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Analysis of musical meaning in an Abba mega-hit


Table of Contents

Music examples

Abba: Fernando – complete transcription 19-25


1. Abba: Fernando, bars 1-6 29

2. Haider: Spanish Autumn (Selected Sounds) - ‘Spain, South America, country + people’ 30

3. Trede: Exotic Flute (Selected Sounds) - ‘impression’....‘journey over exotic landscape’ 30

4. Inca Flute (CAM) - ‘quena’.... ‘Bolivia, Peru, N. Argentina, sadness and melancholy, valley’ 30

5. Cordigliera. CAM 004: ‘Carnival, festivity in the valley’ 30

6. Duncan: Wine Festival, part (c) (Boosey & Hawkes SBH) - ‘gay, exotic, Mediterranean’ 30

7. Reaves & Evans: Lady of Spain 30

8. Simon & Garfunkel + Los Calchakis (1970): El Condor Pasa – introduction 30

9. Borodin (1880): On The Steppes Of Central Asia – opening 32

10. Copland (1941): ‘On The Open Prairie’ from ballet suite Billy The Kid 32

11. Friedhofer (1957): ‘In The Mountains’ from Boy On A Dolphin 32

12. Händel (1741): Pastoral Symphony from The Messiah 32

13. Bruckner (1881): Symphony No.4 – opening ‘In der Wald’ 32

14. Beethoven (1808): Pastoral Symphony (opening) 33

15. Schubert (1827): Der Leiermann. ‘Drüben hinterm Dorfe steht ein Leiermann’ 33

16. Schubert (1817): Ganymed. End 33

17. Mahler (1912): ‘Der Abschied’ from Lied von der Erde 33

18. Grieg (1901): ‘Skovstillhed’ (=Peace in the Woods) from Lyrische Stücke, Op.71 nº63 34

19. Ives (1908): The Unanswered Question. Opening bars. 34

20. R. Strauss (1896): Also sprach Zarathustra — sunrise motif 36

21. Haydn (1798): The Creation – sunrise 36

22. Haydn (1810): The Seasons – (nº 17: aria) ‘Welche Erhöhung für die Sinne!’ 37

23. Schubert (1817): Ganymed 37

24. Hypothetical Substitutions for the ‘sunrise’ in Fernando: a) sudden lift b) gradual rise and fall 37

25. Simon & Garfunkel (1970), Los Calchakis (1968): El Condor Pasa, B section 37

26. Fauré (1888): Requiem - ‘In Paradisum’ 38

27. Brahms (1869): Ein deutsches Requiem. Final bars 38

28. Schubert (1825): Ave Maria....‘Jungfrau mild, erhöre einer Jungfrau Flehen’ 39

29. Sibelius (1903): Romance for Piano 39

30. Skinner (c.1940): ‘The Man I Marry’, from The Irishman. ‘She pleads with him to be her friend’ 40

31. Incipits of melodic lines from ‘Teen Angel’ songs of the ‘Milksap’ Era. 41

32. Hypothetical Substitution (HS) of bass line in verse of Fernando in reggae style 42

33. Ravel (1929): Boléro (opening) 43

34. Bolero-type figures in dramatic love ballads 43

35. Gluck (1762/1744): Orfeo e Euridice. Aria ‘Che farò senza Euridice’ 44

36. Hypothetical Substitution on Ex. 35 - no appoggiature 44

37. Händel (1741): ‘He Was Despised’ from The Messiah; a) original, b) without appoggiature 44

38. Beethoven (1802): Piano Sonata Op.31, no.2 45

39. Schubert (1823): Auf dem Wasser zu singen. 45

40. Merle Haggard: You’re Walking On The Fighting Of Me 45

41. Hypothetical Substitution on ex. 40 - no appoggiature 46

42. Los Gallos (Spanish trad.) 47

43. Malagueña Solerosa (Mexican trad.) 47

44. Youmans (1933): Carioca 48

45. Duncan: Wine Festival. Boosey & Hawkes Recorded Music Catalogue 48

46. Sylvia Vrethammar (1973): E viva España 48

47. Johnny Duncan and the Blue Grass Boys (1957): Last Train To San Fernando 48

48. Fernando – verse 1, vocal line as recorded, bars 13-22 49

49. Fernando – verse 1, vocal line as notated in sheet music version, bars 12-18 49

50. Njurling & Dahlqvist (1924): Axel Öman. Melodic tritone in final cadence of verse 52

51. Adolphson (1966): Gustav Lindströms Visa. Precadential melodic tritone 52

52. Prøysen: Lilla Vackra Anna. Melodic tritone 7#-4 in V-I cadence 52

53. Alfvén: Roslagsvår. Precadential melodic tritone 52

54. Alfvén: Dalarapsodi (Swedish Rhapsody). Unrepeated melodic tritone at ‘halfway house’ 53

55. Sandström & Sandberg (1928): Där näckrosen blommar 53

56. Heatherton: I’ve Got A Luvverly Bunch O’ Coconuts. 53

57. Sylvia Vrethammar (1973): E viva España. Melodic tritones 56

58. Di Capua / Presley: It’s Now Or Never (O Sole mio). Melodic tritone 54

59. Dave Bartholomew / Presley: One Night With You. Melodic tritone 54

60. Schumann (1840): Du bist wie eine Blume. Sequentially repeated melodic tritone 54

61. J S Bach (1729): ‘Ich will bei meinem Jesu wachten’ (Matthew Passion) 54

62. Wolf (1888): ‘Nimmersatte Liebe’ (Mörike Lieder) 56

63. Gluck (1762/1774): ‘Che farò senza Euridice?’ from Orfeo e Euridice 57

64. Righteous Brothers: You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ 57

65. Osvaldo Farrés / Nat King Cole: Quizás. Melodic tritone 59

66. ‘Second-line riffs’ from R&B-influenced US pop of the late 1950s. (a) Elvis Presley (1957): All Shook Up. (b) The Coasters (1959): Poison Ivy. (c) Elvis Presley (1959): A Fool Such As I. (d) Lloyd Price (1952): Lawdy Miss Clawdy. (e) Larry Williams (1957): Boney Moronie. (f) Don & Dewey (1958): Koko Joe. (g) Little Richard (1958): Good Golly Miss Molly. (h) Louis Jordan (1948): Run Joe. (i) Louis Jordan (1957): Early In The Morning. (j) Louis Prima (1955): Beep Beep. (k) Chick Willis (1958): Hang Up My Rock and Roll Shoes. (l) Fats Domino (1955): Ain’t That A Shame. (m) Fats Domino (1955): Poor Me. (n) Fats Domino (1956): Blueberry Hill. (o) Fats Domino (1957): I’m Walking. (p) Fats Domino (1957): The Big Beat. (q) Fats Domino (1958): I Hear Ya Knocking 61

67. ABBA: ‘Second-line’ riffs: (a) I Do I Do I Do I Do I Do; (b) Ring Ring 61

68. I-v/3-VI-ii(II) progressions in Homeward Bound, My Way and Fernando 64

69. Final melodic cadence in Fernando over V-I harmonies 84

70. HS end of Fernando. Up and out to El Pueblo Unido, not down and in to fade-out 84

71. M8 into M6 at start of chorus: no final melodic descent 85

72. Culturally realistic HS for end of Fernando 85

73. Hoola Bandoola Band: Victor Jara 96-100


Figures and illustrations

1. Peruvian shepherd with quena flute (photo, 1954) 35

2. Panning and stage presentation of sonic-scenic figure-ground dualism in most European music 48

3. General pattern of harmony (W-X-Y-Z) in old Europop quaternary periods 53

4. Album cover La flûte indienne (Barclay, 1968) 67

5. Fascist troops outside La Moneda palace, Santiago de Chile, September 1973 94

6. Sleeve for single Victor Jara b/w Stoppa matchen (Hoola Bandoola Band, 1974) 100

7. Album sleeve Frida ensam (LP containing Swedish version of Fernando) 108

8. Mastubatory poses in 1970s pop music marketing 109

9. Inti Illimani performing for Unidad Popular in Chile, 1972 124

10. Quintetto Tiempo at the Berlin Political Song Festival (DDR), 1973. 124

11. Coca Cola culture in Lima and Calcutta 125

12. Coca Cola på ‘conditori’ — det svenska folkhemmet 125



¶ reference to musical, not bibliographical, source (see LMR, below).

ac.gt. acoustic guitar.

b bar (measure) nº, e.g. b112 = bar nº 112; b44-55 = bars 44 through 55.

bs. bass.

C&W country (and western) music.

ch chorus section in Fernando, e.g. ch1 = first chorus.

DDR Deutsche Demokratische Republik (former East Germany)

dr. drums.

el.bs. electric bass.

el.gt. electric guitar.

fl.dir. flauto diritto/flauti diritti, i.e. ‘straight’, not transverse, flute(s), e.g. recorder(s) (Blockflöte), quena(s), pinkillo(s), etc.

GDR German Democratic Republic (see DDR)

gt(r) guitar.

HS hypothetical substitution, i.e. commutation of one or more parameter(s) of musical expression.

I tonic major function or triad (on first degree of scale), e.g. ‘a V-I cadence’

i Instrumental section in Fernando: i1 = introduction; i2 = interlude.

IMF International Monetary Fund.

IOC(M) interobjective comparison (material), i.e. comparable musical structures found in other pieces of music than Fernando.

LMR list of musical references, marked in text and footnotes with ‘¶’ to distinguish from bibliographic references.

m museme number (see table of musemes, p.26), e.g. ‘m3a’ = museme nº 3a.

Musemes are minimal units of musical signification (connotation).

MNW Musiknätet Waxholm: main record label of Swedish alternative music movement.

pf pianoforte.

R&B rhythm and blues.

R&R rock and roll.

synt(h) synthesiser.

V dominant major function or triad (on fifth degree of scale), e.g. ‘a V-I cadence’.

v verse section in Fernando, e.g. v1, v2, v3 = verse 1, verse 2, verse 3.

vln(s) violin(s).

voc. vocal(s), vocal line.

VVA verbal-visual association.


Note on shorthand for relative pitch of melodic phrases

Figures in bold face, e.g.#7 or 4 (in this case the major seventh or perfect fourth in relation to an implied tonic) mean that these are important accentuated notes in the melodic formula. Figures in brackets, e.g. (8), mean that the note in question (8 being the octave in relation to the implied tonic) can, but need not, appear in the melodic formula under discussion. Figures neither underlined nor in brackets refer to unstressed tones included in the melodic formula. Generally speaking, these figures express relation to the implied, immanent or factual tonic. In cases where this proves impossible we ask readers to be aware that a 4-#3-(1)-$7 (accents on major third and flat seventh), an (8)-$7-(5)-(4)-#3, an (8)-#7-(6)-(5)-4 and a (5)-4-(2)-(1)-#7 are all interpretable as variations of the same basic melodic tritone formula in the context of tertial (‘functional’) harmony.


List of music examples, figures 2

Abbreviations 4

Preface 5

Why Fernando? 5; Copyright 6;

Who is this book for? 7;

Acknowledgements 8

1: No analices? 9

No analices? 9; Why worry? (1) 9; Breakfast at Ibotirama 9;

Meanwhile, back in Sweden 14;

Rudimentary music semiotics 15;

How the rest of the book runs 16

Transcription 19

Table of musemes 26

Table of musematic occurrence 27

2: Musemes 29

m1: instant altiplano; m1a: quena;

m1b: massed charangos 31;

Ethnic qualifiers 34

m2: sunrise 36

m3: in paradisum 38; m3a, b: angel harps; m3c: tiptoe bass 41

m4: bolero: distant drums 42

m5: legato sincerity — appoggiature 43; m5b: string filler 46

m6: the Fernando museme 47

The verse’s vocal line — Monocentric panning 48; Recitatival fervour 48

m7: chorus lead-in/propulsiion 50

m8: tritone hook 50

What sort of tritone? 49

Precadential tritones 51

Unrepeated descending precadential tritones 51

‘Halfway-house’ tritones 53

Unrepeated ‘halfway-house’ descending tritones 53;

Repeated ‘halfway house’ descending tritones 53

Initial tritones 55

Initial, sequentially repeated descending tritones 55; Initial, simply repeated descending tritones 56

m9: chordal padding 59

string halo 59

m10: dance band disco 60

m10a: New Orleans second line 60

m10c-d: ‘Mjukdisco’ 62

m11: regrets 63

Sincerity and class 63

Confusion or conclusion? 64

3: Musical processes 67

From ‘there and then’ 67

The introduction (i1) 67

Verse 1, Verse 2 68

No drums = more drums? 68

Verse 2, continued 69

Chorus 1 70

To ‘here and now’ 71

First main batch of processes 72

Briefly back to ‘there’ and ‘then’ 73

The interlude 73; Verse 3 74

‘Here’ and ‘now’ for good 75

Choruses 2 and 3 75

4: Words and music 77

English version 77; Swedish version 77; Spanish version 78

Discussion of lyrics 80

Verses 1 and 2: who is Fernando? 80

Chorus 1: seen from where? 81

Verse 3: Fernando deported? 82

End chorus: ambiguity of longing 83

5: Behind and beyond the

music 87

Communication context 87

Emitters and receivers 86

Fernando’s historical context 88

Abba’s musical and social background 88; Fernando’s prehistory 93

Fernando and Victor Jara 96

Victor Jara: transcription, lyrics 96

Audiences: Swedish 103;

East Berlin 104; Tatuí 105

Visual-verbal confusion: Album sleeves 107; Swedish sleeve and lyrics 107

‘Fernando de Torremolinos’ 108

6: Ideological critique 111

Us and them, me and you: The main processes again 111

Swedish: toasting ‘Love’ 110

Spanish: old and authentic 112

English Version 115

Alternative affective strategies 117

A note on Abba's intentions 120

Popular music and affective socialisation: Fernando, politics and musical meaning 121; ‘Lagom’ 122

Why worry? (2) 123

Bibliography 127

List of musical references 129

Index 133



Why Fernando?

It all started in 1976 when I was working at the Göteborg College of Music. Fernando had been out of the Swedish hit parade for some months but the tune and its English lyrics had inflicted me like one of those tunes that etches itself into your brain whether you like it or not. Although I did not like Fernando much then, because I thought it was an affront to solidarity with the Chilean people, I had to admit that the song must have something. The questions were what that something might be and how that something works.

In the mid seventies, a fierce debate raged between out-and-out radical intellectuals and out-and-out populist advocates of commercial culture in Sweden. This ‘Coca-Cola culture debate’ consisted mostly of verbal mud-slinging from both sides at a low intellectual level. Qualifiable as far more ‘loony left’ than ‘rabid right’ in that strange boxing ring, I found myself arguing with what I thought were my allies in the red corner about what I felt to be important qualities in Abba’s music, qualities of highly popular European eclecticism that had not totally fallen prey to the (then) devastating domination of Anglo-American rock music. Despite such arguments I could not bring myself to like Fernando and I have never unreservedly liked the song since. But in 1976 I was determined to find out what I could respect about Fernando and what I found so annoying. This set of contradictions brought about the first transcription of the song and its presentation in analysis classes in 1976 and 1977. After developing explicit methods of semiotic music analysis in my doctoral thesis (Tagg 1979a), I went back to Fernando to see if those methods would work on a middle-of-the-road mega-hit I already knew well. The results of that experiment were published in a Danish musicology journal (Tagg 1979b). In 1981 I also produced an English version of that text but it was subsequently withdrawn, despite its relative popularity, from my department’s series of stencilled papers. As a result of discussion and other events ensuing presentations of that version of my Fernando analysis at seminars in Brazil in 1984 (see chapter 1), I realised that I would have to radically rewrite earlier versions of the piece. The interobjective comparison needed enlarging and refining; also, completely new sections discussing the historical and social context of the song (and its analysis) would have to be added (chapters 1, 5 and 6). This means that the 1991 version, on which this edition is based, is about three times longer than the versions from 1979 and 1981.

Another reason for the appearance of the 1991 and 1999 editions is ‘popular demand’. Students and colleagues from Europe, North America, Latin America and elsewhere have been asking since 1983, when the old version of Fernando the Flute was withdrawn from circulation by the Göteborg University Musicology Department, how they can get hold of Tagg’s ‘Fernando analysis’. Between 1983 and 1991 it was totally unavailable and the 200 copies I could afford to run off in 1991 were sold in less than a year. Since this text (1999) is stored digitally and will be distributed on demand it will not, under normal circumstances, go out of print. However, none of this really answers the question ‘why Fernando?’

One important reason for writing this book is, as can be gathered from the above, that I already had a lot of material ready for the analysis of Fernando, far less for the analysis of Abba numbers I prefer, such as S.O.S., The Name of the Game or One of Us. Another important reason is that the music and the English lyrics make clear allusion to Latin America which, at the time of Fernando’s original publication, was an area of political activity in the Northern European popular eye and ear. This made the song an almost ideal object of analysis, in that it became possible to examine links not only between musical and verbal signification but also between such signification and the political events expressing the most important ideological contradictions of the time. Fernando could therefore not logically avoid being caught up in that web of symbols and political action. All of that might make analysing Fernando more difficult but it also made it, as I hope readers will find, more interesting and more fun.

Copyright matters

Since this is a mainly musicological book concentrating on the semiotic analysis of musical structures and since the analysis object is a piece of popular music, it has been necessary to provide readers with numerous examples, transcriptions, etc. of music under copyright. In fact, the method of ‘interobjective comparison’ used in this book relies totally on being able to show similarities of musical structure in a large number of different works. In class this means playing a lot of music in addition to the various versions of Fernando. As for this book, it would, without its musical citations, be even less comprehensible and methodologically even more suspect than some readers may find it in any case. Such consideration of method means that standard commercial publication if this book would involve seeking permission, not necessarily with success, and/or paying outrageous fees for each copyrighted work cited. Clearing such copyright matters involves (i) time-consuming investigation into who owns the rights to which works in which parts of the world where the book is likely to be sold, (ii) applying for permission to quote all copyrighted works, (iii) running the risk of not being granted permission to quote certain works, (iv) possibly having to pay no mean sums of money for the right to quote from certain works. Previous experience has taught me that such efforts in involve a tremendous amount of work. For example, I had to write scores of letters, spend a minor fortune on phone calls, expedite telegrams, beg friends of friends in Los Angeles to drive round to Hollywood, contact the US embassy on several occasions, consult international lawyers, point to breaches in the Helsinki agreement, etc. before Universal Studios / MCA granted me permission to quote even my own transcription of the Kojak theme (see Tagg 1979a: 10). Similarly, Alec Wilder, in his American Popular Song (1972), never received permission to quote a single note of any Irving Berlin song — a stroke of extraordinarily bad luck or of publishing short-sightedness in a book so clearly devoted to an appreciation of US song composers’ craftsmanship.

In 1991, neither Liverpool University’s understaffed Institute of Popular Music, nor the author (paid to carry out totally different tasks than producing lengthy pop song analyses) could have shouldered the task of clearing all the publishing rights involved in this book, nor can we afford to employ minions to do that work for us. Neither would any publishing house in its right mind relish the notion of the expenses and time required to do the same thing. Nor has the situation changed radically since 1991, the only legal means of publishing this work being through a non-profit-making corporation, registered in New York, and devoted explicitly to the dissemination of scholarly musicological work on music in the mass media.

It is of course unreasonable that studies of music requiring citation of copyrighted works cannot be published without major difficulty and expense to researchers and institutions that are hard-pressed to make ends meet in the first place. It is even more absurd from an educational viewpoint, for if it is so difficult to quote widely circulated music either as notation or in recorded form, it becomes equally difficult to put that music under the musicological microscope and, consequently, to provide public (published) information and ideas about how music affecting the vast majority of the population communicates ideas, attitudes, ideologies, etc. From this perspective, the requirements of copyright clearance for popular music analysis is a restrictive and undemocratic imposition. However, copyright laws are made to protect the interests of those of us who compose, arrange, write lyrics, perform etc., so should we not receive remuneration when our works are used by others?

As part-time composer as well as writer of analyses that quote other people’s music, of course I think that we should be remunerated if others make money from our intellectual and artistic efforts without sharing any of the income thus gained with us. However, there is a patent difference between using someone else’s musical work in order to gain financial benefit from its aesthetic use value and in quoting part or whole of that work in a scholarly study from which neither author nor publisher derive profit. Clearly, no-one in their right mind will buy this analysis just in order to possess a transcription of Fernando which they would then use a basis for re-recording or re-performance of the song from which they could then make money. And it is even less likely that anyone would be fool enough to buy this report so as to acquire incomplete citations of the other copyrighted works appearing as music examples. Moreover, (re-)arrangements and (re-)performances of popular music created by others are usually effectuated by ear or by sampling, almost never via the medium of notation. Neither can sales of sheet music, not even of Fernando itself, be in any way negatively affected by this book, since the officially published sheet music of scores of Abba songs, including Fernando, costs little more than this report with all its verbiage between the examples. Neither is there any point in paying good money to obtain the mere snippets of notated tune and sound constituting all the other citations in this work. Similarly, if you just wanted to possess the lyrics of one of the songs cited in this book, it would be far cheaper and quicker to write down those lyrics by ear or to copy them from the album sleeve or to buy the official sheet music or the relevant book of lyrics than to buy this publication.

For all these reasons, this analysis in no way deprives any of the copyright holders whose works it cites of any income whatsoever. On the contrary, it is much more likely to generate interest in and increased sales of those works. Neither can reproducing transcribed citations of copyrighted work be considered as furthering the financial interests of the author.

Who is this book for?

You do not need to be notationally literate to read this book but it does help, especially in chapter 2, which is littered with music examples. I would far rather have issued a CD containing recordings of the music examples, but I fear that copyright problems (see above) would have been insurmountable in that case. Otherwise the text requires no more than broad education, interest in music and its relation to feelings and society, a general idea of what happened in Chile 1968-1974 and an open mind. The book can simply be read just as it stands in its order of presentation and the notationally illiterate can just skip the music examples and musicological jargon in chapter 2, especially if they own a recording of Fernando and if they possess a sonic image of at least some of the other pieces quoted or referred to. The theory and methodology of approaches used in this book is not laid forth in any detail but should be apparent from its practice here. Readers particularly interested in theoretical and methodological background are referred to other publications (Tagg 1979a, 1982a, 1987; see also www.tagg.org).

Why this 1999 edition?

As mentioned above, I only had enough money to print 200 copies of the full-length 1991 edition of this study. Within a few months that edition was out of print. The current edition has been produced to avoid earlier difficulties of availability. It is hopefully also an improvement in terms of comprehensibility, layout and legibility. There are only minor alterations and additions in terms of content in relation to the 1991 edition.

This edition is further motivated by the fact that Augusto Pinochet, dictator and commander-in-chief of the fascist junta which presided over the CIA-backed terror that struck Chile in September 1973, was back in the news in 1999, at least in the UK, where the House of Lords recently ruled that the official Spanish prosecutor’s request for the dictator’s extradition was in full accordance with British law. Pinochet’s leading role in organising the torture, ‘disappearance’ and oppression of thousands of Chileans forced many others to flee and to bring the horrors of the dictator’s particularly ‘moral’ brand of fascism to the attention of many Europeans, including Abba. Analysing Fernando has therefore recently become a topical issue again and students no longer need to be told about Pinochet and the treacherous crimes he committed against his country and its people.


Thanks to Pedro van der Lee (b. Buenos Aires, 1949, d. Göteborg 1997) for his friendship, humour, insight, time, and for all his comments and help with Latin American parts of the study. Thanks to Teresa Allwood (Göteborg), Pete Wade (Liverpool) and Catharine Boyle (London) for help with Spanish, to Line Grenier (Montréal) for useful criticism, to Coriún Aharonián (Montevideo) for comments and provision of relevant music comparisons, to David Horn and Sara Cohen (Liverpool) for support and encouragement, to my Chilean colleagues Benny Pollack and Felix Zamora (Liverpool) for keeping the faith, and to Giorgos Iakovakis for providing us with free bottles of Retsina at his excellent Eureka Restaurant (Liverpool) in celebration of Pinochet’s extradition hearing.

Thanks to music students at the following institutions and on the following courses for having criticised and provided ideas: College of Music and Department of Musicology, University of Göteborg; College of Music, Piteå; Musicology Department, Humboldt University, (East) Berlin; Music Department, Carleton University, Ottawa; Ädelfors Folkhögskola, Holsbybrunn (Sweden); 12º cursos latinoamericanos de música contemporânea, Tatuí (Brazil); Department of Politics and Communication, Department of Music and Institute of Popular Music, University of Liverpool. Thanks to Andrew Hugill (DeMontfort University, Leicester) for enabling me to negotiate a little extra time in which to complete this edition.

Thanks to my daughter Maria and to friends and colleagues at Liverpool University. Thanks to the people of Ibotirama in upstate Bahía (Brazil) for waking me up to what I really mean by a writing a book like this one (see chapter 1): if anyone is ‘the future’ or ‘the world’, they are.



Chapter 1

No analices?

Si quieres estar feliz, no analices

(Milton Nascimento, 1982)

Why worry? (1)

‘If you want to be happy, don’t analyse’, sings Milton Nascimento. I don’t agree. As long as not everyone in the world is perfectly happy (i.e. never), people will always search for contentment and seek to remove the causes of their own and others’ unhappiness. To remove unhappiness you have to know what causes it and knowing the causes of confusion and unhappiness demands a process of insight and understanding that can be quite complicated, especially if the well-being of one person or group of people depends on the misery of another, or if symbols representing happiness are ambivalent, contradictory or false. In such cases, analysis of some kind can be a key to happiness, not one of its causes or ingredients.

Of course, analysis can never in itself be all fun and games. In fact it can seem ludicrous at times, especially if you are analysing such an infinitesimal piece of cultural history as Abba’s Fernando, which was just one of the fifty hits produced at just one tiny point in history by just one group of artists in just one of the least populated countries in the world. However, the microscopic nature of such analysis never deterred me from getting on with this study of Abba’s Fernando because that song can, as we shall see, be understood as a musical microcosm expressing something far more substantial than the mere entertainment value presumed inherent in such European middle-of-the-road mega-hits. So why all this verbiage about one single pop tune produced so many years ago? Why make a mountain out of a mole hill? Why analyse? Why worry?

In one way I would have preferred to ‘let bygones be bygones’ and to pretend that ‘ignorance is bliss’. Indeed, I never originally planned to write this book. However, students and colleagues had pestered me for some time to commit the English version of my ‘live Fernando analysis show’ to paper. On top of that, something happened to me one morning in the middle of Brazil, something that radically changed my mind and made me disobey Nascimento’s anti-analysis orders.

Breakfast at Ibotirama

One hot Saturday evening in January 1984, at about eight o’clock, I boarded a bus at Brasilia’s rodoviario for the twenty-five hour journey to Salvador Bahía. Seated next to a quiet but friendly young Korean gentleman who had just set up shop in São Paulo and whose Portuguese was not much better than mine, I soon found myself nodding off in the tropical night of the Goiâs uplands. At sunrise we stopped at Barreras (Bahía) but I dozed off again. We were definitively jolted into a new day after the bus had descended into the valley of the Rio São Francisco and was bumping along an unmetalled road that ran on a small embankment through a large swamp. The bus driver announced that we would soon be at the town of Ibotirama where we would have to wait for the ferry and where we could get some breakfast.

It was only 8.15 but the sun had already stoked the morning up to a pleasant 28°C. Ibotirama itself lay on the other side of the wide river, while downstream to the north you could see construction work on a large bridge which has probably long since replaced the ferry. The settlement on the west side of the river, where we got out of the bus, consisted of a wide piece of rusty red dirt road and several buildings, mostly earth-walled dwellings with corrugated iron roofs. The bus driver gesticulated in the direction of one shack sporting a Coca Cola sign. Armed with small change to buy our way through the dozens of kids with lean limbs and swollen bellies that had swarmed round the bus, my Korean shopkeeper companion and I made a B-line for the breakfast hovel.

In the middle of the earth floor of the shack stood a couple of rickety Formica top tables. The loud hum of a noisy gas refrigerator from the 1950s propped up against one wall accompanied the buzz of flies already swarming round a large poster of the Polish pope which was pinned with rusty tacks to the opposite wall. Woytila was portrayed complete with transported gaze, hands clasped in prayer and a caption to the effect that faith moves mountains. In the kitchen a small, thin, dark-skinned woman was stirring a large saucepan of black beans. The only drinks she sold were Coca Cola and Guaraná, while choice of food was restricted to a sort of cake, as I understood her, made from chicken grease, manioc meal and edible flower seed.

As I stood in the doorway of that shack with my cake and Guaraná, mentally pinching myself that this was all real — ‘this isn’t a TV documentary from Calcutta because TV can’t convey smells’ —, a silver-grey metallic Ford of Brazilian manufacture roared into the midst of the settlement and ground to a halt in the orange-coloured dirt, sending undernourished children, mangy dogs and scraggy hens scurrying in a cloud of dust. As the cackle and kerfuffle died down, the driver switched off the his engine and stepped out, enacting what looked like a ‘whiter-than-white’ detergent advert, complete with spotless white shirt and an immaculate pair of white Levis. As he opened his car door, the full frequency hi-fi mix of the last chorus of Abba’s Crejo en angelitos (i.e. ‘I believe in angels’, the Spanish version of I Have A Dream) blasted forth from the solid state in-car stereo housed in the patent leather dashboard of that shiny chunk of mobile metal. With the Polish pope poster behind her, the woman serving in the flea-bitten breakfast shack started humming along with that Abba chorus and continued to sing the hook line (‘crejo en angelitos’) even after the driver of the Ford had turned the music off and had slammed the car door shut. The silvery sounds of Stockholm’s Polar Studio mix of Abba’s fair-skinned Agnetha and Annifrid — sonic counterparts to the whole Waterloo-style disco glitter of the Swedish group’s album covers and press releases — seemed to me to have descended as abruptly as that Ford with its cleaner-than-clean clad occupant, metallic finish and solid state stereo, as incongruous and inscrutable as the arrival of baby Superman to his poor but honest earthling foster-parents in the rural US mid-west. No, it was worse because, as I had to keep telling myself, this was real: both the abject rural poverty in which I stood and the hi-tech, clean machine culture that had burst into it were in one place at the same time.

Perhaps I should not have been so shaken. OK, I already knew that Brazil was one of the world’s richest countries with one of the world’s poorest populations: I had seen that from the safe distance of a car window two days before at Taguatinga, Brasilia’s giant favela with a population greater than that of the futuristic federal capital its inhabitants serve. I also knew that North American and Western European business had massive interests in the country. As a visitor from Sweden, I had seen the outsides of Ericsson’s, SKF’s and Saab-Scania’s huge plants in São Paulo (Sweden’s most important industrial city) and I knew that profits made by such companies on cheap Brazilian labour — mostly men that had had to abandon their families here in the North East of the country — contributed extensively to the material affluence of that cold and underpopulated country to which I was soon to return. I also knew that our part of the world (North America and Western Europe) had played its part in overthrowing Brazil’s democratic government in 1962 and in supporting the dictatorship, still in power in 1984, that had imprisoned, tortured or killed millions and that had sold off, in record time, most of the nation’s assets to foreign capital: US, (West) German and Swedish, for example. I knew, too, that OECD nations, like the one I was living in, were responsible for the sort of IMF loans that still cripple the finances of practically every Latin American nation and for having created the myth of ‘the Brazilian miracle’ in whose reality I now stood, together with Guaraná, seed cake, Polish pope, Swedish Abba, metallic Ford, in-car stereo and starving, fatherless children.

Although all this background knowledge, based on an instinctive dislike of capitalism, with all its development aid hypocrisy, may have helped me resist the temptation of adopting a convenient guilty conscience attitude which might have let me avoid the real issue, I was nonetheless highly embarrassed, never having been so far away from home and never previously having had to fight or buy my way through a milling throng of hungry children in order to still my gringo hunger and quench my European thirst. Even the seed cake was too much for my squeamish stomach. By the time the ferry finally arrived I felt quite ill.

First off the ferry was a bulldozer. Would it be used for improving the road or for making arable land out of the swamp we had just driven through? It did neither. Instead, it smoothed out the red earth of the approach ramp and trundled straight back on board. We climbed into the bus and rolled slowly on to the ferry too. Arriving at the other side, the bulldozer repeated its ramp-levelling operation and waited to drive on board again. We drove off the ferry too and continued one or two blocks to the bus station where even larger hordes of scantily clad and underfed children, barefoot and with kwashiorkor bellies, swarmed around the bus. Similar scenes were enacted at every stop we made that day in the Bahian sertão.

As we eased out into the scanty bushland just east of Ibotirama, just a few hours after arriving at the west bank of the Rio São Francisco, my mind started running continual repeats of that strange stop for breakfast. A whole host of feelings, ideas and questions seemed to have exploded like a bomb right beside where I had been standing. Why wasn’t the bulldozer being used to dig irrigation channels on the dry side of the river or to drain the swamp on the other? What was I doing there? What can a European musicologist taking a week’s holiday on the road in Brazil do about any of this grossly obvious exploitation and injustice? Why do North Americans and rich Brazilians like so much metallic glitter in what they buy to hear and see? What on earth were Abba doing there? What is Sweden — music produced there, music teachers who work there, companies based there — doing in Brazil? Are we all doing the same thing? Was I part of that mindless glitter too? And what do all these questions have to do with each other? I certainly had no ready answers then and one or two of the very few I have today are contained somewhere in these pages.

The reason for my visit to Brazil in January 1984 was that I had been invited to give a series of lectures and seminars in popular music analysis at the twelfth Cursos latinoamericanos de música contemporânea at the São Paulo State Conservatory in Tatuí. After the courses, I took a ten day holiday, hoping to see a bit more of Brazil and to meet more Brazilians. After three days in Brasilia, I was on my way to visit an anthropologist living in Salvador. Then, after visiting friends in Rio for a few days, I would have to fly back from a pleasant 30°C back to an inhospitable -15°. One of the pieces I had prepared for my analysis classes in Tatuí was Abba’s Fernando whose chorus starts with the same sort of tritone hook over the dominant as that which had just issued forth from the rich Brazilian’s car stereo and had caused the poor woman stirring black beans to burst into song. That particular motif, about which more later, was, as I had argued in the article on which those lessons in Tatuí were based (Tagg 1979b), one of longing, of saudade.

Whether or not the longing that Abba seemed also to be expressing at the start of the chorus in I Have A Dream (‘I believe in angels’) or Fernando was the same as what the poor woman in the café at Ibotirama felt as she stirred her beans, singing the phrase beneath the gaze of the pope on the poster I shall never know. It is quite probable that the European tonic-dominant character of much Bahian popular music makes many Abba ballads of the euro-mainstream type — like The Winner Takes It All, One Of Us, Chiquitita, I Have A Dream and — reasonably acceptable, clearly also singable, to the people of the Brazilian North-East. On the other hand, the glittering sound of Abba’s music, as shiny as the aluminium bodywork of the Brasilia-Bahía bus and as gleaming as the metallic finish of the car containing the solid state in-car stereo playing that sound, struck me as insulting and ludicrous. I felt almost as incongruous myself, used as I am to a hearty breakfast, hot and cold running water, washing machine, microwave oven and electric toaster. I also assumed that I was allowed to be in the company of loved ones, to bring up my daughter and, unlike the fathers of the Ibotirama children, be able to provide for her and help her. So, I had in one sense behaved as imperiously as the washing-powder-white man with his dazzling car and incandescent recording of Abba, since I had also barged and bought my way, like some deus ex machina or gringo ex autobús, quite cheaply through that hungry mass of children who needed to eat whatever I was about to throw down my own gullet. But that is not the whole story.

I had been invited to Brazil by Latin Americans who had specifically asked for help in analysing that ‘international’ music of which Abba are a small part and with which the North Atlantic metropoles still seem intent on inundating the rest of the world. Since the Abba incident at Ibotirama I have often wondered what I could possibly have to say about music that could ever be of any use to the majority of human beings in this world, i.e. to those who have to worry where their next meal is coming from, whose families are involuntarily divided so that we metropolitans can maintain high material standards of living by exploiting the cheap labour of people like those millions of nordestinos forced to leave their homes and families in rural misery to work for North American, Western European or Japanese companies in the urban-industrial misery of places like São Paulo. Nevertheless, the fact that Latin Americans had actually asked me to help analyse some of the musical messages issuing forth from my part of the world gave me enough courage to face all the issues that had converged in those few moments at Ibotirama. This short book is one result of that encouragement.

