"Virginia Moon" - Dave Grohl and Norah Jones

For the first part of 2021, I will focus on aspects of style and form in this blog. I will continue to draw on the music of performers from a wide range of genres. This week features Dave Grohl's song "Virginia Moon," featuring the singer and pianist Norah Jones.

Musical style describes how the harmony, rhythm, texture, and instrumentation come together to create a composition. Heard together, these individual parts create an identifiable genre.

Musical form describes the structure of music and the how the individual parts relate to each other. Verse-chorus form is most common in popular music. In classical music, binary form, ternary form, sonata allegro, theme and variations, and passacaglia/chaccone are common. In jazz, the blues, and the 32-bar form are common.

"Virginia Moon" is performed in the bossa nova style. This is not a style one would expect to hear from a rock musician and a pop musician. Bossa Nova developed from samba in Brazil and became popular in the United States during the 1950s and 60s. The music has a light feel due to a rhythmically simple bass line, and syncopated chords, usually played by guitar or piano. The most famous bossa nova musicians are Antônio Carlos Jobim (composer, singer) and João Gilberto (guitar). Listen for emphasis on the second beat in this style.

The song is constructed of verses and a chorus. This is called verse-chorus form. The songwriter provides commentary in the verses, and each verse is followed with an unchanging chorus. Typically the chorus contains the "hook," the most memorable part of the song. The chorus in "Virginia Moon" begins "And now our shades become shadows..." Often, the composer adds a bridge, or an instrumental solo before the final chorus. The bridge will change things about the harmony, rhythm, and/or melody, to provide variety. Most songs end with a final repetition of the chorus.

Dave Grohl became famous as the drummer for the band Nirvana, a popular alternative rock band in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Nirvana broke up after the singer, Kurt Cobain, died. Following, Grohl founded the Foo Fighters, where he plays the guitar and sings. Today, Grohl is among the most respected rock musicians in the world.

Geethali Norah Jones Shankur has recorded numerous albums in pop, jazz, americana, and electronic genres. Among the most popular American singers in the early 2000s, her first album Come Away With Me, won 8 Grammy awards. Jones created a music career that blurs the boundaries of pop music, jazz, and Americana styles. Frequently, she collaborates with jazz, folk, and electronic musicians. Jones is the daughter of the Ravi Shankar, the first famous sitar player in the western hemisphere, and Sue Jones, an American concert producer.