A musical accompaniment often is extensive at the times the singing is off, thus very nicely filling in the rest. This is a principle, that pursued consistantly, leads to sound on every moment, which creates a wall of sound. "A wall of sound" is a beautiful expression for a beautiful listening experience.
But ABBA went beyond a wall of sound. If you listen carefully, you’ll hear all kinds of very soft sounding extensions. It sounds like a wall with openings through which you hear sounds further away. If you turn up the music, you’ll hear things you didn’t notice before. If you put your headphones on, you’ll hear even more softer sounds, still further away. It is as if you see a whole landscape full of playing musicians beyond the wall, close to you as well as far away. ABBA extended the wall of sound with an acoustical landscape. Their music has a number of layers, from the most audible till whispering sounds. For instance take "Does your mother know" and listen carefully to the part "Take it easy, better slow down girl …". This is some sort of stage in the song, the rock’n roll powers hold on for a moment. Björn takes the lead with backing vocals of Agnetha and Frida. They repeat many-voiced the lyrics of the lead. But more is sung. Very soft, hardly audible, are some amazing vocal parts of Agnetha and Frida, a totally different melody.
This kind of arrangements is not only found in singing, but in the intrumental parts you’ll find many layers too. This is hugely symphonic, no other artist I know arranges music so extensively. This is the core secret of ABBA, an almost endless stratification creating an acoustical landscape.
Of course there is more to tell about ABBA. The next secret will appear on june 1st, 2015.
© 2015 Reinhard Beskers