So, what on earth were Agnetha Fältskog, Annifrid Lyngstad, Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson, engineered into such a glittering soup of sound by Michael B Tretow, doing at Ibotirama? It is obvious that Abba will have meant quite different things there and in Europe for the same reasons that Dallas, Dynasty, L.A. Law or Falcon Crest are not perceived in the same way by people living here as by the TV audience viewing the same soaps on Rede Globo in the favela. In our part of the world, where advertisers and glossy magazines permanently presume that we all want to amass objects of affluence — despite continually rising unemployment, a dismantled public sector, mortgage serfdom and an outmoded individualism that perpetuates pitiful paths for the pursuit of personal happiness (usually at the expense of everyone else entangled in the Great American Dream) —, the tinsel trappings of L.A. Law or Falcon Crest, of metallic finish twenty-thousand-dollar cars and, far more modestly, of Abba’s silvery sounds, all shine forth as icons and fetishes compatible with the religion of commodity fetishism that vainly promises to relieve us from the drab alienation of everyday work and collective powerlessness. Such ‘happiness’, by its very omnipresence in and around every other TV show, can almost seem real. However, it seems far less likely that such clean-machine kitsch can pretend or present the same degree of reality, let alone attainability, for people of the sertão or favela, far more likely that glamorous cars and laser-lit discos will come across as quixotic trappings in whimsical fairy stories, as CD-crisp angelitos in the Great Beyond and as glitzy gloss-finish mirages of a land that for them must be far more ‘never-never’ than it is for us.

It was these events and ruminations that provoked this radical revision and expansion of an extremely old piece of work. Those few minutes in up-state Bahía contain a wide range of material, cultural and existential issues: Abba’s music coming out of that car in that situation is at the centre of it all. Crejo en angelitos at Ibotirama, by its active acceptance (the woman humming it) and its contextual incongruity, underlined that music very definitely carries affective messages that are inevitably related to concurrent paramusical messages and which can be conceived of as part of or as contributory to the musical ‘work’ or ‘product’. In addition, breakfast at Ibotirama illustrates how those musical and paramusical messages are also inextricably linked and modified by their reception and re-creation in individual and social contexts, i.e. where, when and by whom, with what personal / social / economic / cultural history and under which personal / social / economic / cultural conditions. I am referring here to connections of clear disparity, the most striking of which are those

• between (a) the poverty of the place, with neither electricity nor running water, with the squalor-cum-stench of sewage running in furrows through rusty brown dust and (b) the production costs behind the car owner’s music, recorded using a minimum of twenty-four tracks in hi-fi Dolby stereo sound with Aphex exciter

• between (a) the plight of the woman in the shack or of the undernourished children and (b) the benign, transcendental gaze of the pope reflected in the caption that faith moves mountains and in both Abba’s and the woman’s belief in incandescent angelitos.

By such polarisation I am alluding to congruent and disparate connections between ‘us’ and ‘them’ that were made musically clear on that occasion. This, the musical expression of connections between ‘us’ and ‘them’, is reason enough to look closely at any European or North American song that deals quite specifically with the ‘third world’ in general or with Latin America in particular, with ‘us’ and ‘them’, with ‘here’ and ‘there’, i.e. with oppression, strife, suffering, misery and their opposite numbers — liberation, peace, comfort and happiness. Abba’s Fernando is one such song. One stumbling block in our understanding of these contradictions and connections consists of illusory representations of happiness in our own part of the world. Some of these illusions will be discussed in the last chapter of this book.

Meanwhile, back in Sweden

There is another personal reason for this work on Fernando. As we shall see in the last two chapters of this book, left-wing intellectuals had, in the cultural wake of Sweden’s provincial sequel to the student movement of 1968, made it sound as though Abba represented the cultural and musical devil incarnate. Although readily qualifiable even then as a left-wing intellectual, I had always quietly admired the eclectic competence and singability of Abba tunes but felt little motivation to express much disagreement with what I thought were political confrères on the silly ‘Abba = Coca Cola culture’ issue. Then, nearly two years after Waterloo and six months after Fernando, my own group, performing left-wing rock cabaret, released an album which got considerable airplay and even sold quite well in Sweden. We’d had a lot of fun in the studio and most rock critics gave us good reviews, saying things like ‘thank goodness the lefties finally let on to having a sense of humour’. Most left-wing commentators, on the other hand, branded our sound as ‘commercial’, a derogatory epithet in those circles and days, suggesting that sound effects recorded on my Revox, a few extra overdubs, a little fun with reverb and delay, all mixed into an enjoyable pastiche of Swedish dance music were not the hallmarks of ‘progressive music’. Such notions of ‘progressivity’ in music had annoyed me for some time, what with rock being first decadent US-imperialist nonsense and then the true progressive spirit of the young urban proletariat and then declared dead. Such silly posturing about rock in general and about our album in particular provoked me into looking for ways of analysing meaning in popular music and is partially responsible for whatever sort of research profile I am lumbered with these days.

One song we discussed in analysis classes in 1976 was Abba’s Fernando. My students at that time could not agree whether the song should be interpreted as for or against the liberation process in Latin America. Nor could I. So, Fernando needed looking at in some detail, I thought. I made a first transcription and short analysis of the piece, but still couldn’t decide if I liked it or not. In fact I am still ambivalent about the song to this very day. This confusion has, however, produced interesting side effects, because it was from those vulgar Marxist discussions about pop in the mid-seventies that I had to develop the sort of semiotic analysis that has been at the core of practically everything musicological I have written since. That analytic method has been explained at length in other publications and this work is no more than an example of how such method can be applied on one song that says, in music, so much about some of the most important issues of our time. The only problem is how to talk about such musical meanings.

Rudimentary music semiotics

Since music, despite its virtual omnipresence in our time as sets of meaningful non-verbal sound, still gets put somewhere towards the bottom of the heap of symbolic systems seriously considered in academic discussions of modern culture and society, the analysis part of this book starts with what most people first notice about music: its sounds and the fact that most sounds make you feel in certain ways or associate in certain directions.

In the first part of that section (chapter 2), the meaning of each of the song’s constituent musemes is discussed in detail. In the second part of the musical analysis section (chapter 3) the meanings of the various musemes are discussed as combinatory units of connotation and process. The virtual lack of direct references to the music’s social context(s) throughout the first section may worry the social scientist or cultural theorist who neither reads nor plays music. However, this ostensibly structuralist section is totally necessary, since musical discourse contains very few elements of direct iconicity or symbolism referring to anything outside itself. The indexical quality of much musical discourse requires the establishment of relationships of causality or of proximity of time or space between the music under semiotic analysis and whatever it may be connected to through bio-acoustic stylisation, acoustic iconicity, synaesthetic analogy or social practice. However, it is impossible to jump straight into that stage of the semiotic discussion without any empirical or lexical grounds for suggesting that a particular item of musical discourse has a particular meaning, quite simply because we have no museme dictionary for our mainstream musical culture and because reception tests are too complicated and unreliable to undertake in connection with each piece of music you want to analyse. This is why a two-stage structuralist discussion is necessary: firstly between musical structures of the analysis object and similar musical structures of other pieces of music conceived within the same basic musical culture as the analysis object; secondly between those musical structures and their paramusical context (words, pictures, actions, social habitat, etc.). Thanks to this two-tier process, valid connotative connections can be established between musical signifiers and their signifieds. Even so, no direct reference is made in the structuralist presentation of chapters two and three to the musical culture inside which interobjective comparison of musical structures is conducted. This is because I work from the assumption that the people I have asked for help (including myself) in finding structural parallels to the music of Fernando all belong to the same heterogeneous and eclectic basic musical culture as Abba and the majority of Americans and Europeans who have ever heard the tune. This implies that nearly all the interobjective comparisons presented here are culturally significant in a wide sense and that only very few structural parallels had to be discarded as totally foreign to the international lingua franca musicale of most Europeans and Americans, North or South, Germanic, Anglo-Saxon or Latin.

Of course, the meanings of Fernando, or of any other piece of music, are in no way constant or immutable. In the same way that the glitzy opulence of US teleproduct held, as we have seen, different connotations for audiences in different cultures with different economic conditions at the same time, it would be absurd to think that Fernando or Crejo en angelitos (I Have A Dream) could affect both me and the woman in the breakfast shack at Ibotirama in the same way at the same time. Similarly, the connotations of Abba and of their Fernando cannot be expected to be the same for UK students in the late 1990s as for Swedish students in the mid 1970s, not just because the former are mostly younger than the song itself and consequently without experience of the conditions under which the song was originally produced and received, but also because these two different contexts, although contained within the same general Northern European framework of popular music culture, are separated by a generation of sweeping political, economic and cultural change, for example, Reaganism, Thatcherism, the notion of greed as a virtue, the fall of the Berlin wall, unemployment, the privatisation of public services, the dismantling of the welfare state, etc. Such radical change over a couple of decades is bound to affect the way in which young people living in basically the same type of society will interpret the same song differently at different times in recent history. This book chiefly focuses on one historical context relating to the production and interpretation of meaning in Abba’s Fernando, more specifically on the original context of the song’s production and reception: Sweden in the mid 1970s.

How the rest of the book runs

After establishing, within the historical context just mentioned, the meaning of individual musemes in the piece and their combination into larger units and processes of meaningful sound (chapter 3), chapter 4 deals with the combined meaning of lyrics and music. Three sets of lyrics to three different mixes of the same multi-track recording are presented and discussed. This leads into a presentation of Fernando‘s historical and social context (chapter 5), including a short historical and social background to Abba, their music and to Fernando in particular. This is followed by a cursory discussion of some of the different meanings ascribed to Abba the group and Fernando the song in Sweden, the former German Democratic Republic and Latin America. A short review of the Swedish album sleeve serves as bridge into the last chapter and to a critical comparison of Fernando‘s three different versions. Here, conclusions based on the musical and historical presentations are of course drawn about the ideological message of the song, the final conclusion being that, even if readers choose to disagree with any previous conclusion, there is no avoiding the issue that songs like Fernando do convey ideological message which is primarily mediated by musical structures that acquire particular spheres of connotative meaning in particular historical, social and cultural contexts.

There is not much by way of heavy theory in this book, nor does it contain any exposé of analytical method. Such background discussion is presented in other publications (e.g. Tagg 1979a, 1981, 1987; Tagg & Clarida 2001). The object of this exercise is simply to put methods of musematic analysis to work and to weed the text from all but a necessary minimum of metatheoretical ‘isms’ and ‘ologies’. The main focus of this book is on the musical material and its direct relation to the socio-cultural sphere of which it is part.

After presenting a transcription of the English mix of Fernando, we shall start the analysis by looking at the song’s constituent items of musical code (musemes), i.e. the musical-semiotic elements from which ideological meanings seem to have been constructed.



Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus, Stig Andersson

© 1975. Union Songs, Stockholm (Sweden)

Table of Musemes

Table of Musematic Occurrence (Table 2)



m3a: “in paradiso”

m3b: “angel harps”

m3c: “tiptoe bass”




m5a: appoggiature

m5b: violin filler




m1a1: quena

m1a2: quena

m1b: massed charangos



tritone anacrusis


tritone hook


“silver strings”


m10a: New Orleans “2nd line”

disco backing







Chapter 2: Musemes

m1: instant altiplano

Ex. 1. Fernando, bars 1-6

The song opens with an ethereal A major chord characterised by no bass register, long held notes in the treble, melodic interest in the upper middle register, etc. These opening bars feature three accompanying musemes and one main melodic figure. Apart from the obvious ‘string wallpaper’ function of the violin pad, these musemes, set out in table 1 (p. 26), are referred to as ‘massed charangos’ (m1b) and ‘in paradisum’ (m3a). The melodic museme is listed as m1a — ‘quena’.

m1a: quena

Recorders, quenas and other types of flauti dolci (here with added studio reverb) playing melodic figures similar to m1a can be heard on La Flûte Indienne (1968) and library music pieces like Spanish Autumn, Exotic Flute, Inca Flute, Cordigliera and Wine Festival (the mainly pentatonic figures in examples 2 through 6). Played by other instruments, similar rhythmic-melodic patterns can be found in the songs Lady of Spain (ex. 7), Grenada and E Viva España, as well as in the parlando rubato charango-plus-guitar opening to Simon and Garfunkel’s cover of the Los Calchakis’ version of El Condor Pasa (ex. 8).

Ex. 2. Haider: Spanish Autumn (Selected Sounds) - ‘Spain, South America, country + people’

Ex. 3. Trede: Exotic Flute (Selected Sounds) - ‘impression’....‘journey over exotic landscape’

Ex. 4. Inca Flute (CAM) - ‘quena’.... ‘Bolivia, Peru, N. Argentina, sadness and melancholy, valley’

Ex. 5. Cordigliera. CAM 004: ‘Carnival, festivity in the valley’

Ex. 6. Duncan: Wine Festival, part (c) (Boosey & Hawkes SBH) - ‘gay, exotic, Mediterranean’

Ex. 7. Reaves & Evans: Lady of Spain

Ex. 8. Simon & Garfunkel + Los Calchakis (1970): El Condor Pasa – introduction

In the North-West European and North American cultural sphere, common VVAs (= verbal-visual associations) for the pieces of interobjective comparison material (=IOCM) mentioned so far (ex. 1-8) would be ‘southern climes’, with particular reference either to the Mediterranean — in which case probably Spain — or to South America, an Andean-Indian region being the most likely bet there. If, however, we narrow down our IOCM to correspond more exactly with the musemes found in Fernando, the only examples left will be those featuring a tempo giusto no faster than moderato and a pentatonic melodic profile only.

Thus, excluding examples 1, 5, 6 and 7, we are left with ex. 3 (VVA: ‘impression, journey over exotic landscape’), ex. 4 (VVA: Andean-Indian regions, ‘sadness, melancholy, valley’) and ex. 8 (VVA: ‘Los Calchakis’ and the large condor bird passing presumably overhead). The common denominators of verbal-visual association (VVA) should be reasonably clear here: exotic environment (as viewed/heard by most Northern Europeans and North Americans), probably Andean-Indian, with a rural view large enough to see and experience the passing (overhead) of a single, very large, hovering bird.

m1b: massed charangos

The quasi-parlando senza misura tonic A major tremolando on what might be 12-string guitars in the Fernando recordings under analysis has been given a substantial boost of treble frequency so that the percussive quality of plectrum quivering is readily audible, resulting in a sound reminiscent of massed balalaikas, bouzoukis, cimbalons, mandolins or charangos. Such sounds over static or extremely slowly changing harmonies are not only to be heard in ex. 3 and ex. 8 (p.30) but also in numbers recorded by such popular ethnic artists as Gheorghe Zamfir on Les Flûtes Roumaines, especially on tracks entitled Balada Sarpelui (violins only) and Doina din Arges (piano and violin tremolandi, cimbalon swirls). The latter, originally conceived as a lament upon the death and devastation caused by the Danube flooding the plains of Romania, was also used later as the title theme for the BBC TV series The Light of Experience, which ambitiously covered the history of human knowledge in a few episodes. Both the flooded plains of Romania and the history of knowledge from time immemorial constitute large stretches and spaces in place and time. It is therefore no surprise to find plains and other large, empty, motionless rural spaces musically portrayed in terms of static harmony, often furnished with an ‘ethnic’ or exotic flavour (i.e. distance in time, culture and/or place), as in such pieces as Borodin’s On the Steppes of Central Asia (ex. 9), ‘On the Prairie’ from Copland’s Billy The Kid Suite, (ex. 10), as in an extract of film music by Hugo Friedhofer called In the Mountains (ex. 11), or as in practically any library music purporting to conjure up this sort of VVA.

Now, the static harmony in such examples referred to here need not only be regarded as a reflection of the ‘calm grandeur of nature’ but can also be taken as an almost direct reference to the ‘folksiness’ of drones. It seems to be more than coincidental that Händel (ex. 12), Beethoven (ex. 14), Schubert (ex. 15, 16), Bruckner (ex. 13), Mahler (ex. 17) and Grieg (ex. 18), not to mention Vaughan Williams (e.g. The Lark Ascending, Fantasia on Greensleeves), all use drones in music associated with calm and peaceful, large outdoor spaces connected with the bourgeois individual’s idealised notions of pastorality. However, static harmony articulated as constant or as quickly reiterated tones over a wide simultaneous pitch range is not enough in itself to convey an ethnic or exotic affect. In Ives’ The Unanswered Question (ex. 19), the pianissimo sustained chords are described by the composer as connoting ‘the Silences of the Druids Who Know, See and Hear Nothing’.

Ex. 9. Borodin (1880): On The Steppes Of Central Asia – opening

Ex. 10. Copland (1941): ‘On The Open Prairie’ from ballet suite Billy The Kid

Ex. 11. Friedhofer (1957): ‘In The Mountains’ from Boy On A Dolphin (in Dolan, 1967: 108-109).

Ex. 12. Händel (1741): Pastoral Symphony from The Messiah

Ex. 13. Bruckner (1881): Symphony No.4 – opening ‘In der Wald’

Ex. 14. Beethoven (1808): Pastoral Symphony (opening)

Ex. 15. Schubert (1827): Der Leiermann. Rurality: ‘Drüben hinterm Dorfe steht ein Leiermann’...‘Barfuß auf dem Eise wankt er hin und her’

Ex. 16. Schubert (1817): Ganymed. End in calm after ‘Mir! in eurem Schoße aufwärts! umfangend umfangen! Aufwärts an deinen Bussen, alliebender Vater’

Ex. 17. Mahler (1912): ‘Der Abschied’ from Lied von der Erde

Ex. 18. Grieg (1901): ‘Skovstillhed’ (=Peace in the Woods) from Lyrische Stücke, Op.71 nº63

Ex. 19. Ives (1908): The Unanswered Question. Opening bars.

Ethnic qualifiers

Sustained chords played in slow or senza misura tempo are often used in film and television contexts to conjure up a general feeling of calm in large open spaces, but they need to be combined with some sort of ‘ethnic’ melody instrument if the folksy character of these large outdoor spaces is to be established at the same time. This means that a very general sense of calm rurality (nature as a meditative, recreative leisure resource) can be particularised to various degrees. Such ethnic melody instrument qualifiers as the ‘quenas’ of Fernando are not only to be found in examples 9, 10 (continuation) and 13 but also in library music pieces such as Saffron and Green, Shannon Fen, Horizons Unlimited, Meadowsweet, Shepherd’s Song, Folk Ballad II or Tema Medievale.

The balance between melodic-rhythmic profile and quasi-static drone-like accompaniment is delicate in this sphere of musical connotation. The rurality and calm of the first museme stack in Fernando (m1+m2a) is not as abstract as Hymas’s At Peace or the opening of Ives’s The Unanswered Question (ex. 19). Nor is it as socially/musically ‘populated’ as the start of Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony with its much quicker tempo, more affirmative rhythmic patterning, more regular periodicity and almost immediate crescendo into a tutti statement of the main theme. That aspect of Beethoven’s pastorality contains too many people (melody tutti) who are too lively (tempo, rhythm and periodicity) and too close (dynamics) to qualify as pastoral in the meditative ‘wide-open-spaces’ sense of the mood.

It should also be clear that in considering the combination of m1a and m1b we are dealing with an area of connotation which is far more precise than just folksy, calm or outdoors. The exotic rural environment of Fernando is not, for example, the wide open spaces of Eastern Europe or Central Asia: we are not in Hungary with the slow molto rubato con molto vibrato ed espressione portamenti and trills of the ‘gypsy’ violinist in a harmonic minor scale accompanied by cimbalon and piano swirls over chords of the dominant minor ninth in the introduction to a csárdás, nor are we in the Russian ethnic cultural sphere with accordions and balalaikas rustling away in parallel thirds and with characteristic melodic archetypes like the 5-4-1 melodic cadence, all in the minor key.

It is possibly less clear that we are not somewhere in the Mediterranean (as in examples 2, 5, 6, 7), but the lack of phrygian cadences (exx. 2 and 5) and flamenco style guitar should logically rule out the possibility of our being in Spain, at least according to the use of geographical location stereotypes found in the popular music of Northern Europe and North America. Naples and Venice are two other locations also well defined by the presence of small string instruments played tremolando (see the use of mandolins in the mood music piece Mare di Marcellina, characterised as ‘Neapolitan band with hurdy-gurdy and plectra, Neapolitan ally, fishermen’); but Italian mandolins tend to play far more melodically (less as ‘accompaniment’) than the charangos of Fernando and then also mostly in diatonic major or minor modes, not pentatonically. Similarly, the bouzouki of Greek popular music can be ruled out as an adequate connotation of m1b, since it would be very surprising to find this instrument used as accompaniment for pentatonic melodies.

Strictly speaking then, the combination of m1a and m1b can be expected to connote large, open, outdoor spaces in a (for Northern Europeans and North Americans) far-off, exotic, ethnic rural region, probably somewhere in the high of the Andes (Peru, Bolivia, Chile). An individual (the melodic instrument) is thrown into a certain degree of relief against this environment, adding a simple, human, folksy, honest Naturvolk romantic aspect tinged with melancholy (see fig. 1, fig. 4, p. 65). The generous reverb adds considerably to enlarge the feeling of space and the whole ‘scene’ (sound ‘landscape painting’, complete with ethnic individual) is faded in at the mixing console, coming into complete sonic ‘focus’ (normal dB output level) at bar 6 — a sort of establishing shot in sound.

m2: sunrise

Lifting to lighter areas

We have called museme 2 ‘sunrise’, simply because it is more or less identical melodically and similar harmonically (though obviously not as regards instrumentation and pitch range) to the immer breiter crescendo figure found at the start of Richard Strauss’s Also sprach Zarathustra (ex. 20).

Ex. 20. R. Strauss (1896): Also sprach Zarathustra — sunrise motif

According to Nietzsche’s work on which Strauss’s tone poem is based, Zarathustra, after ten years of meditative isolation in the wilderness, arose one morning with the dawn and, turning to the Sun, addressed him thus: ‘Thou tremendous Planet, where would be thy happiness if thou hadst not those to whom thou givest light?’

The music used for this episode (ex. 20) is described by Strauss expert R. Specht as ‘a nature mood in the aspect of sunrise... The nature theme climax of sunrise is reached’.

There are also some important correspondences between m2 and the sunrise of ex. 21 (key, crescendo, tempo, melody rising to the major 6th and the octave).

Ex. 21. Haydn (1798): The Creation – sunrise, instrumental introduction to recitative ‘In Splendour Bright Is Rising Now The Sun’

Now, obviously, waking up (e.g. the ‘ups’ and/or ‘outs’ of ‘Wachet auf’, ‘l’Éveil de la nature’, ‘Jesus Christ is risen today’, ‘ascendit in coelos’), getting up, rising, etc. often seem to provoke a rise in musical pitch and volume, at least according to the sense of ‘high’ and ‘low’ as understood in our own musical tradition. However, a gradual rise to a high point from which the process is not reversed (i.e. the initiated process does not continue into its own descending motion) is equatable neither with processes which both ascend/increase and descend/decrease, nor with those which rise too suddenly. This means that parallels to m2 cannot be found in the stereotype reveille leaps of the fanfare or ‘call to attention’ type, nor with rising phrases which continue into a revocation or ‘balancing’ of the initiated direction upwards and outwards. Thus, whereas m2 may be compared to the sunrise examples (20 and 21), to the waking of the soul in Haydn’s Seasons (ex. 22) or to the ‘upwards in thy embrace’ idea in Schubert’s Ganymed (‘aufwärts an deinen Busen’ in ex. 23), it cannot be considered in terms of ‘sudden lift’ (ex. 24a) or ‘gradual rise and fall’ (ex. 24b).

It may admittedly seem rash to call m2 ‘sunrise’, since only two of the four musical quotations relevant to this museme (ex. 20 and 21) actually have the sunrise as an explicit VVA. We will therefore use ‘sunrise’ as no more than a mnemonic label for this museme which represents an affective process from low to high, from dark to light and from weak to strong.

Ex. 22. Haydn (1810): The Seasons – (nº 17: aria) ‘Welche Erhöhung für die Sinne!’

Ex. 23. Schubert (1817): Ganymed

Ex. 24. Hypothetical Substitutions for the ‘sunrise’ in Fernando: a) sudden lift b) gradual rise and fall

In this light it is interesting to compare m2 to a passage from El Condor Pasa (ex. 25). By the time Simon and Garfunkel get to that point in the track, the music has progressed from the static parlando rubato of the introduction (ex. 10, p.32) and low register in the minor key during the first eight bars of the verse to high register with parallel thirds on the tonic and third of the subdominant relative major, moving up to the third and fifth (subdominant) and down to third and fifth over the tonic relative major. This double process resembles the position of m2 in Fernando. Moreover, in the Simon & Garfunkel version of El Condor Pasa, the passage quoted (ex. 25) is firstly sung to words which also express a ‘rise’ out of the melancholy of the A section (from ‘I’d rather be a hammer than a nail’, etc.) to a semantically much lighter and more cheerful sphere (to ‘sailing away... like a swan’).

Ex. 25. Simon & Garfunkel (1970), Los Calchakis (1968): El Condor Pasa, B section - quenas in thirds rising to subdominant major - ‘I’d rather sail away’

Due to the similarities already mentioned between El Condor Pasa and Fernando in connection with m1 and to the continuation of these similarities as regards m2, it seems quite plausible to assume — bearing of course in mind the unprecedented popular success of the Simon and Garfunkel recording — that the process from m1 to m2 in Fernando may act as a reminder of the same process in El Condor Pasa, both musically and with its verbal connotations mentioned above, i.e. from static melancholy to ‘rising out of’ that state. This parallel will not seem less reasonable if the reader bears in mind that the excerpt quoted as ex. 25 is played for the second time by quena flutes in parallel thirds at a similar pitch to that occupied by the flauti dolci on the Fernando recordings. Finally, this parallel substantiates our interpretation of Fernando’s specific ethnic connotations, at least as far as the average Northern European or North American listener is concerned.

m3: in paradisum

m3a & m3b: angel harps

Poco staccato e leggiero arpeggio figures, played in Fernando by piano and by what sounds like harp, flute or even pizzicato violins but is more likely to be a synthesiser, is highly reminiscent of motifs used in the ‘paradise’ parts of Fauré’s Requiem (ex. 26, accompanying the words ‘In paradisum deducant te Angeli’) and Brahms’s Ein deutsches Requiem (ex. 27 at ‘Seelig’). The transcendental and ethereal is of course also present in that all-time religious favourite Ave Maria (ex. 28) with its pathos and devotion as the maiden beseeches and begs the purest maiden of all to send ‘holy comfort’, protection and rest. The ‘pling-plong’ or ‘clink-clink-clink’ pianisation of heavenly harps occurs in much romantic keyboard music, e.g. the Sibelius quote (ex. 29), exhibiting also the same ethereal I-VI harmonic pendulum swaying as in Fauré’s musical notion of paradise.

Ex. 26. Fauré (1888): Requiem - ‘In Paradisum’

Ex. 27. Brahms (1869): Ein deutsches Requiem. Final bars

Ex. 28. Schubert (1825): Ave Maria....‘Jungfrau mild, erhöre einer Jungfrau Flehen’.

Ex. 29. Sibelius (1903): Romance for Piano

Of course, in Hollywood film music, harps used in a similar fashion to that shown in ex. 26 and 27 are also more often than not associated with moods of the transcendental, either in religious contexts or, as in ex. 30, in connection with sincerity, devotion and love. To give an idea of the sort of mood which composer Frank Skinner (1950:99) wished to portray with the harp and strings of bars 7-16 in ex. 30 (and to see how this writing differs that for the different moods both before and after this passage), here is the timing sheet corresponding to ex. 30 (reel 6A of The Irishman):

0:00.0 Music starts after O’Toole’s line: ‘I’m sorry’.

0:01.5 The look on his face denotes disappointment.

0:03.5 Slowly Maureen lowers her head.

0:08.5 She says: ‘I too’.

0:09.3 O’Toole walks towards Maureen.

0:12.0 Maureen starts to turn.

0:14.5 She says: ‘Forgive me’...

0:17.3 Maureen looks up at O’Toole and says: ‘Philip told me how it happened’.

0:21.3 She pleads with him to be her friend and continue to help her cause.

1:02.3 Fade full out. Start to fade in...

1:12.0 ...(new) dialogue starts...end music.

The mood of this extract should be reasonably clear. Its context in the film can be easily grasped by remembering that O’Toole is the swashbuckling Irish ‘hero’ (helping the English against the French!) and Maureen the heroine (the ‘love interest’). They are together fighting for the same supposedly noble cause and are tragically but nobly in love. Skinner (1950:99) comments his scoring of this scene as follows:

At twelve seconds (0’12"), I would have to create a feeling of tragedy as Maureen realized that she had hurt his feelings and that a union between them was impossible... At 0’17.25" she softened her speech and at 0’21.25" I planned to employ the love theme in a slightly different manner.

A comparison with other statements of the love theme in the film reveals that tempo (here slower) and orchestral arrangement are the clearest distinguishing marks. In ex. 30, for Maureen’s pleading and the ‘noble cause’ aspect of her relationship to O’Toole (no ‘sex’, ‘fun’ or ‘pining with desire or longing’ in this statement of the theme), Skinner has supplied the movie audience with angel harps playing their ‘devotional’ rising broken chords: the ‘angelic’ aspect is present instead.

The general common denominator of VVA connected to IOCM for m3a so far seems thus to be the heavenly, devotional, religious and romantically beseeching, slightly ‘other-worldly’, angelic and pure. This interpretation is also borne out by the fact that Friedhofer’s harp (ex. 11, p.32) starts its arpeggiations with a cut at 1:30 to ‘monastery in view’.

Ex. 30. Skinner (c.1940): ‘The Man I Marry’, from The Irishman. ‘She pleads with him to be her friend’

Fernando Musemes 3a and 3b are first played over the static A major sonority, then over relative minor triads and the dominant seventh (A, F#m, Bm, E7 = I vi ii V7). This chord progression is reminiscent of innumerable songs of the ‘teen angel’ type from the ‘milksap’ period of pop history. There is no room here to quote from more than just a few tunes in this vast repertoire containing:

• I-vi-ii(IV)-V turnarounds (though over more regular periods than in Fernando);

• melodic emphasis of perfect fifth and major sixth;

• lyrics making frequent quasi-religious references to ‘angels’, ‘prayer’, ‘devotion’, ‘true love’, etc;

• ‘angel harp’ arpeggio figures (like m3a and m3b), of the ‘innocent-and-pure’ or ‘bell chime’ sort and mostly played on electric guitar (often with light dampening of each note), or else by ‘clink-clink-clink’ piano, or on pizzicato strings.

We ought really to restrict references to such common traits of ‘symphonies for the kids’ from the late fifties and early sixties to just a few songs such as: Tell Laura I Love Her (Ray Peterson, 1960); Come Softly To Me (The Fleetwoods, 1959); Wait For Me (The Playmates, 1960); Countin’ Teardrops (Emil Ford and the Checkmates, 1960); Judy (1958) and Dream Lover (Bobby Darin, 1958, 1959); Nobody But You (Dee Clark, 1958); Diana and Lonely Boy (Paul Anka, 1957, 1959); Blue Angel (Roy Orbison, 1960); Oh! Carol (Neil Sedaka, 1959); Am I The Man? (Jackie Wilson, 1960). However, to give the uninitiated reader some idea of the type of material under discussion, we supply six quotes from other songs in the same genre, all of which are accompanied in an arpeggiated manner similar to that described above (example 31). I-vi harmonies with ‘pizzicato’, arpeggiato or piano ‘clink-clink-clink’ accompaniment and VVAs of prayer, devotion, heaven, angel, sincerity, dedication, etc. are the order of the day in these six and countless other songs of their ilk.

Ex. 31. Incipits of melodic lines from ‘Teen Angel’ songs of the ‘Milksap’ Era.

Positive aspects of the religious, heavenly and amorously devotional seem to be common denominators of the VVAs mentioned in connection with the IOCM quoted so far for m3. Indeed, the musical stereotype thus exemplified seems well-entrenched not only in teen angel ballads but also in the musical language of the nineteenth century, as well as in the conventional musical idiom of Hollywood.

m3c: tiptoe bass

It was difficult to find IOCM for m3c, but its symbolic value need not remain a mystery. The fact that none of those asked to induce IOCM for this study associated to a piece containing anything resembling m3c might mean that the museme is either unremarkable or that it is unusual in the sort of musical context found in Fernando. The second hypothesis is far more likely because m3c is easily perceptible in all three mixes of the tune, this implying that lack of freely induced musical associations to the museme must be due to problems identifying similar musical contexts containing it. Now, arpeggio figures like m3c, played on electric bass, do occur in reggae music but, interestingly enough, no-one has associated in this direction, presumably because (i) m3c does not continue in a typically offbeat reggae fashion (example 32); (ii) the rest of the Fernando verse is devoid of other reggae style indicators allowing for a reggae style definition of this museme.

Ex. 32. Hypothetical Substitution (HS) of bass line in verse of Fernando in reggae style

It is unusual to find a bass part in non-reggae popular song which, with the obvious exception of breaks and intros, does not sound continuously throughout the entire number. In the verses of Fernando, however, the bass ‘plays’ as much silence (beats 3 and 4 in every bar) as sound (on beats 1 and 2). This makes m3c unusual in another way: instead of following the standard rock practice of playing together with the bass drum all through the song (bass drum, hi-hat and cymbals are also notably absent from the verse), m3c is performed simultaneously with and has a similar leggiero arpeggio sort of profile and phrasing as m3b (the slightly muffled, bell-like broken chords on electric guitar, piano and synthesizer). M3c also contains the same regular quaver movements as m3a and, together with m3a and m3b, it stands out in relief against the ‘bolero march’ idea (m4) provided by the drums. It therefore seems reasonable to view m3c as underlining the light, positive, devotional, quasi-religious, somewhat unreal, angelic, heavenly, ‘other-worldly’ character of m3a and m3b. In analysis classes, students have referred to m3c under such headings as ‘question bass’, ‘tiptoe bass’, etc., associations which seem to confirm the interpretations of connotative meaning offered above.

m4: bolero

Distant drums

Museme 4 (m4) has a large number of variants in Fernando. They are all played on snare drums in a tempo and mode of execution similar to those found in Ravel’s Boléro (ex. 33). The Fernando snares are mixed at relatively low volume and panned left and right centre back, thereby underlining the ‘distant drums’ effect alluded to in the lyrics. Similar snare effects also abound in military-style pop ballads like Staff Sergeant Barry Sadler’s lump-in-the-throat rendition of an infamous piece of Vietnam war falsification entitled The Ballad of the Green Berets. Similar rhythm patterns can also be heard in a special type of dramatic and fateful love song performed in slow alla marcia time. We are referring here to big ballads like Gilbert Bécaud’s Et Maintenant, as well as to Roy Orbison’s It’s Over and Running Scared (ex. 34). Bécaud is wondering where to go and what to do now that his love has definitely left (‘Et maintenant, que vais-je faire?’), while Orbison, apart from running scared, is inexorably left alone with ‘silent days and silent tears’ now that ‘It’s Over’.

Ex. 33. Ravel (1929): Boléro (opening)

Ex. 34. Bolero-type figures in dramatic love ballads

All this means that we might expect m4 to connote something Hispanic (the Boléro connection), something military (like the Green Beret snares), something scary (Running Scared) and something dramatic, fateful and inexorable (the relentless, heavy, onbeat, funeral drum patterns signalling ‘everything is lost now that she’s gone’ in Et maintenant and It’s Over). Conveniently enough, Fernando‘s lyrics have it all: Hispanic (‘Fernando’, ‘Rio Grande’), military (‘bugle calls’, ‘guns, cannons’, ‘rifle’, ‘fight for freedom’), scary (‘I was so afraid’, ‘made me cry’) and inexorably fateful (‘eternally’, ‘prepared to die’, ‘never thought we could lose’, ‘fateful night’).

m5: legato sincerity

m5a: appoggiature

Museme 5a occurs mostly in the vocal part, often in parallel thirds. It is also heard in the Interlude on flauti dolci. C.P.E. Bach (1794:87) describes appoggiature (Vorschläge) as ‘the most essential embellishments’, explaining the matter as follows.

