The Trial (song)

The Trial (song)

Song infobox
Name = The Trial

Artist = Pink Floyd
Album = The Wall
Released = 30 November 1979 (US), 8 December 1979 (UK)
track_no = 12 of disc 2
Recorded = April-November, 1979
Genre = Art rock/Progressive rock/Symphonic rock/Hard rock
Length = 5:13
Writer = Waters/Ezrin
Label = Harvest Records (UK)
Columbia Records (US)/Capitol Records (US)
Producer = Bob Ezrin, David Gilmour and Roger Waters
prev = "Stop"
prev_no = 11 of disc 2
next = "Outside the Wall"
next_no = 13 of disc 2
"The Trial" is a track from the critically-acclaimed rock opera/concept album The Wall, by Pink Floyd. The song, written by Roger Waters and Bob Ezrin, marks the climax of the album and the film.


The song centres on the main character, Pink [Although, it is not actually from his point of view, making this song slightly different.] , who having lived a life filled with emotional and (later) substance abuses has reached a critical psychological break. "The Trial" is the fulcrum on which Pink's mental state balances. In The Trial, Pink is charged with 'showing feelings, feelings of an almost human nature'. Of course, this means that Pink has commited a crime against himself-against what he has become, The Wall, by actually attempting at behaving like an unisolated normal person, failing when he becomes what he hates most, because it killed his father: a Nazi. This could be something to do with the drugs given to him by the unaware-of-the Wall doctor in the song Comfortably Numb. Through the course of the song, he is confronted by the primary influences of his life (who have been introduced over the course of the album): the rigidly strict and abusive schoolmaster, Pink's emotionally distant, adulterous wife, and his smothering, overprotective mother. Pink's subconscious struggle for sanity is overseen by a new character, "The Judge" ("Worm, your Honour") (the characters are all worms who have eaten into Pink's brain, first noted in "Hey You" In the film version of the album, and the concert animations, the Judge is a giant worm for most of the song until his verse whereas he transforms into a pair of buttocks). A Prosecutor conducts the early portions, which consist of the antagonists explaining their actions, intercut with Pink's refrain, "Crazy; / Toys in the attic I am crazy". The culmination of the trial is the Judge's sentence for Pink "to be exposed before [his] peers" whereupon he orders Pink to "tear down The Wall!" At one point in the song Pink sings " There must have been a door in The Wall, when I came in" representing that he is confused by his revelations, and trying to find a way out of The Wall and away from his mental tormentors, the animated "antagonists," through a door in his Wall that does not exist.

This and the following song "Outside the Wall" are the only two songs on the album which the story is seen from an outsider's perspective, most notably through the four antagonists of The Trial, even though it is all in Pink's mind. The film creates an interesting effect by showing the three characters making it past The Wall in one of the famous animated sequences, symbolically invading Pink's mind, and telling The Worm their part of the story:

*The School Master is brought down like a puppet on strings by his wife, referencing the earlier song "The Happiest Days of Our Lives".
*The Wife comes out from underneath The Wall, represented as a scorpion, which is done during "Don't Leave Me Now".
*The Mother comes in through the bricks-which, being abstract metaphors, bend for her to fit through-in an abstract, morphing image of an airplane (referencing the plane which killed Pink's father, and also the plane which Pink was playing with in Another Brick in the Wall (Part I)), which then encircles Pink.Hearing what mother, school master, and wife have to say about Pink's state makes many of the reasons for building his Wall seem absurd. This is really represented in the wife's speech:

"...You should have talked to me more often than you did, but no, you had to go your own way..."

This further emphasizes the fact that Pink is the true guilty one, leading to the Judge's response to the trial "...the way you made them suffer, your exquisite wife and mother..." and his sentencing "...since, my friend, you have revealed your deepest fears, I sentence you to be exposed before your peers..." The song ends with the sound of a wall being demolished amidst chants of "Tear down the wall!", marking the destruction of Pink's metaphorical wall.

It is not clear as to what the tearing down of Pink's Wall entails, but there is a clue in the song The Final Cut from the album of the same name. The lyrics, "...Dial the combination, open the priesthole. And if I'm in I'll tell you what's behind The Wall." The portion where Waters sings "behind The Wall" is overdubbed by a shotgun shooting, suggesting that Pink eventually tore down his wall by bringing his life to an end via gunshot. (This also served to sever the album's link with The Wall.)

