(Blogger note: Except for 2013-14 updates below, much of this website was written between 2009-11. Reader update: All 'abba4ever' forum hyperlinks (within the blog's text) are defunct. (Forum has closed.))

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Agnetha's best voice: One Way Love

© 2009-2011 (original sections)

  "...her voice is a cure..." YouTube commenter 'golliwog14', re singer Agnetha Fältskog.

(Updated note: The published comments at the end of this post are valuable for - and (I believe) improve upon - the discussion (that follows).)

Picking up on a suggestion (I made) from the adjacent post here, "The Best Post-ABBA Song for Ms. Fältskog":
(Reader note: Interesting, (slightly) "technical" music details are going to follow. It is a fairly lengthy entry, but few have explored this area....Updated note: This author - Christopher Patrick - has explored ABBA music and their vocalists' abilities in enlightening detail (link to more info.).) And another, useful update: The excellent 'abba4ever' forum has a couple of older topics re Agnetha's voice that I wasn't aware of when originally writing this post. They're worth a look. Links (new windows) are here and here.

From listening to many of her efforts, I suggest that (much of) 1985's "One Way Love" is near-center in (adult) Agnetha Fältskog's vocal "comfort zone".(Pronounced [aŋˈneːta]. A short, funny video is here.) I.e., her vocal tessitura, as I understand the term. ("One Way Love's" YouTube video is embedded further below. This post ignores its just-OK video presentation.)
I'll say more about this impression (re the (main) voice utilized in 'One Way Love') further below...
Quick 2013 update: I (the writer) no longer agree with statements just above. Upon listening much more to Agnetha, I now suspect that her voice as used in "One Way Love" may be closer to MY 'comfort zone', vs. hers.  I.e., my own preference(s) may have colored perception here. Agnetha's voice/range in that song seem more what I prefer from her capabilities....
I'll let what follows stand, though. (Some of the analysis/insights may be worthwhile for fans.)

(Continuing, previously written:) Prefacing some of the text that follows, it should be noted that this singer's "zone" may have had (at least) a couple of segments. (Or sub-divisions.) And, to be fair: Her super-sweet voice quality - more apparent in other songs - gives the "One Way Love" "paradigm" serious competition. One decent example of this (sweet) quality is included here (new window opens). Another is linked here. And another (in Swedish.)  And a pleasing, high-register example, here.  (Such wide ability (versatility) is what helps make the pop singer an appealing one, IMO. (Plus there's another whole discussion (- we won't go there, here -) about how ably Ms.Fältskog could shift between a softer, warmer, (often-sweet), more intimate singing style (or voice) and her clear, (often-sweet), ringing (even piercing with the higher voice) louder efforts. (One "forte" (music def.), solo example is linked here (particularly the refrain). 1983's "Shame", perhaps another. "One Way Love" (below) is another louder effort, though not (comparatively) "super-sweet-voiced"....BTW, most of Agnetha's 1987 I Stand Alone album is performed with a (relatively) more subdued, smoother singing style (as an example of that).))   We don't have time/space here, but there is also Ms.Fältskog's unusual ability to sound plaintive - even wailing - in certain efforts. One example: The refrain from this excellent, in-Swedish song from 1975. (link (new window))
 Note: All songs linked here sound better on hi-fidelity recordings. BTW, equal time: Some definitely don't seem to agree (with my own assessments): link, new window: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/3615466/Stayingin.html)

2012 insert/update: Interested readers are welcome to continue as I 'box around' some ideas about Ms.Fältskog's special voice, below.  However, here is a current link to a YT video which identifies a range of notes achieved by the singer over time, via scientific pitch notation. (Link to video, new window opens.) I think it is a very good effort, demonstrating a good portion of what follows (below, and in the comments here). As time permits I'll try to verify the notes ID'd in the video on a piano. My guess is that they are accurate. Although I'll take one more moment to add that the 'A7' scream ID'd around the 4:35 mark (video) is (to my ears) just that: A scream, vs. a music note.....(As also mentioned in the YT video's comments... the 'B7' note included is probably an instrument.)

