GCSE Music Area of Study 3 - Jeff Buckley: 'Grace' from Grace

Edexcel GCSE Music Area of Study 3: Popular Music in Context

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  • Created by: Mel
  • Created on: 05-05-12 12:30

Jeff Buckley (1966-1997)

  • Born Jeffrey Scott Guibert in Anaheim, California 
  • His father (Tim Buckley) - jazz-folk musician 
  • He changed his name to 'Buckley' in honor of his father in 1975 
  • Singer-songwriter and guitarist 
  • Became popular in the early 1990s 
  • Played in various punk and reggae bands 
  • Released studio album, 'Grace' in 1994, worked on a second when he died in 1997 - drowned whilst swimming in a river 
  • Second album released in 1998 
  • His music is sometimes described as folk rock 
  • Folk rock genre was created in the 1960s when artists such as Bob Dylan and The Byrds combined folk with pop and rock influences 
  • His music often displays many different influences
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Rock Music

  • Started in the 1950s 
  • Chord structures based on 12 bar blues 
  • Rock band originally made up of a lead electric guitar, rhythm electric guitar, lead singer, bass guitar and drumer 
  • Musicians used the effects on electric guitars to produce new sounds, like distortion, feedback and reverberation 
  • Rock bands wrote their own lyrics to songs, religious themes, protest songs and personal experiences of love 
  • Songs could be any length and follow any chord pattern 
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Background to Grace

Line-up for the song 'Grace': 

  • Matt Johnson: drums 
  • Mick Grondahl: bass 
  • Gary Lucas: guitar 
  • Jeff Buckley: guitar, vocals 

Jeff Buckley's music can best be described as 'eclectic' - covers wide range of styles. His unique voice holds all these styles together, whether he is delivering a tortured howl, or a gentle, lilting melody. 

Unlike some artists who would record whole song in one take, it took Buckley and his band up to 19 takes to get the basic track down. He would often be found writing lyrics for a song on his way into the studio to record them. The band also tended to develop the arrangements of a song while in the studio, taking up some time. 

Album was released in August 1994.

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Jeff Buckley: 'Grace' from Grace - Structure

Overall 'Grace' is in four large sections, each one subdivided into smaller subsections. However the structure is unusual as the outro takes the song somewhere different and does not fade out as is typical. 

  • Intro - Verse 1 - Pre-chorus - Chorus - 
  • Link - Verse 2 - Pre-chorus - Chorus - 
  • Middle 8 - 
  • Link - Verse 3 - Outro 
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Jeff Buckley: 'Grace' from Grace - Structure (cont

Link is the same as the intro and has two distinct parts, labeled part A and part B. Two parts are separated by a sustained chord of E minor. Chord charts for each section: 

Link - Part A (three bars) 

Bar 1                    Bar 2                    Bar 3

Fm                        Gm                        Em 

Link - Part B (four bars) 

Bar 4                    Bar 5                    Bar 6                    Bar 7

D          A/D           D          A/D           D          A/D          D          G5/D

Verse - combination of open fifths (power chords) + drone strings (6 bars)

Bar 1         Bar 2         Bar 3         Bar 4         Bar 5         Bar 6

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Jeff Buckley: 'Grace' from Grace - Structure (cont

Em          Em/F5  Em     Em/E♭5      Em/F5  Em       Em/E♭5       Em

Pre-Chorus - repeated six-bar sequence (6 bars) 

Bar 1                              Bar 2                                Bar 3              

Em   F♯dim   G6   A6       Bm      A6/9                      Em

Bar 4                               Bar 5                               Bar 6 

Em   F♯dim   G6   A6       Bm      A6/9                      Em

Chorus - 5 bars

Bar 1                  Bar 2                  Bar 3                  Bar 4                  Bar 5

Em/F5      Em      Em/E♭5              Em/F5      Em      Em/E♭5               Em

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Jeff Buckley: 'Grace' from Grace

Tempo

  • Song is in 12/8 time with four dotted crotchets in a bar 
  • 64 dotted crochet bpm 
  • 12/8 emphasizes the lilting rhythms 

Key 

  • Not clear at the beginning - just a series of chords 
  • Combined notes of first two chords - ascending F melodic minor scale 
  • Key signature E minor, established in bar 3 - loud chord of E minor 
  • Bars 4-7 - D major, D pedal in bass guitar 
  • Pre-chorus of the song appears to be in E Dorian mode 
  • Constant shifting of key signature 
  • Modal tonality links to qawwali Pakistani chant at the end
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Jeff Buckley: 'Grace' from Grace (cont.)

