ABBA - Let The Music Speak - Foreword


As the author of a number of books about ABBA, I have often received suggestions that I should write such and such a volume about the group or one of its members. Compared to many other of the major artists of the rock era – The Beatles, Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, et cetera – and despite an increasing output since the Nineties, the ABBA bookshelf does indeed remain relatively slim.

One type of book that seems to be particularly sought-after by the group’s admirers is the musical analysis – not of the hermeneutic type where the songs are studied for their “meaning” or perceived relation to the private lives of the ABBA members, but the actual, pure music: the way notes are organised to form melodies or fragments of melodies, the intricate arrangements of the tunes, the style, the methods and the recurring themes utilised by ABBA’s song writing team of Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus. Personally, I would never even contemplate getting to grips with such a monumental task – my own musical education is best described as rudimentary: faced with a piece of sheet music I can sort of make my way through the notes – so any suggestions that I would write such a book have always been declined.

We are all lucky, then, that Chris Patrick has bravely gone were few have done more than taken a few hesitant steps. In ABBA: Let The Music Speak, Chris’ fascinating study of ABBA’s music, he takes us by the hand and leads us through the group’s musical landscape, over the hills of joyful exuberance, through the valleys of melancholy and along the stretched-out roads of craftsmanship where their music was created. He shows us Benny and Björn’s methods, points to the specific motifs that make their songs “sound like ABBA”, yet which we ordinary fans would find difficult to pinpoint. And, most importantly, with his lively prose he shares his findings so as to let the non-musically trained reader in on the secrets, while still giving something extra to those who know their dominants from their subdominants.

You don’t agree with some of Chris’ conclusions? Then ABBA: Let The Music Speak will still have served its purpose, for I’m sure part of his reasons for writing the book was to stimulate further discussion of ABBA’s music and remind the world of their position as a musical entity worthy of serious analysis. After reading this book, you will certainly be compelled to bring out each and every ABBA track and ponder similarities between ‘Voulez-Vous’, ‘Kisses Of Fire’ and ‘The King Has Lost His Crown’ that you hadn’t even considered before. Or hear with your own ears the close relationship between the seemingly unrelated ‘Suzy-Hang-Around’ and ‘Hey, Hey Helen’. I know that I did!

Carl Magnus Palm
Stockholm, Sweden
June 2007

 

 

ABBA - Let The Music Speak by Chris Patrick.