(Continuing previously written text:) And also to preface, please be aware that this (American) writer is more familiar with Ms.Fältskog's English solo work. It is worth a listen to explore a few of her Swedish-language songs, via a post here (link). The artist's recent compilation album, "My Very Best" (link) contains 18 top songs in her native language. Also please note that what follows is mainly about the singer's voice and how it is used. Not "One Way Love"'s merit as a song (plus other ones mentioned below), melody, video presentation, meanings of lyrics, etc...

The strong, lower-range "One Way Love" is an example of why I sometimes questioned whether Agnetha's voice type could be "classified" as" "soprano". Versus the often more rangy and versatile mezzo-soprano type. In ABBA, Ms.Fältskog usually sang the higher-voiced parts, but could also sometimes match with her partner, rich "mezzo" Anni-Frid Lyngstad. One probable reason (of several) that the two meshed so well together. (Frida could also "sing high" when necessary. Pls. see reader comment, end of post. And also, superb analysis/examples (re Frida singing high), pp.142-43 of Mr. Patrick's book.) Updated note: In 1996's biography As I Am, co-author Brita Ahman describes Agnetha as having "...a very wide register and range." (Page 127.) A confirmation of that statement follows:

(Updated) analysis: Without the song's sheet music, I "pulled out" my trusty, flash (virtual) piano keyboard. Matching Agnetha's sung word "down" at the 35-36 second mark of the "One Way Love" YT video, the keyboard rang the A note that is two keys below (to the left of) middle C. (A/k/a C4, in scientific pitch notation.) Per Wikipedia, this is outside (i.e., slightly lower) than what's considered to be the common vocal range for a (classical) soprano. (Which generally begins at middle C.)

Even with this information, I'd guess that Agnetha is (was) primarily a (non-classical music) soprano. (Per the following examples.) But with a musically useful range that extends below the common classification. Important to note (for this discussion): "There is currently no authoritative voice classification system within non-classical music."  But, we will continue on here, understanding the limitations. (Perhaps this is one reason why I had difficulty guessing what voice "classification" Agnetha might have best approximated (per above). Plus, as noted in the linked article, technical enhancements (to voice, etc.) are often used (in popular music).)
(Continuing:) There is more: A different example, for her high voice: (And switching over to look at a couple of ABBA songs, briefly.) No sheet music again, but in the beautiful, higher-voiced "The Winner Takes It All", my virtual keyboard matches a few of Agnetha's quick higher notes as B's (B5's), one piano key below "high C". (A/k/a C6 in scientific pitch notation, two octaves above C4.) However, I think she goes higher than that at least once in that song. The word "takes", in "the winner takes it all"(late in the piece) -- could be the C# (C sharp) just above "high C"... -- per my amateur analysis. (Please keep "amateur" in mind.  I'm estimating....Listen to Benny Andersson's piano at the song's end, for some of the notes that  Ms.Fältskog hit.)  10/09 update: I found free piano sheet music for "Winner..." (At the same site as linked, below.) The vocal melody as written (at its highest notes) features many B -, C - and even D-notes -- all "flatted". (E.g., D-flat, which I believe is the same as C#.) They are written at one octave above "middle C" (treble clef). The question is "where" Agnetha is singing these written notes. It sounds to me (via my virtual piano keyboard) that she is (of course) singing the correct notes, but actually at two octaves above middle C. (Not surprising (at this point); she's a good (pop) soprano....) But.... that is just my amateur analysis. And, a quick, March, 2010 update: I continue to evaluate these statements in light of Mr. Patrick's professional analysis. Per page 290-91 of his book (link above), it appears that I have correctly identified the notes involved (above), as written. Where is Agnetha singing them? Mr. Patrick describes her as "confidently commanding a range of an 11th over two octaves", in the "two vocal phrases (statements) that comprise the song". (One of these includes the "the winner takes it all" phrase.) I'm not musically-knowledgeable enough (yet) to completely understand his terminology, precisely. He may simply mean that she goes through a series of eleven notes which span two octaves in these phrases. I'll continue reading his book for more clues. My ear - and virtual piano - still "tell" me that Agnetha's vocal (in this part of the song) is two octaves (sixteen notes) above "middle C", at points...
2011 updated note: Expert Christopher Patrick categorizes Agnetha Fältskog as a soprano, her partner Frida as a mezzo on page 141 of his definitive work. That's good enough for me...and perhaps most (remaining) readers (here) as well. Much easier for qualified Mr. Patrick, I'm sure; but I had to "box it around" and figure it out the hard way....