Texture 

  • Builds up through the piece as more instruments gradually come in
  • Mainly homophonic 
  • Moments of polyphonic texture in bars 49-52 

Harmony 

  • Standard I-IV-V chord progressions of rock music are avoided 
  • Many chords are chromatic and move in parallel motion - in semitone steps, e.g. F-Em-E♭ in the chorus 
  • Dissonant harmonies 


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Jeff Buckley: 'Grace' from Grace

  • Overdubbing on guitar parts - creates thicker sound 
  • Bars 53-59, telephoning EQ effect is applied to vocals, giving harsh distant effect, contrasts greatly with hummed harmonies 
  • Reverb applied to vocal, making it sound haunting and emphasizes theme of death throughout the song 
  • Vocal part has improvised quality and very wide range of over two octaves
  • Most vocal phrases are falling, reflecting melancholy mood of song 
  • Frequent ornamentation in melody line, with glissandos between various notes, reflects melancholy mood of song 
  • Most of the word setting is syllabic, although there are some long melismas to emphasize certain words 
  • Bridge section - passage of vocalization - wordless singing - in which Buckley uses falsetto, a technique of singing used for high notes 
  • Piece begins quietly with soft guitar whispers, starkly contrasted with tremolo scoops on the guitar when it comes loudly making it more dramatic 
  • Dynamics are increased by bringing in more instruments
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Jeff Buckley: 'Grace' from Grace

  • Overdubbing on guitar parts - creates thicker sound 
  • Bars 53-59, telephoning EQ effect is applied to vocals, giving harsh distant effect, contrasts greatly with hummed harmonies 
  • Reverb applied to vocal, making it sound haunting and emphasizes theme of death throughout the song 
  • Vocal part has improvised quality and very wide range of over two octaves
  • Most vocal phrases are falling, reflecting melancholy mood of song 
  • Frequent ornamentation in melody line, with glissandos between various notes, reflects melancholy mood of song 
  • Most of the word setting is syllabic, although there are some long melismas to emphasize certain words 
  • Bridge section - passage of vocalization - wordless singing - in which Buckley uses falsetto, a technique of singing used for high notes 
  • Piece begins quietly with soft guitar whispers, starkly contrasted with tremolo scoops on the guitar when it comes loudly making it more dramatic 
  • Dynamics are increased by bringing in more instruments
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Important Points

  • Main chord sequence - power chord slid across three frets of the guitar, but played in different ways in each section, with different textures 
  • No attempt to do a smooth transition from modal section into major section - always links via sustained chord 
  • Major section links to the next section by several parts continuing with exactly the same rhythm/strumming pattern, but with different chord sequence - brings sense of unity to the piece
  • Main instruments of bass, electric, acoustic guitars and drum-kit are used most of the way through, additional instruments are not - string parts are held back, added either for effects or to raise tension by adding to texture
  • Parts drop out from time to time to let music breathe (textural contrast) 
  • Bass, drums and acoustic guitar drop out in the intro and link, section A to give the texture chance to breathe 
  • Electric guitar 'whispers' used in places where they can be heard, adding eerie effect to the song, emphasizing lyrics
  • Lyrics are said to be based on a dream Buckley had about a girl crying on her boyfriend's arm at an airport, not wanting him to leave, but also clearly about death
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Comments

Alaa

5*'s moley :P

Samuel Richardson

This a really excellent, detailed set of notes on Jeff Buckley, his background, and the song 'Grace'.  Maybe combine this with some flashcards to make sure you have remembered the key points, but come back to these notes to flesh out with detail. 

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