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.

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