A quick aside: Please take a few minutes to visit the following song review of "Winner..." from 1980 by critic Tom Ewing.  Please right-click on the link. http://freakytrigger.co.uk/ft/2008/11/abba-the-winner-takes-it-all/

(This image has been released into the public domain by its author, WarX. This applies worldwide.)

Even more. Re Ms. Fältskog's low voice: In ABBA's "Dancing Queen", the (sung) word "king", in the line "...look for a king", plays as the F# note on my keyboard, that's located three and one-half keys below middle C. (The word "dance" somewhat later, also.) In recordings, I believe I can hear Agnetha following mezzo partner Frida down to this low note. If so, that's pretty amazing to me. (Frida leads (here), but I definitely think I can still hear Agnetha's crisper voice also on the lowest note(s). Update: On page 80 of his book (below), Mr. Patrick also (independently) uses "crisp" to describe Agnetha's sound quality contribution (on a different song).)
Update: I located a site (link at own risk) with free piano/vocal sheet music for 'Dancing Queen'. The note in question (i.e., sung word "king") appears to in fact be an F-sharp, in both the bass and treble clefs. The question is whether Agnetha is actually singing the F# with Frida. (BTW, I have no separate vocalist scores if there were any.)  It certainly sounds to me like she is singing low(er) with Frida.
March, 2010 update: At first read of C. Patrick's detailed 2008 book, ABBA: Let The Music Speak, the author notes that the two ABBA singers "sound as one voice" (in this song, page 31), though they are an octave apart - in the song's refrain (emphasis added). I'm still reading the book to discover whether Mr. Patrick finds that Agnetha actually matches Frida on the low notes (not in the refrain) mentioned above....Another update: Impression at least partly confirmed. Page 226 of Mr. Patrick's book contains a partial vocal score for "Dancing Queen". The low notes in the brief passages in question (above) are scored as: A single E note (five whole note piano keys below middle C), followed by several F-sharps (three and one-half keys below),including the sustained F# on sung words "king", "dance", etc. Also: Mr. Patrick illustrates (pages 226-7) that, through verse #2 (includes low F# (on "dance")) and following chorus, ABBA's wonderful singers "...have in fact presided over a vocal range spanning three octaves from verse start to chorus end...However (conclusion to this section) : It's still a question whether Agnetha is exactly "on" the low, sustained note(s) (in "DQ") with Frida. It seems that she is very close; but perhaps slightly higher....? If interested pls. watch and listen to this YouTube clip showing ABBA rehearsal of an unused (or "lost") verse from "DQ". I had to listen several times to finally discern that Agnetha may in fact be singing (the notes) slightly higher than mezzo Frida. One more factor to consider: These two voices have somewhat different timbre(s) (i.e., 'tone'); one reason they can (sometimes) sound slightly different (with close listening) even when singing the same note.

What is (further) confirmed here is that these were two special pop voices, especially together. Amazing in-unison singers. (That it is sometimes difficult to discern between the voices is proof of that. And BTW: Sultry voices by the ladies (as well) in the rehearsal video of the song ("D.Q.")....)

