Rush Instrumentals

"La Villa Strangiato"
Song by Rush from the album Hemispheres
Released October 28, 1978
Genre Progressive rock, hard rock, jazz fusion
Length 9:34
Label Anthem Records (Canada)
Mercury Records
Producer Rush and Terry Brown
Hemispheres track listing

"The Trees"
"La Villa Strangiato"

Exit...Stage Left track listing
"Tom Sawyer"
"La Villa Strangiato"
"Where's My Thing? (Part IV, "Gangster of Boats" Trilogy)"
Song by Rush from the album Roll the Bones
Released September 3, 1991
Recorded 1991
Genre Pop rock
Length 3:49
Label Anthem Records (Canada)
Producer Rupert Hine and Rush
Roll the Bones track listing

"Face Up"
"Where's My Thing? (Part IV, "Gangster of Boats" Trilogy)"
"The Big Wheel"
"Leave That Thing Alone"
Song by Rush from the album Counterparts
Released October 19, 1993
Recorded 1993
Genre Progressive rock
Length 4:06
Label Anthem Records (Canada)
Mercury Records
Producer Peter Collins and Rush
Counterparts track listing

"Double Agent"
"Leave That Thing Alone"
"Cold Fire"
Song by Rush from the album Test for Echo
Released September 10, 1996
Recorded 1996
Genre Progressive rock
Length 5:28
Label Anthem Records (Canada)
Mercury Records
Producer Peter Collins and Rush
Test for Echo track listing

"Carve Away the Stone"
"Broon's Bane"
Song by Rush from the album Exit...Stage Left
Released October 1981
Genre Classical Guitar
Length 1:37
Label Anthem Records (Canada)
Mercury Records
Producer Terry Brown
Exit...Stage Left track listing

"Jacob's Ladder"
"Broon's Bane"
"The Trees"
"R30 Overture"
Song by Rush from the album R30: 30th Anniversary World Tour
Released November 22, 2005 (North America)
November 28, 2005 (Europe)
Recorded September 24, 2004
Genre Progressive rock, hard rock
Length 6:42
Label Anthem Records (Canada)
Mercury Records
Producer R30: 30th Anniversary World Tour track listing

"R30 Overture"
"The Spirit of Radio"

The Canadian rock band Rush has written, recorded, and performed several instrumentals throughout its career.

Studio recordings


Main article: 2112 (song)


From the 2112 album, "Overture" opens up one of Rush's concept suites. Geddy Lee's voice is recorded as an instrument in the early parts of the song, as he sings no words. However, there is, despite the Overture's overall instrumental nature, only one line sung at the end, as the piece transitions to "The Temples of Syrinx": "The meek shall inherit the earth". Like some overtures, music from the 2112 overture is repeated or built upon in other places in the suite, such as "The Temples of Syrinx", "Presentation", "Oracle: The Dream", and "Soliloquy." At the end of Overture, there's a direct quotation from Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture, played by Lifeson.

Grand Finale

This section of the suite includes some spoken (not sung) lines at the end, with the following sentences repeated three times successively: "Attention all planets of the Solar Federation." and then "We have assumed control."

La Villa Strangiato

Found on the Hemispheres album as the fourth and final track. This was Rush's first entirely instrumental piece, clocking in at 9:37. The instrumental's subtitle is "An Exercise in Self-Indulgence." The multi-part piece was inspired by a dream guitarist Alex Lifeson had, and the music in these sections correspond to the occurrences in his dream. The opening segment was played on a nylon-string classical guitar, while the live versions were played on an electric guitar. The next segment introduces the main theme of La Villa, the Strangiato theme. The song progresses to include an increasingly complex guitar solo backed by string synthesizer, followed closely by bass and drum fills. The Strangiato theme is then revisited before the song ends abruptly with phased bass and drums. The song is divided as follows:

  • I: "Buenas Noches, Mein Froinds!" (0:00–0:26; 0:26)
  • II: "To sleep, perchance to dream..." (0:27–1:59; 1:32)
  • III: "Strangiato theme" (2:00–3:15; 1:15)
  • IV: "A Lerxst in Wonderland" (3:16–5:48; 2:32)
  • V: "Monsters!" (5:49–6:09; 0:20)
  • VI: "The Ghost of the Aragon" (6:10–6:44; 0:34)
  • VII: "Danforth and Pape" (6:45–7:25; 0:40)
  • VIII: "The Waltz of the Shreves" (7:26–7:51; 0:25)
  • IX: "Never turn your back on a Monster!" (7:52–8:02; 0:10)
  • X: "Monsters! (Reprise)" (8:03–8:16; 0:13)
  • XI: "Strangiato theme (Reprise)" (8:17–9:20; 1:03)
  • XII: "A Farewell to Things" (9:20–9:37; 0:17)

Live versions of "La Villa Strangiato" have often featured certain alterations. For instance, on Exit...Stage Left, Lee sings part of a nursery rhyme over "Danforth and Pape" (the liner notes include a translation of his words) and adds a short bass solo during "Monsters! (Reprise)." During later tours, as documented on Rush in Rio, a drum/bass vamp was inserted before "Strangiato Theme (Reprise)," over which Lifeson made a stream of consciousness rant. The classical guitar introduction was either played on electric guitar or, more commonly, cut out altogether. During the 2010-2011 Time Machine Tour, the piece began with a polka rendition of "To sleep, perchance to dream," then transitioned into the original arrangement.