They enhance harmony as well as melody. They heighten the attractiveness of the latter by joining notes smoothly together and, in the case of notes which might prove disagreeable because of their length, by shortening them while filling the ear with sound. At the same time they prolong others by occasionally repeating a preceding tone, and musical experience attests to the agreeableness of well-contrived repetitions.

Without going into further detail about the expressive character of Vorschläge, we shall make the generalisation that appoggiatura strings like those of m5a — i.e. grace notes performed as onbeat suspensions resolving on to offbeat consonances or as onbeat consonances leading into anticipated onbeat dissonances, as notes of equal duration and in consecutive ascending or descending scalar order — have, in Baroque and Viennese classical music, when played andante, lento or moderato, the tendency to heighten the emotional expressiveness of the melodic phrase. This claim will seem less unreasonable if we make some hypothetical substitutions (HSs). Let us change the suspended grace notes at the start of the well-known aria ‘Che farò senza Euridice’ from Gluck’s Orfeo e Euridice (ex. 35) into straight consonances (ex. 36). This ‘de-appoggiaturation = de-emotionalisation’ effect is even more noticeable in the Händel example and its HS (ex. 37a, b).

Ex. 35. Gluck (1762/1744): Orfeo e Euridice. Aria ‘Che farò senza Euridice’

Ex. 36. Hypothetical Substitution on Ex. 35 - no appoggiature

Ex. 37. Händel (1741): ‘He Was Despised’ from The Messiah; a) original, b) without appoggiature.

There should be no need for further quotes and commutations of Baroque and Rococo music to illustrate this point. However, the unconvinced reader may test the theory by ‘de-appoggiaturising’ the following passages:

1. Bach’s Matthew Passion

a) the soprano aria ‘Wie wohl mein Herz in Tränen schwinnt’ (oboes d’amore appoggiature in parallel thirds)

b) the duet ‘So ist mein Jesus nun gefangen’ (flute obligato appoggiature in parallel thirds, see especially at ‘Schmerzen’)

c) the alto aria ‘Lebet, sterbet, ruhet hier’ (two oboi da caccia obligati and at the words ‘bleibet in Jesu Armen’)

d) the final chorus ‘Wir setzen uns’ at the words ‘mit Tränen nieder’, ‘Ruhe sanfte’, ‘soll dem ängstlichen Gewissen ein bequemes Ruhekissen und der Seelen Ruhstatt sein’, ‘höchst vergnügt’... ‘schummern da die Augen ein’, etc., etc.

2. Bach’s John Passion at the words ‘Es ist vollbracht’.

3. Gluck’s Orfeo e Euridice, in Orpheus’s well-known aria ‘What is Life Without Thee?’ (Che farò senza Euridice?, ex. 35), also at the words ‘Ah! Have Pity!’ and ‘the world has never known such grief’.

4. Lully’s Amadis, the aria ‘Bois épais’ at the word ‘silence’.

This list could have been made much longer, but it is suggested that the references offered here should suffice to establish the general tenet that appoggiature tend to increase the grace, pathos and general expressive content of a melodic line in Baroque and Rococo music, especially if played or sung in parallel thirds or sixths so that double suspensions are constantly being created and resolved.

Such appoggiature are stock-in-trade of the Viennese classical idiom. We do not intend to quote any examples to prove this rather obvious point, referring suspicious readers to Mozart’s Eine kleine Nachtmusik (K.525) first movement, bars 6-8, 12-18 (and their frequent reprises), 2nd movement, bars 2-3 (and their reprises), not to mention the same composer’s highly popular Piano Concerto no.21 in C (K.467), 2nd movement (the Elvira Madigan theme), bars 17-21 et passim. Readers sceptical about our view of the affective function of appoggiature should ‘de-appoggiaturise’ these Mozart references. If you find the expressive value of those passages to be the same with as without the appoggiature, you are right and this account is wrong!

It is interesting to note that no similar strings of appoggiature were found in our IOCM from the nineteenth century. This may well be due to changes in the norms of dissonance treatment in the transition from Viennese classicism, where suspensions do not tend to be longer than their resolutions (unless in feminine endings, etc.), to romanticism, where suspensions seem to acquire an inherent affective value and are frequently longer than their resolutions. In fact, the latest references in the classical repertoire part of our IOCM are to Beethoven (ex. 38) and Schubert (ex. 39), i.e. in the breaking point between Viennese classicism and the Romantic era. Though similar in their treatment of appoggiature, their connotations are rather different, the Beethoven example being the start of a sonata (a.k.a. The Ghost Sonata) while the Schubert quote is ‘To be sung on the water’.

Ex. 38. Beethoven (1802): Piano Sonata Op.31, no.2

Ex. 39. Schubert (1823): Auf dem Wasser zu singen.

Moreover, unlike earlier references, examples 38 and 39 are to be played in a much faster tempo that m5a and they cannot be considered to the same extent so directly relevant to the discussion of affective meaning in the Fernando museme m5a, however tempting it may be to include the VVA of ex. 39 in this discussion (the boat swaying, according to the lyrics, like a gliding swan and the soul floating in the joy of gently glittering waves).

Although no strings of appoggiature like m5a were found in the late 19th century part of our IOCM, they do occur in popular music, in operetta, in sentimental ballads, songs from musicals, evergreens, even in Country and Western (e.g. Tulips From Amsterdam, Claribel’s I Cannot Sing The Old Songs, The Cascades’ Rhythm Of The Rain, Claes-Göran Hedenström’s Det börjar likna kärlek banne mej). In Merle Haggard’s The Fighting Side Of Me (ex. 40), we find strings of appoggiature underlining the pathos with which the renowned Country music troubadour pleads for the resurrection of a reactionary, Confederate, pro-Vietnam-war view of US patriotism. Haggard’s patriotic pathos takes a comic turn when his pleading appoggiature are replaced by on-beat consonances (ex. 41). Similar commutations applied to the other references will substantiate this observation.

Ex. 40. Merle Haggard: You’re Walking On The Fighting Of Me

Ex. 41. Hypothetical Substitution on ex. 40 - no appoggiature

If we found no appoggiature in the late romantic part of our IOCM, their presence turned out to be just as infrequent in the African-American department. This seems to imply that m5a is a genre-determinable idiom with parallels in the pre-romantic classical tradition and in popular ballads of the non-African-American type. Bearing also in mind that m5a is often sung or played in parallel thirds (or sixths) over standard tertial (‘functional’) harmonies — an idiomatic trait in Mediterranean and Latin American popular song — we may now be more explicit about its affective message. Since Fernando received extensive airplay in North-Western Europe and North America in top-forty or middle-of-the-road programme formats whose target groups had musical tastes and socio-musical group identification towards pop, rock, disco, etc., the inclusion of appoggiature in Fernando may also be interpreted as connoting areas of affect outside the contemporary or immediate terms of listener reference in that part of the world. Thus, associations would be more likely to go towards notions of ‘deep feeling’ and ‘great sentiment’ (popular ballads in European or Euro-American genre), the Latin sphere of influence (as viewed from the North-West European / North American ‘metropolis’) and to popular archetypal notions of ‘Olde Worlde temperament’ and to ‘graceful’ music of ‘class’ (use of appoggiature in Baroque and Viennese classicism).

m5b: string filler

This violin filler has a similar appoggiatura character to m5a and the use of legato string obligati or fillers in popular song is also extremely common in connection with ‘love’, ‘deep feelings’, etc. as a general field of affective association. The equation ‘melodic legato strings = love’ is so well established in film music, television and mood music that further explanation of the phenomenon seems superfluous.

m6: the Fernando museme

Llorando, cantando, pensando

Museme 6 is the most frequently occurring museme in Fernando. It is the only one to be found in both verse and chorus. Placed at the end of the phrase, it has a syntactic function as a melodic cadence formula. With its weak-strong-weak accentuation , m6 is ideally suited to the intonation of such words as Maria, Señora, querida, contigo, sincero, recuerdo, Tequila, Sevilla, Grenada, España, mañana, cantando, flamenco, fandango, pensando, belleza, llorando, tristeza, partido, destino and ‘Fernando’. Museme 6 is also ideal for the setting of such standard Spanish trisyllabic song expressions as mi canto, la vuelta, su puerta, mi alma, la noche, y siento, el viento, la playa, tan solo, en pena, los años, el mundo, el pueblo, no puedo, de todo, mi vida, te quiero, tus ojos, tu pelo, me mata. All these words and phrases must have been sung countless times in the Spanish-speaking world.

True, the rhythm created by these words and phrases is probably just as common in all other Latin languages except (modern spoken) French (e.g. Madonna, Milano, Lisboa, Janeiro, Ceaucescu), but set to a descending melodic formula, as in m6, a distinctly Hispanic flavour is discernible. This observation is illustrated by music examples 42 through 46, all of which draw from either Hispanic popular song (ex. 42-43) or from Anglo-Saxon or Northern European notions of Spanish and Latin American musical stereotypes (ex. 44-46). The Hispanic flavour of m6’s (7)-6-5 melodic cadence is particularly clear in examples 45, 46 and 47, the latter being a popular British skiffle hit from the late fifties, and containing the word ‘Fernando’ set to the same 3-2-1 phrase and a similar 7-6-5 phrase as in Fernando itself.

Ex. 42. Los Gallos (Spanish trad.)

Ex. 43. Malagueña Solerosa (Mexican trad.)

Ex. 44. Youmans (1933): Carioca

Ex. 45. Duncan: Wine Festival. Boosey & Hawkes Recorded Music Catalogue: ‘gay, exotic, Mediterranean, etc., fiesta, sunny’

Ex. 46. Sylvia Vrethammar (1973): E viva España

Ex. 47. Johnny Duncan and the Blue Grass Boys (1957): Last Train To San Fernando.

The verse’s vocal line

Monocentric panning

As with most popular music recordings, the vocal line of the verse of Fernando is panned centre front. This stereo localisation recreates the imagined physical position of the vocalist or soloist performing ‘live’ in relation to his/her accompaniment, i.e. in the middle and at the front of the stage, backed and flanked by a sonic semi-circle of accompanying musicians and instruments or singers, and as the focal point in a one-way projection of sound from this semi-circle to the auditorium (figure 2:2). This dualism between melody and accompaniment, a musical parallel to that between figure and ground in visual arts and historically related to monocentricity and the bourgeois notion of individualism, has been discussed in other publications to which readers are referred for a theoretical background to this section of the argument.


In Fernando, this dualism not only implies that the singer is the central ‘reference point’ of the piece but also that she has had her mouth placed nearer the listener’s ear, not so much through proximity to the recording mic as through the relative volume accorded to the main vocal channel(s) in the final mix. Such production technique creates an actual or imagined distance between two persons (the singer and the listener) which is that of a confidential monologue or potential dialogue. The electronically produced and perceived acoustic distance between singer and listener is not the same as that between accompanying instruments and listener. Moreover the generous amounts of reverb given to the guitars and flutes not only create a feel of large open spaces but also of large distance between the source of the sound and the listener’s ears. It is more than likely that quite a lot of reverb has been put on to the main vocal track(s) too but the perceived duration of that reverb is less than that accorded to quenas and charangos. It is in this way that Annifrid Lyngstad has been put into acoustic close-up and the flutes and charangos further away.

Recitatival fervour

Ex. 48. Fernando – verse 1, vocal line as recorded, bars 13-22

Ex. 49. Fernando – verse 1, vocal line as notated in sheet music version, bars 12-18

As can be seen in example 48 and in the transcript (b.12-37, 63-75), the vocalist (Annifrid Lyngstad) takes considerable liberties in her rhythmic interpretation of words which in the sheet music version of Fernando are noted as regular quaver movement (ex. 49). This aspect of interpretative rhythmic license underlines the parlando, poco rubato, recitative character of the verse, an effect heightened by the division of musical flow into irregular periods. Taking bars 12, 17, 21, 25, 30, 34, 63, 68 and 72 as upbeat figures (see transcript), it will be found that the melody of each verse consists of phrases spanning three main periods:

(a) 2 + 3 (=5) bars (b) 2 + 2 (=4) bars, (c) 3 bars.

Such irregular periodicity is uncommon in European and North American popular music whose phrase lengths are usually arranged in multiples of four bars (4, 8, 12, 16, 32, etc.). The divergence of the Fernando verses from the quadratic norm is particularly striking, not only with regard to their division into three instead of two or four main periods, but also considering that none of its phrase lengths is of equal duration. The harmonic rhythm is:

1) A: 3 x 4/4 2) Fm: 2 x 4/4 3) Bm: 2 x 4/4

4) E: 2 x 4/4 + 1 x 2/4 5) A: 2 x 4/4).

Similar asymmetric patterns can be found in country blues and in other types of folk or folk-influenced music in which singers or soloists alter the length of a phrase to suit the amount of words which have to fit in or to facilitate breathing. They are, however, unusual in mainstream pop music. This observation adds further weight to our interpretations about the ‘folksy’ or rural character of the verse.

The kind of periodicity and harmonic rhythm found in the Fernando’s verses is sometimes found in the rarely sung ‘verse’ introductions to 32-bar standards or hits from musicals. It is more common in recitatives, psalm chants and other types of intoned parlando pieces or passages where the verbal narrative takes pride of place over the musical discourse. Of course, this does not mean that musical expression is unimportant in recitatives, otherwise J S Bach need not have bothered providing expressive harmonies and vocal lines for the Evangelist in the Matthew and John Passions. It is just that by allowing verbal rhythms to override musical metre, recitatival presentation contrasts strongly with the most common forms of vocal melody. Since recitatival presentation, rhythmic license and asymmetric periodicity are so unusual in postwar pop song, it seems that the Fernando’s verses constitute not so much a type of vocal expression in which words actually are more important than music, but rather a device conveying an affect of emotionally heightened verbal narrative which gives the impression that the words are specially important. This notion of heightened verbal narrative is also substantiated by considering the vocalist’s small crescendi, acciacature, portamenti, interpretative phrasing, accentuation, etc. and her shifts in vocal timbre.

m7: chorus lead-in

Propulsive repetition

Museme 7 has a primarily structural or syntactic function. Placed as a long upbeat crescendo figure, it is a reiterative device, repeating the recently sounded tonic cadence note (as m7a) and thereby delaying and heightening expectation for whatever follows it. It is performed simultaneously by all singers and players (the first real musical ‘gathering point’) and consists of six upbeat quavers sounding as an ascending scale by the recorders (m7b) and as reiterated notes (the a of m7a) by all its other performers. Its ‘leading forwards’ function is thus not only produced by its crescendo (volume) and rise (pitch) leading ‘out and up’ (m7b), but also by its positioning at the end of the previous period and by its inherent and contextual reiterative character. There is no room here to discuss the relation between rhythmically regular multiple repetition and propulsion or ejection in any detail and the reader is referred to other accounts of ‘ready-steady-go’ or ‘1-2-3-go’ anacruses for explanations of this well-known phenomenon. Here we shall merely state that the function of m7 is to highlight whatever follows it.

m8: tritone hook

What sort of tritone?

Museme 8, prepared and highlighted by m7, is one of the most interesting melodic ideas in the whole of Fernando. It is also the semiotically most problematic museme of the song. Only in one instance (ex. 65, p.59) did the musical structure of any part of our IOCM correspond convincingly to the structure of m8, i.e. from tonic upbeat to major seventh downbeat (the third in a dominant seventh chord) via non-stressed perfect fifth to accentuated fourth (the octave and seventh of the same dominant seventh chord), all repeated and phrased with downbeat anticipations on the fourth (seventh in the dominant seventh), i.e. 8-#7-5-4, 8-#7-5-4. Although lacking the unstressed perfect fifth of m8, the tritone motif of ex. 65 was nevertheless identical on practically every other count. However, instead of jumping to premature conclusions, let us go through the melodic tritones found in our IOCM one by one, noting their VVAs and in what way and to what extent their musical structures and contexts correspond (or not) with those of m8.

As mentioned above, m8 is a semiotically tricky museme. In the original study of Fernando, none of the freely induced pieces of IOCM contained anything resembling m8. This meant that musical associations had to be guided in such a way that the IOCM presented here is mostly a result of asking music-making colleagues (and myself) to supply musical references containing melodic tritones, the only exception being ex. 65, spontaneously supplied by a Latin American colleague several years later. So, excluding for obvious reasons clearly irrelevant melodic tritone references, such as the Intermezzo Interrotto from Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra, here follows an account of IOCM for m8.

Precadential tritones

Unrepeated descending precadential tritones

Our hunt for the symbolic meaning of m8 starts off disappointingly. We find the #7-4 idea frequently occurring in popular song of Scandinavian origin, where it seems to have a totally syntactical or structural function: more specifically, it seems to act as a precadential device. Museme 8 may be similar in its dominant-seventh broken-chord character to the rising or unaccented tritonal germanisms of such all-time hits as Lilli Marlene or Oh mein Papa, but its occurrence in accentuated and descending form over V-I cadences seems to be a trait of Scandinavian popular song from the early twentieth century. It can be found in several numbers by the late (and still highly popular) Swedish troubadour Evert Taube (e.g. Fritiof Andersson, Den glada bagarn i San Remo, Vals i gökottan). We choose to quote first (ex.50) from a highly popular Swedish melody from the twenties in which an 8-#7-5-4 tritone figure continues via 2 to 1 in a descending melodic cadence over a V-I harmony, as the final phrase in each verse of the song. In example 50, the connotations of the lyrics to which the tritone figure is set vary considerably from verse to verse. The 8-#7-5-4 tritone figure occurs only in bars 5 and 6 of an the 8-bar phrase quoted here (b.13-14 of the longer 16-bar period and b.29-30 of the complete 32-bar verse in which it appears) and cannot be considered more than a normal melodic indicator of an imminent V-I perfect cadence in Swedish old-time popular music (gammaldans). Such final tritone descents over V-I cadences are so common in Swedish and Norwegian music of this type that we take the liberty of referring the interested (or sceptical) reader to the footnotes for further information on this subject and of quoting no more than three other examples (ex. 51-53) of the phenomenon in the main body of text.

Ex. 50. Njurling & Dahlqvist (1924): Axel Öman. Melodic tritone in final cadence of verse

Ex. 51. Adolphson (1966): Gustav Lindströms Visa. Precadential melodic tritone

Ex. 52. Prøysen: Lilla Vackra Anna. Melodic tritone 7#-4 in V-I cadence

Ex. 53. Alfvén: Roslagsvår. Precadential melodic tritone (no lyrics)

What common denominators of IOCM has m8 shown so far? What words coexist with m8 in the examples we have seen? Well, we started with Mein Papa being wunderbar and the Happy Baker of San Remo. Then we met Lilli Marlene at the barrack gate, proclaimed Pretty Little Anna as ‘mine’ and announced Axel Öman‘s engagement. Admiring Gustav Lindström‘s whirlpools and currents under the bridges of Stockholm, we then sailed to Shanghai with Axel Öman who ended up betraying his sweetheart. Not much precision, uniformity or clarity of connotation in all of that. In fact, all we have to go on so far is a possible genre synecdoche for a collection of popular songs (mostly Swedish) from the gammaldans tradition, all of which use a descending tritone as melodic profile in V-I cadences. This primarily syntactic function may correspond to the use of m8 in its final position in the chorus of Fernando but does not seem to tally particularly well with its use at the start of the chorus. Let us therefore continue our search.

‘Halfway-house’ tritones

Unrepeated ‘halfway-house’ descending tritones

Assuming, as is usually the case, that our melodic tritone quotes all occur within the framework of a quaternary period (i.e. spanning over 4, 8, 16, etc. bars), it will be seen by referring to figure 3 that the examples cited thus far all occur in section Y of our simplified W-X-Y-Z pattern, i.e. just before or at the actual end of such a quaternary period.

Descending melodic tritone figures at or just before half cadences (X in the W-X-Y-Z of fig. 3) seem to be nearly as common in the Swedish old-time (gammaldans) tradition as their precadential relatives (at Y in the same figure). Such tritone figures can also be heard in the following citations, two of them Swedish (ex. 54, 55), one from the British music hall tradition (ex. 56).

Ex. 54. Alfvén: Dalarapsodi (Swedish Rhapsody). Unrepeated melodic tritone at ‘halfway house’

Ex. 55. Sandström & Sandberg (1928): Där näckrosen blommar. Melodic tritone at half-cadence over dominant harmony in bars 7-8 of a standard 16-bar I-V-V-I period in normal tempo, i.e. descending melodic tritone at X in the quaternary W-X-Y-Z pattern of periodicity.

Ex. 56. Heatherton: I’ve Got A Luvverly Bunch O’ Coconuts. Unrepeated descending melodic ‘halfway house’ tritone in position X of the W-X-Y-Z pattern.

This batch of IOCM (ex. 54-56) does not take us much further in the quest for any other function of m8 than the structural or syntactic. All these examples can tell us is that we have moved on to the standard and not particularly devastating tritone tension of a normal chord of the dominant seventh at the sort of ‘halfway house’ position in a quaternary period so often found in the W-X-Y-Z pattern shown above. Let us see what the next category of melodic tritones can give.

Repeated ‘halfway house’ descending tritones

The next batch of IOCM for m8 (ex. 57-61) all show a descending tritone melodic figure (8)-#7-4 in both the X and Y positions of the W-X-Y-Z model.

We have already mentioned the idea of melodic tritones in central and western European popular music tradition of the tertial (‘functional’) harmony type as possible statements of structural tension to be almost inevitably resolved within a well-known harmonic-periodic framework. Thus the diabolus in musica, who since the advent of the tonic-dominant ‘blow-suck’ or ‘pull-push’ dualism of mouth organs and early accordions also includes a ninth (sixth in relation to the tonic) and is inherent in every dominant function played by these highly popular instruments (V is not only V but also V7 or V9), becomes no more than a stock-in-trade structural antithesis to the thesis (Hegelian terms) of the tonic. The diabolus resides in the ‘suck’ (harmonica) or ‘pull’ (accordion), just as the tonic triad dwells in the ‘blow’ or ‘push’. According to this model, exx. 57-59 are instances of the melodic tritone repeated in both the X and Y (middle, ‘suck/pull’) positions, acting as antithesis to the thesis W (start, ‘blow/push’) and to the synthesis Z (end, ‘blow/push’). Similar dualisms, both harmonic and periodic, are so common in the European musical tradition of functional harmony (e.g. ternary forms, sonata form, da capo arias, 32-bar evergreens) that the extension of such thinking to the realm of melodic tritones in popular song in the same basic harmonic, periodic, rhythmic, melodic and metric tradition should hardly be a matter demanding further substantiation.

None of this means that these repeated ‘halfway house’ tritones totally lack tension. In that they are antitheses to the initial and final tonics, they hold some degree of (primarily structural) interest. More important here, however, is the fact that all examples in this new batch of IOCM tritones are repeated, this delaying the inevitable return of the tonic and holding melodic-harmonic-periodic tension for slightly longer. This is also reflected in the lyrics of the Elvis Presley quotes (ex. 58, 59), performed at a tempo far closer to that of Fernando than to the rollicking charter-tour version of a speedy paso-doble, such as E Viva España (ex. 57).

Ex. 57. Sylvia Vrethammar (1973): E viva España. Melodic tritones (7-5-4, 8-7-6-4) at half-cadence over dominant function in bars 3-4 of normal I-V-V-I 8-bar period and repeated in bars 5-6 as a precadential melodic museme (repeated ‘halfway house’ melodic tritone)

Ex. 58. Di Capua / Presley: It’s Now Or Never (O Sole mio). Melodic tritone in bars 3-4, 5-6 of a slow I-V-V-I 8-bar period (repeated ‘halfway house’ melodic tritone)

Ex. 59. Dave Bartholomew / Presley: One Night With You. Melodic tritone in bars 3-4, 5-6 of a slow I-V-V-I 8-bar period (repeated ‘halfway house’ melodic tritone)

One night with you is what I’m now praying for;

The things that we two could plan would make my dreams come true.

It’s now or never, come hold me tight. Kiss me my darling, be mine tonight!

There is certainly a good deal of paramusical tension associated with these tritone phrases occupying half the melodic space of these examples performed at a very moderate tempo. However, with the apparently total lack of any longing or tension in the Sylvia Vrethammar example and with no further IOCM of the repeated descending melodic tritone in the ‘halfway house’ or ‘X and Y’ position to substantiate such a hypothesis, we should perhaps pursue our tritonal investigations in other directions. In so doing, we should also remember that m8 occurs not in the Y position, nor in an ‘X and Y halfway house’ position but at the start of the phrase/period/section or in the precadential position, i.e. as W or Y according to the W-X-Y-Z model.

Initial tritones

Initial, sequentially repeated descending tritones

So far, the tritone tension shown by examples of IOCM has mostly been of a harmonic-periodically structural character. Any paramusical correspondence or connection to comparatively well-defined spheres of affective cognition have yet to be established conjunction with m8. At this juncture it should be remembered that m8 is the actual starting point and main melodic idea of the chorus in Fernando, its melodic W as well as part of its melodic Y. In this light it seems more relevant to check on VVAs connected to examples of IOCM which contain tritones repeated near or actually at the start of new phrases or periods (ex. 60, ex. 61).

The Schumann extract (ex. 60) shows the second phrase of the song, prepared and highlighted by reiterated notes, and consisting of two descending tritones sung in succession in a similar tempo to that used in Fernando (Schumann e = Abba q ). Despite these similarities, it should be noted that the Schumann tritones are sung in ascending sequence, the second of the two landing as an X-type unrepeated ‘halfway house’ motif over the C$7($5) pivot chord modulating us into E$. (The effect would be different — more similar to m8 — if C$7($5) were replaced by F7/$5). The correspondences with m8 (repetition, initial position in a phrase, tempo) may be as clear as the lyrics’ VVA at that point (Wehmut=sadness) but the harmonic environment of Fernando’s m8 is quite different to that of the melancholy in Du bist wie eine Blume: m8 is not harmonised with chords containing diminished fifths; it is just part of the simple underlying dominant seventh (E7).

Ex. 60. Schumann (1840): Du bist wie eine Blume. Sequentially repeated melodic tritone in bars 1 and 2 of a 4-bar period in slow tempo.

Ex. 61. J S Bach (1729): ‘Ich will bei meinem Jesu wachten’ (‘I would by Saviour be watching’) from Matthew Passion. Descending sequence of melodic 4-8-1 melodic tritones.

It would thus seem that m8 might still have to be interpreted as a primarily structural museme rather than as bearer of a less general sort of affective meaning. However, such an interpretation is quite implausible because m8 is preceded and highlighted by a structural ‘lead-in’ museme (m7), not followed in the same phrase by anything except the ‘Fernando’ museme (m6) which has already been extensively used as a catchy phrase-ender. A generally syntactic/structural melodic museme is unlikely to be bounded on both sides by musemes of equal paramusical vagueness and lack of symbolic interest. So let us continue.

In the case of ex. 61 (Bach’s Matthew Passion), we are dealing with a descending sequence of 4-1-#7 figures (4-1-#7 being the tetrachord complement to the #7-5-4 of m8), played by the oboe obligato but connected to the word wachten (= watch, wait) in the sentence ‘ich will bei meinem Jesu wachten’, sung by the Evangelist. This tritone figure, which in ‘normal’ circumstances should lead to a standard 4-1-#7-2-1(3) melodic cadence over the usual V4-3-I progression, is here repeated in sequential form and reaches no cadence until several bars later. The Evangelist is ‘waiting’ (wachten) and we listeners must wait for another bar after the extract quoted before a cadence is reached: after all, the whole melodic period is built on the tritone motif and its semiquaver run-ins. In several respects — central dominating position in the melodic context, preparation by quick-note run-ins, tempo (Bach e = Abba q ), normal dominant harmonies (Bach’s F7-B$ and E$7-A$ like the Abba E7-A) — the Bach example bears more relation to m8 than any other IOCM tritone quoted so far.

Paramusical meaning attached to ex. 61 is expressed by the words of the disciple of Jesus (sung by the Evangelist), watching and waiting with (and for?) The Lord in the Garden of Gethsemane. The gist of the aria is that could we but wait with Him (not abandon him like the apostles did) all our sins would be forgiven (a much longed-for state). Inferred in the larger cultural historical context of passion plays and protestantism is of course the widely held consensus that we are just as likely as the apostles to abandon Jesus and that the Nirvana we long for (being with Jesus, redemption of sins, etc.) is a state can never attain: we will let Him down and therefore we will be disappointed. We can do no more than to seek and long for this musical passiontide version of the Christian unattainable. The ‘sublime’ can in such contexts only be ‘reached’ musically ‘in paradisum’ (ex. 26, p.38), i.e. in Hosannas, Sanctuses and Alleluias, or be projected on to constructs of ‘absolute’ music.

Initial, simply repeated descending tritones

Ex. 62. Wolf (1888): Nimmersatte Liebe (Mörike Lieder). ‘So ist die Lieb’! Mit küssen nicht zu stillen’. Simply repeated tritones at start of phrase over diminished chord

We are now approaching the stage when the tritones of our IOCM start to resemble the first instance of m8 in the chorus of Fernando. With ex. 62 we are once again plunged into the connotative realms of the unattainable, only this time it is love that is insatiable, not our longing for redemption. However, although the song is filled to the brim with yearning or longing, both musical and verbal, it could be rash to interpret m8 as bearer of the same affect, especially noting that the Wolf tritone (ex. 62) is, like the Schumann quote (ex. 60), sung over a dramatic diminished seventh chord whose dominant function is nowhere as clear m8’s.

In ex. 63 (Gluck) we find another 4-1-#7 figure, here at the start of a new period, twice in succession and over a dominant function, in these respects just like m8. This 4-#7 figure is sung to the words ‘hear my prayer so sad and sighing’ when Orpheus begs Euridice to stop being dead and longs for his Nirvana of having her back out of Hades. The only notable differences between ex. 63 and the initial (not final) m8 are: (i) that ex. 63 is a 4-#7, not a #7-4 tritone (thus resembling the Abba backing vocal part more than the lead vocals); (ii) that ex. 63 goes via the ninth (second) whereas m8 passes neither ninth nor sixth; (iii) that ex. 63 is contained within a harmonic period of V-I-V-I, not V-V-I-I, as with m8. However, on other counts the resemblances between ex. 63 and m8 are striking.

Ex. 63. Gluck (1762/1774): ‘Che farò senza Euridice?’ from Orfeo e Euridice. Simply repeated 4-2-1-#7 melodic tritone in bars 1 and 2 (with upbeats) of a 4-bar period

Ex. 64. Righteous Brothers: You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’.

Melodic tritone repeated initiating new phrase, period and section

In the Righteous Brothers example (ex. 64), the male vocalist longs for a return to the wonderful state of love which his partner no longer feels:

You never close your eyes any more when I kiss your lips

And there’s no tenderness when you touch my fingertips;

You’re trying hard not to show it, baby.....

You’ve lost that loving feeling....

An initial, simply repeated tritone figure, the first melodic idea of the whole song, is chosen to couch the sentiment of these words in musical terms. Now, the harmony of ex. 64 may cause some confusion at first sight but if we bear in mind (i) that C11 is really a B$ triad with a c pedal point, i.e. a Mixolydian dominant to C — by no means an uncommon trait in North American and British popular song from the 1950s and onward — and (ii) that the melodic line basically runs down part of the C7 arpeggio (i.e. dominant to F, the mean tonality of B$ and C), we may then understand the tritone figure in ex. 64 as a simple 8-#7-5-4. This is exactly the same pattern as in m8, sung to the same rhythm, in a similar tempo, with the same time space between its two appearances, preceded by an anacrusis of similar length, over a dominant chordal function leading eventually to its tonic. The figure is, however, sung at a lower pitch in a somewhat slower tempo in a different harmonic language from a different pop music genre (slight gospel flavour in ex. 64).

Nevertheless, despite obvious differences between ex. 58-64 and m8, it should be clear that both the (8)-#7-5-4 and the (5)-4-1-#7 figures described above are all potential pre-cadence archetypes which have been placed near or at the start of a musical period. Since they cannot signal a final cadence in their new position at the start of a phrase, period or section, they are presumably signalling something else in their statement of tritone tension. They state an accented 7 and 4 in the same breath (thus creating tritonal tension in a context of tertial functional harmony) but are then repeated, this prolonging their tension of the interval and, through repetition, delaying and leading the listener’s ear on towards an eventual resolution of the tension. As inferred above, this resolution of tension by means of a final cadence cannot be carried out on the spot if the tritone is stated as the first important melodic museme of a new phrase or period.

It is therefore hardly surprising to find notions of longing, modal auxiliary verbs and states of pleading, waiting, etc. as VVAs to these musemes when repeated and when occupying more than the merely usual precadential (Y) or ‘halfway house’ (X, Y) positions in a quaternary harmonic-melodic period (W-X-Y-Z). Like the first occurrence of m8, they occupy the initial position (W) and are repeated. Thus, in ex. 61 (Bach) the tenor disciple of Jesus longs to watch and wait by his saviour when all the apostles have fled Gethsemane, since ‘ich will’, rendered as ‘I would’ in the standard English translation, implies wanting to wait but not necessarily doing so. In ex. 63 (Gluck), Orpheus longs for Euridice to requite his love but can hardly expect an answer from her in Hades. In ex. 58 (O sole mio) the singer implores the fictitious addressee with a message of real ‘longing’ to hold him tight, while in ex. 59 (One Night With You) he not only longs for that night with her but also that his dreams will ‘come true’. In ex. 64 (You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling) the singer longs to return to the apparently impossible state of love as it was before.

These observations can be further substantiated by careful scrutiny of ex. 65 (Quizás by Osvaldo Farrés and as recorded by Nat King Cole). The Quizás and Fernando tritone musemes are practically identical as regards melodic rhythm, relative pitch, accompanying bass figure (see m10), their central position in the complete phrase, their repetition, their position after a long upbeat tonic repetition and their continuation downwards to another note of the tonic triad than the tonic itself. Even the ‘...ando’ of ‘pensando’ and ‘¿hasta cuando?’ in Quizás rhyme with and occur in exactly the same position as the ‘...ando’ of ‘Fernando’ in Fernando. In Quizás, once again, the lyrics deal with longing:


Sempre que te pregunto que cuando, como e donde,

tu siempre me respondes Quizás, quizás, quizás.

Ya se passan los dias y yo, desesperado,

y tu, tu contestando ‘Quizás, quizás, quizás’, etc.


Estas perdiendo el tiempo, pensando, pensando

Por lo que más tú quieras. ¿Hasta cuando, hasta cuando?

The start of the chorus in Fernando is so similar to that of Quizás that if one had little knowledge of the creative process in popular music one might easily believe that Abba had been plagiarising. While there is no room to discuss this question here, it is interesting to note not only the considerable popularity of Quizás in Spanish speaking areas but also to its importation into the pizzerias and trattorias of European cities. Quizás would, at least in Sweden, probably be understood as hailing from ‘southern climes’, not only thanks to its Spanish lyrics, but also because of the Hispanic musical elements it contains and which we have already discussed (m5, m6, m8). Thus, m8 can also be considered as further underlining the Spanish language area or Mediterranean connotations mentioned earlier.

Ex. 65. Osvaldo Farrés / Nat King Cole: Quizás. Melodic tritone 8-#7-4, repeated at start of chorus, over dominant chord, with downbeat anticipations and preceded by a 1-note, 4- quaver upbeat at between 100 and 110 bpm.

In earlier examples (ex. 50-57), where there was often great superficial musical-structural similarity between the musemes of the IOCM and m8, we found neither repetition of the museme under scrutiny (as in m8) nor its location in the first part of a musical phrase or period. It is therefore not surprising that no particular VVAs were discovered in conjunction with those musemes. However, on further analysis we found m8 to be comparable to musemes which, when placed in an immediate processual context, proved to share the affective common denominator of longing for and wanting (thereby also lacking) a desirable emotional experience as seen from the singer’s viewpoint. Moreover, that part of our IOCM which most strikingly resembled m8 (ex. 65: Quizás) was not only associated with longing but also with Latin cultures, probably Spanish speaking.

