In the year 2062, a galaxy-wide war results in the union of all planets under the rule of the Red Star of the Solar Federation. The world is controlled by the Priests of the Temples of Syrinx, who determine all reading matter, songs, pictures... everything connected with life during the year 2112 ("The Temples of Syrinx").
In the midst of this assembly line living, a man discovers what was once known years before as a guitar ("Discovery"). The man begins to pluck the strings and turn the knobs, discovering that he can make his own music - a music very different from that of the Temples. He rushes to tell the priests of his discovery ("Presentation"), but to the man's dismay, the priests destroy the instrument, saying it doesn't fit the plan of the Solar Federation.
The man returns to the cave in which he found the guitar and, during a dream, is led by an oracle to a "strange and wond'rous land" ("Oracle: The Dream") where the 'Elder Race', who "left our planets long ago", has been forced to make their home after being defeated by the priests. He "Sees the work of gifted hands". The protagonist notes that the Elder Race is still waiting to return, and take power over the Priests again. Upon awakening, he can not believe it was a dream—the perceived beauty was so real to him.
He remains in the cave for several days, becoming more and more depressed with each passing hour ("Soliloquy"). The man decides he can not go on as part of the Federation and takes his life to move on to a better one. As he dies, another planetary battle begins ("Grand Finale") resulting in the (perhaps deliberately) ambiguous ending "Attention all planets of the Solar Federation: We have assumed control." (This spoken section was created by vocalist Geddy Lee and guitarist Alex Lifeson reportedly "messing around with a tape recorder".)
I. Overture (0:00-4:33)
II. The Temples of Syrinx (4:33-6:45)
III. Discovery (6:45-10:14)
IV. Presentation (10:14-13:56)
V. Oracle: The Dream (13:56-15:56)
VI. Soliloquy (15:56-18:17)
VII. Grand Finale (18:17-20:31)