The band set out to record the song in one take but eventually they had do it in three parts. According to Lee, "We spent more time recording 'Strangiato' than the entire Fly By Night album. It was our first piece without any vocals at all. So each section had to stand up with a theme and musical structure of its own."[1]

The segments titled "Monsters!" and "Monsters! (Reprise)" are an adaptation of Raymond Scott's popular composition "Powerhouse".[2] Though Scott's publishers did not attempt to take legal action until the statute of limitations had run out, Rush's management, feeling it was the right thing to do, gave some monetary compensation to Mr. and Mrs. Scott.[3]

"La Villa Strangiato" translates roughly to "Strange Village" or "Weird City".[1]


Main article: YYZ (instrumental)

From the Moving Pictures album. "YYZ" (natively pronounced why-why-zed) is the airport code for the Toronto Pearson International Airport, and the instrumental opens with a rhythm in 5/4 that is Morse code for "YYZ" (-.-- -.-- --..). The piece evolved into a drum/bass solo during the 1980s. "YYZ" was the first of six Rush songs (over three decades) to be nominated for a Grammy in the category of Best Rock Instrumental Performance.

Where's My Thing?

From the Roll the Bones album. "Where's My Thing?" was their second song nominated for a Grammy, in 1991, losing to Eric Johnson's "Cliffs of Dover". The song is much more pop-like than the rest of Rush's work, featuring an upbeat tempo and a brass-like synthesizer line. This song was subtitled, "Part IV (Gangster of Boats Trilogy)" originally as a joke, since it's the fourth part of said trilogy. The song was performed on the Roll the Bones tour and did not appear in concert again for twenty years until the 2012 Clockwork Angels Tour, with a drum solo inserted in the middle.

Leave That Thing Alone

From the Counterparts album. During the Counterparts, Test for Echo, and Vapor Trails tours, and featured on the Different Stages and Rush in Rio live albums, "Leave That Thing Alone" preceded Peart's drum solo and was played with an extended ending to showcase Lee's bass work. It was then omitted from the set lists until 2010's Time Machine Tour.

This track was the third song nominated for a Grammy in the category of Best Rock Instrumental Performance in 1994, losing to Pink Floyd's "Marooned."


From the Test for Echo album. Like the "2112 Overture," "Limbo" features vocals by Lee; however, his voice is being used as an instrument as he is not singing any words. The song also includes samples from Bobby "Boris" Pickett oldie "Monster Mash": 'Whatever happened to my Transylvania twist' and 'Ahh, Mash Good!'.

The Main Monkey Business, Hope, and Malignant Narcissism

Rush's album Snakes & Arrows is the first Rush album to feature multiple instrumental tracks: "The Main Monkey Business", "Hope", and "Malignant Narcissism". The first, "The Main Monkey Business", is just over six minutes long. As with "Limbo" and "2112 Overture", Lee's voice is being used as an instrument as no words are being sung. The other two songs, "Hope" and "Malignant Narcissism", are the two shortest songs ever recorded by Rush at just more than two minutes long (excepting BU2B2 on Clockwork Angels). This was a distinction previously held (excluding the short sections of the multi-parted songs like "2112" and "La Villa Strangiato") by the short track "Need Some Love" on the album Rush. "Hope" is a solo guitar piece written by Lifeson. "Malignant Narcissism" features Lee on a fretless bass and Peart on a four-piece drum kit.[4] "Malignant Narcissism" contains dialog of a woman's voice, "Usually a case of malignant narcissism brought on during childhood." The last word in the phrase is repeated, each time lower than the last. The phrase itself comes from the movie Team America: World Police, made by the creators of South Park, Trey Parker and Matt Stone. "Malignant Narcissism" became the fifth instrumental to be nominated for a Grammy under the category of Best Rock Instrumental Performance, in 2008, losing to Bruce Springsteen's "Once Upon A Time In The West".[5] "Hope" became the sixth instrumental to be nominated for a Grammy under the category of Best Rock Instrumental Performance in 2009, only under the Songs For Tibet: The Art of Peace album which Rush contributed to with a live version of the song.[6] It lost to Zappa Plays Zappa's "Peaches en Regalia".

