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Song by Pink Floyd
from the album Soundtrack from the Film More
Published Lupus Music Co. Ltd
Released 13 June 1969 (UK)
9 August 1969 (US)
Recorded March 1969
Genre Psychedelic rock, progressive rock, psychedelic folk
Length 4:49
Label EMI Columbia (UK)
Tower (US)
Songwriter(s) Roger Waters
Producer(s) Pink Floyd
Soundtrack from the Film More track listing

"Cymbaline" is a Pink Floyd song from the album Soundtrack from the Film More.[1][2]


Its lyrics vividly tell the tale of a "nightmare", which was the title of the song when it was first introduced in Floyd's The Man and The Journey Tour shows. The lyrics include a reference to the character Doctor Strange, who was popular at the time due to the psychedelic nature of his adventures.


The recording of "Cymbaline" on the album is different from the one in the film (the latter version is heard on a record player in a bedroom). The vocals are a different take, though both versions are sung by David Gilmour. The lyrics are also different in one place.

The song features a sparse arrangement of nylon-string guitar, bass, piano, drumset, bongos, and Farfisa organ entering when Gilmour does a scat solo. Pink Floyd played "Cymbaline" from early 1969 until their last show of 1971, and it was the longest-surviving More piece in the band's live shows. It was dropped from their act along with "Fat Old Sun" and "The Embryo" when they began performing early versions of The Dark Side of the Moon.

Live performances[edit]

When the band performed the song live, they made the following changes to the song:

  • The pace of the song was slower and more deliberate, creating an even more sombre atmosphere than the studio version.
  • Richard Wright almost always used Farfisa organ in place of piano (the exception being their performance at KQED studios in San Francisco on April 29, 1970, in which the studio had a piano for Wright to utilize).
  • David Gilmour played electric guitar and performed a guitar solo over where the scat solo occurred in the song.
  • In the spring of 1970, the key of the fadeout section was changed from E-minor to B-minor. During this section, Roger Waters would bang a gong instead of bongos as the music faded away. After the B-minor section, the band presented a selection of sound effects such as footsteps and creaking doors, courtesy of the Azimuth Co-ordinator they employed on stage. The effects represented the "nightmare", which would conclude with the sound of a loud explosion. Thanks to the panning sounds created by the Azimuth Co-ordinator, the sounds would surround the audience and the footsteps would move from left to right through the back of the venue. However, this move often proved futile, as the sound effects frequently garnered responses of laughter instead of the intended fear. On one live recording (ROIO) an audience member went as far as to sarcastically yell "I'm scared!" Nevertheless, the footsteps segment was usually greeted with considerable applause when the band resumed playing.
  • By mid-1969/early 1970, the band would follow the instrumental and/or sound effects section with a repeat of the third verse ("The lines converging where you stand...").



The song has been covered by fellow English space rock band Hawkwind. The 1996 CD reissue version of their eponymous debut album (1970) includes "Cymbaline" as track 13, in the bonus tracks section.[3]


  1. ^ Strong, Martin C. (2004). The Great Rock Discography (7th ed.). Edinburgh: Canongate Books. p. 1177. ISBN 1-84195-551-5. 
  2. ^ Mabbett, Andy (1995). The Complete Guide to the Music of Pink Floyd. London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-7119-4301-X. 
  3. ^ "Hawkwind - Hawkwind". Discogs. Retrieved 8 August 2017. 

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