The Frail

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"The Frail"
Album: The Fragile
Length: 1:54
Tempo: 113, 123 (approx.) BPM
Versions: The Frail
The Frail (Version)
The Frail (And All That Could Have Been)
Live: Fragility v1.0 through present

"The Frail" is the third track on the Left disc of The Fragile. The track is an entirely instrumental piano piece (in G Minor) which builds up and prepares the listener for the following song, "The Wretched."

Its use of a synthesized pad built from samples of Trent Reznor's voice would later be echoed in another track from this era, "Leaving Hope."





The Frail

A very simplistic instrumental in two parts, "The Frail" shares its progression with the guitar solo in "The Fragile," and was apparently inspired by the form of Keith Hillebrandt's remix of that track (available on during The Fragile era). This half-note progression and background chorus synthesizers that appear to be based on samples of Reznor's voice (heard from the end of "The Day The World Went Away") are the sole elements of this song. The piece seems to have been recorded free of a specific tempo. A new, deeper progression and chorus pads seemingly based on (or in tribute to) David Bowie's "Subterraneans" slowly build to a synthesized vocal harmony, leading into "The Wretched."

The Frail (Version)

Found on Things Falling Apart, this version contains distorted elements and string instruments, with the melody played on a violin rather than a piano.

Song Credits

  • Manipulation: Benelli
  • Production: Joshua Eustis, Turk Dietrich
  • Violin: Steve Hakel
  • Cello: Mark Paradis

The Frail (And All That Could Have Been)

On this live version, Trent Reznor starts by playing the melody solo on a keyboard. There is some improvisation, setting it apart from the album version. As it builds, the other sound elements are incorporated. As on The Fragile, it provides a segue into "The Wretched."


This song is frequently performed live, as on the album, leading into "The Wretched." Reznor has been known to improvise and expand upon the basic piano part in a live setting. More recently, Reznor has occasionally used this song as an intro to "The Good Soldier," "Closer," "Reptile," "La Mer" and "Metal."

Previous track - "The Day The World Went Away" Track 3 from The Fragile Left (CD), Side A (Vinyl) Next track - "The Wretched"