We shall therefore presume longing to be the inherent affective message of m8 until it has been discussed in its processual context.

m9: chordal padding

string halo

Like m7, m8 and m10, museme 9 occurs only in the chorus. These Fender Stringman held chords seem to have two main uses: (i) to enrich the accompanying sonorities with a sort of fitted carpet or wallpaper of sound, padding out any ‘bare holes’; (ii) to provide a ‘string halo’ (Streichenglorienschein) of the type accompanying Jesus’s recitatives in Bach’s passions.

A similar sort of halo was used by dance bands in the late 1950s and early 1960s to cover up and fill in all possible gaps in the musical flow, especially in slow, romantic numbers. Rather like the romantic church organist’s weakness for the voix céleste and vox humana stops in combination on the swell to effectuate lush, legato chordal sounds, dance band organists of the sixties and early seventies would more or less glue their right hand to the upper-middle register of their Bergman, Philichord, Vox or Farfisa and shift invisibly and imperceptibly from chord to chord for every slow number while lovers in spe were given the opportunity to get more closely acquainted as they dragged their feet around the dance floor. With the advent of electronic string-imitating keyboard instruments in the late sixties, such as the Freeman String Synthesizer or the Solina, dance bands acquired a more efficient means of acoustically lining the prime mating venue of citizens of industrialised capitalist society with viscose pads of glittering sonic syrup. Judging from the recording under analysis, such a string-imitating keyboard unit was used to effectuate m9. Museme 9a is further enhanced by the split chords played on electric guitar (m9b) with treble and middle registers as well as tremolo and reverb in clear evidence, all this contributing to the glittering, shimmering effect of m9 as a well-padded wad of rich and reverberating total accompanying sound.

This sonic backcloth for the chorus also includes real violins playing legatissimo appoggiatura fillers (m5b). ‘Your voice is sweet like violins’, sang Brook Benton (1959), while Johnny Mathis (1959) poeticised ‘Walk my way, and a thousand violins begin to play’. These quotes from the world of popular song in North America, coupled with some knowledge about the omnipresence of strings in Hollywood love scenes, should be enough to establish the ‘slow legato strings = love’ equation mentioned earlier and which can also be applied to our interpretation of m9.

Museme 9 seems in other words to provide the listener with a sort of MoR pop sound, mixing musical stereotypes of romance, glitter, dance halls, smoothness etc. in a large and brightly reverberating acoustic space full of easy, pleasant rhythm — a dance hall? In any case, m9 constitutes the general sonic environment for m8, and is modified with considerable clarity by m10.

m10: dance band disco

m10a: New Orleans second line

This museme is a standard variant of an extremely common riff used in North American pop music from the late nineteen-fifties and early sixties. The history of such riffs is of relevance to our understanding of Fernando. In New Orleans jazz and, even more noticeably, in rhythm and blues from the same city and area (e.g. Professor Longhair, James Booker, Jimmy Yancey), bass figurations often take the form of slightly syncopated arpeggios similar to m10a. The origin of these riffs, otherwise known as ‘the second line’, can be found in similar figures employed frequently and in a similar rhythmically / harmonically accompanying fashion in certain dance musics of Latin America, especially of the Caribbean. Such triadic arpeggio figures in the bass (or ‘tenor’) part first reached North America with the habanera (during the Spanish-American war) and were followed by the tango, rumba and beguine. With influences direct from the Caribbean, especially from Cuba, New Orleans rhythm and blues musicians incorporated these figures into their music so that they became a indicator not so much of latinamericanicity as of their own style (see ex. 66).

Ex. 66. ‘Second-line Riffs’ from R&B influenced U.S. pop of the late 1950s. (a) Elvis Presley (1957): All Shook Up. (b) The Coasters (1959): Poison Ivy. (c) Elvis Presley (1959): A Fool Such As I. (d) Lloyd Price (1952): Lawdy Miss Clawdy. (e) Larry Williams (1957): Boney Moronie. (f) Don & Dewey (1958): Koko Joe. (g) Little Richard (1958): Good Golly Miss Molly. (h) Louis Jordan (1948): Run Joe. (i) Louis Jordan (1957): Early In The Morning. (j) Louis Prima (1955): Beep Beep. (k) Chick Willis (1958): Hang Up My Rock and Roll Shoes. (l) Fats Domino (1955): Ain’t That A Shame. (m) Fats Domino (1955): Poor Me. (n) Fats Domino (1956): Blueberry Hill. (o) Fats Domino (1957): I’m Walking. (p) Fats Domino (1957): The Big Beat. (q) Fats Domino (1958): I Hear Ya Knocking.

Ex. 67. ABBA: ‘Second-line’ riffs: (a) I Do I Do I Do I Do I Do; (b) Ring Ring

Museme 10a is always played as a riff; it is not a unique element occurring just once or twice in a line consisting of other elements. The ‘second-line’ riffs cited in ex. 66 do not occur in connection with any particular VVA in their lyrics. Such riffs are to be regarded as little more than a typical style characteristic of a particular sort of North American pop song from around 1960 which shows a certain type of influence from a particular type of R&B. This type of riff, less frequent in pop music from the middle and late 1960s, became more widespread again around 1970 in such numbers as The Beatles’ Oh Darlin’ (1969) and was taken on board by numerous Swedish dance bands in the seventies as thankful material for the tenor saxophonist or bass player (e.g. Thorleifs’ Gråt inga tårar and Vikingarna’s Du gav bara löften).

It was also used earlier by Abba in Ring Ring (1973) and I Do I Do I Do I Do I Do (1975, ex. 67b) and can be seen as part of the ‘fifties nostalgia’ trend in commercial pop from the economic depression of twenty years after.

From this account it seems reasonable to regard m10a as representing a highly familiar musical style and environment to a large part of all those who heard Fernando in North-Western Europe in the mid seventies. It can, at least in its Swedish mid-seventies context, almost be considered as a dance evening stereotype which occurs not only in the numbers cited here but in hundreds of other pieces of easy-listening and danceable pop. Its slightly syncopated underlining of a steady pop beat, aided and abetted by the offbeat split chords on electric guitar (m10b), was one of the essential ingredients in a musical idiom sporting uncomplicated love lyrics for teenagers, dances for the (then) under-forties and other supposedly positive phenomena in the normal leisure activities of modern capitalist society. Museme 10a lends, in other words, a happy, well-known, pleasantly recreative, familiar, relatively up-to-date and danceable quality to the chorus.

m10c-d: ‘Mjukdisco’

Museme 10c, with its discrete but full and constant acoustic guitar strums and the equally quiet transients of its maraca or hi-hat quaver perpetuum mobile, not only enhance m9’s general glitter value but also add just enough high frequency rhythm to relate string pad stasis to the dance beat patterns provided by bass and drums (m10a and m10d). By genre synecdoche, the acoustic guitar(s) may also connote popular singalong (good in any chorus worth its name), while the maracas, apart from underlining dance connotations discussed both above and below, may also add a soupçon of latinamericanicity. However, since neither acoustic guitars nor maracas are prominent in the mix, it is difficult to determine what their VVAs might be.

The drum parts (m10d) were described by a drum-playing student as mjukdisco (=soft disco). A quick check through a (then West) German disco anthology called It’s My Discothek (sic, from the late seventies) proved this categorisation to be quite apposite, especially as far as the numbers by such artists as Laura Leyland, The Chosen Few, Men Vision and Sara Brightman were concerned. Here, as indeed in the disco devotee anthem Staying Alive (Bee Gees 1977), we find explicit bass drum downbeats and a hi-hat ‘hit and open’ on the final quaver of every other or every fourth bar, all in decidedly regular 4/4 time at metronome speeds between 107 and 130 beats per minute. In this context we should also note that the chorus of Fernando is performed at 110 bpm, more metronomically and at a brisker tempo than the 96 bpm of the introduction and the 102 bpm of the verse.

Musemes 10b and 10c are, on the other hand, not typical style indicators of disco. These constant quaver movements, played as acoustic guitar strum (m10c) and either maracas or hi-hat rhythms (m10e), may possibly be combined with disco elements, as in Fernando or as in other ‘soft-disco-pop’ renderings with the ‘Latin’ tinge, such as Sugar Cane’s Montego Bay or Andy Martin’s rendering of South Of The Border (both on the same It’s My Discothek anthology from the studios of Boney M), but they are to be heard as disco style qualifiers rather than as indicators, spicing the basic disco with latinamericanicity rather than vice versa.

m11: regrets

Sincerity and class

The last museme to discuss before summarising our findings in a more coherent form has both a connotative and a syntactic function. We are referring here to the A7 chord (g8 in the bass) and its common alternative Em6 (also g8 in the bass), as found in bars 46, 84 and 99 of Fernando. Inverted triads and seventh chords, including the tonic with flat seventh in the bass (I$7) or its common subdominant minor variant (v6/3), i.e. chords where the bass plays the third, fifth or seventh on accentuated beats of the bar, are unusual in most kinds of pop music. Such inversions do occur, however, in three types of popular music from the 1960s and 1970s: (i) in pop, rock and disco versions of European classical music (e.g. Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Ekseption, Waldo de los Rios); (ii) in various types of symphonic rock (e.g. Procul Harem, Genesis, Yes); (iii) in a particular type of ‘sincere’ slow ballad, often French (e.g. Charles Dumont’s Mon Dieu, Piaf’s Hymne à l’amour, Claude François’ My Way, as recorded by Sinatra (1969)). All three of these styles relate to the European classical tradition in one way or another: the first two because they directly purport to establish such a connection, the third because it is a continuation of a tradition of sentimental parlour ‘romances’ and popular nineteenth-century stage music.

Used in a North-Western European / North American pop context (the original production and distribution context of Fernando), such inversions strike a literally ‘serious’ chord by the same token that European classical music is also frequently called ‘serious music’. Downbeat thirds, fifths and sevenths in the bass part are two a penny in classical music, unusual in pop, where they consequently act as genre synecdoche for the classical and its aura of historicity, of ‘class’, of noble sentiment, of being, at least momentarily, less frivolous, etc.

Major chords with the flat seventh degree in the bass (fourth inversion: I$7, V7, etc.) occur in Abba’s Waterloo, SOS, My Love My Life, Intermezzo no.1, The Name of the Game, I Have A Dream, The Winner Takes It All and Thank You For The Music). Whereas The Name of the Game contains one and One of Us contains three instances of classically ‘incorrect’ voice leading of the type of chords just mentioned, Fernando’s bass seventh is treated according to harmony book rules. As such it closely resembles the opening harmonic progressions of two very popular ballads of the slow and sincere type: Sinatra’s rendering of My Way and Simon & Garfunkel’s Homeward Bound (see example 68, p.64). The only problem with these two ballads as IOCM is that they start with classical sincerity sevenths, whereas Fernando’s only onbeat inversion occurs in the second half of the song’s chorus. This difference in periodic positioning of the onbeat flat seventh in the bass line between Fernando and the two other ballads just mentioned has consequences for the interpretation of the ‘longing’ tritone museme m8 because that ‘longing’, as we have already implied, may well be ambiguous.

Confusion or conclusion?

Ex. 68. I-v/3-VI-ii(II) progressions in Homeward Bound, My Way and Fernando

The type of ambiguity we are referring to will only become manifest in the processual discussions of the next chapter. However, in order to understand the musical syntax of that ambiguity, we need to know how Abba resolve the ‘sincerity-and-regrets crisis’ of m11. Do they proceed as in My Way and Homeward Bound?

Example 68 shows the relevant passages from all three songs (from top to bottom: Homeward Bound, My Way, Fernando), all transposed to D to facilitate comparison. As intimated in the previous section, we accord the same basic function to I$7 (D7c8 in D, A7g8 in A) as to v63 (Am6c8 in D, Em6g8 in A). All three passages start on the tonic triad (D), change to v63 (Am6c8, or to its equivalent I$7) and then to VI7 (B7). This I-v63[I$7]-VI7 progression (D-Am6c8[D7c8]-B7 in D, A-Am6c8[A7g8]-F#7 in A) then offers the possibility of a sequential repetition starting on the supertonic in the form of a ii-ii7-V3 [-V-I] progression (Em-Emd-Ac# in D, Bm-Bma-Eg# in A). In My Way and Homeward Bound, this harmonic trick serves to introduce such a sequential repetition of the first ph rase on the supertonic (i.e. I-v63[I$7]-VI7 leads to ii-ii7-V3), whence (on the dominant function) we are poised to return to the tonic. In Fernando, however, museme 11 paves the way, not for a VI7 chord leading to a sequential repetition of the same harmonic and melodic idea on the supertonic, but to a string of dominant seventh chords (VI7-II7-V7-I), leading the listener anti-clockwise round the circle-of-fifths to a conclusive V-I cadence. VI7 is used so often in popular music to emphasise, delay or prolong a final cadence that intertextual verification of the phenomenon seems superfluous. In Fernando, however, the use of this VI7-II7-V7-I cadence formula (B7-E7-A7-D in D, F#7-B7-E7-A in A) has important consequences because it changes the position of m8, of the tritone museme of ‘longing’.

At the start of the chorus, m8 could not be interpreted as a precadential museme since it both initiated and occupied a central position in a phrase, period and musical section. At the end of the chorus, however, m8 can no longer be interpreted in the same way because, although it occupies the first two bars of a new four-bar phrase (bars 50-53 and its reprises in the second batch of choruses), it must in this latter instance also be understood as the melodic material occupying the fifth and sixth bars of a much larger eight-bar unit. This larger process, so well-entrenched in the passive musical conscious of millions (the VI7-II7-V7-I circle-of-fifths cadence) occupies eight bars (46-53 and its reprises). Both the ‘longing tritone’ museme (m8) and the ‘Fernando museme’ (m6) are now placed towards and at the end of a cadential process, not at the beginning of a new section. In the terms of our W-X-Y-Z scheme (fig. 3, p.53), m8 not only occurs as W at the start of the chorus — ‘longing’ — but also in position Y — precadentially at the end.

This dual positioning of tritone museme m8 is, in short, the cause of the ambiguity of musical syntax mentioned earlier. We are in other words already discussing the topic of the next chapter: musematic context and process.



Fig. 2-4. Album cover La flûte indienne (Barclay, 1968)



Fig. 2-2. Panning and stage presentation of sonic-scenic figure-ground dualism in most European music

Fig. 2-3. General pattern of harmony in old Europop quaternary periods

Fig. 2-1 Peruvian shepherd with flute (1954)



Chapter 3

Musical processes

Having discussed the individual musemes as discretised units of musical meaning, we are now in a position to describe the affective message of the song in larger blocks. We base our interpretation here on methods and concepts described elsewhere at some length, leaving such background theory outside the scope of this study.As can be seen in the Table of Musematic Occurrence (p. 27), Fernando is divisible into three main sections, abbreviated as follows: i (introduction and interlude), v (verse) and ch (chorus + coda/fade-out). i and v contain considerable amounts of common musematic material whereas it will be observed that ch, with the sole exception of m6 (‘Fernando’) contains exclusively its own material.

From ‘there and then’

The introduction (i1)

Referring to the discussion of individual musemes presented above, the introduction can be understood as portraying an environment plain and simple rather than the relationship of an individual or group of individuals to an environment or to each other. This is because the only melodic musemes to occur in the introduction (also called i1) are played by several instruments in more than one part each. It will be further observed that the English and Swedish language versions have both flutes and violins, the only main instruments playing melodic ideas in i1, placed far left and right, not centre front, in the stereo panorama, i.e. in the wings, not in the focal position of the foreground individual surrounded and set off against the sonic environment, but as part of the environment. Moreover, neither of these instrumental groups play in a predominantly singable register, another aspect tending to make them accompaniment / environment rather than ‘tune / individual’.

From the North American or North-Western European listener’s viewpoint, this environment is far-off, calm and still, sunny, wide and open (m1b), ethnic, probably Andean-Indian and possibly somewhat lonely, beautiful and melancholy (m1a). This El Condor Pasa mood and environment lasts for around 10 seconds (b.6), after which a more confident (tempo giusto), outward, rising and ‘increasing’ figure (m2) appears, a figure associable with such notions as ‘sunrise’, dawning (of day or an idea), gradual opening or grand entrance. It is unclear exactly what m2 ‘rises’ to, ‘dawns’ on or ‘heralds’ in. Taken in context, it might be any of three things:

1. the ‘distant drums / bolero’ figure (m4) which introduce a certain amount of military threat or drama and underlines the Hispanic identity of the musical environment;

2. the harp-like, bell-like poco staccato arpeggio figures (m3) with their slightly mystical and religious, heavenly, angelic, devotional and ‘sincere’ connotations;

3. the singer’s sonic stage entry. In any case the scene is set for the entrance of the melody proper (panned centre front).

The type of surroundings (the ‘sonic stage’) she will enter are presented in considerable musical-structural detail: large, calm, far-off, exotic, Andean-Indian, folksy, with an element of ‘far away and long ago’ melancholy and a small tinge of the threat and strife which seems to be in affective opposition to the ‘other worldly’, devotional, heavenly, angelic, mystical and religious elements associated with m3.

Verse 1

V1 starts with the accompaniment/environment described above. A rising figure (m2) heralds the vocalist’s entrance. Placed centre front in the stereo panorama, she is the central point of listener identification, the individual through whom the affective nature of the environment is interpreted, through whose relationship it is experienced. Any conceivable musical individuals in the environment / accompaniment (e.g. the quena flutes) are, as we have already mentioned, positioned in the panning periphery (apart from in the Spanish language version). A visual counterpart to this sonic postcard of South America might be a view showing beautiful scenery featuring picturesque poverty with Indian peasants or slum dwellers somewhere in the Andean area draped as a sort of backcloth to the pretty European fashion model posing in an ‘authentic’ (‘sincere’) hand woven (‘genuine folklore’) poncho outfit in front of an adobe shack on the front of a glossy magazine.

Be that as it may, she addresses the listener in intimate (mix close-up), graceful, mannered, pleading, fervent and emotional but controlled terms (m5). The ‘sincerity’ of her message is further increased by the recitativo character of the melodic phrases and their irregular periodicity as well as by the profile of the melodic line itself (alternate rises and falls the emotional swell) and by emotive modification of vocal timbre. These melodic phrases are in other words couched in musical terms more common in the Latin (French, Spanish, Latin American) rather than in the North-Western European or North American popular music tradition. This tendency is also underlined by the recurrent weak-strong-weak trisyllabic museme reserved for the fictitious addressee of the lyrics’ Fernando (m6).

Verse 2

The table of musematic occurrence (fig. 2, p. 27) shows that verse 2 (v2) contains exactly the same musemes as verse 1, with the exception of m4 — the ‘distant drums’ — which disappear at the start of v2. This musical disappearance might well indicate a corresponding verbal disappearance of threat and military strife. However, as the musical military drums disappear, the lyrics state that ‘they were closer now, Fernando’. However strange this simultaneous musical disappearance and verbal approaching of drums and strife may seem, the paradox is superficial. Nevertheless, since this phenomenon seems to cause problems of interpretation (e.g. in analysis classes), a short explanation is called for.

No drums = more drums?

If the verbally stated proximity of drums were to be mechanistically portrayed by mixing them up front, they would drown the rest of the music. This ‘realistic’ solution might fit quite well if Fernando had been a documentary or a news report from a skirmish between the liberation army and the US trained forces of repression (although, as we shall see, this may be alluded to in the English lyrics). In this case, Abba might have chosen to allude both musically and verbally to helicopters, napalm, sub-machine guns and other sonically suggestive instruments of threat from the oppressors rather than to the ‘drums’, ‘bugles’ and ‘cannons’ of yesteryear. However, this is not the case. Instead, Fernando should be taken for what it is: as a middle-of-the-road popular song in which the threat symbolised by verbal reference to the highly stylised acoustic symbol of military danger (‘drums’) can only become musically real if internalised by the individual expressing the sentiment in question. Thus the ‘objective’ exclusion of the drums already in themselves an outmoded stereotype of poetic license becomes the musically viable alternative for connoting military strife.

Such apparently paradoxical tricks are often used in film where source music, i.e. music in ‘real’ situations as part of the visual-verbal narrative (e.g. music played by a visible dance or military band) is cut from the soundtrack for passages where the internal emotional reactions of the main character portrayed at that point become the focal point of the story. This technique is often used in standard teledrama. For example, an episode entitled ‘The Brave Goose’ from The Return of the Saint (starring Roger Moore), contains a murder scene staged in a Riviera discothèque. Before the actual murder, source music (a disco dance record) is both heard and seen (people are dancing, there is a disk jockey). As soon as the murder is realised by the heroine, the source music is still seen (people keep on dancing, the disk jockey is still there) but it is not heard. The ‘real’, ‘objective’ music is supplanted by non-environmental, internal psychological underscore expressing another reality, i.e. the emotional horror of the moment as the heroine is brought into close camera range (in the same ‘objective’ environment) and we hear what is happening inside her, not what the pictures or words seem to say. This is psychological and musicogenic reality rather than verbal or visual imagery. It is this well established technique which Abba use at the start of the second verse of Fernando. What the drums symbolise is now so close that it is internalised: ‘They were closer now...I was so afraid...we were young and full of life and none of us prepared to die’. Having hopefully cleared up any possible misunderstandings, let us return to our account of processuality in the song.

Verse 2, continued

The only other obvious difference between v1 and v2 is the inclusion of the ‘Inca’ flutes (diatonically adjusted if so) between the first and second phrases (b.29, ff.). These give a responsorial effect from left and right to the singer in the middle: a sort of ‘dialogue’, albeit rather unequal, between the European female and her exotic flutes. However, the most important processual function of v2 is that it is a virtual repetition of v1 and therefore implies, at least according to the norms of most European and North American popular music, direction towards musical material which will not be another repetition.

We might summarise the process from the start of Fernando down to the end of v2 as follows. After an introduction establishing an environment and setting a scene of the type described above, two verses (b. 38) and 1’24” (33% of the total 4’15” duration of the song), a definite relationship is established between on the one hand a young woman speaking to us in a language we understand (both verbal and musical) but with perhaps slightly more expressiveness than the North-Western European or Anglo-Saxon popular music listener is used to more the sort of fervour we gringos tend to associate with ‘Latin’ temperament and, on the other hand, an exotic, beautiful, wide-open, somewhat melancholy Andean-Indian environment containing elements of charm, devotion, intangible heavenly hope, the threat and fear of strife and the possible background presence of some picturesque individual(s) with whom the singer seems once or twice to communicate in a very unequal sort of dialogue.This unequal relationship between melody and accompaniment, individual and Umweld, figure and ground, subject and backcloth can, as previously suggested, be seen as a reflection of the usual, ‘normal’ type of basically monocentric world view to be found in most post-feudal bourgeois art, not least in North-West European and North American popular music.

Chorus 1

Chorus 1 (ch1) is prepared for by the repetition of the rises-and-falls of the singer’s relationship to her environment described above. This melody-accompaniment or individual-environment type of relationship continues into the chorus part of the song where the female vocalist is joined by a male singer, mixed slightly further ‘back’, singing a syllabically simultaneous and harmonically parallel subsidiary part. Whether this male singer is represents Fernando himself or whether the added voice had just an ‘everyone-join-in-the-chorus’ singalong function is unclear. Whoever he ‘is’ (apart from Benny Andersson and/or Björn Ulvaeus), he nevertheless presents a singable figure somewhere between musical foreground and background and, although not banished to the stereo wings, still plays a subordinate role to the female lead singer. However, despite this similarity in figure-ground relationship between verse and chorus, the latter only shares one common museme with the verse + instrumental (i and v) part of the song: m6 ‘Fernando’, the Hispanic-Latin-American melodic cadence formula.

The most important differences between verse and chorus can be listed in terms of the following processes:


slightly rubato and andante (102 bpm.)


tempo giusto and moderato, i.e.

from rather sluggish and static to regular movement;

2. from

irregular periodicity


regular periodicity, i.e.

from unexpected to expected;

3. from

interpretative onbeat rhythmisation, modifications of vocal timbre

and appoggiaturas in parallel thirds


metronomic rhythmisation with Afro-American downbeat anticipations, little or no modification of vocal timbre and no appoggiaturas, in other words.

from emotional fervour and involvement of the ‘Latin temperament’ type

and graceful, classical, controlled affective pathos

to uniform emotional state in familiar, pleasant, ‘leisure-time’ surroundings;


4. from

massed charangos, pentatonic quenas and light angel-harps and bells


constant American R&B-influenced bass riffs from teenage pop of the 1950s, typical off-beat guitar, normal 12-string strum and ‘soft disco’ drumming, i.e.

from exotic, large, open, rural, melancholy Indian-Andean space

to familiar, pleasant, modern urban environment;

5. from

bass playing with gaps in it or no bass playing at all, acoustic instruments (mainly) and traditional ‘distant’ military drumming or no drums at all


constant pop-disco bass, electric instruments and full disco drum backing, i.e.

from ‘old world’ spaces, silence and lack of constant low frequency sounds

to ‘modern world’, no ‘windows of silence’, constant low frequency sounds, the metronomic regularity of machines, constant electrical hum, etc.

This interpretation of Fernando’s main processes, especially number 5 (in italics) requires some explanation.

To ‘here and now’

First main batch of processes

If we accept Schafer’s (1973) theory of the ‘lo-fi’ soundscape in industrialised society (distant traffic, refrigerators, freezers, electrical hum, ventilation shafts, etc., etc.) and compare it to the relative ‘hi-fi’ soundscape of the pre-industrial era, we may find a parallel which can cast some light on an important part of the progression from verse into chorus in Fernando.

Assuming that human inhabitants of a given soundscape get used to the noises surrounding them, popular music at any given time will be more likely to reflect (Wiederspiegeln) the contemporary soundscape than that of a different time and place. This should mean that popular music in industrialised society today will be more likely to ‘reflect’ our own ‘lo-fi’ acoustic environment than that of the pre-industrial era so that listeners will find themselves in musically and acoustically familiar surroundings which have been stylised into musical form by artists also living in a similar soundscape. This hypothesis can be corroborated to a certain extent by studying the changes in musical idiom between country and urban blues and in other transitions from folk music (with its ‘hi-fi’ and low-volume flutes, violins, unamplified voices, etc.) to the popular music of the industrial proletariat with its brass bands, accordions, saxophones, not to mention the more recent developments of amplification — microphones, electric guitar and bass, for example —, all extremely important in the process of strengthening low frequencies and high volume.

In Fernando, it is therefore particularly interesting to note how the electric bass plays a constant, typically North American popular dance figure of relatively recent origin in the chorus while it contents itself with ‘windows of silence’ and ballet-like arpeggio figures in the verse. In other words, as far as Fernando's bass line is concerned, we have a modern, constant ‘lo-fi’ soundscape reflected in the chorus and a historically or culturally ‘foreign’ verse with far less low frequency sounds.


Similar observations are to be made about the drums. The ‘hi-fi only’ snares in the bolero march figure (m4) of v1 do not reappear after their silence in v2 at the same mixing ‘distance’ nor playing the same sort of figures in the chorus where we are confronted with the total frequency range of a full drum kit, from cymbal and hi-hat down to the bass drum with its own channel on the mixing desk. No longer do we hear the musical stereotype of old-style military drums, but are confronted instead with a well-assorted and carefully recorded drum kit and the complete contemporary Swedish dance band treatment. Once again we have been transported from an environment with possible foreign and/or historical connotations into an ostensibly far more up-to-date environment of music and sound, more specifically into drum playing idioms and recording techniques of the mid 1970s. So, presuming that we are listening to Fernando at the height of its popularity somewhere in Northern Europe, not only will the shift from verse to chorus have moved us in time from historical and pre-industrial to today and urban industrial, we will also have been carried in space from Hispanic-Indian-Andean to our own immediate surroundings, from pentatonic quenas and trembling charangos to standard pop-disco backing.

Moreover, the ‘wide open spaces’ (static or slowly moving harmonies, ‘ethnic’ melody, lack of constant rhythmic accompaniment in middle and low register— m1—) have been replaced by what might be described as a more ‘confined’ musical space (little or no sonic space). Such a ‘confined musical space’ might be a venue with which music in the same idiom as the chorus can be associated. It might be symbolised by the four walls of a club, disco, dance hall or by those of the Friday night living room harbouring a party. The ‘confined space’ might also be symbolised at a more general level by the streets and buildings of an urban area and its opposition to the ‘open country’ and its ‘open roads’. In English we say we are in the countryside just as we are in town, but while we can be inside a town or city it is hard to imagine anyone ‘inside the countryside’. It is moreover unthinkable to ‘go out to the town’ once you are outside your house in the country — you always ‘go into town’ — but thoroughly normal to ‘go out into the countryside’ from inside a town.

Returning to the virtually mutual exclusivity of verse and chorus musemes and to the ‘modern dance’ character of the latter, it is obvious that the disco, the dance hall and the Friday or Saturday night party venue are all locations generally associated with what one might term the ‘leisure’ half of the work-versus-leisure conflict experienced by many members of late monopoly-capitalist society. This is a conflict in which the private-individual-leisure-recreation’ side of a schizophrenic and illusory dualism is both portrayed by advertising and considered by a large section of the population as positive, desirable and generally good whereas its imagined opposite, the public-collective-work-politics-society sphere is evaluated as problematic, incomprehensible, unattractive and downright boring, if not depressing. It should therefore be noted that the shift from verse to chorus in Fernando leads from Andean-Indian exoticism not into the expression of alienation and dissatisfaction with modern capitalist society (such a process would at least have demanded a chorus in the angry anarchic punk vein (had Abba been young unemployed Britons at the same time), or in the resiliently cheeky sort of reggae (had Abba but been Trenchtowners). No, instead we are transported from the wonderful world of El Condor Pasa into Saturday night ‘soft disco’, complete with Swedish dance band copies of Fats Domino riffs, the last quaver of every other 4/4 bar struck on a hi-hat close and typical pop strums, all gummed together with plenty of disco dance padding from the string synthesiser.

The nature of the musical change from verse to chorus in Fernando will be even clearer if we consider the fact that the vocal line changes from being recitativo-parlando in character to much more metronomic and from having contained appoggiaturas to the pop world of downbeat anticipations. As we have already seen, the irregular melodic periodicity and recitativo character of the verse are musical idioms conveying a heightened narrative affect. What the singer has to ‘say’ (i.e. the words and the feelings behind them) seem to be more important than danceability or other regular perpetuum mobile aspects of the music. In the chorus, this state of affairs is reversed: danceable perpetuum mobile aspects become more important than the emotional declamation of the verse. We have in other words progressed from an affect of personal involvement and dramatic narrative to short, longing but pleasant interjections over a regular dance rhythm. Similarly, the pleading, classically mannered and controlled appoggiaturas of the verse change in the chorus into reiterated upbeat figures leading into the museme of ‘longing’ (m8) and its typically ‘modern pop downbeat anticipations. These pleasant ‘longings’ always lead in their turn to ‘Fernando’ (m6), the only connection with the world outside the modern urban or dance environment.

In summarising our discussion of change from verse to chorus we may list the following points.

1. The reflection of soundscape changes from pre-industrial to industrial, from historical to modern and from past to present.

2. The musical environment itself changes from far away and/or long ago to here and now, from Hispanic-Andean-Indian to North-Western European / North American, from open country to enclosed town, from lonely outdoors open space and melancholy to recreative leisure and dancing, indoors and pleasant.

3. The attitude of the singer changes from modifications of vocal timbre, intimate and controlled emotional involvement with an important narrative about experiences from the exotic environment which was her backdrop to short, pleasant, ‘longing’ interjections in uniform vocal timbre in the happy ‘home’ (not ‘away’) environment.

4. The relation of the singer to her two environments remains central and dominant (panning and mixing) but her apparently nervous and emotional involvement of the verse turns into a comparatively carefree participation in the familiar environment of the chorus. She is a stranger or visitor in the verse, at home in the chorus. 1960’s

Briefly back to ‘there’ and ‘then’

The interlude

The interlude (b.56-61) between ch1 and v3 is very short (five and a half bars) and consists of the ‘sunrise’ or ‘grand entrance’ figure (m2) and an instrumental reprise of the final string of parallel third appoggiaturas from the verse, (see b. 35), played this time by the flutes. This entry of the ‘sunrise’ interrupts the final cadence of ch1 with a plagal delay (the ‘amen’ postponing of finality), this leading movement from the conclusion of the dance-like chorus back to the mood at the start of the piece. The bridge character of m2 is clearer here than in the introduction in that it is followed by the final string of appoggiature (m5a) from v1 which led the listener into v2 when they appeared first and into ch1 when they appeared for the second time in v2. However, they are unlikely to lead into another chorus at this stage, since its mood and movement have only recently been interrupted. This interruption continues in that both drums and bass forsake the modern pop idiom at b.56/1 and give up playing altogether in b.59-60, at which point the quena recall of the final melodic phrase of the verse (b.60-61) leads into an exact reprise (b.62) of the musical environment of v2 (b.62, ff.).

Expressed in terms of verbalised musical affect, we might venture to say that the pleasant longing of the woman singing in her pleasant, modern, familiar environment leads (as always) back to ‘Fernando’ (m6) and its final descending form (m6d) right into the environment of the verse — first to the affective process moving from low to high, from dark to light and from weak to strong (m2: sunrise, grand entrance), thence into the graceful pleading of quena flutes (m5a2) recalling the emotional involvement of the singer in her strange environment and leading back (as before in the transition from v1 to v2) into the calm and beautiful, wide-open plateaux of the high Andes with its melancholic flute-and-charango tinge of ethnic quasi-pentatonicism.

Verse 3

Verse 3 (v3) is to all intents and purposes a reprise of v2, i.e. a young woman is in the central foreground of the same exotic environment as before. She is once again emotionally involved in her narrative. The only slight modification is that the musical environment of v3 contains two melodic fillers on quenas instead of the one in v2 and the none in v1. These fillers have a similar responsorial function to that described in v2: as such, they directly answer the lead singer’s appoggiatura reminiscences and questions, each supplemented by the vocative ‘Fernando’ (m6, b. 67-68, 69-70). So, perhaps the flute, as subordinate partner in the unequal dialogue it has with its European songstress, represents Fernando himself in the guise of those two melancholically exotic fillers. In fact, if, as in this song, a person (the vocalist) directs statements and questions specifically at someone called Fernando, then response is far more likely to come from someone called Fernando than from Felipe, Fanny, Fred or the Finnish working class. Admittedly, this makes little sense according to the song’s verbal logic, for no verbally explicit Fernando ever answers to his name, but it makes perfect conversational as well as musical sense. Therefore, since the only clear response in Fernando to the singer’s ‘Fernando’ comes from the flute, this study is called Fernando the Flute. Readers finding the hermeneutic license of this alliterative title far-fetched they might prefer to interpret the flute as an affective reminder to singer and listener alike of Fernando's ethnic origins, of the nostalgia expressed about him by the singer, about his far-off environment or of his presence somewhere in that environment. In any case, whether or not Fernando is the flute, we still have to establish more clearly the sort of relationship expressed in the song between lead vocalist, flute and background. Are Fernando or the flute foreground figures in the piece or are they just part of the scenery?

Here we must consider the very ambiguity of the two sets of relations:

1. between melodic elements accompanying the vocal line and the rest of the musical environment against which these elements are thrown into relative relief;

2. between the individual performing the vocal line and the melodically identifiable parts of the accompaniment which either echo, answer or express the affective message communicated by the singer.

From the discussion so far, it is clear that if Fernando is interpreted as present in the music outside the singer's verbal references to him, then, since the flute gets to state so much less than the singer, he is a subsidiary figure, more part of the singer's backdrop than an equal counterpart in any dialogue with her. Moreover, our observations about the stereo location of the singer centre front and the flutes extreme right and left and our comparison between this composition in acoustic space and the visual composition of the fashion model in front of the adobe shack with its miserable but genuinely picturesque inhabitants seem to suggest that the quenas, if identifiable as individuals at all, are reifications in the form of location props rather than subjects of interaction with the main subject of the piece (the female European vocalist).

