This article was first published in our online discussion forum. Come on over to to join the conversation about this article.

Grace fans of all ages and backgrounds gather here to discuss fine points and distinctive aspects of her voice and music. Sometimes they are at a loss to describe the exact action or technique, lacking the musical education or knowing the proper word or phrase. Provided below is a non-comprehensive list of some of the official musical terms and definitions observed in Grace’s performances, along with a video example of each from her career:


Back phrasing – Purposefully singing before or behind the beat, as a stylistic choice. The effect adds a jazzy, improvisational quality to songs when performed correctly.

Note how Grace back-phrases the words “I think I’m falling blind” for effect in the performance of “You’re So Beautiful” at the Slipper Room:


Belting – Loud, powerful use of chest voice (q.v) for dramatic emphasis in a variety of musical genres and styles, and is employed at the climax of songs. The term is generally but not exclusively used to describe female vocals.

One of the most dramatic uses of belting in Grace’s songbook is her final time singing the word “tomorrow” in her song, “Clearly”:


Break – A sudden change in vocal sound when moving between vocal registers, the break is also referred to as a crack if performed involuntarily. The cause of the break is a lack of proper compression in the larynx and can be overcome through training and experience. Breaks can be used intentionally for emotional impact.

Grace’s emerging control of her breaks allow her to direct and channel them for maximum benefit, as she does with the word “cheeks” in the first verse of “Stray”:


Chest Voice – Also known as Chest Register, it is the lower part of a singer’s vocal range, roughly equivalent to their speaking range. It is marked by more noticeable vibrations from the larynx and produces a warm, rich tone.

Grace’s demonstrates chest voice throughout the first verse of her song, “So Much More Than This”:


Crescendo – In music, a gradually increasing volume to a climax at or near the end of a piece, or the loudest moment of that increase. From Italian, it has its roots in the Latin root meaning “to grow”.

Beginning in the bridge of “Beautiful Thing” and continuing through to the final chorus, the vocals and instrumentation build to a crescendo with the line, “Even when the weather is low”, just before the end of the song:


Diphthong – The pronouncing or singing of two vowel sounds in the same syllable. There are many words in English that employ diphthongs, and they allow for a variety of vocal choices when sung.

For example, The rhyming words in the first verse of “Clay” (hallway, anyway, day, okay) all employ a diphthong that starts with a long “a” sound and ends with a long “e” sound, which Grace emphasized to varying degrees on her Tonight Show performance:


Dynamics – The general term in music referring to the volume of a note or sound within a song. The dynamics within a single song can stay relatively constant or vary widely, to express emotions or set an overall tone.

In the song “I Don’t Know My Name”, the dynamics shift dramatically between the final chorus and the outro, expressing a shift from quiet introspection to confident defiance within the space of a few seconds:


Glissando – A measured, gradual slide up or down through a series of notes. A term constructed for music with Italian and French roots, it is often conflated with “portamento”, which describes a less smooth and thorough transitional move between connected notes.

Grace employs a glissando singing the word “stray” at the end of the choruses in the song, “Stray”:


Head Voice – Also called Head Register, an upper part of a singer’s vocal range, and is distinguished by the oral and nasal cavities of the head used as resonance chambers. Head voice vocals are described as sharp and clear.

A specific example of Grace utilizing head voice is in the chorus of “Florets”:


Legato – Term for music phrases vocalized or performed smoothly and without breaks or silences between notes. From the Italian for “tied together”.

The lines in the chorus of Grace’s “City Song” are sung legato:


Melisma – The use of multiple notes in the singing of one syllable of a lyric. Used (and sometimes overused) by pop and R&B singers to give a soulful tone, the term is of Greek origin.

While Grace generally employs melisma to a moderate degree, her standout usage is the 11-note sequences singing the word “just” in the chorus of her song, “Just a Crush”:


Rallentando – A gradual slowing of the tempo of a song. From the Italian “rallentare”, meaning slow down, the term is sometimes meant more specifically for the slowing near the end of a piece, for dramatic emphasis.

The concept is demonstrated by Grace in the final chorus of her cover of Shawn Mendes’ “In My Blood”:


Rasp – A distortion of vocal texture produced either naturally or consciously, the term has roots in “scraping” and is associated with potential damage to vocal cords. Purposely-produced rasp is created by compression in the larynx which affects the clarity of the vocals, and can be achieved without damage through the use of proper technique.

Grace’s naturally-occurring rasp is emphasized and enhanced to great effect in several songs, including here at the end of the final bridge in “Escape My Mind”:


Scatting – Wordless improvisation which uses the voice as a freeform instrument. The technique requires agility and inventiveness in developing sounds and phrases around the rhythm and melody of the song

An example of the form is demonstrated between Grace and Jason Mraz during the coda to “I Won’t Give Up” at the Special Olympics in Austria:


Scooping – A practice by which vocalists start a note and quickly adjust (usually up) in order to reach the correct pitch. Favored as a style choice in the mid-20th century by “crooners” such as Bing Crosby and Elvis Presley, it can also be used as an aid or crutch by young or inexperienced singers to find correct pitch.

Grace seemingly incorporates the scoop as an homage to Elvis in her outdoor cover of his “I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You” (note the usage in “Take MY hand, take my WHOLE life too”):


Staccato – Music sung or played with distinct breaks or separations between each of the notes. The term comes from the Italian word for “detached”. Opposite of “legato” (q.v.)

In her cover of Christina Perri’s “Jar of Hearts” at the Ramapo Concert in 2016, Grace converts the usually-legato vocalization of the word “soul” to staccato, as shown in the following clip:


Vibrato – A small, rapid variation of pitch occurring when singing or playing an instrument. From the Italian “to vibrate”, the effect is caused by an oscillation of the vocal cords and can produce a richer, fuller sound.

Numerous example of Grace’s vibrato can be found throughout her recordings and live performances, as here when she holds the note while singing the name “Valerie” during her cover of the song at the Billboard Studios:


Yodel – Technique employing frequent, rapid shifts between chest voice (q.v.) and head voice (q.v.). Yodeling has historic roots in central African, Swiss and American Country music.

While Grace doesn’t employ a true yodel in her regular repertoire, an example of the basics of the sound can be observed in the pitch lifts at the ends of the words “why” and “my” in the first verse of this early recording of “I Don’t Know My Name”: