List of Rush instrumentals

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

Studio recordings[edit]



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, one line sung at the end, as the piece transitions to "The Temples of Syrinx": "And 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[edit]

This section of the suite includes some spoken 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[edit]

"La Villa Strangiato"
Song by Rush
from the album Hemispheres
ReleasedOctober 28, 1978
GenreProgressive rock, hard rock, jazz fusion
LabelAnthem (Canada)
Producer(s)Rush and Terry Brown

"La Villa Strangiato" was released on the 1978 album Hemispheres, and is subtitled "An Exercise in Self-Indulgence". The 9:37 song, the fourth and final track of the album, was Rush's first entirely instrumental piece. 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. 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 piece is divided as follows:

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

Live versions of "La Villa Strangiato" have often featured altered sections. 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, however it ultimately required three separate takes. 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 before 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]

In 2018, Lee said of the piece:

"That was a song where I would have to say our ideas exceeded our ability to play them. We thought: 'We're going to write this long piece and then we'll just record it live off the floor and boom!'

But it was really difficult. It was beyond us. I included it here because it surprised me how popular that song was among our fans. They just love it when we go into that crazy mode.

Yes, it is an indulgence, but it seemed to be a pivotal moment for us in creating a fan base that wanted us to be that way.[4]

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

Drummer Neil Peart said of "La Villa Strangiato":

This is Alex's brain, and every section of that song is different dreams that Alex would tell us about and we'd be, 'stop, stop.' It was these bizarre dreams that he would insist on telling you every detail about, so it became a joke between Geddy and me. "La Villa Strangiato" means strange city, and there was so much going on in that. There's also a big band section in there, which was absolutely for me because I always wanted to play that approach. And cartoon music. We got in trouble later because we used music from a cartoon from the 1930s.[5]

Rolling Stone readers voted the piece number 9 on their list of The Top 10 Rush songs.[6]

Classic Rock ranked the instrumental number 2 on their list of The 50 Greatest Rush Songs Ever.[7]


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?[edit]

"Where's My Thing? (Part IV, "Gangster of Boats" Trilogy)"
Song by Rush
from the album Roll the Bones
ReleasedSeptember 3, 1991
GenreFunk rock[8]
LabelAnthem Records (Canada)
Producer(s)Rupert Hine and Rush

From the Roll the Bones album, "Where's My Thing?" was Rush's second song nominated for a Grammy, losing to Eric Johnson's "Cliffs of Dover". The song has a pop-oriented feel, featuring an upbeat tempo and a brass-like synthesizer line. On the original album, it is humorously subtitled "Part IV: 'Gangster of Boats' Trilogy." The song was performed on the Roll the Bones tour and did not appear in concert again until the 2012 Clockwork Angels Tour, with an added drum solo. This version of the song was titled "Where's My Thing?/Here It Is!" on the live album Clockwork Angels Tour.

Leave That Thing Alone[edit]

"Leave That Thing Alone"
Song by Rush
from the album Counterparts
ReleasedOctober 19, 1993
GenreProgressive rock
LabelAnthem (Canada)
Producer(s)Peter Collins and Rush

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."


Song by Rush
from the album Test for Echo
ReleasedSeptember 10, 1996
GenreProgressive rock
LabelAnthem (Canada)
Producer(s)Peter Collins and Rush

From the Test for Echo album. Like the "2112 Overture," "Limbo" features vocals by Lee; however, he does not sing any lyrics. The song includes spoken samples from Bobby "Boris" Pickett's novelty song "Monster Mash."

The Main Monkey Business, Hope, and Malignant Narcissism[edit]

Rush's album Snakes & Arrows is the only Rush album to feature multiple instrumental tracks: "The Main Monkey Business", "Hope", and "Malignant Narcissism". "The Main Monkey Business" is just over six minutes long. As with "Limbo" and "2112 Overture", Lee's voice is briefly heard, but no words are sung. The other two songs, "Hope" and "Malignant Narcissism", are two of the shortest songs ever recorded by Rush, both being just over two minutes long. "Hope" is a solo guitar piece written by Lifeson. "Malignant Narcissism" features Lee playing a fretless bass and Peart on a four-piece drum kit.[9] "Malignant Narcissism" contains a spoken sample, "Usually a case of malignant narcissism brought on during childhood," from the movie Team America: World Police. "Malignant Narcissism" became the fifth Rush 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".[10] A live recording of "Hope" from the album Songs for Tibet: The Art of Peace became the sixth Rush instrumental to be nominated for a Grammy under the category of Best Rock Instrumental Performance in 2009.[11] It lost to Zappa Plays Zappa's "Peaches en Regalia".

