 100 for 2007.

On Tuesday 24th June 2008, Knights of Cydonia become the first ever song played on NME Radio. The band won a fierce online poll which saw fans of acts like The Killers, Oasis, The Strokes and more all voting in an online poll to choose the first song played as the station went live at 11am (BST).

Has recently been played at the New Yankee Stadium as a "pump up" song.

Was used during Super Bowl XLV during the team introduction for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

An anagram for Knights of Cydonia is "Fancy Kid Shooting".

Live

Standard set opener and closer during the Black Holes and Revelations tour and standard set closer during The Resistance tour too.

From on the 24th of June, a guitar adaption of the Space Dementia ending has been used as an outro for Knights of Cydonia. The playing of this outro was ceased between sometime in late October 2006 and 17th November 2006.

Since 22nd August 2006, a different riff has been used towards the end of the song.

Since 4th November 2006, a new guitar part has been used before the first vocal segment.

During the latter half of the Black Holes and Revelations tour, Matt has played the Close Encounters riff as an intro to Knights of Cydonia. In August of 2008, the band began to play Man with a Harmonica intro with Chris on the harmonica. They have since included it in most performances of Knights of Cydonia.

Alternating with Take A Bow as gig openers and closers from 2006-2008 (typically as the opener), Knights of Cydonia was the standard set closer during The Resistance Tour. For the first half of The 2nd Law Tour, it typically closed the first encore (occasionally alternating with Survival as gig closer), before being moved to the middle of the first set from 18th December 2012.

More here

Cydonia

Cydonia is a place on Mars, where the controversial rock formation shaped like a human face can be seen. Doing some further research, there are conspiracy theories that Cydonia is actually a NASA cover up, because there's more than one "human" face there, and evidence of pyramids and a city. Martians may have existed there. Certainly something Matt would be interested in, having said this - there are beliefs in a great war that destroyed Mars, and the inhabitants had to move elsewhere... to Earth.

"...A great war was fought once in our solar system. One of our planets was devastated because of it. But by the end of it the aggressor was beat back and they were able to rebuild here on Earth." "The enemy in the war, devastated Mars..." [1]

However, more recent pictures of Cydonia reveal that the apparent 'faces' look nothing like faces at all, and the older images were the result of shadows across the hill.

Lyrics

Come ride with me

Through the veins of history I'll show you a God who falls asleep on the job How can we win, when fools can be kings? Don't waste your time or time will waste you

No one's gonna take me alive The time has come to make things right You and I must fight for our rights You and I must fight to survive

No one's gonna take me alive The time has come to make things right You and I must fight for our rights You and I must fight to survive

No one's gonna take me alive The time has come to make things right You and I must fight for our rights You and I must fight to survive

References

  1. Tom. (2006-03-15). Muse featured in NME and Kerrang!. MuseLive.com. Retrieved from muselive.com.
  2. Marcus Kagler. (2006-07-20). Muse. Under the Radar. Retrieved 2006-07-21. [verify]
  3. Craig Rosen. (2007-04). Muse: A Brief History. Los Angeles Times. [verify]
  4. Cowboys, Lasers, Karate, Robots — Muse Left Nothing Out Of Buzzworthy Video (20060908 VH1 article)
  5. Chris Moyles for Radio X. (2018). Chris Moyles meets Muse. Retrieved 2018-07-12 from Youtube.
  6. Muse - Knights of Cydonia: The Analysis (2010-11-22). Retrieved 2014-12-10 from cynickle.blogspot.com.
  7. Oli Welsh. (2007-05-23). Guitar Hero III shows its chops. Eurogamer. Retrieved from www.eurogamer.net.

See also

External links


Go back to Black Holes and Revelations