EDEXCEL GCSE MUSIC - "Grace" Jeff Buckley

Folk rock and Jeff Buckley. Edexcel GCSE Music, Area of Study 3: Popular Music in Context

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  • Created by: Angharad
  • Created on: 13-05-11 17:51

Folk Rock and Jeff Buckley

Jeff Buckley's music is sometimes described as folk rock. The folk rock genre was created in the 1960s when artists such as Bob Dylan and The Byrds combined folk with pop and rock influences. However, Jeff Buckley's music often displays many different influences.

His father, Tim Buckley, was also a well known singer who branched out from a folk style. Jeff only managed to complete one album (Grace) before he drowned in a swimming accident at the age of 29.

Grace comes from the album Grace, published in 1994. A few other tracks from the album are Hallelujah, Lilac Wine, Last Goodbye and Eternal Life.

Grace is a rock ballad - a rock song about love with a slow tempo.

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Instrumentation and Texture

Buckley's vocals are accompanied by synthesiser, strings, drum kit, bass guitar and guitars. The tuning the guitars drops to 'D tuning', which means the lowest string is tuned to D instead of E.

The drums and guitars (playing rhythmic patterns and broken chords) accompany Jeff throughout most of the song. The synthesiser and strings are less prominent, dropping in and out of the misic. They're used to add effects and vary the texture.

The texture thickens towards the end of the song, especially in the coda.

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Use of Technology

  • Modulation on the synthesiser at the start of the song.
  • Distortion and flanging on guitars, which help to intensify the sound during the coda.
  • Overdubbing on the guitar parts, which creates a thicker sound. The extra vocal parts in the bridge are also produced through overdubbing.
  • EQ in the final verse, which is used to remove the lower frequencies of Buckley's voice.
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The song has a verse-chorus form:

  • Intro - Instrumental
  • Verse 1 - Voice
  • Chorus 1 - Voice
  • Intro - Instrumental
  • Verse 2 - Voice
  • Chorus 2 - Voice
  • Bridge - Voice (vocalisation)
  • Intro - Instrumental
  • Verse 3 - Voice
  • Coda - Voice (improvisation)


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Tonality and Harmony

This piece is in e minor, although the tonality is often ambiguous.

The harmony is unusual for this song - the standard I-IV-V chord progressions of rock music are avoided. Instead, many of the chords are chromatic and move in parallel motion - in semitone steps, e.g. F-Em-Eb in the chorus. Some of the harmonies are dissonant, particularly in the chorus.

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Melody and Word-Setting

The vocal part has an improvised quality and a very wide range of over two octaves. Most of the vocal phrases are falling, reflecting the melancholy mood of the song. There is frequent ornamentation in the melody line, with glissandos between various notes. Most of the word setting is syllabic, although there are some long melismas to emphasise certain words. In the bridge section, there is a passage of vocalisation - wordless singing - in which Buckley uses falsetto, a technique of singing used for high notes.

The lyrics reflect Jeff Buckley's bleak outlook on love and there are many examples of word painting:

  • Verse 1: 'Cries' is set to a falling 5th, which sounds like crying
  • Bridge: 'Pain' and 'leave' are very high and sound fraught
  • Verse 3: 'Slow' is set to a long note
  • Coda: A thick texture is built up for 'drown my name'
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Rhythm, Metre and Tempo

  • The metre is 12/8 (a compound metre)
  • The bass drum plays on beats 1 and 3, and the snare drum accents the backbeats (beats 2 and 4)
  • There is frequent syncopation in the vocal meoldy as well as in the bass time.
  • Cross rhythms are created through the use of two-against-three rhythms (quavers against dotted quavers)
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Jack Reddick

Slide 7 - Melody* 


Great stuff!

zoe pettavel

so helpful !

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