Film version

The segment in the film version is a full-length animated sequence of vivid color and unusual visuals. Political cartoonist Gerald Scarfe directed the design for the segment. The film segment relies not only on visuals, but also on the themes, music, and lyrics of the original song. The three principle antagonists have pronounced cartoon forms and are known individually by their role. "The Schoolmaster" (remembered from "The Happiest Days of Our Lives") is portrayed as a marionette and is controlled by his overbearing wife. "The Mother" is portrayed as overprotective, and "The Wife" is portrayed as a scorpion-like creature. The Judge is a fourth featured caricature used in the segment and is portrayed as a giant pair of buttocks - complete with two backwards facing legs, an anus for a mouth, and a scrotum for a chin (referencing a cleft) - wearing a judge's wig; this strange choice was derived from a line in Charles Dickens' "Oliver Twist": "The law is an ass". The Prosecutor is a caricature of the stereotypical 18th century attorney.

The animated sequence was used in the 1980/81 concert versions of The Wall with Roger Waters singing the song in front of The Wall as The Trial's animation played behind him on the wall.

Hammer references

As with most of the film, this segment has a hammer referenceFact|date=June 2008 in it. The Schoolmaster says the line, "Let me hammer him today!" At this point, his head morphs into a hammer which slams downwards to an unseen portion of the screen. Also, at the very beginning where the 'smaller version' of Worm, The Prosecutor, is putting on eyeliner and fixing his tie, a line of hammers, side-by-side can be seen near to Pink.


The track is noted for its distinctive voice work by Roger Waters, as well as its grandiose musical style, which is more akin to a Broadway musical than a rock song, as it is fully orchestrated, without any semblance to a rock song, until David Gilmour's guitar starts up at the verdict, to the main melody of Another Brick in the Wall (although the orchestra can be heard in the background, and the singing style remains the same). The song is notably interesting for being written in the style of the theatrical songs by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill.

Musically, the structure of "The Trial" is similar to an earlier track on the album, "Run Like Hell", with the same basic chord sequence of Em, F, Em, C, and B. However, there are various differences between the two songs, the least of which being vastly different instrumentation. Perhaps the most interesting thing about "The Trial"s musical arrangement is the bass pedal tone. The bass alternates between the root (E) and fifth (B) of the E minor chord, and when the chord changes to F Major, the bass remains the same, resulting in a strong feeling of tension and dissonance, as the relationship between the F chord and the B note is a tritone, the most unstable interval in music.

In the last verse (The Judge's verdict), a distorted electric guitar enters, playing a leitmotif from the album, the melody from "Another Brick in the Wall". Here, the theme is in the key of E minor (indeed, most expressions of this theme have been in E minor, rather than the D minor of "Another Brick"), and as in an earlier song from the album, "Hey You", it alternates between E minor (with the notes E, F#, G, F#) and A minor (A, B, C, B). However, it should be noted that the overall tonality of the orchestration is really alternating between E minor and F Major, in keeping with the introduction of the piece. This results in further tension, as the guitar, with its aggressive, distorted tone, is starting on the major third of the second chord, rather than the root as the listener would expect -- and concluding on the tritone, B.


* "The Trial" was the first Pink Floyd composition since the title track on "Atom Heart Mother" which was credited as being co-written by someone outside the band.
*In the Berlin performance, before The Wall crumbles, it briefly 'becomes' the Berlin Wall, building up graffiti like the 'actual Wall' until it is pulled down.


*Roger Waters - vocals [Fitch, Vernon and Mahon, Richard, "Comfortably Numb - A History of The Wall 1978-1981", 2006, p. 111]
*Nick Mason - bass drum and cymbals [Fitch and Mahon, p. 111]
*David Gilmour - guitars [Fitch and Mahon, p. 111] , bass guitar [Fitch and Mahon, p. 111]

*Rick Wright - piano [Fitch and Mahon, p. 111]
*Vicki & Clare - backing vocals [Fitch and Mahon, p. 111]
*New York Orchestra conducted by Michael Kamen [Fitch and Mahon, p. 111]

In the Berlin 1990 performance, The Trial contained these cast members and their roles:
*Tim Curry -- The Prosecutor
*Thomas Dolby -- The Schoolmaster
*Ute Lemper -- Pink's Wife
*Marianne Faithfull -- Pink's Mother
*Albert Finney -- The Judge
*Roger Waters (pre-recorded vocals) -- Pink


* Fitch, Vernon. The Pink Floyd Encyclopedia (3rd edition), 2005. ISBN 1-894959-24-8
* Pink Floyd: The Wall (Sheet music songbook) (1980 Pink Floyd Music Publishers Ltd., London, England, ISBN 0 7119 1031 6 [USA ISBN 0 8256 1076 1] )

External links

* [ "The Trial" as seen in the film]

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