CORRECTION re the following paragraph: Upon review, based upon the 10/24/11 comment below, I believe that I likely picked up the wrong notes via the piano here...Re-playing them, Agnetha's higher notes (in the backgound) in fact sound like F#'s below high C, not above...  (Original text:) Amazingly more: I think rangy Agnetha "helps" (also rangy) Frida with a couple more low F-sharps in "If It Wasn't For The Nights", though Frida magnificently leads the way in those portions. BTW, my virtual keyboard also tracks Agnetha (again) above "high C" in this same song. I don't know, but noticeable in this recorded/mimed version of ..."Nights" (link); Agnetha could be well above, in (parts of) her (recorded) high-voice harmonies. (Per the virt. piano keyboard: The F# above "high C" ?!? Check the recording/video at the 25 second mark, and again at about 2:17.)  If accurate of course, this puts Ms.Fältskog both (well?) below and above common soprano range, within the same recording. (Possibly from the F# below middle C (:19, :37 second mark (etc.) in the video) to the F# above high C (in background harmony, noted).) What do I know....maybe this occurred more than I realize. This is a good "show-off" song, for both vocalists. (Though admittedly a bit shrill-sounding in the chorus....)

(CORRECTED section:) - Incredibly more: As expertly noted by Christopher Patrick in his detailed 2008 book ABBA: Let The Music Speak, just how high could pop soprano Agnetha Faltskog reach with her voice? Try the very last sung or (mostly)"screamed" word "tiger" at the 2:47-2:48 mark of the linked YT video for ABBA's "Tiger"...  (Ref. page 37.) Employing the virtual piano keyboard again, a guess is that she briefly reaches the D# above "high C".  Link to the music video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=znB8OlFgCSM&fmt=18

Enough.. I won't analyze this ad nauseum - further - as I don't know enough. (More, here.) Back to the original topic that started the post: Have a listen to this outstanding pop singer let it go a bit, with no "pinching" or compression that occasionally was present when she "went up" significantly higher. Perhaps the higher voice required more effort. (Note: She sometimes used her falsetto voice intentionally on certain solo efforts.) And, BTW: Notice that Agnetha (apparently) recorded at least two different voice lines (harmony) in "One Way Love." A beautiful job with the higher harmony....

Every note sung "bang on",as usual (I.e., no sliding. See page 120 in Mr. Palm's biography). Good quality. Good volume Power and control....
At times, she manages to sound like her idol Connie Francis (probably a mezzo) and I think even Lesley Gore at the beginning here. And sung  "Agnetha"-clear, as always. Enjoy:

 (2012 UPDATE: Link to a higher-quality video performance (of this song) now on You Tube. Worth a visit for the sound improvement, plus beautiful, thirty-something Agnetha... doing some excellent lip-synching. (In camera close-up at moments.1985: A vintage year for public-performing, solo Agnetha...)  
Thanks again to YouTube's '2Shaymcn' for producing this video. (New window opens.): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8wHzRByGvD8&fmt=18)

For fans, it's tantalizing to think whether Agnetha's  voice -- perhaps especially her good lower range -- is still clear and strong today....

BTW: Portions of Agnetha's '80's-excess-marred "I Won't Let You Go" are somewhat similar. (Same album.) But we are also are treated to her "punching" her dramatic higher voice at points (in that song's refrain). She could do a lot with that special voice.....Update: Another very good example - this time live (1979) with ABBA - where Ms.Fältskog is primarily using her strong "lower voice", and is in a good (vocal) comfort zone. (Though a bit out-of-breath here, live.) ABBA's "Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie" (link to live performance) seems (again) to be near-center for the adult singer's strongest voice area.

AND: Even more vocal versatility (and skill)? Try this "Doris Day" version of ABBA's "Thank You for the Music" (link). A distinctly talented performer....Tremendous lower-voiced portions in this (not-well-known) effort from the (rangy) pop soprano -- once again. Crisp and metallic-framed voice. (Updated insert: Probably incorrectly, I'm thinking of this "metallic" quality in similar terms as that described within the "Fach" system: "A German voice system that categorizes operatic voices by weight, color, timbre and range...."
Plus; resonance at moments. (Especially for a generally higher-range singer...)

One more solo Agnetha (YT) example for the lower voice (at moments) is linked here (right-click for a new window). The song "Eyes of a Woman" also illustrates the "metallic-edged (or -framed)" sound quality that the singer sometimes generated.