Live performances & recordings[edit]

Broon's Bane[edit]

"Broon's Bane"
Song by Rush
from the album Exit...Stage Left
ReleasedOctober 1981
GenreClassical guitar
LabelAnthem (Canada)
Producer(s)Terry Brown

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, nicknamed "Broon" by the band, who produced Exit...Stage Left and 10 other Rush albums. (On the same album, Lee refers to Brown as "T.C. Broonsie" when introducing "Jacob's Ladder.") 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)[edit]

On the live album Rush in Rio, an abridged version of "Cygnus X-1" is performed as an instrumental. The piece consists of the "Prologue" section of the song, without the spoken introduction. The Moog Taurus synthesizer heard in the studio recording is replaced with a choir-like synthesizer sound.

On the R40 Live Tour, the Prelude of Book II was played, transposed down by one whole step due to Lee's decreased vocal range. Immediately afterward, the band played the first and third parts of Book I as instrumentals, with a Peart drum solo as an interlude between them.

R30 Overture[edit]

"R30 Overture"
Song by Rush
from the album R30: 30th Anniversary World Tour
ReleasedNovember 22, 2005 (North America)
November 28, 2005 (Europe)
RecordedSeptember 24, 2004
GenreProgressive rock, hard rock
LabelAnthem (Canada)
Producer(s)Francois Lamoureux[1] and Rush

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[edit]

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."

Peke's Repose[edit]

During the 2012 Clockwork Angels Tour, Lifeson would play a guitar solo (called "Peke's Repose" on the CD/DVD/BD) that served as an introduction to "Halo Effect".

Neil Peart's drum solos[edit]

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.[12]

All of Peart's drum solos include a basic framework of routines connected by sections of improvisation, leaving each performance unique.[13] 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. 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 played 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. The solos were respectively named "Here It Is!", "Drumbastica," and "The Percussor - (I) Binary Love Theme / (II) Steambanger's Ball" on the tour's live album/DVD release. "The Percussor" is a mainly electronic drum solo dominated by the sounds of triggered samples assigned to many parts of Peart's kit.

For the R40 Live Tour, Peart played two short solos: the "Drumbastica" interlude during "Headlong Flight" in the first set, and an interlude named "The Story So Far" during "Cygnus X-1" in the second.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Banasiewicz, Bill; Rush: Visions: The Official Biography, Chapter 7, Omnibus Press, 1988
  2. ^ "La Villa Strangiato / Powerhouse". Who Sampled.
  3. ^ Official Raymond Scott Site, FAQ.
  4. ^ "Geddy Lee: This Is the Rush Song Where Our Ideas Exceeded Our Ability to Play Them. I'm Surprised It's So Popular". Retrieved 3 June 2019.
  5. ^ "Neil Peart on the 10 best Rush songs ever". CBC Music. Retrieved 3 June 2019.
  6. ^ Greene, Andy (4 March 2015). "Readers' Poll: The 10 Best Rush Songs". Retrieved 3 June 2019.
  7. ^ Rock, Classic Rock2015-06-11T09:36:00 161Z Classic. "The 50 Greatest Rush Songs Ever". Classic Rock Magazine. Retrieved 3 June 2019.
  8. ^ Popoff, Martin (2013). Rush: The Illustrated History. Voyageur Press. p. 117. ISBN 978-0-7603-4364-7.
  9. ^ Peart, Neil: The Game of Snakes and Arrows Archived 2007-04-21 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ Archived 2007-12-08 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ 2009 site Archived 2008-12-05 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ "Drummer".
  13. ^ Drummer translations, Hudson Music, 2005, DVD