‘Here’ and ‘now’ for good

Choruses 2 and 3

Chorus 2 (ch2), followed by ch3 and the fade-out/coda, starts after 66% (2'49") of the song's total duration (100% = 4'15"), the golden rule point at which climaxes tend to be reached or recaps initiated. The emotionally involved narrator/singer and her exotic Andean-Indian environment have only had the 48 seconds (48") of v3 at their disposal the second time around compared to the 84" they occupied in the first half of the song (v1 and v2). Their time has in other words been halved and the remaining 33% of Fernando (88") is devoted to chorus only all the way down the home straight, right down to its final repeated V-I cadence which dominates the fade-out.

In this way we can see how the proportions of the instrumental-plus-verse into chorus process during the first half of the song are reversed in the second half. Continuing to call the Introduction / Interlude i, the verses v and the choruses ch, we find that Fernando has the following durational structure of sections (% of total duration of song):

Table 3:1 Proportional duration of sections in Fernando

1st half i1: 10% v1: 12% v2: 12% ch1: 14% = 48%

2nd half i2: 7% v3: 11% ch3: 13% ch4: 13% fade: 8% = 52%


Roughly speaking, then, two thirds of the first half consists of i (intro or interlude) plus v (verse), while two thirds of the second half consists of ch (chorus). True, this means that the total duration of exotic Andean environment and emotional involvement and worry is more or less equal to the total duration of happy home soft disco. However, the order in which the two contrasting sections are presented implies a definite direction, in the first half from much ‘Andean’ etc. to a little ‘soft disco’. etc.: in the second half from much less ‘Andean’ to large final doses of ‘soft disco’.

Seen as a totality, these two processes imply an overriding progression as:


emotional involvement and dramatic narrative in a strange

but beautiful and exotic environment

with its unreal, devotional and melancholy overtones

mixed with distant strife and threat


pleasant longing and the possible solution of this longing

in a pleasantly recreative, modern and familiar urban environment.

In order to check the viability of this general interpretation it will be necessary to discuss a number of other factors relevant to the song, not least how words and music combine to make Fernando more than just a ‘piece of music’ It is, after all, a song.



Chapter 4

Words and music


English version

Verse 1

Can you hear the drums, Fernando?

I remember long ago another starry night like this:

In the firelight, Fernando,

You were humming to yourself and softly strumming your guitar.

I could hear the distant drums and bugle calls were coming from afar.

Verse 2

They were closer now, Fernando.

Every hour, every minute seemed to last eternally.

I was so afraid, Fernando:

We were young and full of life and none of us prepared to die

And I’m not ashamed to say the roar of guns and cannons almost made me cry.


There was something in the air that night,

The stars were bright, Fernando.

They were shining there for you and me, For liberty, Fernando.

Though we never thought that we could lose,there’s no regrets.

If I had to do the same again, I would, my friend, Fernando.

Verse 3

Now we’re old and grey, Fernando,

Since many years I haven’t seen a rifle in your hand.

Can you hear the drums, Fernando?

Do you still remember that fateful night we crossed the Rio Grande?

I can see it in your eyes how proud you were to fight for freedom in this land.

Swedish version

Verse 1

Varför sörjer du, Fernando?

Varför klingar din gitarr i moll, vad är det som står på?

Är det kärleken, Fernando?

Har hon lämnat dig, din stora kärlek, är det så?

Den som älskat och förlorat allt vet att sånt kan hända då och då.

Verse 2

Sorgen kan va’ tung att bära,

Men att vänner sviker är nånting man måste lära sig.

Jag har också mist min kära:

Vem är du som tror att detta kunde bara drabba dig.

Har du några glada sånger kvar, så spela, spela, spela dem för mig.


Länge, länge leve kärleken, vår bästa vän, Fernando!

Fyll ditt glas och höj en skål för den, för kärleken, Fernando!

Spela, spela melodin och sjung sången om lyckan!

Länge, länge leve kärleken, den kärleken, Fernando!

Verse 3

Ska vi skåla för dem andra,

Som fick evig kärlek och den tro som bor i varje sång?

Eller skåla med varandra

Vill du dricka för den lycka som jag upplevde en gång?

Det är lika sant som sagt den vackra sagan, den blir aldrig, aldrig lång.

Swedish lyrics translated

Verse 1

Why are you troubled Fernando?/ Why is your guitar in the minor key? What is wrong?/ Is it love, Fernando?/ Has she left you, that great love of yours? Is that the way it is?/ He that has loved and lost knows that this can happen now and again.

Verse 2

Sorrow can be a heavy burden/ But being abandoned by friends is a lesson that must be learned./ I have also lost the one I loved./ Who are you to presume that such things only happen to you?/ If you still have any happy songs left, please play, play, play them for me.


Long, long, long live love, our best friend, Fernando!/ Fill your glass and drink a toast for love, yes, for love, Fernando./Play, play the tune and sing the song of happiness:/ Long, long live love, that (kind of) love, Fernando!

Verse 3

Shall we drink to the others?/To those who found eternal love and the faith that lives in every song?/Or (shall we) drink to each other?/Will you drink to that happiness I once knew?/It’s as true as true that such wonderful stories never last long.

Spanish version

Verse 1

¿Puedes escuchar, Fernando?

Me recuerda tiempo atrás estrellas y una noche ...

En la lumbre azul, Fernando.

Tarareabas tu canción con ese suave guitarrear

Yo podía escuchar esos tambores con un sordo redoblar.

Verse 2

Se acercaban más, Fernando

Y el momento que pasaba parecía eternidad;

Sentí temor, Fernando,

Por la vida y juventud nadie pensaba en morir

Y no siento hoy verguenza al confesar que tuve ganas de llorar.


Algo había alrededor quizás de claridad, Fernando

Que brillaba por nosotros dos en protección, Fernando.

No pensábamos jamás perder ni echar atrás.

Si tuviera que volverlo a hacer, lo haría ya, Fernando.

Verse 3

La vejez llegó, Fernando

Y con ella una paz que hoy logramos disfrutar.

Se durmió el tambor, Fernando:

Pareciera que fue ayer que lo vivimos tu y yo

Y en tus ojos veo aún aquel orgullo que refleja tu valor.

Spanish lyrics translated

Verse 1

Can you hear, Fernando? / I remember long ago stars and a night in the dark blue light, Fernando. / You were humming your song and strumming your guitar softly./ I could hear those drums quietly rolling.

Verse 2

They were approaching, Fernando / And the moment that passed seemed like eternity; / I felt afraid, Fernando, / For life and youth no-one was thinking of dying/ And today I am not ashamed confessing that I felt like crying.


There was a sort of brightness all around us, Fernando / That was shining and watching over us two, Fernando. / We never thought we would lose or lag behind./ If I had to go back and do it again, I would, Fernando.

Verse 3

Old age arrived, Fernando / And with it a peace that we manage to enjoy. / The drum went silent, Fernando: / It seems like it was yesterday we lived (all of) that, you and I / And in your eyes I see some of that pride which reflects your courage.

Discussion of lyrics

This short chapter discusses the combined affective meaning of words and music in Fernando. Here we shall only be dealing with the relation between the English words and the musical message discussed above. The Spanish and Swedish versions are discussed in chapter five.

Verses 1 and 2: who is Fernando?

Fernando seems to be an acquaintance from the singer-narrator’s past, possibly a lover or comrade-in-arms. The ‘Rio Grande’ and the ‘fight for freedom in this land’ (v3) suggest that reminiscences in the verses refer to Latin America where both Rio Grandes and national liberation (‘for liberty’ in the chorus) are common phenomena well established in the cultural conscious of at least the Northern European TV viewer of the mid 1970s. Just think of all those ‘Rio Grandes’ in Westerns of Mexican flavour, not to mention the expression ‘America south of the Rio Grande’, and words like ‘liberty’ frequently occurring on newscasts and in documentaries in connection with countries like Chile, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Grenada, etc..

No particular nation or liberation struggle is mentioned in the lyrics although, as we shall see later, one Latin American country might well spring to the European listener’s mind. Here it is worth remembering that Fernando was released not long after Pinochet’s Washington-backed fascist coup in Chile. The subsequent persecution and exile of many Unidad Popular supporters, including musicians, meant that the nueva canción tradition, with its cuecas and other traditional Chilean or Andean music forms played on such instruments as charango, quena, pinquillo, bombo, triple, etc. by groups like Quilapayún, Inti Illimani, Atacama, Karaxú, etc., all reached Europe and North America soon after the coup, far quicker and with far greater impact than if some metropolitan record company had decided to market that music in our part of the world. These events, together with Victor Jara’s martyrdom in the football stadium at Santiago, were instrumental in helping spread both the music and the cause of the Chilean people around the world.

The main point of v1 and v2 seems to be the imagined dialogue with the figure Fernando in which the female vocalist looks back and reminisces (‘I remember’, ‘you were humming’, ‘I could hear’, ‘they were closer now’, ‘seemed to’, ‘we were’, ‘almost made me cry’, etc.). She remembers individual events in the form of disconnected flashbacks (drums, cannons, guitar, crossing the Rio Grande, etc.) and tells of her fears (‘none of us [were] prepared to die’, ‘I was so afraid’, etc.). It is all in the past tense and, as the reader will also have noticed, the reminiscences are given a poetic dimension (‘starry night’, ‘firelight’, ‘every hour, every minute seemed to last eternally’). The references to places, persons and events are vague. The fight could have taken place at virtually any time in any place where they speak Spanish and have Indian flutes. The oppression in Chile or any other South American nation (or any other contemporary connotative association within reason) has to be found in the musical / political / cultural ear of the beholder (as we shall see later), for it is not ‘in’ the ‘actual’ lyrics themselves, even though it is difficult to conceive how Abba could have possibly been totally isolated from the larger historical and political context when they recorded the song.

A clear link of cultural stereotypes is, however, established in a number of interesting correspondences between words and music in Fernando. These correspondences (and disparities) are on two levels: (1) individual / discrete / musematic and (2) processual. At the first level we may observe correspondence between musemes and visual imagery in the lyrics of the verses as follows:

1. between m1 and the general Latin American environment

2. between m3 and ‘stars’, ‘firelight’, etc.;

3. between m4 and the ‘distant drums’ and strife;

4. between m1b and ‘guitar’;

5. between (a) irregularity of period, rhythmic-melodic license and (b) emotional problems, involvement, fervour, danger and fear;

6. between graceful, controlled, fervour (m5) and the noble cause of liberation;

7. between the heavenly, devotional (m3) and symbols of transcendence like the ‘stars’, the ‘fight for freedom’ with its possible consequence of martyrdom (‘we were so young and none of us prepared to die’) and ‘seemed to last eternally’;

8. between the quena (m1a) and a man in the lyrics whose origins could well tally with those cultural origins of those melodic elements.

At the second processual level things get more complicated, as will become evident when we review the combined musical and verbal shift from verse to chorus.

Chorus 1: seen from where?

The words of the chorus are far more general than those of the three verses. Apart from the ‘stars’ ‘in the air that night’ and the vocative ‘Fernando’, there are no references or flashbacks to anything concrete or to anyone in the ‘real’ situation of the verse. The chorus lyrics express none of the fear or regret of the verse (‘though we never thought that we could lose, there’s no regrets’), while obvious symbols of strife from verses 1 and 2 (military drums, guns, cannons, bugles, dying, etc.) are all conspicuously absent in the chorus whose verbal gist can be summarised as ‘yes, those were great times, Fernando’. The apparent opposition between the musical ‘here-and-now’ of the chorus and ‘there-and-then’ of the verse takes on a new dimension in combination with the lyrics. This combination of the chorus lyrics’ generally positive mood and the singer’s delightful longing (m8) transforms the fear, fervour and involvement in the strange but beautifully exotic environment of the verse into nostalgic ‘those-were-the-days’ reminiscences. Of course, it would be a contradiction in terms to suggest that nostalgic reminiscence can occur in the temporal, social and geographical location which acts as object of that nostalgia: there must be distance of some sort for such reminiscence to take place. So, this means that the ‘real’ (musical) environment (South America, probably Andean) of the verse to which the reminiscences of the chorus lyrics obviously refer cannot recur in the chorus. Since ‘those-were-the-days’ and ‘those-were-the-places’ reminiscing presupposes emotional (musical) distance in time and space to the objects of reminiscence, the ‘home’ (musical) environment of the chorus (m9, m10 — instrumental, metric, rhythmic, timbric disco leisure familiarity and non-latinamericanicity) strike a kind of ‘armchair’ posture from which the ‘foreign’ can be viewed at a safe distance.

The metamorphosis from v1 and v2 into ch1 acts as a kind of catalyst on the rest of Fernando because: (i) it is the first main block shift; (ii) it is the first radical change of mood, taking us from the comparatively particular and comparative concretion of fear, problems and involvement to the comparatively general and comparative abstraction of pleasant longing, reminiscence, happiness and familiarity. This shift sets a processual precedent and, as can be seen in table 3-1 (musematic occurrence) is the main dualism on which the aesthetic dynamic of the song is based. The only links between verse and chorus are, apart from the expressional constants of the whole song (i.e. the same solo voice, roughly the same tempo, the same metre, the same key, the same basic harmonic language, the same verbal language, etc., etc.): (i) the possible latinicity of the longing museme and its upbeat (m8 preceded by m7 — Quizás); (ii) a tenuous ingredient of latinamericanicity in the New Orleans R&B bass riff (m10a); (iii) the verbal and musical statement of the name ‘Fernando’.

Although the first two of these links do make for a sort of general quasi-Latin American continuity between verse and chorus, they appear as figures only in the chorus. The third link, on the other hand, (Fernando himself) appears both musically (m6) and verbally in similar if not identical guise in both verse and chorus. This, the most important link between the two affectively contrasting spheres, is verbally the man who is first treated as the singer’s comrade-in-arms and friend (v1 and v2), thereafter as a fellow reminiscer (ch1). Fernando himself undergoes further verbal and musical transformation after the first chorus.

Verse 3: Fernando deported?

In verse 3 (v3) the familiar, happy ‘here-and-now’, ‘soft disco’ musical environment of the ch1 becomes once again ‘there-and-then’, while the ‘those-were-the- days’ generalities of the chorus lyrics turn back into concrete images. This is the second block shift of mood: back to the latinamericanicities of where we were first.

However, it is obvious that no reprise of musical material can be interpreted in the same way as its previous statements, simply because whatever separated the first statement from the reprise will influence the listener’s understanding of the reprise, even if the material presented once again is identical. Verse 3 will quite simply be seen in the light and heard in consideration of what has happened since the start of the song and of what happened in between verse 2 and verse 3, i.e. chorus 1. The easiest way to envisage such phenomenological change of a constant set of objects is to imagine travelling to a new place and experiencing new things there, returning home for a time and then going back to what was but not longer is the ‘new place’. Obviously, even though that place might be identical on your return visit and even though your actions there might be similar to those of your first visit, the same place can never be experienced as the same as it was on the previous visit. Musically, therefore, we view the interlude and v3 of Fernando through the experience of (1) v1 + v2, (2) ch1, (3) the shift from v1 + v2 into ch1. Thus, though ‘objectively’ well-nigh identical with v2, v3 can in no other way be meaningfully regarded as the ‘same’ as v2. And this change in perception of identical musical material within the song to ‘what was but no longer is’ is matched by actual structural change in the lyrics of verse 3. Let us see how this works.

Chorus 1 brought us musically and verbally ‘home’ to a state of reminiscing. This position from which the ‘away’ environment and events alluded to in v1 + v2 were viewed does not revert wholesale in the lyrics of v3 to the temporality of the earlier verses (italics mark change of tense or temporality):

Now we’re old and grey, Fernando. Since many years I haven’t seen a rifle in your hand. Can you hear the drums, Fernando? Do you still recall the fateful night we crossed the Rio Grande? I can see it in your eyes how proud you were to fight for freedom in this land.

With the exception of ‘can you hear the drums, Fernando?’, reminding us of the song lyrics’ initial phrase, v3‘s other lines all show a transition from the simple past (‘you were’, ‘I was’, ‘they were’, ‘seemed to’, ‘we were’, ‘made me’, etc.) of v1 and v2 to present or perfect (‘we’re’, ‘I haven’t’, ‘do you recall?’, ‘I can see’). This tense switch is also underlined by the adverb(ial)s ‘now’, ‘since many years’, ‘still’, all of which imply water under the bridge and state an unequivocal temporal and spatial distance to whatever the music and lyrics had been hinting at in the earlier verses — possibly a liberation struggle in South America. Fernando himself, according to both the narrative logic of the lyrics and (if he can be regarded as represented by the flute) the musical logic already discussed, is also thereby deported from the scene and time of the events depicted in verses 1 and 2 to take part in the reminiscing initiated in ch1, a reminiscing which is extended into v3.

Seen in this perspective, the exotic Andean musical environment of v3 is reified as a picture postcard to an even greater extent than the same musical environment of v1 and v2, simply because of this altered relation between words and music. The verse now becomes much more clearly that picturesque backcloth for the narrator/singer’s personal reminiscences, somewhat like a family reunion at which slides are projected on to the living room wall while the voyager tells his/her peers about the weird and wonderful people and places he/she has seen.

Final chorus: ambiguity of longing

After v3, the chorus comes back and keeps going until the end of the song. We are back on home ground all the way with the vocalist’s pleasant longing, vague reflections and nostalgic reminiscences. The reader will note that the whole of the chorus is in the past tense apart from the final line: ‘if I had to do the same again, I would, my friend, Fernando!’, a classic conditional clause in the past containing two uses of modus irrealis — the ‘unreal’ mode of expressing imagined events.

This verbal observation is important if considered in its musical context. The ‘if...would’ occurs together with the ‘longing’ museme (m8). At first sight this concurrence seems to mean that the singer is longing to return from the pleasant here-and-now situation of the chorus back to ‘doing the same again’, which presumably means being together with Fernando in the there-and-then of the liberation struggle. This would imply two main states of tension in words and music. Musically there is escape from the threat and problems of the strange environment in the verse to the relief, regularity, familiarity and comparative gaiety of the chorus. Verbally, on the other hand, there is longing to return from the familiar everyday happiness of the chorus back to the exotic, exciting setting of the verse. However, the second of these two tensions is ambiguous for two main reasons.

First, the words of the chorus put the tension of returning to ‘do the same again’ into the conditional tense: ‘if I had to, I would’, not into the future ‘I will’ nor into the modal present ‘I must’, ‘I want to’. This use of the past modus irrealis implies that there is no real likelihood of actually having to ‘do the same again’ (risk your life in the liberation struggle). However, this is only one of several possible ways of interpreting the passage and it requires further explanation.

Secondly, we should remember that this conditional sentence, this ‘if’ clause and its sequel, the only one in the whole of Fernando, really works as follows. The verbal longing to return to Latin America and the struggle there coincides not with the initial statement of m8 but with the resolution of longing in the descending melodic cadence version of m8. This resolution leads musically not into the environment or situation to which the words express a longing to return but into the final cadence of the chorus in the comfortable ‘here-and-now at home’ environment.

Thus, the modus irrealis of the words at this point are given subjective and emotional reality by the affective clarity of the music. Either there is no solution to the ‘longing’ problem since the object of longing (returning to fight) is fulfilled in neither words nor music, or there is no real longing problem needing any solution in the first place. If the latter is true we must interpret the state of longing in words (to ‘do the same again’) as self-sufficient and the longing in the music (to be immanently resolved in the final cadence of the chorus and of the song) as actually fulfilled in the reaching of full V-I perfect cadence satisfaction at the end of standard four, eight and sixteen bar periodic units in the familiar, pleasant home setting. This means in turn that there is really only one main process in Fernando:


problems and emotional involvement in an exotic and exciting environment


happy reminiscences at home about that environment and those events.

This interpretation means that the verbal longing from ‘home’ to the liberation struggle in the Andes may only be ambiguous in one sense. It may even be false, a sort of musical-emotional ‘lie’, a bit like irately yelling ‘I’m not angry!’). This interpretation seems no less plausible if one remembers that the familiar soft disco dance idioms and the regular, normal VI-II-V-I and V-I four-bar progressions (b. 85-91, 100-106, 107-110, 111-114) accompanying the longing museme m8 in its precadential syntactic position actually relieve its tritone tension. These progressions have the final word not only in each chorus but also in the whole piece, thrashing out not the ‘longing’ aspect of m8 but its ‘fulfillment of longing’ function. Even the continuation of the descending melodic profile of m8 into m6 on the low tonic (ex.69) emphasises this finality (remember its resemblance to the ‘no longing’ tritone of ex. 50, p.52).

Ex 69. Final melodic cadence in Fernando over V-I harmonies

To make the verbal longing musically credible it would have been necessary to finish the song in a radically different fashion, for example according to one of the following alternatives:

1. leave the longing unresolved by replacing the final E7-A (V-I) cadence with a modal (perhaps phrygian) cadence in, say, F# (E7- (G)-F#). Here there would be no fade-out. Instead, charangos and flute could crescendo to fortissomo on the final non-tonic chord, breaking off suddenly and leaving the longing harmonically unresolved in a sonic environment more closely resembling that of ‘I’ + ‘V’.

2. modulate to another key (e.g. via F#7 to Bm) instead of ending in the tonic, mixing up a charango tremolando crescendo with the flutes playing m1 pentatonically again but at a shriller pitch, carrying the crescendo on into a B7 chord in the next bar and modulating into the Em of a massed choir version of El Pueblo Unido while slowing down to its march tempo of about 92 bpm. (ex. 67)

The commutation shown as ex. 67 is of course rather exaggerated. Such exaggeration is intentional so that the reader will understand that there were radically different ways of ending the song and that our contemporary popular music tradition did, at the time of Fernando‘s production, offer a wide variety of musical solutions to the problem posed by the lyrics. However, for readers finding that alternative ending to Fernando too ‘far out’ we provide something a little more ‘reasonable’ or ‘moderate’ (ex.68, 69). Here we have used the non-final, non-descending melodic profile of m8 into m6 found at the start of the chorus (ex.68), kept the final harmonic cadence (V-I/E7-A) but raised the pitch of the melody and pointed the final m6 in an upwards and outwards direction, replacing the fade-out with a final crescendo chord of A major similar to that which started the whole song (ex. 69).

Ex 70. HS end of Fernando. Up and out to El Pueblo Unido, not down and in to fade-out

Ex 71. M8 into M6 at start of chorus: no final melodic descent

Ex 72. Culturally realistic HS for end of Fernando

In summarising this discussion we could say that the solution to the ‘problems’ of the verse and its ‘strange and exotic’ events is carried out on pleasant, familiar home ground in a loose, abstract and generally individualistic affective manner where the credible experiences of fear and dedication to a noble cause are viewed through a prism of nostalgia: ‘those were difficult but wonderful times, Fernando’. The verbally expressed longing to return to those times is contradicted by the music and the ‘answer’ to the problems seems to be withdrawal into a familiar home environment from which one nostalgically reminisces about the problems at a safe distance in vague and general terms.



Chapter 5

Behind and beyond the music


What now?

Having discussed the individual musemes, their processes and the way in which both these levels of musical message are related to the lyrics of the English version, it is time to put our analysis into its extra-opus perspective. This means leaving the happy hunting grounds of musicology.

Now, if we regard music as a specific type of symbolic system, a musical analysis should concern itself not only with the traditional type of semiotic relation between symbol and symbolised in a narrow, almost intrageneric sense. As we have already seen in our discussion of the musemes in Fernando, of the processes they build both musically and in connection with the lyrics, the probable connotations of this piece may well be ‘polysemic’ from a logocentric viewpoint but they are extremely precise in their pinpointing of moods, atmospheres, gestures, attitudes and environments.

It should be clear that even the ‘music itself’ of Fernando, heard in a given cultural context, symbolises with a large amount of affective-associative clarity phenomena ‘other than itself’. This is specially clear when the ‘music itself’ is discussed in connection with the more denotative (rather than affective-associative) concretion provided by the words. However, the lyrics are by no means the only concomitant form of extramusical expression relevant to the song Fernando: it was conceived, produced, distributed, sold, listened and danced to under particular social, economic, political, historical and cultural conditions. All this implies that any discussion of musical meaning should place the analysis object in relation not only to its lyrics, album cover, etc., but also to the social relations its musical and verbal contents may conceivably symbolise.

We shall therefore discuss the situation in which the song was written from (a) its position in a ‘emitter-receiver’ communication set-up, (b) its historical-cultural-political context, trying to point to answers to such questions as: ‘who were Abba and what was their relation to their audience?’ ‘Why was Fernando so popular?’ After this section we shall proceed to try and evaluate the function of the song in a historical context.

Communication context

Emitters and receivers

In a thorough analysis of any item of musical communication it is obviously desirable to disclose as much relevant information as possible about not only the ‘channel’ (subject of our discussion so far) but also about its ‘emitter(s)’ and ‘receiver(s)’. This is easier said than done when it comes to finding information from the ‘emitting’ side of popular music.

Though still often very much alive, many composers, artists, producers and arrangers of highly popular music are about as accessible to the musicologist as Beethoven. Fernando’s authors (Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus, Stig Andersson) were, when the first version of this article appeared, either preparing for Abba’s tour of the USA or returning from it. Neither phone calls nor letters led to any response from Abba in 1979, since when the group has disbanded. Moreover, previous experience from fruitless efforts to contact famous persons in the music business has dissuaded me from making further attempts. Proceeding thus with no information from the musical (‘artistic’) section of the emitting end of the traditional one-way communication model, I have had to rely on information from the business section of that side. Part of this information is included later in a short description of Abba’s social and musical background. The other part, now following, consists of sales figures and chart positions which should provide the reader with some idea of the song’s widespread appeal.

In June 1977 I was informed that Fernando was already calculated to have sold around ten million (10,000,000) copies. Since then it appeared on Abba’s highly popular double album The Singles: The First Ten Years (1982) and the triple CD collection Abba - The Hits (1988), both of which should have increased its spread by a few more million. Let us list some of the more important issues of Fernando on disk which led to (and/or augmented) the sales figures just mentioned.

• in Swedish as first track on the A side of Annifrid Lyngstad’s album Frida Ensam (Polar POLS 165, 1975);

• as a single version of the above track (1975);

• in English as a single in the UK (Epic EPC 4036, 1975);

• in English as a single in the US (Atlantic 45-3346, 1975);

• in English as a single in Italy (‘Dig It’ label, 1976);

• in Spanish as a single (1975);

• in English as final track on the B side of the LP Abba’s Greatest Hits (Epic 69218 [UK], Atlantic 18189 [USA], Vogue 28047 [France], Polydor [(West) Germany], RCA [Australia], Dig It [Italy], etc., all 1976);

• in Spanish as a track on the LP Gracias por la música (Septima SRLM 1, 1981);

• in the original English version on the double album The Singles - The First Ten Years (Polar POLMD 400-401).

It is difficult to glean information from all the countries in which Fernando enjoyed great popularity, but in order to give an impression of its success, let us list the following:

• It was n:1 on the ‘Swedish-lyrics-only’ charts (Svensktoppen);

• The British single held the no.1 position for 3 weeks May 1976 and stayed on the Top 20 for 16 weeks;

• The US single was on the Hot 100 for 16 weeks, peaking at no.13;

• It was on the Italian singles charts for 21 weeks, reaching the no. 6 position;

• The LP Abba’s Greatest Hits (English lyrics), which included Fernando, occupied the n:1 slot on the British LP charts for the whole of October 1976 and stayed in the British top 100 LP charts for a whole year;

• The same LP stayed on the U.S. Top 100 LP charts for 34 weeks;

• Fernando, or LPs including it, were extremely popular also in Norway, Denmark, (W.) Germany, Finland, The Netherlands, France, Poland, both Germanies, the Soviet Union, Bulgaria, Japan, Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Yugoslavia, Spain, Uruguay and Argentina.

• Annifrid Lyngstad’s LP Frida ensam (1975) including the Swedish version of Fernando sold 150,000 copies in Scandinavia alone (total population 20 million) inside one year. The song was probably also popular in many other countries apart from those mentioned above (e.g. in Brazil where the song was used as a leitmotif for a character in a TV soap opera).

However, the distribution information cited above should be enough to establish the fact that Fernando enjoyed enormous popularity in 1975 and 1976 and that it was distributed to a wide diversity of nations and cultures. Moreover, its long stays on the various hit parades of such nations as the UK, the USA and Sweden, leading inevitably to substantially increased airplay, would not only imply that it would be heard mostly by younger listening groups in the middle and working classes (at least if Swedish radio research is anything to go by); no, long stays on hit parades without a ‘flash’ number-one hit, especially on the LP charts, also imply interest from an even wider group of listeners (Hamm 1982).

What, then, accounts for the success of Fernando? It is obviously not due to some evil-minded marketeering conspiracy ‘fooling’ a supposedly gullible public into hearing something they ‘really’ do not want. On the other hand there is other popular music, roughly contemporary with Fernando, which treat basically the same subject and mood in a different way. Such music was most often created outside the music business’s power structures and, of course, never met the same commercial success as Abba’s Fernando or Simon and Garfunkel’s version of El condor pasa (1970). However, money and power over the channels of musical mass production and distribution are not enough on their own to explain the popularity of a song like Fernando: the history of early rock (the small independent companies in the USA during the fifties) teaches this lesson quite clearly (Gillett: 1971, 1974). The answer to our question is much more likely to be found in the whole complex of connections between: (a) the circulation of capital in cultural industry; (b) the alienation of labour in capitalist production; (c) the creation of ‘needs’ to be ‘immediately satisfied’ in the production of consumer goods and services; (d) the existence of a real need to counteract feelings of alienation and sociopolitical impotence, etc.; (e) the social and musical-cultural position of those ‘producing’ and ‘consuming’ the music.


Obviously there is no room for any detailed discussion of this important complex of social, cultural, political, economic and cultural factors in an article devoted to the analysis of one single song! However, some light may be shed on the matter and (who knows?) perhaps some empirical impulses may be given towards solving this central matter of cultural theory in the age of the electronic mass media if we view Fernando in its historical context, musically, socially and politically. In other words, I do not intend here to provide any answers to the question of Abba’s success in general, except to the extent that such a discussion may help us understand the obviously wide and almost global popularity of Fernando. Answering this question, however, demands a short excursion into Swedish post-war social and cultural history, more specifically into the relation of Abba (the ‘emitters’ of this world-wide hit) to Swedish society and also, to a small extent, of Sweden’s relation to other parts of the world, especially those alluded to in Fernando.


Fernando’s historical context

Abba’s musical and social background

During the sixties, one of Abba’s members and songwriters, Björn Ulvaeus, worked with the Hootenanny Singers, one of Sweden’s most successful groups, performing a mixture of, on the one hand, the highly internationalised melodious happy folk song repertory copied from Pete Seeger, The Almanac Singers, etc., watered down, depoliticised and popularised by groups like The Kingston Trio and, on the other hand, songs in the melodious and rhythmically-harmonically ‘Germanic-cosmopolitan’ Swedish troubadour style. At the same time, the other male Abba member and songwriter, Benny Andersson, played Farfisa organ in a highly popular but pretty rudimentary Swedish rock group known as The Hep Stars. Andersson also had a solid background in older forms of popular music in the Central European and Scandinavian tradition, his father, a janitor, being an accomplished amateur accordionist. Much of Andersson’s post-Abba work treats Swedish folk traditions with a similar combination of sensitivity and innovation as that practised by Ry Cooder in his adaptations of R&B and Chicano music.

Andersson and Ulvaeus started writing songs together for the Swedish market as early as in 1966 but did not cooperate professionally on any permanent basis until they shared a producing job offered them by that father-figure of the Swedish popular music business, Stig (‘Stikkan’) Andersson. Two of the artists with whom Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus worked in the late sixties were the female vocalists Agnetha Fältskog and Annifrid Lyngstad, the two other members of Abba.

Fältskog was born and bred in the town of Jönköping, locally referred to as ‘Sweden’s Jerusalem’. Churches seem to outnumber pubs by about 100 to 1, and in the whole region around and south of Jönköping (Småland) there is a thriving and eclectic tradition of popular music in low-church worship. Fältskog’s public debut, at the age of 13, seems to have taken place in one of Jönköping’s many churches (Borg 1977: 58). She had also been female vocalist in a local dance band playing the Swedish variant of rather Germanic pop (very onbeat, tertial-functional-harmonic and melodically heavy — Tanzkapellemusik) since the age of 15. Lyngstad, on the other hand, although also active as a successful vocalist since her early teens, had considerable experience from the styles of dramatic ballads, cabaret, swing and mainstream jazz (Borg 1977: 88-90).

In addition to the diversity of popular music styles which the various Abba members brought together into the group in the early seventies, it should also be remembered that this same time was the most expansive period in the history of the Swedish (and international?) recording industry. This meant that a wide diversity of popular music influences were available on record and on the radio. These ranged from ‘symphonic’ rock (‘muso music’) to bubble gum pop, from African or Latin American folk music to the European classical tradition and low-church hymns. Abba were able to combine these various traditions into a musically viable and singable style which became more popular and widespread than the type of dynamic acculturation provided by The Beatles. Abba’s exceptionally successful musical eclecticism cannot be understood without continuing this short account of specifically Swedish historical-cultural conditions.

Sweden has a small and widely scattered population: less than nine million people (about the population of London) occupy about twice the area of Britain. This makes it hard to work as a highly specialised musician in the popular field because the market is just not big enough to support large minorities of musical taste. There has therefore been a tendency to mix popular musical styles in a way which visiting North Americans and Britons find hard to accept. Many Swedish dance bands from the fifties and sixties would mix hootenanny, Swedish old time (gammaldans), twist, pop ballads and rock numbers without batting an eyelid. The ‘light music’ channel on Swedish radio (P3) was in 1991 still supposed to cater for all tastes, and broadcast everything from ‘Hawaii Club’ to hip-hop, from house music to operetta, from a special brand of local low-church soft pop (‘IKEA gospel’) to blues and soul, from the Swedish troubadour tradition to big-band swing, from folk rock to the Eurovision song contest. It is possible that this situation may make for rather a bland mixture but on the other hand it leaves a lot more room for eclectic acculturation than does format radio. This may be one important reason for Abba’s successful mixture of styles.

Remembering the various Abba members’ musical background sketched above, it should also be borne in mind that they also all have, including their manager Stig Andersson, modest social origins, their parents being from the lower middle couches and employed either as petits commerçants or in the less prestigious sort of positions found in the service sector. All four Abba members left school at the minimum leaving age (16), except for Ulvaeus who nevertheless spent far more time with his music than with his studies (Borg 1977: 78). Including Abba manager Stig Andersson, some fifteen years older than the others, this means that none of the group came into any real first-hand contact with either the Swedish working movement or the student movement of the late sixties and early seventies. Abba’s musical and social origins and position, neither working class, upper class nor intellectual, may thus perhaps be considered in some way closer to those of an increasing number of people in the changing class structure of state-corporatist society, culturally dominated by the Anglo-American media, than those of the out-and-out rock artist, classical musician, jazz performer or musician from the (then) ‘new left’. Obviously, this matter requires considerable research taking us way outside the scope of this article. However, such observations are relevant to the subject of this article. This should become clear from what follows.

Particularly noticeable in the official and somewhat obsequious Abba monograph Fenomenet Abba (Borg 1977) is Stig Andersson’s concern with critique from what he called ‘outside lefts’. The critique levelled at Abba from this direction may have sprung from a deep concern with the commercialisation of culture but it was as seldom well-reasoned as pertinent. Moreover, such criticism seemed more often than not to imply contempt towards Abba’s fans and listeners. There is no room here to go into any detail about the petit-bourgeois radical movement of Swedish students and intellectuals in the early seventies, nor to analyse the flaws in the arguments then used to criticise Abba. However, two particularly important offshoots or side-effects of the movement are worthy of mention in this context.