Additional, bonus info.: I'm not an expert. But I try to learn a bit here and there. To that end, please evaluate this recent, amateur comment I prepared for a prominent ABBA forum, about certain attributes of Agnetha's voice:
"....Not being a voice teacher or expert, I'll toss out this: "Brilliance" (in music) is defined in the dictionary as "sharpness and clarity of tone". (One analogy: Kind of like bright trumpets in an orchestra. Update: One clear example of this aspect? Agnetha's stirring lead in the refrain of ABBA's "Soldiers". Sounds (to me) like ABBA deliberately went for a "bugler"-like effect (via Ms.Fältskog's voice) in those portions of the song. They even used the word "bugler"....Excellent mimicry (if true).)
It seems "brilliance" can further refer to the resonant "ring" in a singer's voice. (See: The larynx as a resonator.) Having now reached the end of my limited expertise on the subject, I'll include a link to one "live" performance where -- (possibly) without studio technical enhancement present -- I hear (full) "brilliance" at times in Agnetha's voice. I.e., It is clear, bright, cuts through; and even "rings" a bit:    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vs_jR0VcB3Y&feature=related
(I'll leave other examples to you.  I think there are many with ABBA. E.g.; The refrain (especially) of "The Winner Takes It All". (Trying to filter out technical enhancement.) Her backing vocal in "Money Money Money" - a very good example. The refrain in "SOS", (live performances of) "Waterloo" , Agnetha's vocals in "If It Wasn't For The Nights" (especially the refrain)-- perhaps additional ones.)

Actually, I think her voice is always brilliant. (Non-music sense.)

She could also soften beautifully as required, but Agnetha often displayed a "metallic"-sounding singing voice. (As pointed out in comments above; and a very good solo song example featuring this (metallic) quality (it IS a quality) is linked here (right-click).) Although (I've read that) the metallic sound is a different voice attribute from brilliance (e.g.,some view singing loudly as part of generating a metallic voice); there is (also) apparently a resonant tonal quality that can be described as metallic brilliance. FWIW, I think Agnetha's voice could show this. (Again: Many of the ABBA song examples above.) Any voice experts in the house? Update, decent example: If you have the "ABBA: Number Ones" DVD, check out young Agnetha's (unmodified, no-retakes) voice on the live "Waterloo" performance that's included. It also has a couple of quick examples of her tendency to sing "flat(-ly)" at times, live....

What I really know: Agnetha sounds great and could do a lot with that special voice. As already described above; "She sings like an angel"."

10/09 update: Ladies and gentlemen (those brave enough to read this far) : Apparently she's known a bit for it, but the note that Agnetha hit in ABBA's "Hole in Your Soul"....At about the 1:52 mark in the excellent video, linked below.... (From Agnetha aficionado '2Shaymcn'.) :  In this live, 1979 performance (assuming no post-concert re-dubbing of the vocals), Ms. Agnetha briefly achieves an "interesting" note/scream. Others (I've read) have ID'd the note as a B5. (I.e., Next to "high C" (C6) on the keyboard, using scientific pitch notation. ) That seems to be correct. By now, you know I'm not an expert, but per above I think she managed somewhat higher notes on other (studio) occasions.

Link to YT video (also) featuring an especially super-looking Frida, BTW. (Uhh, which singer in the freeze-frame moment below appears more comfortable on the stage? Note: Agnetha tended to "live" what she was singing...)): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Igey30e3JCw
(screen cap)
Winding this up, at last: There's much more to voice classification than high note capability, but; we've encountered a versatile voice (via this post). No doubt there.

(Blog note: Comments or corrections are welcome. (And please note the first comment, below.) This post is backdated to better fit within the order of entries here.It was last edited  4/30/10.)

Link to my full blog: http://star4abba.blogspot.com/
Copyright 2009-12


  1. Enjoyed reading your blog about Agnetha's vocal range.

    Have you noticed her lower range, too? ("Fly Me to the Moon" has that timbre I'm referring to.)
    It was a shock to me when I found that Agnetha sang the alto part on "Fernando". That was a nice twist/treat: the girls trading places, vocally. (*You can hear this on the 3rd stanza of "Move On", too - where Frida sings higher than Agnetha.)