Live performances & recordings

Broon's Bane

Found on the Exit...Stage Left live album, "Broon's Bane" is a short classical guitar arrangement performed by Lifeson as an extended intro to "The Trees". The song is named after Terry Brown (Brown is also referred to as "T.C. Broonsie" during the intro to Jacob's Ladder) who produced Exit...Stage Left and 10 other Rush albums. It is not featured on any other live or studio recording by Rush. The song repeats and builds upon the same three-beat line, coming to a climax about one minute into the piece before segueing into "The Trees."

Cygnus X-1 (Live Recordings)

On the live album Rush in Rio, an abridged version of Cygnus X-1 is performed as an instrumental. The piece contains the themes from 1:26 to 4:59 in the studio recording of the piece, shortened slightly by about 20 seconds. In other words, it includes the Prologue part without the spoken words. Also, the keyboard synthesizer heard in the studio recording is replaced with a more synthesized voice played by Lee with foot pedals. This is the same excerpt of the piece played as part of the R30 Overture.

R30 Overture

The opening song of Rush's 2004 tour dates featured an instrumental combining sections of one song from each of the band's first six albums.

The songs featured in the medley were:

  1. "Finding My Way'" (Rush)
  2. "Anthem" (Fly by Night)
  3. "Bastille Day" (Caress of Steel)
  4. "A Passage to Bangkok" (2112)
  5. "Cygnus X-1 Prologue" (A Farewell to Kings)
  6. "Hemispheres Prelude" (Hemispheres)

O'Malley's Break

During the 2010-11 Time Machine Tour, Lifeson would perform a brief 12-string guitar piece (entitled "O'Malley's Break" on the CD and DVD) that segued into "Closer to the Heart."

Neil Peart's drum solos

A staple and highlight of Rush's concerts is a drum solo by Neil Peart. These solos have been featured on every live album released by the band. On the early live albums (All the World's a Stage and Exit...Stage Left), the drum solo was included as part of a song ("Working Man/Finding My Way" and "YYZ," respectively). On all subsequent live albums, the drum solo has been included on a separate track. On A Show of Hands and Different Stages, the drum solos were titled "The Rhythm Method" (a pun on the form of birth control); on Rush in Rio, it was entitled "O Baterista"; and on R30 Live In Frankfurt it was titled "Der Trommler". On Rush's 2008 live album, Snakes & Arrows Live, it is titled "De Slagwerker," and is coupled with "Malignant Narcissism" on the track-list. "O Baterista" was the fourth song nominated for a Grammy, in 2005, losing to Brian Wilson's "Mrs. O'Leary's Cow". For the 2010 Time Machine Tour, the solo was called "Love 4 Sale," but was renamed "Moto Perpetuo" for the CD and DVD release in November 2011.

The titles "O Baterista", "Der Trommler" and "De Slagwerker" all translate to "The Drummer" in Portuguese, German and Dutch respectively.[7]

All of Peart's drum solos include a basic framework of routines connected by sections of improvisation, leaving each performance unique.[8] Each successive tour sees the solo more advanced, with some routines dropped in favor of newer, more-complex ones. Since the mid-late 1980s Peart has utilized MIDI trigger pads to trigger sounds sampled from various pieces of acoustic percussion that would otherwise consume far too much stage area, such as a marimba, harp, temple blocks, triangles, glockenspiel, orchestra bells, tubular bells, timpani and vibra-slap as well as other, more esoteric percussion. Some purely electronic, description-defying sounds are also used. All are incorporated into each drum solo.

Peart's solos from 1987 until 2007 included marimba excerpts from "Pieces of Eight," a piece that first appeared as a flexi disc record in the May 1987 issue of Modern Drummer magazine. In addition, all solos since 1991 have contained marimba portions of another Peart composition entitled "Momo's Dance Party," and those from 1991 to 2004 featured a complex pattern from the song "Scars" (from the studio album Presto). For the Vapor Trails and R30 tours, each solo concluded with a section of the Count Basie standard "One O'Clock Jump," which Peart recorded while producing Burning For Buddy, a two-volume tribute album to legendary big band drummer and bandleader, Buddy Rich. For the Snakes & Arrows Tour, Peart replaced the finale with an excerpt from "Cotton Tail," which he recorded with the Buddy Rich Band in the mid-1990s. This was the only tour in which the length of his solo decreased when compared to the preceding tour. For the Time Machine Tour, Peart again replaced the finale with an excerpt from the Buddy Rich standard "Love for Sale," which he also performed with the Buddy Rich Big Band at a 2008 memorial concert. He initially named the solo after that song, calling it "Love 4 Sale," but eventually changed the name to "Moto Perpetuo" for the CD and DVD release in November 2011.

For the Clockwork Angels Tour, Peart plays three short drum solos instead of a single long one: an interlude during "Where's My Thing?" in the first set, then an interlude during "Headlong Flight" and a lead-in to "Red Sector A" in the second.

See also

  • List of Rush songs


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