There is more to say about the ABBA melodies. It’s not only that they composed good melodies. Melodies must be good of course, but it’s also important that melodies meet your style. A certain melody invokes a particular atmosphere. Some melodies seems to evoke a middle of the road arrangement, others may evoke a folk arrangement. The pure melody without instruments leads to think of a style. When you hear covers, you’ll notice the melody fits into the new style, or not. Apparently you cannot really squeeze any melody into the pattern of any style. Every band has a sort of suiting music style, a formula. So the challenge is to find melodies that fit the formula, that suits the band.
Benny and Björn wrote all the songs by themselves and as a result, they had to estimate and critize their own melodies. A lot of their work was measured not good enough and ended up in the bin. But the quality was not their only criterium! Melodies not fitting the ABBA style were also rejected, even though they might have been good in itself.
We have a remarkable example of this. On the collectors item “Thank you for the music”, released in 1994, is a track named “Abba Undeleted”. It’s a compilation of never released studio demo’s. One of the demo’s carries the strange - and unexplained - title “Hamlet 111 Parts 1&2”. (Nowadays you can find it on the internet.) This is a typical example of a melody that didn’t suit ABBA, it wasn’t appropriate for the ABBA-sound. I quote from the CD-outlet: “This is another example of a great song that never made it to an album. We tried to record it on several occasions but it never quite happened until years later, when Benny made his first solo album. Imagine our surprise when it proved to be a schottis ! (A primitive Swedish dance)” The final version is titled “Lottis schottis”, it can be found on “Klinga Mina Klockor”, a solo CD of Benny’s in 1988. It is realy totally not ABBA-ish.
The composing by Benny and Björn was more than just finding beautiful notes, it even was a quest for the right style. A good melodie fits the band as a custom-made suit.
Of course there is more to tell about the music of ABBA. The next article will appear at august the 1-st 2014, midnight (Stockholm time).
© 2014 Reinhard Beskers