  2. Hi, interesting study, but in most of your examples you are off by an octave, and some notes are wrong. For example, the "Tiger" note is a Bb5, two semitones below soprano "High C". The F# is actually an F#5, below high C, not above. It's just that she uses her head voice and it gives the notes a higher sound. Most sopranos can go above C6 and below C4, but C4-C6 is the range they are expected to have (at least)to sing as a soprano in opera. If you want to hear "stratospherically" high notes in the 6th and 7th octaves, listen to Minnie Riperton, Mariah Carey, Shanice Wilson, Chante Moore or Debelah Morgan, and you will notice that the notes that they hit are much higher than the examples you gave for Agnetha (they're even called "whistle notes" because it starts sounding more like a whistle than human voice). The highest I've heard from Agnetha is a B5 (in full voice, in that live performance of "Hole in your soul" and also in a video I've watched of her and Frida doing warmups.) I'm pretty sure she could go up to high C if she wanted to, considering she could hit the B5 without needing to resort to a falsetto sound.

  3. (Note: Comment composed via another platform; pls. excuse any extra spaces, etc....)

    At last...a specific comment (above) and - it appears - from a person with voice/music knowledge. (Also appreciate that another human read the lengthy post.) After quick re-evaluation (based upon the reader's insights and using a virtual piano again), I have noted/corrected my original entry above.

    As mentioned several times I am not an expert (or a piano player). Though unintentional, it is entirely possible that I improperly heard and/or incorrectly analyzed some sung notes when attempting to replicate them with the virtual piano.

    I'm more pleased that improved analysis of Ms.Fältskog's fine pop voice is now added here. (Plus - at least - (from my original text), the writer and I are in agreement re Agnetha's 'B5' note within ABBA's "Hole in Your Soul".)

    Minding the commenter's distinction between head voice and chest voice, I still question if Agnetha did not manage a final note /scream at the very end of the "Tiger" YT video (link is above) that reached above high C. (Her last-notes blast seems close to a scream, to me.) I'm unable to embed links in blog comments so I'll offer two current YouTube video URLs for (amateur) comparison with Agnetha's final notes at around 2:47 in the "Tiger" video: The first presents opera singer Cecilia Bartoli purportedly reaching above high C. (URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AElgGuUSSKE&fmt=18) To my ears Agnetha's quick blast and Ms. Bartoli's impressive high(est) note seem "in the same ballpark"; around D#/E-flat (above C6) on the keyboard. (As Agnetha ends on the -ger in "tiger". (Her "ti-" syllable seems slightly higher, BTW...)) The second YT link presents Dame Joan Sutherland mastering several D/D#'s (above C6 on my keyboard). Pop singer Agnetha's voice cannot compare, but her "Tiger"scream (played simultaneously with Dame Sutherland's sustained notes and/or the keyboard) again seems (to me) to end up at D#. (URL:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b5f5KMQaAac&fmt=18) I understand that Agnetha's (faded-out) scream is not a sustained, fully-sung note.

    Thanks to the writer for making the useful comment. More are welcome. (Having Ms.Fältskog's voice/singing discussed (properly, civily) is an aim around here.)

    I'd also wish we - or someone - could elicit commentary from the lady herself (Ms.Fältskog) re her singing, and examples mentioned here....

