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Grace by Jeff Buckley Analysis - Anthology of Music


Jeff Buckley's music can best be described as 'eclectic' - it covers a wide range of styles. Unlike some artists in the past, who would record a whole song in one take, it took Buckley and his band up to 19 takes to get the basic track down! Anyway, here's all you need to know about Grace from structure to chords to musical styles used.

  • Compound time signature of 12/8 (twelve quaver beats in a bar). The tempo is at 64 beats in a minute.
  • Although not clear what the key is in the intro, we find out it is in E minor.
  • Reverb (echo) and delay (recorded then played back) effects are used in the guitar intro. Bars 1-3 have guitar whispers.
  • When texture is at it's thickest in intro, the whole bland is playing lead by an acoustic high-hat which drives the music and rhythm on. Bass has a pedal D (one note repeating).
  • On verse 1, high pitch guitar drops out leaving one electric guitar, vocals enter and there are guitar whispers.
  • Electric guitar plays broken chords while there are vocal slides (porta mento) and key is centred on note E.
  • There is a pre-chorus being the Bridge.
  • At Chorus, strings can be heard and drums play a straight rhythm. Chords still centred around the note E.
  • In Link or second intro there is a Madeline effect where the acoustic plays in the style of a Madeline. Again there is a glissando in guitar and delay effect. 
  • There are trills on strings.
  • Pizzicato strings get added in 2nd pre-chorus or Bridge.
  • Second chorus is identical to first chorus.
  • Drum roll leads to the Bridge which is an intense section. Strings play long sustained notes. 
  • Use of EQ effects, multi-track, complex rhythms, vocal harmonies, more cymbals used and a telephone equalizing effect is applied to the vocals (very noticeable).
  • Backing singers humming beautiful chords so there is contrast between them and Jeff Buckley.
  • Last and 3rd into link, guitarist are hitting the dead end acoustic guitar strings making them sound like a drum.
  • Verse 3 has the cymbals return, vocal parts become really forceful and special effects are added.
  • At the Coda or Altro, vocals improvise and get very high in pitch (falsetto).
  • There is a flanger effect - droning effect which is quite harsh to the ears (disonant).
  • Strings become more important in the Coda.

    About Will Green

    A student in England studying Automotive Engineering with Motorsport, Will created Ask Will Online back in 2010 to help students revise and bloggers make money. You can follow AskWillOnline via @AskWillOnline.

    23 comments so far:

    1. How would you describe the tempo of this song in a musical term?

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    2. I would say the tempo is 'Adagio' which means slowly or 'Largo' meaning broadly.

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    3. the song is actually in E minor not D major, just to clarify

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    4. Yes your correct. Thank you for pointing that out.

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    5. good analysis but what could you say about the texture of this piece?

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    6. As i said in the article, it is pretty thick throughout. To use technical terms, I would say it is the mostly a homophonic texture.

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    7. oh the lulz - all of the suggestions are other gcse music analaysises too - I blend in well the the other lazy people

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    8. What are Guitar Whispers?

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    9. It is when a guitar plays quietly with a reverb effect to produce a sound like the guitar is whispering.

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    10. what is a madeline effect?

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    11. It is when the guitar plays in the effect of an Madeline which plays using many notes.

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    12. What about this piece makes it homophonic? Would you not describe it as polyphonic?

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    13. Homophonic texture is when there is a melody over back music. Polyphonic is when there is two or more melodies playing at once. This never happens is Grace really as the only melody is the vocals. In the parts when the guitars have a solo, there is no vocals so that there is still one melody being played.

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    14. Any chance you could further elaborate on this piece?

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    15. The notes above I used for GCSE Music and it got me an A* so I wouldn't say you need to know any more. However, if you really want to know more, what in particular?

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    16. Would you describe this song as consonant? I know you said there is dissonance in the flanging effect, but overall could you describe this as a consonant song?

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    17. Yeah, it's generally consonant.

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    18. How would you describe the dynamics of this piece?

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      1. There are no dynamics in modern pop music (if there are, they are extremely hard to distinguish). The piece stays consistent throughout with no forte or pianos. It could be seen that there is a forte at the end of the piece to help it end on a climax. However, this forte may only be because the texture has increased.

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    19. What modes are the harmonies based on?

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      1. Sorry, I don't unfortunately know the nodes Jeff Buckley uses on his guitar during the piece.

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