One important influence of the radical movement among intellectuals in Sweden was its effects on the formation of the Swedish state’s cultural policy, thereby contributing to the parliamentary adoption of perhaps the most progressive goals to be put forward, though not necessarily pursued, by the government of any capitalist nation. However, some of this legitimately anti-commercial zeal degenerated into ignorant attacks on individual artists, the prime target being of course the most successful figureheads of the commercial Swedish culture industry at the time: Abba. The result was, of course, an unhealthy polarisation of opinion between those supporting democratic forms of cultural production under capitalism (see below) and those requiring more immediate entertainment and consolation for and relief from alienation caused by undemocratic forms of production and government. Of course, the vast majority of working and middle class Swedes belonged (and belong) to the latter of these two groups. Nor was there any doubt as to which political corner Abba — especially their manager — were being pushed by the vulgar Marxist attacks referred to above. Such polarisation obliged Abba (and large sections of the Swedish populace), whether it suited them or not, to take up a political position on the far right, at least as far as cultural policy was concerned. This strange confrontation was all part of what was referred to at the time as ‘The Coca Cola Culture Debate’.

The other important offshoot of Swedish student radicalism was the Swedish ‘progressive’ or ‘alternative’ music movement. Although this movement’s best-selling record only sold half the amount of Annifrid Lyngstad’s solo album, its influence on the musical life of Sweden cannot be underestimated. At its best, the music of this movement was as eclectically disrespectful as that of Abba, the main difference being that the alternative music movement’s lyrics were (a) in Swedish (the native language of people in that country) and (b) far less generalised, less quasi-personal than those of Abba. At their best, the music movement’s lyrics combined political clarity and involvement with a deep sense of poetry. At their worst they descended to mere pamphleteering or suffered from the Rote Schlager syndrome. Perhaps even more important than its use of lyrics treating other matters than love between one man and one woman and its establishment of the nation’s own language as a legitimate vehicle for carrying the verbal message of songs in the rock vein, the alternative music movement’s major contribution to Swedish cultural life should be considered at an even more concrete level. Its musicians often explicitly expressed the wish to find alternatives to the homogenising effects of the capitalist commodification of music. This aspect of the alternative music movement was both concrete and practical. It had far more tangible effects on large sections of the Swedish population than the theoretical cultural debate mentioned above, not least because many young people found an opportunity to play, sing and speak their minds inside the performance venues, record companies and distribution facilities developed by the alternative music movement. These opportunities did not and do not exist within the framework of the capitalist music business. Such groups were obviously hostile to what Abba represented as a highly successful commercial group inside the traditional framework of capitalist music production. Abba were seen to perpetuate this system which seemed to give these young and less comfortable musicians little room for expressing what they thought was important. So, once again, cultural opinion was polarised, this time less unequally. Nevertheless, the vast majority of Swedes continued to like Abba and to hum their tunes.

Summarising this section of the presentation, we could say that Abba’s social and musical origins place them fair and square in the mainstream of Swedish popular culture and ideology. We should also add that the eclectic nature of Swedish popular music and its innately Central European character, combined with the diversity of popular music environments from which the Abba members came, serve as a basis for the acculturated style which became so popular in the Anglo-American, European (both South and North) and Latin American ‘markets’. Finally, it should perhaps be noted that Abba were seen to take up a political position towards the right in Swedish politics although none of them have ever been explicitly concerned with ‘politics’. This final aspect may be of interest as we return, slowly but surely, to a discussion of Fernando.

Fernando’s prehistory

Fernando was released in May 1975. Its prehistory can be summarised as follows. In 1968 a French anthology of Indian-Andean musics, recorded ‘second-hand’ by South American musicians (including Los Calchakis) resident in Europe and entitled La flûte indienne, was released. It became so popular among students and middle class youth of this continent that it led to a follow-up La flûte indienne, vol. 2 and other ‘flute concept albums’, such as Les flûtes roumaines (Zamfir 1970). The backing track to El Condor Pasa by Los Calchakis on the LP La flûte indienne was later used by Simon and Garfunkel on the then best selling LP of all times Bridge Over Troubled Waters (1970). At this time Benny Andersson had left his rock group while Björn Ulvaeus was still playing ‘folk’. They were just starting their period of song writing cooperation. They had married or moved together with the girls of the future group ‘Abba’ and were starting to produce commercially successful material together (e.g. People Need Love, Ring Ring, 1972) just after students had finished listening to songs like Los Calchakis’ or Simon and Garfunkel’s version of El Condor Pasa. In the meantime, MNW, the largest record label of the Swedish alternative movement, issued an LP of Chilean songs and dances (many cuecas) recorded by Atacama, a group of Unidad Popular supporting musicians.

In March 1973, Ring Ring, entered for the Swedish qualifying round of the Eurovision Song Contest but was put into second or third position by a jury of literary and musical ‘experts’. It nevertheless became a moderate hit in Sweden and Northern Europe, its English translation being provided by Neil Sedaka.

In September 1973 came the obscene fascist coup in Chile. We choked over our TV dinner as the DINA shot the Scandinavian cameraman walking us down a Santiago street. We saw bodies washed up on the river bank, brain matter blown out by dum-dums provided by the USA in the interests of freedom. We saw and heard Swedish ambassador to Chile, Hans Edelstam, tell of the horrors those seeking refuge in his embassy had encountered at the hands of those saving the free world from the bogey of Marxism. We saw the football stadium where Victor Jara’s hands were chopped off in front of a hundred thousand other prisoners. We saw planes bomb the Moneda palace and an unassuming, democratically elected president called Allende, out on the balcony for the last time. We saw armoured cars and troops throwing civilians face down on to the pavement. Almost everyone in Sweden saw and heard these and many more things from Chile. We were shaken to the bone.

There was deep public sympathy in Sweden for the suffering of the Chilean people under fascism. Admittedly, the media (with the exception of the socialist press) rarely pointed to the forces behind the atrocities (US capital, the reactionary role played by parts of the Chilean middle class, etc.) and many people were left in a state of bewildered impotence which can be expressed in recur rent statements like: ‘just look how much suffering and horror there is in the world! How can I do anything about it?’ After the coup in September 1973, many Chileans met their death in torture chambers, were forcibly ‘disappeared’ or carried on the struggle for survival and justice under abominable hardship.

Other Chileans fled, some to North America, more to Europe. Amongst these refugees were musicians who used quena flutes, charangos and other traditional instruments to perform songs whose lyrics often spoke of liberty and against fascism and imperialism. The Berlin Political Song Festival of 1974 was dominated by the theme of solidarity with the Chilean people and every subsequent Chile solidarity meeting in Sweden was rounded off with either Venceremos or El pueblo unido. Records of Nueva cancion chilena were issued and sold in Europe (e.g. Jara’s posthumous LP Manifesto (1974), several albums by Quilapayún and Inti Illimani). TV documentaries about poverty and injustice in Latin America started to use ‘Inca Flute’ music and even the Mood Music Collections started to include this Parra/Jara peña style music (huayno, ‘instant altiplano’) in their catalogues. The 1971 collections certainly included titles like Babassu (‘romantic, sultry’) and Ballyhoo in Bogota (‘sunny fiesta’) (Boosey and Hawkes) or Santiago and Toma Tequila (both characterised as ‘Afro-Cuban rhythms in typical Latin style’) (Major 1971), but nothing like the Exotic Flute numbers to be found in collections from the mid seventies (Selected Sounds). In this way anything resembling an ensemble of quena flutes and charangos came to be associated with South America, most probably with suffering and Chile, at least in the ears of the adult Northern European audience.

In 1974 Waterloo, performed by Abba, won the Eurovision Song Contest in Brighton. In 1975 it was Swedish TV’s turn to host the event. During 1974, quite a number of Chilean refugees had arrived in Sweden, where the ‘alternative music movement’ was at its peak. There was widespread support for both Chileans and against the enormous costs of organising the Eurovision Song Contest. A parallel festival was organised by the alternative music movement, which was screened by the other of Sweden’s two TV channels, featuring musicians from a large number of countries, including Chile, Bolivia and other Latin American nations. Swedish TV once again sported quena flutes (and their connotations of resistance against oppression in Latin America) just one month before Fernando was released.

Another important event immediately preceding the release of Fernando was the Davis Cup tennis match between Sweden and Chile, scheduled to be played at Båstad (Sweden) on the 18 September, 1975. Ten thousand people collected in this village in the south-west of the country to express their disapproval of the event. The demonstration, which successfully used noise to stop the match, was well prepared, not least by the release of Hoola Bandoola Band’s single Victor Jara b/w Stoppa Matchen (= ‘Stop The Match’) on the alternative music movement label MNW. Hoola Bandoola were the only left wing artists for whom Abba publicly expressed appreciation, so much so that they had even discussed a recording contract with Abba manager Stikkan Andersson before finally signing with the independent MNW (Borg, 1977: 83, 107). A comparison of Hoola Bandoola’s Victor Jara and Abba’s Fernando will give a much clearer picture of the musical/ ideological conditions in Sweden under which the latter was produced.

Fernando and Jara

Victor Jara: transcription and lyrics

Ex. 73. Hoola Bandoola Band: Victor Jara

[Order of performance: (1) ritornello, (2) v.1, (3) ritornello, (4) v.2, (5) ritornello, (6) v.3, (7) coda.]



Verse 1

[v.1, cont’d]


Verse 2

[Verse 2, cont’d]

Verse 3 ¯

[verse 3, cont’d]


Fig. 5:2 Sleeve for single Victor Jara b/w Stoppa matchen (Hoola Bandoola Band, 1974)

Victor Jara: lyrics

Verse 1

Det finns många som gör konster och krumsprång för dem som har makten,

Och det finns många som fjdskar för smulor ifrån den härskandes bord;

Men du valde din väg, du sjöng för de många,

Och du struntade i de mäktigas löften och de härskandes hot.

Ja, Victor Jara, du gav ord åt de fängslades längtan till frihet;

Och åt de plågades tro på en framtid där bara folken har makt;

Och du gav styrka och mod et de förtrampades drömmar;

Men mot de rika och fe sjöng du ut din förakt.

Verse 2

Men om framtiden är som ett träd vi har planterat i jorden

Och ifall friheten är som den sprvdaste sköraste ros,

Meste vi väpna oss väl för att försvara det svaga:

Vi måste värna det mot dem som vill krossa det som spirar och gror.

Och de förtvivlade säger att döden är lika för alla,

Men det är väl sannare att säga att man kan dö på samma sätt som man har levt;

Och att dö för förtjänst, det väger lätt som en fjäder,

Men att dö för sitt folk, det väger tungt som en sten.

Verse 3

Ja, Victor Jara, dina sånger ska eka i gruvornas gångar,

Och som fullmogna frukter ska de skördas ifrån plantagernas träd;

Och som vajande sed ska de bölja över fälten,

Och som fiskar i vattnet ska de fastna i fiskarnas nät.

Ja, Victor Jara, dina sånger ska inte bli glömda,

Från gitarr till gitarr ska de spridas över stad och land.

De ska vagga oss till sömns när våra nätter blir långa,

De ska marschera med oss när dagen är här.

English translation of lyrics to Victor Jara

Verse 1: Plenty of people will perform for the powerful few; they will bow, cow-tow, suck up and flatter for crumbs from the master’s table. You didn’t, you sang for everyman and spurned the promises and threats of the high and mighty. Victor Jara, you gave words to the prisoner’s thirst for freedom and to the belief of the tormented that there is a future where the people hold power. You gave strength and courage to the dreams of those downtrodden, while to the exclusive and mighty rich you sang out your disdain.

Verse 2: If the future is a tree we plant in the ground and if liberty is like a frail and fragile rose, we should be well-armed to protect such vulnerable beauty from those who would destroy anything trying to live, breathe and grow. In desperation some people will say that death is the same for everyone but it’s nearer the truth to say you die as you lived, so that dying for a profit weighs as little as a feather whereas dying for the people weighs heavy like a stone.

Verse 3: Victor Jara, your songs will echo in mine shafts and be harvested as ripe fruits from trees in the plantation. Like waving corn they will billow across fields and like fish in the water they will fasten in the fisherman’s net. Victor Jara, your songs will not be forgotten; from guitar to guitar they will spread over town and country. They will lull us to sleep when the night is too long and they will march with us when (the) day comes.

Politico-musical polarisation

In Hoola Bandoola’s Victor Jara (example 73, p. 96, ff.), a quena-like flute sound was used in the short instrumental ritornelli. Acoustic guitars were also in clear evidence, just as in Fernando. However, the similarities between Fernando’s and Victor Jara’s Latin American connotations end there. As can be gathered directly from the differences in the very titles, not to mention the lyrics, of the two songs, Victor Jara (a real person) does not beat about the political bush like the fictitious Fernando. The lyrics of Victor Jara go far beyond the vagaries of concepts like ‘liberty; and ‘freedom’: they talk about the Chilean troubadour’s songs expressing the hopes of miners, of the oppressed, imprisoned, and downtrodden. The lyrics describe Jara’s songs ‘lulling us to sleep when nights are long’ and ‘marching with us when day breaks’.

There is no doubt what the song is ‘talking about’ musematically either. The quena flute sound of Victor Jara is much nearer the centre front of the stereo panorama, mixed up as loud as the singer, slightly to his left, with the solo acoustic guitar immediately to his right so that the ‘dialogue’ is equal and unified between, on the one hand, ‘Victor Jara’ as flute and decorative-interpretative-melodic solo acoustic guitar fills and, on the other, the vocalist (Michael Wiehe). Both ‘individuals’ are accompanied in a dynamic 3/4-6/8 hemiola/cueca sort of rhythm played at a determined and urgent pace of 160 bpm accompanied by a bombo drum and by crisp Hispanic attacks and syncopations on acoustic rhythm guitar (see example 73, p. 96, ff.). Afro-North American and Euro-North American style indicators found in the chorus of Fernando (m9, m10) are conspicuously absent in Victor Jara and even the electric bass keeps to simple onbeat oom-pah dotted minims. The excitement and drive of the accompaniment is created by Latin-American and European, not North American means. These ‘non-U.S.’ traits are further emphasised by the harmonies used in the song which, although traditionally European and tertial (‘functional’), have neither the same regular periodicity nor the same narrow tonal limits as Fernando: Victor Jara includes full cadences not only in the tonic (C minor) but also modulates (via A$ and B$) to E$, (via C minor) to F minor and (via D7) to G. All this makes for less harmonic and stereophonic monocentricity and less Euro-North American musical ethnocentricity.

The vocal delivery of Victor Jara also differs radically from that of Fernando. In Victor Jara we find a much higher melodic pitch than in Fernando. Moreover, the former song contains a whole series of bold rising intervals conspicuously absent from the former. Both these points demand a greater degree of physical and mental effort from the singer (more tension of the vocal chords, great care to ‘hit’ the high notes in tune without forcing them). In addition, although the name ‘Victor Jara’ corresponds exactly with the rhythms of ‘yo te quiero’, ‘Bossa Nova’ or ‘mi Fernando’, there is not one single appoggiatura expressing the ‘graceful pleading’ of m5 or m6, in the whole of Victor Jara. Apart from the sinuous but fast ‘fishing net’ word-painting fill by solo acoustic guitar in the middle of verse 3, we are led straight into onbeat melodic-harmonic consonances, not into the ‘mini-dissonances’ tinting the simple scale-like passages in the verse of Fernando and their veneer of sincerity and emotional involvement.

This single by Hoola Bandoola Band sold well in alternative bookstores and at Chile solidarity rallies (outlets not counted in the compilation of Swedish charts). Moreover, the album including Victor Jara (Fri Information), though also mainly distributed through similar alternative outlets, managed to sell enough through the normal commercial outlets to reach number 6 on the Swedish charts (Skivspegeln) in October 1975. One month later Fernando entered the Swedish charts for the first time (on Annifrid Lyngstad’s album).


There is absolutely nothing to suggest that Abba have stolen anything deliberately from anyone, not even from Osvaldo Farrés, the composer of Quizás, when writing or recording Fernando. With Quizás, Victor Jara and Fernando we are witnessing the sort of process in which musical ideas are produced, reshaped, incorporated into new (or old) contexts. Fernando is rather the result of a large number of specific and interrelated historical factors. Its widespread success may be in part attributable to the special conditions of popular music in Sweden during the 1960s and around 1970, as well as to the variety of popular musical backgrounds brought together in Abba as a group and to the modest but not working class origins of its members. It should also be clear that Latin America and, more specifically, the fascist coup in Chile were, by the time Fernando was issued, well-established spheres of reference in the minds of most Swedes who were visibly shaken by TV and refugees’ eye-witness reports from Chile (later also from Argentina) about torture, terror and oppression. The non-verbal sounding symbol of injustice in South America in the mind’s ear of the Swedish population gradually (between 1968 and 1975) came to be that of quena flutes, charangos and the bombo. The success of both Hoola Bandoola’s Victor Jara and of Abba’s Fernando would have been unthinkable without such a process of politico-musical semiosis. Therefore, when Abba issued Fernando they met a musically and ideologically competent audience, in the sense that the musical codes and their connotations had been well prepared in advance. It should also be clear that music understood by Swedes as South American or Indian-Andean which appeared during the two years separating the fascist coup in Chile from the issue of Fernando would be far more likely to be directly associated with explicit political events and the deep feelings these aroused than by the ‘South American’ references of Fernando, either because that music was performed by South Americans (often Chileans) or because the lyrics referred directly to events from that continent. However, none of this means that the reception of the song was as homogeneous as the argument thus far may seem to imply. We have only discussed the English lyrics from a certain part of the Swedish horizon. We have not dealt with the reception of the song elsewhere, nor with the obvious differences between the three verbal renderings of the song.

Fernando’s listeners

The Swedish audience

We have already seen some statistical evidence of the widespread popularity enjoyed by Fernando in 1975-6. We have also described the situation in which it was produced, accounted for some of the factors which may have contributed to its popularity and told how a large section of the Swedish public were well-prepared for musematic understanding of its symbols (those who had heard either Los Calchakis or Simon and Garfunkel, who had watched TV news in September and October 1973, perhaps seen Quilapayún or some other Chilean group on TV and who had possibly also heard Hoola Bandoola Band’s Victor Jara on the radio). When summarising the main points of this discussion we shall use this Swedish audience as a sort of reference point in our discussion of the receiving end of the one-way communication model.

I have not carried out any empirical-statistical studies into audience perception (Rezeption) of Fernando. The methodological problems of popular music reception tests, enumerated elsewhere (Tagg 1979a: 52, ff.) would have been quite severe in the case of Fernando. Any statistically worthwhile results would not only have entailed the necessity of constructing test tapes which convincingly isolated individual musemes and musemes blocks, the arrangement of viable test situations and the usual counting of figures seldom expressing what the researcher really wants to know; it would also have been necessary to arrange these tests and test situations, complemented by interviews of course, in a representative selection of the hundreds of cultures and subcultures where Fernando was often played, heard, sung, whistled and hummed. Obviously wishing to avoid this gargantuan methodological issue but at the same time dissatisfied at presenting only one perspective of Fernando’s reception, I have taken the liberty of making some interpretative observations during the course of travels both in Sweden and abroad on occasions when analysing popular music has been the subject of a seminar, a lecture or of ordinary conversation. A visit to Sweden’s southern neighbour, what was once the Deutsche Demokratische Republik (DDR), was enough to show how differently Fernando can be interpreted between one society and another.

Fernando in East Berlin

During the course of discussions following two lectures given at the Humboldt University of Berlin, DDR (May 1983), I gained the following impression from students. To their ears Fernando might be using musical exoticism in rather a ‘kitschy’ way but it seemed nevertheless to be a progressive song, more likely to be expressing sympathy for the cause of the Chilean people rather than a song ‘sweeping the problem under the carpet’. This reaction, coming from, amongst others, the sort of young communists who were later to bring about radical changes in their own country, was quite the opposite of opinions held by the cultural left-wingers of Sweden. We have already seen what Abba and songs like Fernando must quite naturally have represented to radical young Swedes in their particular cultural environment of the mid seventies. It would obviously be absurd to expect the progressive youth of the DDR to understand the same song in the same way in a radically different cultural, social and political environment.

Abba represented very little or nothing at all in the national context of the DDR: they were merely viewed as competent and successful pop artists of the type any citizen could see any day on West or East German television. Abba were also available on the DDR pop label Amiga. Moreover, Abba’s very general lyrical treatment of what seemed to the students like a clearly particular political subject (Chile) conformed well with the character of a special sort of super-melodious ballad genre with similar lyrics, frequently as vague as Abba’s, which was already well-established in the DDR.

It should also be noted in this context that anti-fascist solidarity with the Chilean people was state policy in the DDR: unions and management often agreed (or had to agree) to work overtime for such solidarity purposes. Chile solidarity had in this way official backing, whether those contributing mandatorily to such a worthy cause liked it or not. In the ‘free’ world, on the other hand, we contribute mandatorily to the bank balances of shareholders of companies we work for or supermarkets where we shop, and actions of solidarity are voluntary, relegated to the position of having to rely solely on publicly and commercially unsupported and unendowed extraparliamentary activity on the part of dedicated individuals and their financially struggling organisations. Viewed from this perspective it is not surprising that the young DDR citizens were just as able to interpret quena flutes, references to the Rio Grande and fighting for liberty, etc. according to the dominant ideology of their society as we were bound to interpret the same musical and verbal references through our experience of the dominant ideology here.

The young radical in capitalist Sweden of the seventies instinctively felt that prominent artists from inside the system would automatically be trying to smooth things over (we were used to that), whereas the young DDR citizen would more likely take it for granted that Abba were really singing for the liberty of the peoples of Latin America, however halfhearted they might sound, because they were just as used to artists pandering to middle-of-the-road taste in order to gain official recognition as we were used to successful artists avoiding political issues as part of their mainstream entertainment credibility in our part of the world. It was just that the official ideologies of the two socio-economic systems were diametrically opposed.

Fernando at Tatuí

While teaching popular music analysis at the 12th Cursos latinamericanos de música contemporânea at Tatuí (State of São Paulo, Brazil) in 1984, I had the opportunity of discussing Fernando with students and teachers from various Latin American countries. The words of the English version, with their references to ‘liberty’ and the ‘Rio Grande’, caused some mirth. Many students found them naïve and ‘gringo touristic’, revealing a lack of real acquaintance with the South American continent and the political conditions and feelings of its peoples. The quena flute exoticism was qualified by some of the young popular musicians from Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina and Bolivia as ‘third or fourth hand latinamericanicity’.

Here it is worth noting that the Spanish version of Fernando also differs verbally from the English version on both counts criticised musically by the young Latin American musicians above. The Spanish version makes no mention whatsoever of ‘liberty’, ‘freedom’, the ‘Rio Grande’ or ‘this land’. It also makes no direct allusion to any military strife. The nearest we get is: ‘escuchar esos tambores con un sordo redoblar’ (could be a funeral), ‘no pensabamos jamas perder ni echar atras’ (could be love or a game of cards), ‘tu valor’ (could be courage in any context), ‘sentí temor’… ‘nadie pensaba en morir’ (general fear of dying). While the English version’s verse 2 mentions ‘the roar of guns and cannons’ as a cause of grief, the Spanish version ignores such concrete references, padding out the metric scan with the highly non-specific ‘no siento hoy vergüenza al confessar que tuve ganas de llorar’ (not feeling ashamed of wanting to cry). Similarly, verse three’s ‘since many years I haven’t seen a rifle in your hand’ has been replaced with ‘y con ella un paz que hoy logramos disfrutar’ (and with it [old age] a peace which we can enjoy today).


In short: the English version’s specific military references (guns, cannons, bugles, rifle) and its one reasonably specific geographical reference (Rio Grande) have disappeared altogether in the Spanish version. This makes the Spanish lyrics more general and thereby more difficult to contextualise historically and politically, with the consequence that ‘how proud you were to fight for freedom in this land’ (English version, verse 3) becomes ‘aún orgullo que refleja tu valor’ (pride that reflects your courage). There is in other words no direct allusion to the liberation struggle in Latin America. Nor should readers expect such allusions, bearing in mind that Abba’s translators in Buenos Aires (the McCloskeys) were Mr. and Mrs. Billboard of Latin America and that they produced their Spanish rendering of Fernando’s lyrics during the anarchistic last days of the Isabellita Perón period, just before the Videla regime’s introduction of legalised terror.

There seemed to be some doubt in the minds of Latin Americans I have spoken to as to which fight the Spanish lyrics actually refer. Those to whom I have read the lyrics, without either playing the music or mentioning the authors’ names, associated with sympathy to uprisings in the 1930s (Fernando is old and grey in 1976 and was young at the time of the fighting) while those who heard the music (with its electric instruments and Simon and Garfunkelian use of quenas), or who knew the artists to be Abba, were far more sceptical. There were even a few associations to those Chilean artists who, recognised by the Pinochet regime, offered folklore commercial variations on the Parra-Jara theme. This type of association seems not unreasonable if one bears in mind that the Spanish version does not have the same final mix as the English and Swedish versions. It differs on the following counts:

1. the vocals are mixed up slightly louder in relation to the general level of the accompaniment (except the quenas);

2. the bass line is meatier (bass and middle frequencies boosted) without losing any feeling of attack;

3. the quenas are mixed up much louder and positioned near the centre of the stereo panorama, just behind and to the side of the vocalist; they are not out in the stereo wings of the acoustic stage.

Reverting to the melody-accompaniment, figure-ground, individual-environment dualism of bourgeois art mentioned earlier, the stereo positioning of the quenas on the Spanish version of Fernando means that the Latin American ‘individual’ of the piece (the flute) is a more central figure than in the other versions. ‘He’ is louder, nearer and put into a far less unequal relation to the protagonist. The call and response of vocal phrase to flute filler sounds more like a dialogue than the virtual monologue of the English and Swedish versions. The flutes are also audible in the chorus. In this way the most distinctly ‘Latin American’ part of the music is given a special place on the version destined for Latin Americans. (Please note that Abba use the ‘s’ sounds of Latin American pronunciation, not the Castilian ‘th’ for ‘azul’, ‘protección’, etc. ‘Fernando’ (the flute) is no longer a picturesque ingredient of the backdrop. No more than any self-respecting North American would tolerate being portrayed by a supercilious Brit as endlessly chewing gum, carrying guns, dangling cameras, talking loudly and ignorantly in gaudy Bermuda shorts and a Hawaiian shirt, no more than the average Scandinavian would like being used as a suicidal sex-crazy blonde backdrop for an Italian porno movie, neither should any South American be imagined putting up with treatment harping on the same sort of touristic disrespect which being pushed out into the acoustic scenery as a picturesque Peruvian person-cum-flute (as on the English and Swedish versions) actually implies. What this may actually mean in the final analysis of the song will be discussed in the last part of this study.

Visual-verbal confusion

Album sleeves

Unfortunately, I only have at my disposal the record covers of the four LPs Abba’s Greatest Hits, Frida ensam, Gracias por la musica and The Singles - The First Ten Years. All but one of these covers are of little interest since they merely show typical hand-out portraits of the group at different stages of their career. The Swedish LP, marketed as a solo album by vocalist Lyngstad, is on the other hand of considerable interest.

The Swedish sleeve and lyrics

Whereas the other three LP sleeves show little or no connection at all with Fernando, presumably because the albums contain a quantity of other notable Abba hits, some reaching even greater popularity than our analysis object (Waterloo, Mama Mia, S.O.S., Dancing Queen, Knowing Me, Knowing You, Chiquitita, Thank You For The Music, The Winner Takes It All, etc.), Fernando is the only chart success and the only Abba number on Frida ensam. Moreover, it appears as first track on side one, not as the inside track on side 2 (Greatest Hits album), nor as track 5 on side 1 (Spanish), nor as side 1, track 7 (The Singles). It would therefore not be surprising if the Scandinavian purchaser of Frida ensam were to establish connections between its record cover and the Swedish lyrics to Fernando. So, what do the Swedish lyrics say?

In the Swedish lyrics there are no references whatsoever to national liberation struggles, fighting, South America, world politics or to any other external places or events. The lyrics are even less specific than those of the Spanish version: they are, quite simply, of the classically individualist ‘you and me and love’ type. True, the singer is quite alone, as in the English version, carrying on an imagined dialogue with a Fernando, but this time it is he, not she, who has the ‘problem’. He has lost the one he loves and she offers him imaginary consolation in a spirit of complicity similar to that offered in a different context in the English version. She suggests that everyone, including herself, must learn to sustain misfortune caused by love. However, while the external environment and the concrete situation alluded to in the words of the English and Swedish versions may be quite different, the general affective direction (processuality) is identical, i.e. from problems in verse 1 and 2 to recreation and idealised reminiscence of those problems in chorus 1, verse 3 and choruses 3 and 4. Of course, this processuality is identical in the Spanish version too, though, as we shall see, the denotative level of the Swedish lyrics may shed some new light on this affective processuality.

In the English version we found idealised reminiscence of a vaguely referred to South American state of war and the fear of as well as involvement in the ‘far-away-and-long-ago’ ‘there-and-then’ exoticism of the environment symbolising the sources of that fear and involvement. In the Swedish lyrics we find the same far-off ‘there-and-then’ musical environment in connection with no more than the ‘there-and-then’ of unrequited love. In the English version the ‘here-and-now’ pleasant familiarity of the ‘home’ musical environment was set in a scene of reminiscence and recreation. In the Swedish version the relation of words and music in the chorus is similar, except that ‘those were good times, Fernando’ has been replaced by ‘let’s drink and long live love anyhow, Fernando’. The dynamic potential of juxtaposing the two environments (spheres of feeling) disappears in both versions since ‘home’ is used as a platform for escape and recreation only while ‘away’ is used as a contrast to the pleasant release of ‘home’.

Fernando de Torremolinos

Returning to the Swedish album sleeve (see figure 3, above), it is now easier to see some connections. Frida (the singer) is seated in a dark but comfortable (carpets, cushions) room. Light pours in from the left while the right of the picture (partially cropped) is in total obscurity. She is most definitely in the private sphere, presumably (attire, posture, see below) at home. The room contains a soft (and expensive Persian?) carpet and cushions and a well-polished, antique-looking table (varnished mahogany?), chair and dresser (‘high’ standard of living, bon goût). On the table there is a rather exotic looking plant (‘classy’), a long-stemmed cut glass bowl (‘quality’) containing grapes and plums, an empty plate with an as yet uneaten crab on it (all this suggesting a light gourmet meal for connoisseurs), an ashtray (someone smokes) and papers (someone reads). Frida is seated by this table in a position best described as masturbatory, legs apart and right hand clutching groin. This was a standard male voyeuristic manner of presenting women on certain types of pre-AIDS disco and rock LPs in the mid seventies (see figure 5-4, p.109). The emphasis is clearly on sex and sexual self-satisfaction.

Fig. 5:4 Mastubatory poses in 1970s pop music marketing

The presentation is further highlighted by Frida’s attire, more specifically by the loose negligée type of lace-embroidered dress and by the long length of luminous green stocking on her right leg (sorry we can’t afford colour prints), the most eye-catching area in the picture, since it is its only real streak of light or colour. The stocking finishes half way up the thigh, the upper part of which would not have been revealed naked had her dress been casually draped and not been so obviously hitched up good and proper and swept to between her legs. I for one suppose I am supposed to think this is an image of a sexy, sultry, sensuous young woman who has either just got out of or is about to get into bed. By covering up her genitals she both touches and draws the album-purchaser’s visual attention to them. Her eyes seem to be staring blankly into the space in front of her as she waits alone in this position by the table with the frugal gourmet supper.

Holding the record sleeve of Frida ensam while listening to the Swedish version of Fernando, the listener might wonder whether she is waiting for Fernando to emerge from the right hand side of the picture (is that where the bedroom or bathroom is?) or to burst in direct from the Disco-a-Gogo club in Torremolinos where they fell passionately in love earlier that summer. Will they then enjoy a reminiscing tête-à-tête followed by a gastronomic and/or corporeal repas d’amour? Will Annifrid Lyngstad and her Fernando they drink to the ‘Love’ mentioned in the lyrics by availing themselves of the wine so clearly at the ready on the table? After all, an empty plate is provided for someone. If it is not for Fernando, is it for the record buyer’s imagination, a sort of vicarious personal invitation distributed to 149 999 other individual purchasers of the LP?

If Fernando were the comrade-in-arms from a national liberation struggle in the cordilleras, the scene on the Swedish LP sleeve would certainly be a bizarre homecoming to a strange woman in a strange environment, a bit out-of-character for someone professing love and compassion for someone that has had to see so many burning villages, dead women and children, insides of prisons, faces of torturers, etc. The jump from cut glass, gourmet supper, teak, Persian carpet and masturbatory posture to distress, desolation, dedication, solidarity and hard work somewhere so far away might do well as an ironic effect of political poignancy in another context but it is highly unlikely Abba ever intended such Brechtian Verfremdung for the average buyer of Frida ensam. So who can the Swedish version of Fernando be? What ‘Fernando-s’ could the average Swede relate to in the mid nineteen-seventies? Only two answers are possible. Either Fernando is a nice, politically non-strident Latin American refugee or else he is someone she met in Las Palmas, Marbella or Torremolinos during one of the charter trips undertaken by many ordinary Scandinavians in the early seventies before reduced real incomes put an end to such popular extravagance and before the overthrow of General Franco’s fascism put up Spanish labour costs anyhow. The political connotations of Latin American refugees in Sweden in the early and mid-seventies obviously make the first identity less plausible. The second identity, however, is not only more likely judging from the Swedish lyrics and the record cover, it is also substantiated by the commercial success of several Swedish and international charter tour hits of the same period. I am alluding here to songs like Sylvia Vrethammar’s E Viva España, with its ‘Spanish-weather-and-men-are-better-and-hotter-than-Swedish’ message, and to the George Baker Selection’s Una Paloma Blanca, with its pseudo-Mediterranean Muzak-eurohit sound and a cover sporting a woman stroking a white dove perched in her groin.

The obvious difference as regards both album cover and lyrics between the Swedish and the other two versions of Fernando under discussion should be viewed here in the context, already mentioned, of the specific cultural and political conditions in this country at that time. The first popular Swedish musicians of the post-war rock era to use their mother tongue in lyrics dealing with anything outside the spheres of love (or comic ‘novelty’ songs) were those from the alternative music movement. As soon as anybody opened their mouth in Swedish accompanied by a drum kit, electric bass and guitar, they would, it was imagined at that time, have something critical to say about some holy cow of Swedish or international capitalism. In fact, singing rock in Swedish was at that time an expression of protest. If Abba had translated the English lyrics of Fernando into Swedish they would have automatically expressed to the Swedish public that they had either been profoundly influenced by artists of the alternative music movement or that they were about to take such a direction themselves. Had they done that they would have risked losing their home market entertainment credibility: to succeed there at that time, you just didn’t ‘mix music and politics’.

Does this review of Swedish conditions tell us anything about what Abba’s Fernando really communicated to people in Sweden and in other countries? How do these descriptions of the various interpretations, historical and cultural conditions tie in with the musematic analysis presented earlier? These are some of the questions we shall attempt to answer in next and last chapter.


Fig. 5:1 Fascist troops outside La Moneda palace, Santiago de Chile, September 1973

Fig. 5:3 Album sleeve for LP containing Swedish version of Fernando





Chapter 6

Ideological critique

Us and them, me and you

The main processes

We have seen how the main musical process of Fernando consists of movement from the strange to the familiar, from concretion to generality, from involvement to recreation, from irregularity to regularity. This is clear unidirectional processuality of the centrifugal type if we consider the first 33% of the piece as ‘home’, equally clear centripetality if we regard the chorus and its more ‘homelike’ (for us Northern Europeans, anyhow) and familiar musical idiom as home. This means, in our interpretation of Fernando as a double centripetal process, that listeners are plunged at the start of the song into the strange and problematic (i1, v2, v3), are led ‘home’ once (ch1), reinstalled for a short while in the strange and problematic (i2, v3), whence they are repatriated for the final 33% of the piece in the familiar home environment (ch2, ch3, fade-out). We have also seen that the ‘apparent’ longing of the vocalist in the chorus was not to return to the strange and problematic but that its tension was resolved in the pleasant and familiar home surroundings of the chorus, all according to several standard harmonic, periodic and cadential practices. We have also discussed the combined musical and verbal processes of the English version. However, before we return to an evaluation of this version in the light of the historical and communication contexts presented in the previous section, it is necessary to discuss the meaning of these musical processes in connection with the lyrics of the Swedish and Spanish versions of the piece.

