Kansas – “Leftoverture”: The Complete Basslines, Part 8
This is the final song on the album, and it is undoubtedly the most complex. It was constructed using sections of music that the band had created but didn’t develop into complete songs, hence the title was originally going to be called “Leftoverture”. Dave Hope proposed that “Leftoverture” would actually make a good title for the album. The band agreed, and their manager then suggested “Magnum Opus” as the name of this track.
I was recently able to chat to Dave Hope about “Magnum Opus” – here’s what he said:
Was it difficult to create a bass line for “Magnum Opus”?
I remember intentionally thinking how I wanted the opening bend and short melody echo. But it was just off the seat of my pants after that. Bass playing before had just been playing a 2 second R&B lick and holding a groove. It was really different when Kerry brought (in parts mostly) segments of songs, then go back and write, and add another segment with a different time signature the next day. It was more like a lab at times. There was now no groove, and all those R&B type 3/7 double stops, were no longer appropriate. It kinda stripped me bare of my weapons for a period in the beginning. But because of my years in orchestra/band playing tuba, Kerry’s stuff had a familiar feel. It was kinda funny thinking about being a school band geek, who couldn’t wait to play rock. Then do an about face, and have to tap that band geek guy for reference.
What was it like playing “Magnum Opus” for the first time live?
I may have said this before. But we were shocked the first time we started playing bigger halls as a warm-up group. Because in clubs, it was compact and ya can and can’t really hear the whole band. No monitoring those club days. But when we got in bigger halls, our music actually got to stretch out its legs. It was almost like the bigger the hall, the bigger we sounded from a structured/orchestral context. It even surprised us how big it sounded at times on stage. But the answer… Every time I played that song, it was like hopping on the back of a bull. It was gonna be fast, powerful, and furious. It felt big on stage.
How do you feel about “Magnum Opus” after all these years?
I must say that everyone probably thinks that the songs I cherish the most would be “Carry On Wayward Son” or “Dust In The Wind”. I do thank Kerry for those. But the greatest gift Kerry ever gave me was Magnum. Because that was still musically, the funnest songs I have ever played.
This chapter carries on from the previous seven installments, and, as usual, includes an in-depth analysis, a full transcription (with tab), playing hints and tips, and a video playthrough. If you wish to, you can add this to the collection of the chapters to complete the album.
Download chapter eight and the transcription, then follow along with video: