Title

An investigative practice-led project into the vocal characteristics in Jeff Buckley’s song ‘Grace’

Date of Award

2021

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Music Honours

School

Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA)

First Advisor

Matt Allen

Abstract

Contemporary Commercial Music’ (CCM) is a term that has only been popularised in the past decade and the rise in music availability has meant that CCM vocalists are more significant than ever. This study identifies CCM vocal characteristics, and delves into a vocal analysis of commercially successful and critically acclaimed CCM singer-songwriter, Jeff Buckley.

Even after his death in 1997, Buckley’s iconic music continues to influence contemporary vocalists today. This paper investigates Buckley’s vocal style by exploring the vocal characteristics used in his song, Grace,and more importantly, apply these techniques within my own vocal practice through a practice-led research approach. Through this method of research, I was able to expand my own vocal capabilities within this style, as well as contribute to the gap in research surrounding Buckley’s singing style.

The first aspect of this research contextualises Buckley’s musical journey focusing heavily on his influences and significant experiences which helped shape him as an artist. This part of the research also identifies and analyses the vocal characteristics specific to contemporary singing and relates them to Buckley’s vocal style. The song, Grace, was then aurally transcribed and the techniques required to produce the vocal characteristics were analysed. This was in preparation to implement a practice-led methodology to yield results from documenting the process by means of a critical analysis which included recordings and journaling. Through the research, my vocal ability was expanded and major findings regarding the effects of the practice on my own vocal style were uncovered.

While there is an extensive amount of research surrounding Buckley’s life and music, there appears to be a lack of literature that explores Buckley’s vocal style in a contemporary musical context. There is also a lack of literature that investigates the overall practice journey of a vocalist improving their technique based off the stylings of another vocalist, and this research contributes to this field of study. The findings may potentially have implications on future practice of CCM singing and suggest different approaches to CCM pedagogy.

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