Swedish: toasting ‘Love’

The ‘strange and exotic’ music of the verses concurs with that section in the Swedish lyrics dealing with love problems. Here, the ‘fervour’, ‘sincerity’ and ‘involvement’ relate to purely personal experience of the sort of love communicated in the lyrics of almost every Northern European / North American popular song. The ‘happy home comfort’ of the Swedish Fernando chorus concurs with words exhorting him to drown his sorrows in a toast to ‘Love’ (kärleken which causes these problems in the first place) and to sing the ‘Song of Happiness’ (sången om lyckan).

Although the Swedish lyrics are, at a denotative level of meaning, totally different from those of both the English and Spanish versions, it should be clear that the general emotional process is identical in all versions of Fernando. Obviously this is because the music is, with the few exceptions already mentioned, identical and because music is specially suited to the sonic symbolisation of affective states and processes rather than to carrying denotative types of meaning. However, it is not possible to sing about any old thing to the same music without changing the meaning of both music and words: rugby club hymn singing or Joe Hill’s IWW versions of Salvation Army hymns will serve as examples of this point. Alternatively, try singing Shakespeare sonnets or Brecht texts to the tune of Fernando.

All this means is, quite simply, that certain lyrics which differ from the English version of Fernando will fit the music while others will not. Conversely it also implies that the music of Fernando will fit some lyrics differing from those of the English version (e.g. the Spanish or Swedish lyrics) but not others (e.g. something by Shakespeare or Brecht which might happen to fit the metre). Equally simply, this also means, at least according to Abba’s musically mediated opinion, that the process of going from love troubles to drowning sorrows in a toast to love (Swedish version) is more or less the same emotional process as going from a state of involvement and worry in a fight for freedom in Latin America, maybe in Chile, to pretending (the ambiguous longing of m8) that you would give your right arm to go back to that difficult situation (English version).

Now, it is of course not more unusual to be dedicated to a loved one than to be in love with a noble cause. From this point of view the critique offered above may seem politically puritanical or plain pedantic. Moreover, guerrilleros are just as likely to temporarily drown the many sorrows they are bound to feel in their field of activity as unrequited lovers in theirs. Even Hoola Bandoola, viewing Abba from the opposite side of the cultural barricades of Sweden in the 1970s, suggest that Victor Jara’s songs will ‘lull us to sleep when our nights are long’ (we are, of course, also lulled musically at that point). However, and this is the cardinal point, whereas Abba end off by thrashing home the fulfilment of an ambiguous longing in the safe bosom of home, Hoola Bandoola continue and end off by stating that Jara’s songs ‘will march with us when the day’ (after that night when we needed the lulling) ‘is here’ (we are of course once again moving forward determinedly and excitedly in the music too). There is no fade-out over ‘longing fulfilled’ at the end of Victor Jara: instead there is energy, love, hope and determination, right through the final cadence into the double bar line and beyond (see coda, p.100).

Spanish: old and authentic

In the Spanish version the same two emotional spheres (v1, v2) concur with recalling experiences from a war, and with pretending to long for a return to those noble days (ch), just as in the English version. There are, however, slight but important differences between the Spanish and English versions:

1. the chorus makes no mention of ‘liberty’;

2. in v3 the ‘rifle’ (not in Fernando's hand for many years) is replaced by a ‘peace’ which he and the vocalist can now ‘enjoy’ (‘la vejez llegó... y con ella una paz que hoy logramos disfrutar’);

3. the ‘freedom’ of the ‘I can see... how proud you were to fight for freedom in this land’ in v3 has been replaced by mentioning Fernando's ‘courage’ without providing even the vaguest of contexts (e.g. ‘freedom’) for either this new virtue or for his pride (‘veo aún aquel orgullo que reflete tu valor’).

We have already commented on the new stereo position of the flute ‘Fernando’ in the Spanish version, an aesthetic mixing procedure which corresponds better with the geographical and cultural proximity of Latin American listeners to areas associated with such flutes. This means that in the Spanish version the ‘there’ of the ‘there-and-then’ is not so distant as in the English version, because such flutes exist more or less on the doorstep in many countries of the South American continent and their central positioning in the Spanish version is quite logical in this respect. We have also noted in our discussion of m8 (longing, Quizás) and 10a (habanera, tango, rumba bass) that there are Latin American ingredients in the chorus, all of which give even that part of Fernando some degree of latinamericanicity. All South Americans I spoke to about this matter agreed that the chorus brought us ‘up-to-date’ and that the verse was definitely more ‘in the past’, even though this exoticism of the bygone may have been clumsily expressed in their ears (they were mostly practising popular musicians). In any case, the musical process was for them, it seems, more from ‘then to now’ than from ‘there to here’, probably because quenas are more ‘here’ than ‘there’ from the South American than from the European or North American viewpoint, especially if mixed up louder and panned centrally. Moreover, the lyrics, by consistently omitting the words ‘freedom’ and ‘liberty’ — constantly relevant notions amongst those living under CIA supported regimes in South America — and in mentioning that ‘old’ virtue valor (here = ‘courage’) and ‘old age’ (vejez), play down the contrasts of difference in place and increase the contrasts of difference in time.

According to the description offered above, the ‘rural’ quenas might be associated with those people and those times when drums (‘esos tambores’) could be heard in states of war and when the now old Fernando was young (‘vida y juventud’/‘vejez llegó’). In this case, ‘up-to-date’ means (in the lyrics) ‘enjoying peace’ and (in the music) the rural flutes well-nigh drowned by electric bass riffs and soft disco drums. This contrast is extremely interesting because the ‘up-to-date’ music of the chorus, though still containing identifiably Latin American elements (m8, m10a, quenas now in the background), is decidedly more North- American/European than the verse. This implies that ‘up-to- date’ is the sort of environment and atmosphere containing more influences from the ‘metropolis’ (more typically US or North-West European sounds) and that the ‘olde worlde’ is the environment and mood of ‘indigenous’ quenas and charangos. The emotional process is still the same; it is just that its verbal denotations and cultural sphere of reception is different. In the Spanish version heard by Latin Americans we therefore find a process from the problems, fear and ‘valour’ in the ‘old world’ of the quena flutes, as heard in the ears of those in the ‘metropolis’, to ‘enjoying peace’, to pleasant reminiscing and to the fulfilment of pretended longing in the more metropolitan environment of the ‘modern world’ (once again as viewed by those successful and happy in the metropolis).

Such an affective evaluation of the historical processes of urbanisation in South America is of course highly ethnocentric, disclosing the same sort of view of ‘development’ as that propounded by the IMF. This musical view of the ‘old’ versus ‘new’, implying that ‘more European/North American’ is more ‘up-to-date’ than ‘more indigenously Latin American’, corresponds well with that disseminated by large parts of the South American (North American owned) commercial culture industry, for example by the Time-Life Magazine controlled Brazilian TV giant Rede Globo. The tourist ‘postcard’ view of quenas and charangos reifies and falsifies a living cultural tradition, at the same time ignoring and attacking its social base and democratically anti-imperialist potential. In such a disarmed or reified state, the indigenous culture is more easily assimilated into an ‘international’ (i.e. North American/European) music culture and avidly devoured by the teenage sons and daughters of the South American upper and upper middle class rich who have ‘made good’ in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Montevideo, Buenos Aires, La Paz or Santiago, simply because it is in the interests of these small but strong consumer market groups to view ‘latinamericanicity’ and ‘modernity’ in the same sort of affective-evaluative terms as those presented by Rede Globo, Simon and Garfunkel or Abba. This view confirms the legitimacy of their own socio-economic position at an affective, non-verbal level: they feel right and that they have the right to be where they are. To put it in the more subjective terms of chapter 1, the silvery solid state cassette deck, the in-car stereo and the sound of Abba implicitly symbolise modernity, progress and the future much more to these groups than do the children of the Bahian hinterland.

This point of the reification of folklore is of extreme importance in the South American context where popular culture, for historical, economic and social reasons too complex to be explained here, lives and flourishes in a national and regional sense which no longer exists in industrialised capitalist Europe. This means that the attitude taken towards ‘folk cultures’ by the ruling classes has certain distinguishing traits which Mauricio, Cirano and Almeida (1978:13) lists as follows:

• ‘The people live in misery but their art is creative and beautiful’.

• ‘Popular art is spontaneous and pure. The modern media spoil its purity and advanced techniques eliminate its spontaneity.’

• ‘Popular art is a tradition handed down from father to son’.

• ‘Popular art should be preserved in a state of authenticity’.

Thus the in-car stereo at Ibotirama blaring out Abba’s Crejo en angelitos at emaciated dogs and hungry children (see chapter 1) is treated by the ruling classes and propounded by their media as symbolising a brave new world, while the culture of the people in Ibotirama itself and in thousands of other places in Latin America like it is reified, its ‘preservation’ in ‘authentic’ (i.e. historically retrograde) moulds being actively supported by such unlikely benefactors of the ‘people’s cause’ as the international Xerox company (Mauricio et al. 1978: 9-12).

The main problem in the Spanish version is, in other words — assuming it to be recorded for and heard by a Latin American audience — one of affectively (musically) evaluating the twentieth century history of that part of the world. This is also borne out by the emotional process from ‘trouble, fear and problems’ in an old war to resolution of these problems in a modern metropolitan context, i.e. the answers to those old problems of fighting etc. are to be found in enjoying the lack of that fighting (‘una paz que hoy logramos disfrutar’) today in this modern electric-bass-soft-disco-in-car-stereo world. By reifying and falsifying the ‘old world’ (viewed by others than Abba, Rede Globo and the IMF as the historical potential of a new and democratic Latin America, not as a touristic postcard and souvenir-like fetish), the historical continuity between ‘Fernando’s’ fighting ‘then’ and the struggle today against injustice and oppression in the ‘modern metropolitan’ South America (not that of the in-car stereo) has been broken and the continent’s history has been implicitly falsified. Abba’s ‘peace’ can only be ‘enjoyed’ by a very small part of the population in modern, metropolis-dominated South America.

The viability of this observation is emphasised by a short comparison between the Abba/Xerox view (implicit or explicit) of arte popular and the lives and music of real South Americans, like the nordestinos of São Paulo, forced (by international capital) to leave Bahía or Pernambucco and to offer their cheap and profitable labour to companies like (Swedish) Ericsson, Saab-Scania and SKF (the latter with its seat in Göteborg where I originally wrote this passage). Bahian popular artist Luís Gonzaga, commercially successful on the Brazilian RCA label and dependent on a certain amount of rural nostalgia for that success, makes no touristic fetish of his own and his fellow nordestinos’ origins and culture in his words and music. On the contrary, he contributes to developing nordestino culture under new conditions, not through the fascination of North American/European soft disco and ‘cute flutes’ but by placing the baião and other North-Eastern Brazilian song and dance traditions in their new social, economic and sound environments. For the urban exiles Gonzaga never mentions words like ‘oppression’ or ‘liberty’ but sings lyrics embodying nordestino concepts and experiences. He tells of ‘plagues’, ‘hunger’, ‘tears’, ‘hope’, ‘selling the old horse’, finding São Paulo ‘strange’ and ‘unfriendly’, ‘owing the boss money’, etc., etc., all with a warm and ‘traditional’ Bahian ballad-singing voice to the accompaniment of miked-up accordions, percussion instruments, six and seven string guitars, cavaco, drums, clarinet and electric bass.

Of course, Abba’s view of South American twentieth century history, as musically evaluated in Fernando rings false in the ears of anyone acquainted with the recordings of popular artists like Luís Gonzaga. The song rings even less true in the Latin American context when compared to the work of those musicians of the period who, though less immediately popular than artists like Gonzaga, tried, in an innovative way, to portray the experiences and feelings of people living in the many huge and highly industrialised cities of Latin America under the new, modern, scientific, and up-to-date sort of oppression, specially researched and developed for use on them and their people by experts in the modern and up-to-date metropolis of the USA. Artists like Uruguay’s Daniel Viglietti or Cuba’s Silvio Rodriguez could not (and cannot) rely on nostalgia or on touristic sound reification of their peoples’ musics to express the fears, anxieties, joys and hopes of ‘fighting for liberty’ in the great cities of a continent under neo-colonialist oppression; nor has any such artist found glittering soft disco to be the musical-affective environment in which the ‘problems’ are likely to be solved. Their music comes from everywhere in the everyday of the city: from film, dance, theatre, popular song, etc. Legalised terror could be on your doorstep at five o’clock tomorrow morning in any modern city under any dictatorship of the continent, while Cubans can no longer tell if their revolution and the relative welfare it once provided can withstand US pressure another week, let alone another year or decade. In these contexts, Latin American musicians could never ‘paint’ their sounding city using only the picture postcard flutes of yesteryear. Nor could the solid state stereo metropolis of disco glitter ever be emotionally convincing, because the metropolis such sounding fetishes connote is the source of much of the fear, anxiety and hardship that needs challenging with the solidarity, love, hope, humour and determination whose sources of musical inspiration lie elsewhere.

The English Version

Standard procedure

There may have been an easily visible credibility gap between the ‘Latin American’ feelings and experiences alluded to in Fernando and the feelings and experiences of most Latin Americans living in the contemporary realities of the South American continent. Short and very general comparisons with two forms of real Latin American popular music should have made this credibility gap sufficiently clear. Moreover, Abba’s reliance on record distribution for popularity and the revenue that this may bring would mean that only the small groups of the upper middle and middle class rich would be able to actually buy the records or cassettes. In addition one should remember that airplay on many of the commercial radio stations is purchasable and that these stations, often majority owned by US interests, broadcast pop music in a North American DJ format, presenting the sort of glittering sonic fetish of the ‘solid state’ or ‘in car stereo’ ‘modernity’ which, like much of the material disseminated by TV networks such as Rede Globo, has a kind of ‘Dallas-cum-Dynasty’ dreamlike aura of the unreal and unattainable for most of the continent’s inhabitants.

Returning to Europe, the cultural gap between Abba’s Fernando and the majority of this continent’s population is no evident matter by any stretch of the imagination. On the contrary, as we have seen from our description of Abba’s social and musical origins, the group and its music are very much an integral part of this continent’s contemporary socio-cultural reality. This makes an ideological critique of the English version in the context of the everyday life of a citizen of this part of the world an even more complex matter than it was in the South American context.

Abba have, as stated earlier, their background in the tradition of European (Swedish) commercial music production. It would be absurd to expect Abba or any other artists coming from such a background to radically diverge from the standard artistic practices and aesthetic procedures of the tradition they belong to. Taking first the question of the lyrics, it would be absurd to expect Abba to deal with any topics outside those treated by the tradition, i.e. other than those categorisable under one of the following headings: (1) novelty/comic, (2) ‘you-and-me’, (3) ‘I/you/he/she can dance/have fun or am/is/are wonderful’, (4) ‘there’s a better world somewhere’. A quick listen through the double album Abba The Singles will confirm that 18 of the 23 titles, including Fernando, are of type 2 and that the other three can be categorised according to the other labels.

We should therefore not be expecting Abba to produce a politically explicit or committed song about Latin America in 1975, especially if we remember the controversies on the Swedish cultural-political scene at that time, what with Abba and Hoola Bandoola (with the Victor Jara song) viewing each other on opposite sides of the barricades. On the other hand, we have demonstrated that Abba use m1, m4 and m6 to create specifically Latin American connotations and that particularly m1 (the quenas, etc.) was by 1975 well-established in the public subconscious as sonically representing suffering and oppression in South America in the mind’s ear of (at least) the (Swedish) listener. At the same time we should remember the political and historical context preceding and surrounding the issue of Fernando the Chile coup, reports on television, the arrival of Chilean refugees and musicians, the alternative song festival, the tennis match, Hoola Bandoola’s Victor Jara, etc., all mentioned earlier, in order to understand not only the situation in which Abba wrote and recorded Fernando but also the cultural climate in which it was heard. One particular aspect of the constellation of meanings into which Fernando inserted itself deserves special attention.

We have already described how TV reports from the fascist coup in Chile penetrated into the living rooms and conscious of many Swedes. We have also alluded to the popular support shown and sympathy felt for the Chilean people. We have on several occasions mentioned the arrival of Chilean refugees to Europe in 1974 and 1975, immediately prior to the release of Fernando. All of these developments left very few people unmoved. These events aroused deep feelings of sympathy and solidarity. In 1975 this posed a particular problem for anyone involved in the commercial production of popular music: how could this new type of popularly shared feeling (made possible by the new mass media) be expressed within the framework of a historical tradition of popular music production which did not allow for the expression of such feelings or reference to the events causing them?

Alternative affective strategies

One solution was to plunge straight into the expression of this new and vital sphere of affective experience with its denotative concomitants, just like Hoola Bandoola did in Victor Jara. We have already explained why Abba could not do that. So what did they do? There are of course several ways of interpreting the double centripetal process of Fernando in its North European cultural context.

It is possible to see Fernando as a natural and sincere attempt to correlate two conflicting types of affective experience facing the citizen of Western Europe. On the one hand are all the feelings of disgust, distress and anger caused by viewing, reading or hearing second hand about all the injustice, terror, misery, starvation and oppression in the world. Most people here see themselves, correctly or incorrectly, living in a state of material security in that no widespread starvation or totally overt legalised terror seems to afflict us for the time being. The gap between the perception of these two worlds, symbolised in Fernando by the quena flutes versus soft disco backing, by the irregular versus regular periodicity, by the ‘there-and-then’ versus the ‘here-and-now’, by the ‘difficult’ versus ‘easy’ listening, by the verbal description of fear, guns, fighting, etc. versus the reminiscing of the chorus, by the ‘sincere involvement’ versus the ‘relaxation’ etc. is a real problem of conscience and a great cause of anxiety to many. How can this conflict of experiences be treated, expressed? It is possible that Abba, by the very act of actually trying to express something which brings together ‘there’ and ‘here’ in one song, have actually contributed towards a development in people’s sensitivity towards the individual and global aspects of the problem.

This interpretation will seem quite reasonable if the listener reads Fernando through the same sort of cultural filter as that used by some of the DDR students mentioned earlier who seemed to be saying that, since anti-imperialist solidarity is official policy, the bringing together of ‘their’ and ‘our’ world in a song like Fernando should signify commitment and anti-fascist solidarity. However, if concepts like ‘the anti-imperialist struggle’ are more likely to be considered as embarrassing examples of leftist jargon, if there are no generally or publicly accepted, sanctioned, encouraged or supported channels for action against ‘all that misery down there’, things will be different. The listener may well want to ‘do something about it’, but what can be done if everything ‘political’ is so difficult or suspect? What should people do with their sense of justice and solidarity? Should we remain passive for fear of coming across as ‘too much’, ‘too serious’, ‘too political’, ‘out of line’ or just plain ‘communist’? Does such emotional and political impotence have to arise in situations where mobilisation and active support might not only have been more appropriate but also more fun? Those questions are demagogic and rhetorical. The musical ones bulleted below are merely rhetorical.

• What would have been communicated in Fernando if the flutes had been panned centre front and Annifrid Lyngstad extreme right or left?

• What would have been the difference if the flutes had been placed as in Victor Jara, i.e. to the immediate left or right of the singer, up front?

• Would it have made any difference to the ideological message of the English version if the flutes had been mixed as on the Spanish version?

• What would happened if verse and chorus had changed places so that the main processes had been reversed?

• What would have been the difference if the chorus had been conceived in a different ‘home’ idiom, in insolent reggae, anarchistic punk, alienated new wave, aggressive industrial techno, or other types of our ‘own’ popular music associated with more than ‘you-and-me’, entertainment, dancing or diversion?

• What would have happened if Abba had not used quena flutes, charangos, ‘Latin’ parallel thirds, recitativo quasi-chant technique and other ‘foreign’ idioms in the verses? Would the music and the environment it is supposed to portray have become nearer, more real and tangible, less exotic and picturesque?

• What would have happened if Abba had used the sort of distancing technique employed by Røde Mor (Denmark) in their Hotel España, or by Röda Kapellet (Sweden) in Bingo Flamingo, or by Hoola Bandoola in Victor Jara, or (to be really historical) by Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention on Freak Out?

• What would have happened if Abba, after reversing the verse-chorus process, had finished with a new final verse in the ‘strange’ environment followed by the Interlude ending on a large crescendo, after which they launched into El pueblo unido (ex. 63)?

Some of these questions were raised earlier: a few of them were even answered. The point here is that, in relation to these other possibilities, Abba chose, consciously or unconsciously, to transmit a view of the individually and emotionally experienced conflict (a conflict shared with many others, hence of a socio-cultural and, by extension, ideological character) between the serious and problematic sphere of oppression in far-off countries and the familiar home sphere of comparative material welfare. This conflict was expressed in terms which reified the former into an exotic, exciting, romantic picturesque postcard backcloth and depicted the latter as a pleasant world of relaxation and reminiscences. The European listener was thus presented with what appear to be two mutually exclusive worlds. In Fernando the two worlds are also musematically exclusive, except for ‘Fernando’ himself (m6), this fictitious character serving also as the only verbal link between the two in the function of a you-and-me partner (he is ‘you’).

Of course, the invention of this unlikely comrade-in-arms-cum-lover figure may have been the only way of treating the new subject matter and its concomitant spheres of affective experience without transgressing the long-standing codex of unwritten rules in Swedish middle-of-the-road pop lyric writing. However, as several writers have observed, the restricted Weltanschauung of such lyrics is individualist, monocentric and fraught with both ambiguity and contradictions — private love just for me and ten million other equally private individuals. Such monocentric lyrics of the pre-charity-singalong era of the mid eighties, long before perestroika and the demise of the Soviet Union, allowed little room for ‘we’, ‘us’, ‘they’, ‘them’ and ‘you (plural)’, pronominal concepts without which any fight for any freedom ceases to be possible, not only from the direct practical but also from the emotional and musical point of view. In other words, the conventions of the commercial popular music tradition to which Abba and the vast majority of their listeners belonged, was not in a position to meet the needs of its audience. It could not treat a newly awakened sphere of modern everyday experience outside the purely individualistic; instead, it became increasingly anachronistic while social interaction, in the form of industry, communications technology and politics, become increasingly socialised (in the sense of ‘globalised’, vergesellschaftigt). ANC galas, anti-apartheid festivals, the Sun City project, albums for Amazonas, WOMAD, benefit albums and ‘aid’ enterprises, not to mention international hits about the ‘mad mothers’ of Buenos Aires’ Plaza de Mayo or homeless millions in the USA etc. were all virtually unthinkable as topics for mainstream pop songs at the time of Fernando’s release.

We could put the matter more simply in the form of some direct questions. Where, are the feelings of Fernando or of the girl singing the song towards the ‘us’, towards the inclusive collective essential in any fight for liberty? Was there only fear? Was there no joy, no feeling of solidarity? Where were the feelings against whoever or whatever it was that deprived ‘us’, including Fernando and the girl, of our liberty? And where are the worried feelings of our own ‘here-and-now’ and the happy feelings of the ‘there-and-then’? Is it only possible to be happy about the ‘there-and-then’ if we view it from our own horizon? None of these quite reasonable and thoroughly non-academic questions are answered by a song which in both its musical and verbal guise purports to deal with the sphere of affective experience to which the questions obviously belong.

The basic problem from the European viewpoint seems to be that no connection, neither verbal nor musical, is provided between our own situation here and the situation alluded to in the lyrics and in the exoticism of the music of the verses. ‘Oppression’ and ‘liberty’ are terms banded about by our media when referring to other nations and regimes but are equally seldom used in reference to our own society, simply because it is ‘common knowledge’, i.e. there is an implicit but unproven consensus, that we have plenty of freedom and no oppression. Conversely, our media rarely show the joy which people in the unliberated third world must feel and share when they join together and experience the friendship, solidarity, power and hope that comes from the complicity involved in uniting to overthrow oppression. That the girl and Fernando were involved in such a struggle without experiencing any joy of that sort will only seem normal if you subscribe to principles of commercial music-making which implicitly and irrationally hold that certain feelings are only appropriate to certain people at certain times in certain situations and inapplicable to others. According to these norms in mid-seventies Western Europe, the ‘joy’ of individually owning commodities and the ‘misery’ of not owning them is implicitly taken as totally legitimate: it was, and still is, the central message of nine out of ten adverts and it was an important point in news reports from Berlin immediately following the fall of the wall. However, the even greater joy of uniting against oppression and the considerably greater misery resulting from not doing so seemed at the same time to be equally out of question in the public subconscious of industrialised capitalist Europe.

This incoherence of attitude will prevail unless we are able to forge logical and affective links between ‘our’ own sadness and ‘theirs’, between ‘our’ oppression (we do not need to look so hard to find it) and ‘theirs’, between ‘our’ own real human joys and ‘theirs’. The relationship between the two spheres of Fernando could in other words have been presented as a juxtaposition-cum-link between dissatisfaction with things ‘at home’ and indignation about oppression ‘abroad’ or between pursuing noble causes both ‘here’ and ‘there’. Instead, Fernando offers us the unlikely ‘you’ prop of an equally unlikely ‘you-and-me’ setup for a sphere of experience that goes miles beyond the universal privacy of ‘you-and-me’ (the Chile coup on TV again). This ‘you-and-me’ setup was applied to a serious, powerful and widely felt area of experience and emotion, sweeping it neatly and safely away under the comfy carpet of contemporary consensus in the entertainment sector. The sympathy, concern and worry felt by many European listeners to Fernando for the Chilean people was put into the strait-jacket of what implicit consensus allowed them to feel for whom in what situations.

A note on Abba's intentions

Viewed in the perspective just presented, the song we have been discussing might seem to be a particularly thoughtless, insensitive and cynical statement both lyrically (all versions) and musically. At the same time, Abba have never been cynical manipulators of taste and opinion. On the contrary: cynical and deviously premeditating manipulators are rare in the chaotic artisanerie of the popular music business and rarely enjoy anything approaching the sort of success of mega-acts like Abba who wrote, played, sang and recorded thoroughly singable tunes in craftsmanly sonic packages.

When we...write a tune we don’t let anyone have it until we think it’s a gas right through from start to finish. That’s why our tunes are so catchy: we think there must be some value in writing something that just makes people damned happy... Some people accuse us of speculating in bad taste. They think we sit down with a sort of blueprint and churn out hits by chemical formula. Of course we don’t but no-one believes it or wants to believe it. The fact that we seem capable of writing hits has put us in this situation, not the other way round...

Benny Andersson interviewed in 1976, cited by Borg (1977: 83)

Of course Benny Andersson is right. Neither in Fernando nor in any other of their hits did they intend to do more than provide good entertainment and make good money. It is almost too obvious to say that Abba certainly never intended to write and record a song on behalf of Pinochet or ITT. Although I have been unable to get hold of any of them for comments on this or any other matter, I am absolutely sure that they were as shaken as anyone by the events to which Fernando indirectly alludes. This means that it is utterly pointless to wag any moral index fingers at Abba or at any of the other figures in the Swedish popular music business identifiable with Abba. The heart of the problem really lies elsewhere.

Popular music and affective socialisation

Fernando, politics and musical meaning

Apart from the fact that it would be rather pathetic for an academic at least as old as Abba’s members to attack one of the music industry’s most popular and accomplished acts of all time, it would also be destructive and hypocritical. Hanging up the question of cultural/political responsibility on one song by one group would actually be far worse than trying to personalise events in Chile in the form of an unconvincing you-and-me relationship. This is because the question of the musical-ideological meaning and possible effects of Fernando is a matter of socialisation patterns i.e patterns of how groups of individuals relate to their social surroundings.

In this perspective, music may be seen as a symbolic system communicating non-verbal patterns of socialisation (e.g. how to feel, what emotional behaviour to use). These patterns always occur in conjunction with non-musical symbolic systems (words, pictures, actions, etc.) together with which they are communicated in specific social, historical and cultural contexts. There is in this way interaction between the symbolic (including musical) representation of socially objective relationships individual-society and the socially objective relationships themselves. Since society is in a state of constant dynamic change, none of these objective relationships is permanent. There will be dislocation and incongruity at points in history when the objective relationships change but the cultural tradition inside which the symbolic meanings are produced do not. As we have seen, Fernando was produced at such a point in the cultural history of Europe, now connected (in a specific way not to be elaborated here) by the media to more global events. On the other hand, the cultural production system in which Fernando was created stayed conservatively at an earlier stage in our history (the romantic age of the bourgeois individual and the virtual restriction of musically expressible interhuman relations to the pseudo-intimacy of the ‘me-and-you-in-love’ format). There was definite incongruity between this historical-cultural tradition of popular music production, with its concomitant norms implicitly delimiting legitimate areas for musical expression, and the real contemporary experiences and feelings of the vast majority of citizens in industrialised Europe: the Vietnam war and the terror in Chile were, after all, everyday events on Swedish TV for a while. In this way, Fernando not only lagged behind the times, it also dragged time back to an earlier stage in our cultural history. This does not mean that ‘me-and-you’ relationships are less relevant than before: it just means that the affective framework of popular music production must be expanded if it does not wish to lose all credibility in the long run.

Nevertheless, affective credibility is difficult to achieve in a situation where private enterprise in the commercial music business is bound by the laws of its own understanding of the word ‘freedom’ to compete for the favour of a ‘market’. Such a mentality means that producers of popular music feel all too frequently obliged, by force of their own concept of ‘freedom’ and will to succeed financially, to produce music that meets the least line of resistance and produces most ‘love at first listening’. This leads in turn, especially in small markets like Sweden, to an avoidance of sounds and words liable to polarise a potential mass audience and to the selection of music and lyrics which tally well with the non-verbal (implicit) ideologies, attitudes, norms of behaviour, taboos and social structure of their cultural market. At the time of Fernando, those attitudes and norms could, at an affective level for the Swedes, be summed up in one word: lagom, a concept which might be of some use in the discussion of mainstream popular culture in other industrialised nations too.


Lagom is perhaps the most interesting and insidious word in the Swedish language. My dictionary gives the following English renderings: ‘just right’ (i.e. not too little, not too much), ‘enough’, ‘right’, ‘in moderation’, ‘moderately’, ‘fitting’, ‘appropriate’ and ‘suitable’. In other words, lagom measures quantity and evaluates quality. It is a much employed and popular word expressing the positive quality of something which is not extreme. It is a word which encodes implicit consensus as to what is ‘just right’ or ‘fitting’ as though such consensus were the statement of an objectively quantifiable truth.

Although the lagom mentality dominates much of Swedish behaviour, this is hardly the time or place to enter into a detailed historical discussion of that nation’s culture. However, at a more general level, it should be stated that the old elitist trick, often used in North Atlantic nations, of making humility, shyness, moderation, reticence, taciturnity and obedience into publicly propagated virtues (chiefly for the lower classes of course), plays a very important part in Sweden’s own Lutheran heritage. The most succinct expression of such ‘lie-low’, self-denial and self-censorship terror was coined by Danish novelist Carl-Axel Sandemose in his novel Jantelagen (= The Law of Jante), whose first (and great) commandment runs

‘Thou shalt not believe thou art someone’.

Of course, the corollary to this notion is that privileged groups in society then receive education, learn how to talk, write, express themselves, give orders, etc. They are socialised to believe that they are someone while ‘others’ are not. The quasi-proletarisation of many of the middle couches in post-war years, the subsequent process of apparent ‘de-authoritisation’ in public institutions and, most importantly, the development of the trade union movement proved to many ‘ordinary people’ that this socialised status quo could be questioned and challenged. However, since centuries-old cultural traditions do not disappear over a generational night, the lagom mentality and The Law of Jante law still flourish. The historical remnants of this cultural heritage survive mainly at a non-verbal level, in the gestures, behavioural norms and music of the majority of the population. While the intellectual elite may dress Bohemian and dig avant-garde jazz or house music, while executive yuppies of Thatcherite finance may speak loud and clear in public about ‘economic restraint’ while filing zero tax returns, the rest of us (except for some youth groups whose sense of opposition is treated as a passing phase and exploited by the music business as a trusted marketing gambit) are expected to keep a low profile. In short, we should be lagom. Still, the new fields of experience and knowledge gained by the peoples of Europe over the past few generations are anything but lagom. They require totally new forms of expression in both music and all the other forms of popular symbolic representation. Dragging the European working citizen’s experience of Chile on TV and Chilean refugees through the lagom filter of yesteryear may have still worked for many in 1975, but it certainly would not have worked as a mainstream gambit this year (1999) when Pinochet was forced by an official Spanish prosecutor and by the UK’s House of Lords to face an extradition trial on charges of multiple murder committed while presiding over one of recent history’s most brutal regimes.

Why worry? (2)

Regardless of whether the reader agree with the conclusions presented here, it should be clear from this analysis of Fernando that the implicit coding of ideologies, however they are interpreted, can and does occur in popular music. It should also be clear that types of musical analysis based solely on intramusical lines of reasoning would be of little help in understanding the meaning and function of a song like Fernando. Instead it is suggested that the sort of semiotic approaches presented here in conjunction with a large amount of interdisciplinary overlap, provides a viable contribution to the understanding of popular music in terms of Weltanschauung, socialisation, ‘affective education’, etc.

Finally, it would not be unreasonable to suggest that discussion of mass culture or mass society in general needs to include discussion of musical meaning, for it is in the non-verbal forms of symbolic representation that emotional levels of social, cultural, political and ideological signification are to be found. It is on these levels that the production and reception of meaning has most significance and relevance for the vast majority of people. In other words, if cultural theorists, sociologists, linguists, etc. are not prepared to take music into consideration in their discussion of symbolic production in contemporary society, and if musicians and musicologists are not prepared to shoulder the responsibility this lays on them and to demystify their art and its hieroglyphics, we will be left with little or no viable cultural theory of our own times. Musical analysis should in other words play its part in any serious attempt at understanding the ever-changing world of ideas and feelings and actively influence those changes in the interests of the majority of humanity rather than of an academic career.



Fig. 6:1 Inti Illimani performing for Unidad Popular in Chile, 1972

Fig. 6:2 Quintetto Tiempo at the Berlin Political Song Festival (DDR), 1973.


Fig. 6:3 Contributions to the ‘Coca Cola culture debate’ from Lima and Calcutta


Photos by Paul Rimmerfors



Fig. 6:4 Coca Cola i det svenska folkhemmet


Fig. 6:5 General Augusto Pinochet, ex-dictator of Chile, leader of fascist coup, commander-in-chief of DINA (secret police), architect of the ‘disappearance’ (torture and murder) of thousands of democrats: (a) just after usurping power with the help of ITT, the CIA and the Chilean privileged classes in September 1973; (b) as national father-figure and Mrs Thatcher’s friend, at least as presented on a pro-Pinochet website in 1999 . For less hype and more information about this evil man, see and

(Amnesty International).







Bach Carl Philipp Emmanuel. Essay on the True Art of Playing Keyboard Instruments. London: Eulenburg, 1974. (Orig. Versuch über die wahre Art Clavier zu spielen, 1797).

Bernstein Leonard. The Unanswered Question. Cambridge (US): Harvard University Press, 1976.

Borg Christer. Fenomenet ABBA. Stockholm: Polar Music International AB, 1976.

Broven John. Walking to New Orleans. Bexhill: Blues Unlimited, 1974.

Dolan Robert E. Music in the Modern Media. New York: Schirmer, 1967.

Carey James T. ‘Changing Courtship Patterns in the Popular Song’. The Sounds of Social Change (ed. Denisoff & Peterson): 198-212. Chicago: Rand McNally, 1972.

Eco Umberto. A Theory of Semiotics. Bloomington & London: Indiana Univ Press, 1976.

Fonogrammen i kulturpolitiken. Stockholm: Liber, 1979.

Geoffrion Diane. ‘La Musique de Salon au Québec 1880- 1915’. Montréal: Diss. MA en musicologie.

Gillett Charlie. The Sound of the City. London: Sphere Books, 1971.

— Making Tracks. New York: Dutton, 1974.

Hamm Charles. ‘Some Thoughts on the Measurement of Popularity in Music’. Popular Music Perspectives, 1, ed. D Horn. & P. Tagg: 3-15. Göteborg and Exeter: IASPM, 1982.

Hennion Antoine. Les professionnels du disque. Paris: Métaillié, 1981.

— ‘Popular Music as Social Production’. Popular Music Perspectives, 1,

ed. D. Horn & P. Tagg: 32-40. Göteborg and Exeter: IASPM, 1982.