  4. Thanks for the response!Yeah, I know a thing or two about music, but I'm far from being a professional or something like that. I found this blog by searching "Agnetha vocal range" on google, because I was hoping to find a video of her vocal range (there are dozens of vocal range videos for other pop singers, so I thought there would be one for Agnetha). About figuring out the notes, I can give you a tip: go to http://www.seventhstring.com/tuner/tuner.html and sing the note you want to find out, or slow down a video with that note, and it'll tell you what it is. What I meant by head voice is that in today's pop music, there is a very popular style called belting, in which a singer hits a note that was supposed to already be in his/her head voice, with the chest voice, or at least with the chest voice sound (it is what Agnetha does with that B5 in the "Hole in your soul" performance here). When she hits those higher notes, she uses head voice most of the time (especially in studio versions). Head voice would be the female equivalent to falsetto in males (it's not really correct to say this, because females also have falsetto and males also have head voice, but women have much more tendency to use their head voices, and males to use their falsettoes). Also, the female falsetto (with some exceptions) has a strange sound to it. That said it's normal that, not knowing a lot about music, you would confuse a note's octave. Now, about the note in "Tiger"... I am sure that the note in the syllable "ti" is a Bb, and it is higher than the syllable "ger". It could either be a Bb5 or a Bb6. I am more inclined to believe it is a Bb5, for several reasons:
    - I am skeptical to believe that a singer whose highest confirmed note is a B5 would hit a Bb6 that easily and pronounce a word in it.
    - A Bb6 is really close to the 7th octave (the last octave on the piano) and I think that if it truly were one, it would sound either flute-like or whistle-like. With a note as high as that, your voice stops sounding like a voice.
    - Here is a B6 by Mariah Carey, an octave higher than B5: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PDgs-aRb1fQ , at the 2:50 mark. I know it's a semitone higher, but compare the sound.

    Anyway, she was very talented,remember she could "belt" a B5 without needing to use her head voice with a falsetto-ish sound.

  5. Oh, I just discovered something. I'm not sure if it's Agnetha but in "King Kong Song" (possibly their worst song ever) there is a D6 and an A6 scream. Youtube link : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=92OC0ubJ4CY - The D6 is at the 1:41 mark and the A6 is at 2:14.

  6. I found another thing you may find interesting: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xHUGxTvkKis

    There is Frida (a mezzosoprano) singing some interesting notes, from the 5:08 mark. The highest note she hits in this live performance is an (effortless) Eb6, the same note Dame Joan is singing in that video you posted. This just goes to show that vocal types don't really matter in non-classical music, because there are people who cover several voice types with their range, as the vocal production in non-classical is not nearly as important as in classical, and you are allowed to do certain things with your voice in "pop" that you are not in opera, because in opera you need to be heard without a microphone through an orchestra. We conclude that Frida has demonstrated a 3 octave range, from the low E (E3 in "Money Money Money") to the high Eb, in that video. Agnetha, on the other hand, has a close to 3octave range (from the low E, E3, in the word "look" in "Dancing queen") to the high B (B5, in "Hole in your soul). Anyway, for someone who supposedly is a soprano, I find Agnetha a little afraid of going for the higher notes.

  7. Thanks to the writer (above) for the illuminating comments. And yes, I agree that Agnetha seemed at times to either struggle or strain on some attempted higher notes. I can't recall now where I read it (perhaps C.M. Palm's Bright Lights, Dark Shadows), but I believe ABBA's excellent sound engineer (etc.), Michael Tretow once said something about Agnetha's voice becoming "tense" on higher notes, occasionally. (I believe Michael was portrayed as a positive influence who encouraged her to (try to) relax her voice...) As cited elsewhere in this blog Agnetha was 'asked' (demanded?) to sing high harmonies regularly with ABBA. She was great at this at times, but on a few other occasions the result sounds (to me) like a less-than-optimal "place" for her voice. (I.e., not comfortable for her, for reasons this fan is unlikely to ever really know. Also ref. the 'tessitura' link, above.)

    FWIW, my own preference (one of them; Agnetha as an adult singer) is reflected in this post's title and featured solo song example, "One Way Love". I also believe I've read more than once that Agnetha described herself as possessing a (musically useful) "high voice" and a "low voice". That was one reason I was a little surprised/confused when I first heard Agnetha described as a pop soprano...

    As noted also in the post above attempting to classify voice types in pop music is kind of useless for a few reasons, as the commenter explains. Plus, with Frida and Agnetha (and other fine singers) there are so many other aspects to examine re their voices, extending beyond range and high note capability. If interested, the 5/7/09 "Three excellent forum posts..." entry here has several fans attempting to describe (via words) some (perhaps more subjective) features of Agnetha's appealing voice.

