Oftentimes, Yes music is a study in contrasts. Here in the second movement of Fundamental Affirmation we are cast from the tranquil scene of floating down a calming stream with To Be Over to the stark death of a group of friends in a howling mountain blizzard with "South of the Sky", from the breakthrough Yes album Fragile, released in 1971.
My interpretation for bass guitar (the sheet music is here) echoes the allemande of a Baroque suite by featuring heavy arpeggiation. As with To Be Over, I decided to turn the song inside out by starting out with Rick Wakeman's piano interlude from the middle section of the original version and taking my time in getting around to the verse (at measure 44).
After exploring the verse and the chorus twice — including Chris Squire's great, springy bass line (below the lyrics "were we ever colder on that day"), I wander off into an interlude of my own at measure 94 with some challenging syncopation across the strings (measure 96 is a real finger-twister). This leads down to an arpeggiated decrescendo on a low E chord and back into the verse and chorus, after which the chords run higher and higher (up into the sky?) toward an E-major triad that sounds a positive note at the very end.
Peter Saint-Andre > Music > Yes