Friday, October 24, 2008



First, let's enjoy the music!

and here's the analysis “ You raise me up”
A little background…

An uplifting song with an inspiration mould, this is one of the more popular songs in pop music written by Rolf Lovland and lyrics by Brendan Graham. So many people has sung and re-sung it, and it has been covered for more than 125 times today! The most popular version we have been listening to is probably by Josh Groban, and one of the latest release’s by Westlife – which is the video you’ve just watched above (if you did..). So, now, we shall take a closer look at what this song comprises of ..

The analysis begins..
(Note: I have analysed in detail, 3 pages of the score, but the remaining pages, 4&5 are there to illustrate the areas that I’ll be touching on.. )


In this piece, the melody line is basically held by two parts, namely the verse and the chorus. They are symmetrical as each of the verse and chorus contains 8 bars.

The verse starts at where I have indicated [A] section. We see that the melody has a gentle contour, restricted movement going up and coming down in each subphrase (2bars) – generally step-wise. The melody is slow, each subphrase gets higher and ends off with a sustained note after moving downwards from the contour at each subphrase – which I believe is intentional to create the intensity as well as emotions/ lethargy suggested by the lyrics (e.g. “wea-ry”, “burdened be..”, “si-lence”, “sit a while with me..”). In the third subphrase, the Bflat reaches the highest note of Eflat, which I believe is to prepare us for the chorus.

For the chorus, it starts with a pick-up into the bar indicated [B]. The contour is also generally gentle, but there is an increasing intent as the melody moves up to Eflat (tonic) somehow creating a ‘climax’, and this happens for each subphrase.

Chord Progression
I have indicated the chord progressions on the score in blue. By and large, the chords used in this piece are I, IV, V chord. However, the composer plays around with various chord positions (e.g. use of first, second inversions- I6, I6/4, IV6, V4/3) and introduces chordal 7th and 9th in the chords. (e.g. IV with the 9th, V7 ). There is a use of vi chords in the chorus at the part where the melody reaches the ‘climax’. I would perceive it as the composer wants to reach a higher point, out of the I, IV, V chords that he has used, in order to create that ‘climax’ – something that is unexpected looking at the usual I, IV, V chord patterns throughout the piece.

Harmonic Function
Below the chord progressions, I have identified the harmonic function as well. Hopefully it is right. In short, the Tonic function is most commonly used and usually is used between Predominant to Dominant. In the verse, [A] section, the progression is generally
while in the chorus, [B] section, the harmonic function is
There are some changes in the next half of the piece, which can be seen in the score.

I noticed that each section ends off on a perfect cadence - the use of Dominant-Tonic harmonic function is seen.

Harmonic Rhythm
The harmonic rhythm in this piece is rather slow, yet consistent. In [A], I feel that that harmonic rhythm is slower so as to creates the mellow feel for the opening. There is a change in harmony for every two beats generally. At the [A’] section, the harmonic rhythm is somewhat faster than the beginning, perhaps to keep the momentum and increasing it as the song progresses into the climax.

Structure & Form
As mentioned before, this song is held by two ‘themes’ – verse and chorus. The rest of the piece is basically the ‘written out repeats’. However, the song does not seem boring because the ‘written out repeats’ from [A] & [B], marked by [A’] and [B’] occurs in different keys. In the first set, it starts in Eflat major, and as the song moves on to the second set, it modulates to the key of Fmajor, which I have indicated by the change of keys. Why Fmajor? A key higher, and also, it creates a ‘brighter’ tone as we moved away from the initial sad and gloomy mood in [A] (looking at the lyrics), more uplifting I would say.

After the second set { [A'] & [B’] } ends, the chorus is repeated AGAIN but this time it moves to the key of Gflat major. And at the arrival at the second repeated B section marked [B’’], I feel that it serves as to bring us to the climax of the piece. In the same section, the chorus is then repeat yet again, which I believe is reiterative. Also, the use of repeated chorus is typical of pop songs. Finally, looking at the repeats, the song would have ended at the (*) sign. But from the last four bars with an up-beat, the inspirational phrase is sung for the last time – “you raise me up, to more than I can be…”. I would see that section as an elaboration in the musical aspect, but for this song per se, I think it is a statement used to end the song.

From bird’s eye view, we have the structure as follow:
[A] [B] [A’] [B’] [B’’] [B’’]

Phrase Structure
As this song is highly repetitive in terms of melody line, I have indicated the phrase structures for the verse and chorus sections, [A] & [B] only.

In [A], 8 bars forming a simple period – 4 in antecedent & 4 in consequent, thus symmetrical. Also, for each phrase, I hear two different sub-phrases present (indicated by green, thin pen). They are also symmetrical, because each sub-phrase lasts about two bars. Therefore, it’s (2+2) (2+2) forming a simple period.

In [B], there is a sentence in that 8 bar phrase. Short-short-long for (2+2+4) bars indicated in orange. Also, in the sentence, I hear a simple period of (2+2) bars under the ‘long’ phrase.

Texture, decorations and others:
This piece is generally homophonic. Since this piece is generally repetitive, the composer does make use of other elements to make the piece sound different in each repeat. In the beginning, [A], the song starts off with a solo voice accompanied by the piano providing simple chords, and the violin was introduced in [B] to thicken the texture. The [A’] section is led by the violin solo, making the repeat somewhat familiar but slightly different due to different instrumentation. Also, in [B’’] section in Gflat major, there is the choir at the background, thus thickening the texture even further, forming the climax of the song. I believe instrumentation plays a role in making pop songs (usually repetitive) interesting.

There is the use of melodic decorations which I have indicated (*) on the scores. Some examples are the (accented) passing note (A.P.N) and auxiliary note (A.N).

Alrights, that’s about it for now..till I spot something more.. Feel free to comment, and please correct me if I’m wrong at any area, and do share your views!

Thank you for reading!


ec said...


Great job offering us a very detailed analytical account of this uplifting song, and more than that, you went into making musical sense of your analysis.

Just one aspect I'd like you to work on further. Whilst you have identified some of the non-harmonic tones and indicated some of them in your RNs, you have not taken advantage of the voice-leading approach we have been using in class. This will shed great light on the intro and the F major section. It will of course also affect your functional analysis.

I look forward to even more insightful comments from you...

Anonymous said...


I haven't really seen all your analysis, only managed to look through the first couple of pages, so hope you don't mind me just offering my 2 cents' worth based on what I've seen. I like the way you've identified an antecedent and consequent phrase in the verse, but to me it seems rather odd to be ending a phrase with a PD-T functionality - at least in this context. If you zoom in to the last chord of the phrase - the one you've labelled I(6/4/9) - it seems like an odd place to use a 6/4 chord, especially with an added 2nd/9th. Perhaps you'd like to consider whether one of the notes within that chord has a tendency to resolve to another note which only appears later? (and I believe this is what Dr Chong meant by taking advantage of the voice-leading approach).

Do take a look at some of the other blogs - it might give you some idea of the common voice-leading progressions out there in pop music, as well as how you might want to indicate it in your roman numerals. =)


xl. said...

Hi all!

thank you for the valuable feedback!
i'll try to see if i can improve on the things that i've overlook, and hopefully analyse this piece of music better (: