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Jeff Buckley: ‘Grace’ from the album Grace (1994)

Updated on July 24, 2012

Jeff Buckley: ‘Grace’ from the album Grace (1994)

The singer-songwriter Jeff Buckley was born in California in 1966 and was the son of the singer Tim Buckley. Both father and son possessed powerful voices with great emotional depth which allowed them to both become famous muscians. Tim Buckley died at the age of 29 due to a heroin overdose. 'Rock music' is a general term that covers many different genres of music which have developed since rock 'n' roll in the 50s.

Buckley's song Grace has features that are found in rock music such as four beats in a bar, the use of verse and chorus form and the instrumental line-up. The song 'Grace' is taken from the album with the same name and was co-written with guitarist Gary Lucas. Grace (1994) was the only studio album Jeff Buckley completed and is scored for 2 guitars, a bass, drums and synthesiser.

'Grace' could be described as a rock ballad. Ballads are slow love songs and are found in many styles of pop music. The lyrics of 'Grace' seem to anticipate Buckley's own death. Jeff Buckley died in a swimming accident at the age of 30.

Chord structure

Intro Part A (3 bars):

1

2

3

 

Fm

Gm

Em


Intro Part B (4 bars):

1

2

3

4

D->A/D

D->A/D

D->A/D

D->G5/D


Verse (6 bars):

1

2

3

4

Em

Em/F5->Em

Em/Eb5

Em/F5->Em

5

6

Em/Eb5

Em


Pre-chorus (6 bars) (BTW, the mashed up chord in bar 1 is an A6 followed by a Bm in bar 2 and the mashed up chord below that in bar 5 is A6 followed by an Em in bar 6 (sorry!):

1

2

3

4

Em->F#dim->G6->A6

Bm->A6/9

Em

Bm->A6/9

5

6

Em->F#dim->G6->A6

Em


Chorus (5 bars):

1

2

3

4

Em/F5->Em

Em/Eb5

Em/F5->Em

Em/Eb5

5

Em


During the exam they could very well give you a skeleton chord structure and ask you to fill it in! Make sure you know the basics of the patterns!

MAD T-SHIRT

What is it?

MAD T-SHIRT is a tip for remembering musical features by going through 9 key parts of any musical piece.

They are:

Melody, Articulation, Dynamics, Texture, Structure, Harmony (tonality), Instrumentation, Rhythm, Tempo

MAD T-SHIRT

Grace

Melody

- Wide vocal range, falsetto

- Word painting - "die", "fa - ding" all drop to a lower note, showing a sadness

Articulation

- Uses vibrato and scoop - starting at a lower note and sliding up to the actual note

Dynamics

- Track starts off quiet, with only 2 guitars playing

- The dynamics aren't noted, they just get louder as more parts come in

Texture

- Beginning starts off thin with only 2 guitars, then drums enter with a crescendo on the hi-hat and the bass playing a rhythmic riff on the root, then vocals enter with the verse

Structure

- Verse-chorus structure in four main parts, with introduction repeated after choruses, then ending with the outro

- - (1) intro - verse 1 - pre-chorus - chorus -

- - (2) intro - verse 2 - pre-chorus - chorus -

- - (3) middle 8 -

- - (4) Link - verse 3 - outro

Harmony (tonality)

- Most of the harmonies are based on the chord pattern

- In the beginning, the key is not clear

- The second part of the intro is defiantly in D major

- Power chords - only using the root and dominant - gives a harsh but open feel to the song

- Drop D tuning

- Mostly in E minor for verses

Instrumentation

- Full rock band: bass guitar, drum kit, 2 guitars (Buckley playing one of them), Synth strings, backing vocals, plectrum on an acoustic guitar

- Drum kit is used to keep a steady pulse

- Bass usually plays the root

Rhythm

- Time signature is 12/8

Tempo

- Feels fast, but actually slow - 64 dotted crotchet bpm

Technology (has been included as there are many elements of the technology you need to know about... so treat it as MAD T-SHIRTT!)

- EQ - changing the bass and treble

- Delay - adds echoes

- Flanger - 'swirly sound'

- Distortion - changes in guitar sound

- Telephone effect - harsh distant effect

Glossary

- For all those words you didn't understand and more! -

Power Chords – chords made up of the tonic and dominant

Slide – A small metal or glass tube worn over a finger or held in the hand, used in playing bottleneck-style guitar.

Guitar ‘whisper’ – where you play a chord on a low volume, then turn it up after, playing the echo

Delay – adds an echo to the music

EQ – short for equalisation, amplifies or removes specific frequencies

Flanger – a studio effect added to a guitar to create a swirly sound

Parts of drum kit – Ride Cymbal, Floor Tom, Toms, Bass Drum, Snare Drum, Hi-Hat

Lead Guitar – the guitar player who plays the main melodic idea, fills, solos, and occasionally the riffs (possibly played by everyone else too)

Rhythm Guitar – the guitar player who plays a rhythmic chordal accompaniment to the lead guitar and the rest of the band

Pizzicato – plucked, rather than bowing the strings

Drone – notes that are repeated under the main melody (normally the tonic, third or dominant)

Major – a key that sounds happy and bright which uses major notes from a scale

Minor – a key that sounds sad which uses minor notes from a scale

Modal – referring to modes, the precursors of modern day scales

Overdubs – parts are recorded on top of each other

Intro - introduction to the piece

Listen - Get the track!

See if you can apply what you've just learnt!

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    • profile image

      karl-kareem-3 3 years ago

      this was very helpful, you do Mad-tshirt on all of the pieces we have to study for music GCSE in the UK , so this helps a lot with our homework

    • daranth profile image
      Author

      daranth 5 years ago

      @StewartClan: I too love this album! I remember, when we were studying this piece, the emotion you could feel in his voice! But I'm glad liked the dissection of this - Thank you!

    • StewartClan profile image

      StewartClan 5 years ago

      In our house, we are all fans of Jeff Buckley. So sad that he died in the Mississippi. We love this album, thank you for this disection of it. Much appreciated.