  8. (pt.1) Great post!
    I would only like to add some comments regarding Agnetha's "metallic" tone and tessitura. The passage about her voice in songs like "soldiers" and "the winner" is absolutely correct (I would add also "the angels cry", especially the bridge). This "metallic" ringing sound is actually her head voice, meaning that the sound is amplified and resonating largely through the bones and cavities of the face. As you may know, opera singers sing mostly with their head voice (both male and female), and if you listen to some sopranos with "bright" voices (especially from the German school) you will hear that same kind of "metallic ring" in their upper register, for example:

    Gundula Janowitz:
    Lucia Popp:
    Cheryl Studer:

    Also if you look at their pictures you can see that they have a similar face structure to Agnetha's, like wide nose and prominent cheek bones (also look at Joan Sutherland's pictures!), ant those are the physical features that play an important role of producing a sonorous head voice. So I guess that part of the secret of Agnetha's angelic voice is literally her angelic face =)
    (She could easily become a great classical lyric soprano if she wanted to)

    But I don't agree with the comments about Agneth'as tessitura or weak high notes. It's true that the tessitura depends on what kind of style you are singing in (one singers pop voice tessitura doesn't have to be the same as his opera voice tessitura), and probably Agnetha felt more comfortable and secure singing in her lower crooning voice (that also my be due to a faulty technique) than her full head voice. But tessitura is really about the range in which it's the least tiring for a singer to sing most of the time without straining the voice to much, and I'm not sure that this kind of problem was an issue for Agnetha (and if it was than it's more due to psychological or technical issues rather than physiological). So Agnetha is capable of some very beautiful low notes, but when she goes to her high register Frida (who is a mezzo) doesn't stand a chance singing in unison (though I would say that Frida's voice is more powerful, or rather batter supported, and it's quite evident on live recordings). And so I think that Agnetha is definitely a true soprano and not a mezzo (also notice that some sopranos with darker voices are capable of very impressive low notes, for example Leontyne Price), and her tessitura lies at a much higher range than in "one way love". Also I would say that her best voice is showcased in songs like "soldiers", "one of us", "the winner takes it all", "the angels cry", but this is more a question of personal taste really (and in my case it reflects my opera bias).

  9. (pt. 2)
    And finely about her vocal range. The high notes on "tiger" and "hole in your soul" are really more of a screams than fully sung and usable notes (ditto her low whispered notes on MCB), so I won't say that Agnetha's range is that impressive. But vocal range is more a matter of technique than voice type proper (every good classical mezzo should be able to hit easily soprano range high notes when needed, same for baritones and even basses (of course not soprano notes if it's a male singer)), and so Agnetha would hit as high notes as she like if she had a batter technique and proper voice support. Also there's no problem for a classical soprano hitting very low notes if sung in a pop chest voice like Agnetha does on "dancing queen" (also sopranos should be able to hit low notes below their natural tessitura with their opera voice, like for example in Fiordiligi's arias in Mozart's "Cosi fan tutte" or the soprano arias in the great mass in C minor). What voice type classification really means is not how high or low a note you can possibly produce, but what is your best sounding and most usable range within the style you are singing. So for example, a male operatic bass can sing in a soprano range if he uses falsetto, but obviously it doesn't make him a soprano because falsetto is not a "real" voice suitable for opera, so your falsetto range doesn't count as part of your operatic range (and because of that some pop and rock singers have a "bigger" range than any opera singer simply because in non classical music unsupported chest and falsetto singing is considered appropriate for the genre).

    One last remark about Agnetha's (operatic) voice type: My best guess that she is probably a light lyrical soprano like Miah Persson (who also happens to be an attractive Swedish blonde):

    Possible, but less likely, she could have become a full lyric spinto like for example the great Mirella Freni:

  10. Thank you to 'Fafner' (Oleg) for the recent, knowledgeable comments (above), which (also) help make this post much BETTER (than before).