Ingelf Sten. ‘Jazz-, pop- och bluesharmonik’ (2 vols). Malmö: Musikhögskolan, 1976

(unpublished course materials).

Karbušicky Vladimir. Grundriß der musikalischen Semantik.

Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1986.

Kayser Dietrich. Schlager: Das Lied als Ware, 2. Aufl. Stuttgart: Metzler, 1976.

Knepler Georg. Musikgeschichte des XIX. Jahrhuderts. Berlin (DDR), 1961.

Lendvai Ernö. Béla Bartók - An Analysis of his Music. London: Kahn & Averill, 1971.

Maróthy János. Music and the Bourgeois, Music and the Proletarian.

Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó, 1974.

Maurício Ivan, Cirano Marcos, Almeida Ricardo de (eds.) Arte popular e dominação.

O caso de Pernambuco - 1961/77. Recife: Editora Alternativa Ltda, 1978.

Mayer Günter, Dahlhaus Carl. ‘Musiksoziologische Reflexionen’. Neues Handbuch der Musikwissenschaft, 10, ed. C. Dahlhaus: 109-170. Wiesbaden: Athenaion, 1983.

Middleton Richard. Studying Popular Music. Buckingham: Open Univ. Press, 1990.

Nylöf Göran. Musikvanor i Sverige. Stockholm: Statens Offentliga Utredningar, 1967:9. Appendix to Konsertbyråutredningens slutbetänkande, 1967.

— ‘Trends in Popular Music Preferences in Sweden 1960-1988’. Popular Music Research, ed. K. Roe & U. Karlsson: 87-102. Göteborg: nordicom-Sweden, Nº 1-2, 1990.

Rebscher Georg. Natur in der Musik, 2. Auflage. Wiesbaden: Breitkopf & Härtel, 1981.

Riethmüller Albrecht. ‘Die Musik als Abbild der Realität’. International Review of the Aesthetics and Sociology of Music, 1976.

Roberts John Storm. The Latin Tinge. London: Eddison Press, 1979.

Schafer R. Murray (1973) ‘The Music of the Environment’ Cultures, 1/1973. Paris: unesco, 1973.

Schmitz Arnold. ‘Figuren, musikalisch-rhetorische’. Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, vol. 4: 176-183, 1968.

Schuler Manfred. ‘Rockmusik und Konstmusik der Vergangenheit’. Archiv für Musikwissenschaft, 35/2: 135-150, 1978.

Skiles Martin. Music Scoring for TV and Motion Pictures. Blue Ridge Summit: Tab, 1976.

Skinner Frank. Underscore. New York: Criterion Music, 1950.

Shepherd John. ‘Music and Male Hegemony’. Göteborg: Stencilled Papers from the Musicology Department, 8606, 1986.

Tagg Philip. Kojak: 50 Seconds of Television Music. Göteborg: Skrifter från Musikvetenskapliga

institutionen, 2, 1979a.

— ‘Analyse af Abbas “Fernando”’. Dansk Musiktidskrift, 1979/3: 124-156, 1979b.


— (ed.) ‘Film Music, Mood Music and Popular Music Research’. Göteborg: Stencilled Papers from the Musicology Department Nº 8002, 1980.

— ‘Natur i massmediemusik’. Naturen som symbol, ed. Allwood, Frängsmyr, Svedin: 161-199. Stockhom: Liber, 1982a. [93-98-90239-7].

— ‘Analysing Popular Music’. Popular Music, 2: 37-69, 1982b.

— ‘Musicology and the Semiotics of Popular Music’. Semiotica, 66-1/3: 279-298, 1987.

— ‘An Anthropology of Stereotypes in TV Music?’ Svensk tidskrift för musikforskning, 1989: 19-42.

— ‘Reading Sounds’. RéR Records Quarterly Magazine, 3/2: 4- 11, 1990a.

Tagg Philip, Clarida Bob. Ten Little Title Tunes — forthcoming as 800 page research report.

Thorsén Stig-Magnus. För musiken i tiden. Stockholm: Sveriges Radio UTB, 1977.

Tiomkin Dimitri. ‘Composing for Films’. Films in Review, 2:17, 1951. Also in Film Music: from Violins to Video, ed. Limbacher: 55-61. Metuchen: Scarecrow, 1974.

Tunstall Jeremy. The Media are American. London: Constable, 1977.

Vernillat France, Charpentreau Jacques. La chanson française, 2è édition. Paris: PUF, 1977.

Vilariño Idea (1981) ‘El tango’, vols. 1 & 2. La historia de la literatura argentina,

Capitulo 117: 409-432, 529-552. Buenos Aires: Centro Editor de America Latina.

Wicke Peter, Mayer Günter. ‘Rock Music as a Phenomenon of Progressive Mass Culture’. Popular Music Perspectives, 1, ed. D. Horn & P. Tagg: 223-231. Göteborg and Exeter: IASPM, 1982.

List of Musical References

Abba. Ring Ring. Polar POS 1171 (Sweden), 1973; Epic EPC 2452 (UK), 1974. Also on Abba 1976.

— Waterloo. Epic EPC 2240, 1974. Also on Abba 1976, 1982.

— I Do I Do I Do I Do I Do. Abba. Polar POLS 262, 1975; Epic EPC 3229, 1975.

— Fernando. Epic EPC 4036 (UK), 1975; Atlantic 45-3346 (US), 1975. Also on Abba 1976, 1982. Swedish version on Lyngstad A, 1975. Spanish version on Abba 1981.

As sheet music © Union Songs, Stockholm.

— Abba's Greatest Hits. Epic 69218, Atlantic 18189, Vogue 28047, 1976.

— The Album. Polar POLS 282, 1977.

— I Have A Dream. Epic EPC 8088, 1979a. Also on Abba 1982. As Crejo en angelitos on Abba 1981.

— Voulez-Vous. Polar POLS 292 (album), 1979b.

— Gracias por la música. Septima SRLM 1, 1981.

— Abba - The Movie. Video MGM/UA SMV 10215, 1987. Orig. released as film,

Polar Music International AB, Grundy Productions Pty, 1977.

— The Hits. Triple CD: [1] Pickwick PWKS 593, 1990; [2] PWKS 500, 1988; [3] PWKS 507, 1988.

Åberg Gösta (ed.) Dan Anderssons vackraste visor. Stockholm, 1981.

Adolphson Olle. Gustav Lindströms visa (1966) and Grön kväll i Margaretalund (1966).

In Jansson 1973: 32-34.

Alfvén Hugo. Roslagsvår. In Widestrand, 1972.

— Dalarapsodi (‘Swedish Rhapsody'). Quoted from memory.

Anka Paul. Diana. Columbia DB 3980, 1957.

— Lonely Boy. Columbia DB 3980, 1959.

Artists United Against Apartheid. Sun City. Manhattan LC 7365, 1985.

The George Baker Selection. Una paloma blanca. Warner Brothers K 16451, 1975.

Band Aid. Do They Know It's Christmas Time? Mercury FEED1W, 1984.

Bartholomew Dave. One Night With You. See Presley, 1959.

Bartók Béla. Concerto for Orchestra (1943). London: Boosey & Hawkes, 1946.

Bassey Shirley. What Now My Love? Columbia DB 4884, 1962.

Beatles The. Oh! Darlin'. Abbey Road. Parlophone PCS 7088, 1969.

Bécaud Gilbert. Et maintenant (1961). Disque d'Or Pathé Marconi, 1980.

Bee Gees. Staying Alive. RSO 2090267, 1977. Also on Saturday Night Fever. RSO 2658123, 1978.

Beethoven L. van. Piano Sonata Op.31 Nº2 — ‘Ghost Sonata' (1802). Leipzig: Peters.

— Pastoral Symphony (1808). Paris: Heugel.

Benton Brook. (I Love You In) So Many Different Ways). On Make a Date with Brook Benton.

Mercury ZEP 10046.

Bonny Lou and the Chorus. Teenage Wedding. Parlophone R 4530, 1960.

Booker James. Live recording from Basel, broadcast by Sveriges Radio, 1978.

Borodin Alexander P. On the Steppes of Central Asia (1880). London: Eulenburg.

Brahms J. Ein deutsches Requiem (1869).

Brightman Sara & Hot Gossip. I Lost My Heart To A Starship Trouper. It's My Discothek, q.v.

CAM. Mood music collection CAM 001-074, CAM PRE 1-9. Rome: Creazioni artistiche musicale.

Capua Eduardo di. O sole mio. Best Loved Songs and Hymns. New York: World Publishing, 1965.

Cascades The (1963): (Listen to the) Rhythm Of The (Falling) Rain. Warner Brothers WB 88, 1963.

Also on Encyclopedia of Rock and Roll. TVP 10009, 1972.

Chosen Few. Stand By Me (disco cover of Ben E. King, 1960); on It's My Discothek.

Claribel (Charlotte Allington Barnard). I Cannot Sing The Old Songs.

In Selected Songs for Ladies' Voices. London: George Newnes.

Clark Dee. Nobody But You. London HL 8802, 1958.

Coasters The. Poison Ivy. London HLE 8819, 1959.

Collins Charles & Barnes Fred J. Shall I Be An Angel, Daddy? In The Parlour Song Book, q.v.

Collins Phil. Another Day in Paradise. But Seriously. Virgin TCV 2620, 1989.

Cole Nat King. See Farrés O.

Cooder Ry. Into The Purple Valley. Reprise K 44142, 1971.

— Paradise and Lunch. Reprise K 444260, 1974.

— Chicken Skin Music. Reprise MS 2254, 1976.

— Jazz. Warner Brothers BSK 3197, 1978.

Copland Aaron. On The Open Prairie. Billy The Kid. 1941.

Cordigliera. On CAM 004.

Crew Cuts The. Earth Angel. Mercury MB 2202, 1955.

Domino Fats. Ain't That A Shame. Imperial 5348, 1955.

— Poor Me (1955) — private tape recording from radio.

— Blueberry Hill. Imperial 5407, 1957.

— I'm Walking. Imperial 5428, 2957.

— The Big Beat. Imperial 5477, 1957.

— I Hear Ya Knockin'. London HLP 9520, 1958.

Don & Dewey. Koko Joe. Specialty 639, 1958.

Dumont Charles. Mon Dieu. Disque D'Or Pathé Marconi, 1977.

Duncan Johnny and the Bluegrass Boys. Last Train To San Fernando. Columbia DB 3959, 1957.

Duncan Trevor. ‘Wine Festival’, ‘Orange Grove’: Boosey & Hawkes Recorded Library Music.

SBH 2989, side 2.

— ‘Saffron & Green’, ‘Shannon Fen’, ‘Horizons Unlimited’, ‘Greensward’, ‘Meadowsweet’, ‘Green Heritage’: Boosey & Hawkes Recorded Music for Film, Radio and TV, SBH 2991.

Farrés Osvaldo. Quizás. Nat King Cole Español. Capitol (Uruguay) W 1031, 1975.

Fauré Gabriel. Requiem, Op.48 (1888). Paris: Durand.

Fifty Years of Film. Warner Brothers WB 3XX 2737, 1973.

Fifty Years of Film Music. Warner Brothers WB 3XX 2736, 1973.

Fleetwoods The. Come Softly To Me. London HL 8841, 1951.

La flûte indienne, vol. 1. Barclay Panache 920014, 1968.

Ford Emil and the Checkmates. Countin' Teardrops. Emil Ford Hit Parade. Pye NEP 24500, 1960.

Friedhofer Hugo. ‘In the Mountains' from film Boy on a Dolphin (1957).

Quoted in Dolan, 1968: 108-109, see bibliography.

Los gallos. In Upp till kamp, ed. E Kokk: 94-97. Stockholm: Prisma.

Gabriel Peter. Biko. Charisma CB 370, 1980. Also on Peter Garbiel (3). Charisma CDS 4019, 1980.

Garner Errol. Misty (1958). See Mathis 1959.

Gluck Christoph W. Orfeo e Euridice (1744/1762). New York: Norton, 1970.

Grieg Edvard. Skovstillhed, Op.71 Nº4. Lyrische Stücke X. Leipzig: Peters, 1901.

Hageman Richard. Stagecoach (1939). Extracts from Hollywood (BBC TV)

videotaped from Swedish TV1, September 1988. Also as Polygram Video 083 504 3, 1991.

Haggard Merle. You're Walking On The Fighting Side Of Me (1970).

The Best of the Best of Merle Haggard. Capitol ST 11082.

Haider Hans. Spanish Autumn, Shepherd's Dance, Shepherd's Song and Folk Ballad II.

All on Selected Sounds SL 556/9023.

Händel Georg F. The Messiah (1741). London: Novello.

Haydn Josef. The Creation (1798). London: Novello.

— Die Jahreszeiten (1810). Klavier-Auszug; Leipzig: Peters.

Heatherton Fred. I've Got A Lovely Bunch Of Cocoanuts. London: Irwin Dash, 1944.

Hedenström Claes-Göran. Det börjar verka kärlek banne mej. RCA Victor FAS 801, 1968.

Hill, Joe. Joe Hills sånger, ed. Enn Kokk. Stockholm: Prisma.

Hoola Bandoola Band. Stoppa matchen b/w Victor Jara. MNW 46S, 1975.

— Fri information. MNW 55P, 1975.

Hymas Tony. Wessex Tales and Elements. KPM Music Recorded Library KPM 1216, 1978.

Inca Flute. CAM 004.

Inti Illimani. See QulilapayÚn.

It's My Discothek, vol. 3. Ariola Hansa International 200 445-351, 1979.

Ives Charles. The Unanswered Question. New York: Southern, 1908.

Jansson Sid (ed.). Visor från 60-talet. Stockholm: Bonniers, 1973.

Jara Victor. Manifesto. XTRA 1143, 1974 (posth.).

Jordan Louis. Run Joe (1948). Mercury 1-33-3, 1957.

— Early In The Morning. Mercury 1-3503, 1957.

Kaoma. Lambada (Ulises Hermoza & Gonzales G Hermosa, 1989). Hot Latin Hits of the ‘80s, Vol.2.

Billboard 75228 (CD), 1999.

Kjellgren Lennart (ed.). Visor från farfars tid. Stockholm: Prisma, 1973.

Korngold Wolfgang E. Extracts from soundtracks of Captain Blood (Warner, 1935) and

Robin Hood (Warner, 1938). Fifty Years Of Film, q.v.

Leyland Laura. Stop! Stop! Stop! (Baby, I Like It). On It's My Discothek, q.v.

Little Richard. Good Golly Miss Molly. London HLU 8560, 1958.

Lully Jean-Baptiste. Bois épais (from Amadis, 1684). 26 Classical Songs. London: Novello.

Lyngstad Annifrid. Frida ensam. Polar POLS 165, 1975.

Mahler Gustav. Lied von der Erde. Vienna: Universal, 1912.

Major Mood Music Library. New York: Thomas J. Valentino, 1972.

Malagueña Solerosa (Mexican trad. adapted by J. Snyder). New York: Hansen, 1972.

Mathis Johnny. Misty (E. Garner, 1958). Fontana H 219, 1959.

Men Vision. Disco Dance. On It's My Discothek, q.v.

Mozart Wolfgang A. Piano Concerto Nº21 in C Major, K 467 (1785).

Mozart Piano Concertos 21 and 26. Philips 6527147, 1982.

— Eine kleine Nachtmusik (1787). London: Eulenburg.

Mussorgsky Modest (arr. Rimsky Korsakov). Night On Bare Mountain (Notch na lysoi gore, 1863).

Rostropovich Conducts. EMI ASD 3421, 1978.

Nascimento Milton. No analices. Ánima. Ariola 261909, 1982.

North Alex. Sayonara (Warner, 1957). Fifty Years of Film Music, q.v.

Njurling Sten ‘Fred Winter', Dahlqvist Waldemar. Axel Öman or Skepp som mötas i natten.

In Sundelöf 1968: 56.

Orbison Roy. Blue Angel. London HLU 9207, 1960.

— Running Scared. London HLU 9342, 1961.

— It's Over. London HLU 9919, 1964.

— The Best of Roy Orbison. Arcade/CBS LSP 13158.

Ortega Sergio. See Quilapayun.

The Parlour Song Book. London: Pan, 1972.

Paul and Paula. Hey Paula. Philips 304012 BF, 1962.

peterson Ray. Tell Laura I Love Her. RCA 47-7745, 1960.

Pink Floyd. Wish You Were Here. Harvest SHVL 814, 1974.

Platters The. The Great Pretender. Mercury MT 117, 1955. Also on Oldies but Goodies, vol. 1.

Success 2117CD - AAD, 1988.

Playmates The. Wait For Me b/w Eyes Of An Angel. Roulette REP 1021, 1960.

Presley Elvis. All Shook Up. HMV POP 359, 1957.

— One Night (With You) (D. Bartholomew). RCA 1100, 1959.

— A Fool Such As I. RCA 1113, 1959.

— It's Now Or Never (‘O sole mio', E. di Capua). RCA 1207, 1960.

Preston Johnny. City Of Tears (B side of Cradle Of Love). Mercury AMT 1079, 1960.

Price Lloyd. Lawdy Miss Clawdy. Specialty 428, 1952.

Prima Louis (with Aam Butera and the Witnesses). Beep Beep. Capitol F 3856, 1955.

Procul Harum. A Whiter Shade Of Pale. Deram 126, 1967.

— Pilgrim's Progress. Polydor 184115, 1967.

Prøysen Alf. Lilla vackra Anna. Visesangboka (ed. O. Leren & L.A. Damstad).

Oslo: Norsk Musikforlag, 1971.

QuilapayÚn, Inti Illimani et al. El pueblo unido (Ortega, Iturra). Solidarität geht weiter.

Eterna 415130, 1974.

Raksin David. Laura. From film The Very Young at Heart (1944).

Filmmusik. Bärenreiter-Musicaphon BM 30SL 5104105, 1982.

Ravel Maurice. Daphnis et Chloë. Paris: Durand, 1913.

— Boléro. Paris: Durand, 1929.

Reaves Erroll & Evans Tolchard. Lady Of Spain. New York: Sam Fox.

Recorded Music for film, Radio and TV. London: Boosey & Hawkes. LPs SBH 2957-3067.

Revaux Jacques & François Claude. My Way. Paris: Barclay, 1969. With English translation by Paul Anka, New York: Spanka Music Corporation, 1969. See also Sinatra 1969. Other hit versions by Elvis Presley on RCA PB 1165 (977), Brook Benton on Cotillion 44057 (1972), Dorothy Squires on President PT 305 (1970) and the Sex Pistols (b/w No-one Is Innocent) on Virgin VS 240 (1978).

Righteous Brothers The. You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling'. London HLU 9943, 1964.

Rios Waldo de los. Symphonies for the Seventies. A&M AMLS 2014, 1971.

Röda Kapellet. Bingo Flamingo (Tagg). Party Music/Partimusik. Avanti AVLP 02, 1976.

Røde Mor. Hotel España (Trier). Grillbaren. Demos 17W, 1973.

Rosie and the Originals. Angel Baby. Highland 1011, 1960.


Rota Nino. Theme from Romeo and Juliet (Zefirelli, 1966). Covered by The Tony Htch Orchestra on

Hit The Road To Themeland. Pye NSPL 41029, 1974.

Rózsa Miklós. ‘Mrs. Dietrichson'. Double Indemnity (Billy Wilder, Paramount, 1944).

Sadler Staff Sgt. Barry. The Ballad of the Green Berets. RCA 1506, 1966.

Sandström Frederic ‘du Rietz' & Sandberg Sven-Olof. Där näckrosen blommar (1928).

In Sundelöf 1968: 56.

Santiseban A. Tema medievale. CAM 058.

Schubert Franz. Schubert Album Band I (Hohe Stimme). New York: Peters. n.d.

Includes Ganymed Op.19 Nº3 (1817); Auf dem Wasser zu singen, Op.72 (1823);

Ave Maria, Op.52 Nº6 (1825); Der Leiermann, Op.89 Nº24 (1827).

Schulzer Norbert. Lilli Marlene. Berlin: Apollo/Lincke, 1940.

Schumann Robert. Du bist wie eine Blume. Myrten, Op.25 (1840). In Schumann Lieder Band I

(Hohe Stimme). Leipzig: Peters, n.d.

Scott Jack. My True Love. London HLU 8626, 1958.

Sedaka Neil. Oh Carol!. RCA 1152, 1959.

— Venus In Blue Jeans (1962). Also on Oldies But Goodies, vol.1. Success 2117CD - AAD, 1988.

Selected Sounds Recorded Music Library Catalogue. Hamburg: Selected Sounds.

Sibelius Jean. Romance for Piano Op.24 Nº9 (1903). Breitkopf & Härtel.

Simon Paul & Garfunkel Art. Homeward Bound. CBS 202045, 1966.

— El Condor Pasa. On Bridge Over Troubled Waters. CBS 63699, 1970.

Sinatra Frank. My Way. Reprise RS 20817, 1969 (see also Revaux & François).

Skinner, Frank. The Irishman (c.1940). Extracts quoted in Skinner 1950 (see bibliography).

Sonny and Cher. What Now My Love? (cf. Bassey, Bécaud). Atco 6395, 1969.

Strauss Richard. Also sprach Zarathustra (1896). New York: Peters, 1932.

Sundelöf Fritz-Gustaf (ed.). Svensk schlager. Stockholm: Prisma, 1968.

Steiner Max. King Kong (RKO, 1933). Videotaped from Super Channel, 1988.

— Sountrack extract from Now Voyager (Warner, 1942). On Fifty Years of Film, q.v.

Sting. They Dance Alone / Ellas danzon solas. A&M AM 458, 1988.

Also on Nada como el sol. A&M 750213295 2, 1987.

Sun City. See Artists United Against Apartheid.

Svensk Rock mot Apartheid. ANC-Galan. Svensk rock mot apartheid NS 1001, NLP 2001, 1985.

Sveriges Bästa Dansband. Frituna FRLK 023, 1984.

Taube Evert. Hjärtats nyckel heter sång (ed. Sv-B Taube). Stockohlm: Bonniers, 1960.

Tchaikovsky Pyotr I. Romeo and Juliet – Fantasy Overture (1869, rev. 1880).

On Tchaikovsky — 1812. Decca Ovation 417742-2, 1978.

Tenny Jack B. & Stone Helen. Mexicali Rose. New York: Quinke, 1964.

Thorleifs. Gråt inga tårar. Platina 288, 1974.

Trede Gert. Exotic Flute. Selected Sounds SL 788/9033.

Twitty Conway. It's Only Make Believe. MGM 922, 1958.

USA for Africa. We Are The World. Columbia (CBS) 04839, 1985.

Valance Ricky. Tell Laura I Love Her. Columbia DB 4493, 1960.

Valens Richie. Donna. London HL 8803, 1958.

Vaughan Williams R. Fantasia on Greensleeves and The Lark Ascending (1914). Argo ZRG 696, 1972.

Vikingarna. Du gav bara löften. Recorded from Svensktoppen, Swedish Radio P3, 1975.

Vrethammar Sylvia. E viva España. Sonet, 1973.

Wagner Richard. Tristan und Isolde (1859). Deutsche Grammophon 2720057, 1966.

Widestrand Olle (ed.). Sjung m.m.. Göteborg: Stegelands, 1972.

Williams Larry. Boney Moronie. Specialty 615, 1957.

Willis Chick. Hang Up My Rock And Roll Shoes. London HLE 8635, 1958.

Wilson Jackie. Am I The Man? Coral Q 72412, 1960.

Wolf Hugo. Nimmersatte Liebe. Mörike Lieder (1888). Leipzig: Peters, 1926.

Youmans Vincent & Dreyfus Max. Carioca. New York: Harms, 1933.

Young Victor & Adamson Harold. Around The World. New York: Liza Music Corp., 1956.

Zamfir Gheorghe. Les flûtes roumaines - le naï. CBS ST 30T095, 1975.




Abba 5, 10, 11, 61, 63, 88-96, 120

background 88-96

eclecticism 91

cultural climate in Sweden, 1970s 88-96

intentions (Fernando) 120

lyrics in general 116


background 88-93

position in Sweden 14

pre-Waterloo 94

reception in Sweden 15, 103

Swedish left 92, ff.

Abba - The Hits 88

Abba’s Greatest Hits 89, 107

abbreviations, list of 132

Abschied 33

accordion 54, 90

acknowledgements 8

acquiring source material 88

Ädelfors Folkhögskola 8

adobe shack 68

Adolphson, Olle 52

Adorno, Th W 122

affective credibility and

socialisation 121

affective strategies 117

Affektenlehre 36

affluence 13

Afro-Cuban rhythms 95

Agee, Philip 115

Aharonián, Coriún 8, 51

Ain’t That A Shame 61

album sleeves 107

Alfvén, Hugo 52, 53

alienation 72, 89

All Shook Up 61

Allende, Salvador 94

Almeida, Ricardo de 114

Allwood, Teresa 8

Almanac Singers, The 90

Alpert, Herb 105

Also sprach Zarathustra 36

alternative music movement

lyrics 92, 93

Sweden 92, 94, 95, 110

altiplano music 29-35, 95

Am I The Man? 41

Amadis 44

ambiguity of longing 83-86, 112

Amiga 104

amorous 41

anabasis 36

anacrusis 50


aim of 9

method 15


ANC 119

Andean area 29-36, 67- 68, 74, 81-82, 95

Andersson, Benny 13, 70, 88, 90, 93, 120

Andersson, Dan 52

Andersson, Stig 88, 90, 91-2, 95

Angel Baby 41

angel harps 38

angelic 39, 42, 67, 68

angelitos 14

angels 40-41

Anima 9

Anka, Paul 40-41

anti-apartheid 119

anti-imperialism 117

appoggiature 43, 74

absent in Victor Jara 102

flutes 74

uncommon in pop 46

Argentina 30, 89, 103, 106

arpeggios 39-41, 67

asymmetry of period 49

At Peace 34

Atacama 80, 94

audiences 103

Auf dem Wasser zu singen 45

Australia 89

authenticity 114

authors of Fernando 88

Ave Maria 38-39

Axel Öman 51-52


Babassu 95

Bach, C P E 43

Bach, J S 29, 44, 50, 55-6, 58-9

Bahía 8, 13, 14, 114

baião 115

Balada Sarpelui 31

balalaika 31, 35

Ballad of the Green Berets 42

Ballyhoo in Bogotà 95

Band Aid 119

baroque music 44

Bartholomew, Dave 54

Bartók, Béla 51


chorus of Fernando 60, ff.

electric 42, 71

flat seventh in 63, 64

mix level/Fernando 106

rumba/habanera 113

stepwise descending 63

‘tiptoe’ 41

verses of Fernando 41, ff.

Båstad 95

Beatles, The 40, 61, 91

Bécaud, Gilbert 42-43

Bee Gees 62

Beep Beep 61

Beethoven, L van 33, 34, 44, 45

bell chime 41

Bellman, Carl-Mikael 90

Benton, Brook 60

Bergman organ 59

Berlin (reception of Fernando in) 8, 104

Berlin Political Song Festival 94

Berlin wall 16

Bernstein, L 43

Berry, Chuck 40, 49

beseeching 39

Big Beat, The 61

Biko, Steven 119

Billboard 106

Billy The Kid Suite 31, 32

Bingo Flamingo 118

blow-suck 54

Blue Angel 41

Blue Grass Boys, The 48

Blueberry Hill 61

blues, rural and urban 49

Bobbies Vee, Vinton, Darin 40

Bois épais 44

Boléro 42, 43

Bolivia 30, 35, 95

bombo 80, 102, 103

Boney Moronie 61

Booker, James 60

Boosey & Hawkes Recorded

Music Library

30, 35, 48, 51, 95

Borg, C 88, 90, 91, 92, 120

Borodin A 31, 32

bouzouki 31, 35

Boy On A Dolphin 32

Boyle, Catharine 8, 106

Brahms, J 38

Brasilia 9, 11

Brave Goose, The 69

Brazil 5-13, 89, 105, 116

Bridge Over Troubled Waters 93

Briggen San Antonio 52

Brightman, Sara 62

Brighton 95

broken chords 39

Broven, John 60

Bruckner, A 31, 32

Buenos Aires 106, 119

bugle 43

Bulgaria 89

bulldozer 11


cadence (see also ‘ending’)

delaying 64

Cage, John 59

cake 10, 11

Calchakis, Los 29, 30, 31, 93, 94, 103, 105

El Condor Pasa 37

calm 67, 68

calm grandeur of nature 31

CAM 30

cannons 43

cantando 47


circulation of in cultural industry 89

capitalism 11, 89, 110, 114

Captain Blood 46

Capua, Eduaardo di 54

Carey, James T 116

Carioca 48

Carleton University 8

Carnival 30

Cartier, Claudio 9

Cascades, The 45

centripetal process 111

charango 31, 49, 74, 80, 94, 103, 118

Charpentreau, Jacques 63

charter tour 110


Fernando in 88, 89

Victor Jara in 102

Che farò senza Euridice 44, 57

Checkmates, The 41

Chess 120


starving 11, 12, 114

Chile 5, 8, 35, 80, 94-95, 102-4, 116, 121

fascist coup 94, 103, 116

refugees 116

solidarity with people of

5, 95, 102, 104, 116

tennis match v. Sweden 95

Chiquitita 107, 116

chordal padding 59

chorus lead-in 50

Chosen Few, The 62

CIA 113

CIA Diary 115

cimbalon 31

Cirano, Marcos 114

circle-of-fifths progression 64

circulation of capital in cultural industry 89

Claribel 45

Clarida, Bob 29, 47

Clark, Dee 41

class(iness) 63

classes 113, 114

classical music 44

regrets 63

clean machine culture 11

clink-clink-clink 38, 41


Swedish album cover 109

Coasters, The 61

Coca Cola 10

Coca Cola culture 5, 15, 92

Cohen, Sara 8

Cole, Nat King 51, 58, 59

Collins, Charles 14

Come Softly To Me 41

commercialisation 92

commercialism 92, 115, 121

communication context 87

Complete Abba, The 88

composition 103

Concerto for Orchestra 51

El condor pasa 29, 30, 37-8, 67, 73, 89, 93, 94

confusion 64

confusion of message 107

consensus (cultural) 122

Conservative Party 122

context (historical in 1970s) 90


here v. there 120

home v. abroad 120

private v. public 118

us v. them 119, 120

you-and-me v. all of us 120

Cooder, Ry 90

Copland, A 31, 32

copyright 6, 7

Cordigliera 29, 30

Countin’ Teardrops 41

Country and Western 45

Creation, The 36

Crejo en angelitos 10, 14, 16, 114

Crew Cuts, The 41

csárdás 35

Cuba 61, 115

cueca 94, 102

cultural consensus 122

cultural context 87, 121

reception of Fernando 103

writing this book 9

Europe 116

importance of 87

Sweden, 1970s 110, 116

cultural filter 117

cultural policy (Sweden) 92

Cursos latinoamericanos de música contemporânea 8, 12


Dahlhaus, C 67

Dahlqvist, Waldemar 52

Dalarapsodi 53

Dallas (TV) 13

dance band disco 60

dance bands 60

Swedish 61, 73, 91

dance floor 60

danceability 62

Dancing Queen 107, 116

Dancing With The Dead 119

Daphnis et Chloë 36

Där näckrosen blommar 53

Darin, Bobby 40

Davis Cup

Sweden v. Chile 95

DDR 104, 105, 117

decor 109

Denmark 89

Det börjar likna kärlek 45

deutsches Requiem, Ein 38

development aid 11

devotion 38-42, 67, 68

diabolus in musica 54

dialogue flute-voice

Victor Jara 102

Diana 41

dictatorship (Brazilian) 11

diminished fifths 55

disappeared (Chile) 94

disco 10, 14, 60, 62

hi-hat 62

in TV series 69

distant drums 42, 80

distribution 115

Doina din Arges 31

Doing the omralisk schlagerfestival 92

Dolan, R 32

dominant seventh 40, 51, 53, 55

Domino, Fats 61

Don & Dewey 61

Don’t They Know It’s Christmas? 119

Donna 41

downbeat 51

dramatic 43, 67

Dream Lover 41

Dream of Olwen 29

drones 31, 34


chorus of Fernando 62

disappearance of 68, 69

distant 80

full kit in chorus 72

military 42, 68, 113

Du bist wie eine Blume 55

Du gav bara löften 61

‘Du ska ikke tro du er noen’ 122


verse and chorus 72

Dumont, Charles 63

Duncan, Johnny 48

Duncan, Trevor 30, 48

Dynasty 13


E viva España 29, 48, 54, 110

Early In The Morning 61

Earth Angel 41

Ebba Brahes klagan 52

eclecticism 91

Eco, Umberto 87

Edelstam, Hans 94

Eisler, Hanns 93

Ekseption 63

El condor pasa: see Condor

El Pueblo Unido: see Pueblo

electric bass 42

electrical hum 71

Eljas, Anders 120

Elvira Madigan 44, 52

Emerson, Lake and Palmer 63

emitters 87, 88

entrance music 67

episodicity, musical 37

Ericsson, L M 11, 114

Ertegun, Ahmet 41

Et maintenant 42, 43

eternal 34, 43

‘ethnic’ 34, 67, 74

Eureka Restaurant (Liverpool) 8

Eurovision Song Contest 94, 95

protests against 95

Evans, T 30

exotic 48, 68, 81, 105, 118

Exotic Flute 29, 30, 95

extradition trial of Pinochet 123



resolution of longing 112

Falcon Crest 13

Fältskog, Agnetha 10, 13, 90, 91

fanfare 37

Farfisa 59

Farrés, Osvaldo 51, 58, 59, 103

fascism 80, 94, 103, 106, 110, 115, 116

fateful 43

Fauré, G 38

favela 11, 13

fear 43

Feed The World 119

Feital, Paulo Cesar 9

Fender Stringman 59


fictional character 79

identity as person 107, 109

identity in music 74

identity in Sw. version 109

interpretation dependent on historical context 16

personified as flute 74

prehistory 93

reasons for analysis 5, 6

reception in Sweden, 1975-6 14, 15

table of musemes and musematic occurrence 26-7

transcription 19

Fernando museme, The 47

fervour 49, 68, 70, 80, 111

festivity 30

Fibonacci series 75

fiesta 48, 95

fight for freedom 43

Fighting Side Of Me, The 45


strings 46

flutes 74

film music 39, 68-69

finality (see also ‘cadence’,


tritones and 84

Finland 89

flamenco 35

Flamingokvintetten 61

flauto dolce 29, 38

Fleetwoods, The 41

floating 45

flute(s) (see also ‘flauto diritto’, ‘quena’)

35, 49, 74, 94, 103, 117

dialogue with vocalist 75

Fernando as 74-75

fillers 74

Flûte Indienne 29, 93

Flûtes Roumaines 31, 93

identity of Fernando 106

level in Spanish version 106

panning 68, 112

Victor Jara 102

Flyg, sångens milda, ljuva duva, flyg 52

Folk Ballad II 34


folklore commercial 106

reification of 114

folksy 31, 34, 35, 49, 68

Fonogrammen i

kulturpolitiken 91

A Fool Such As I 61

Ford (car) 10, 11

Ford, Emil 41

forest 32

frågebas 42

France 89

Francis, John 14

Franco, Generalissimo 110

François, Claude 63

Freak Out 118

Freeberg, Stan 41

freedom 112

Freeman String Synthesizer 60

Fri information 92, 102

Frida ensam 88, 89, 107, 109

Friedhofer, H 31, 32

Fritiof Andersson 51

funeral 43

furniture 109


Gabriel, Peter 119

Gallos, Los 47

gammaldans 52, 53, 91

Ganymed 33, 37

Garfunkel, Art 30, 37-38, 63, 89, 93-94, 103, 105

gastronomy 109

GDR: see DDR

Genesis 63

Geoffrion, Diane 63

George Baker Selection 110

German Democratic Republic 17

Germany 89, 104

Ghost Sonata 45

Gillett, C 89

glada bagarn i San Remo 51

gliding swan 45

glitter 10, 12, 13, 45, 60, 62, 115

Gluck, C W 44, 57, 58

Golden Rule proportions 75

Goldschmidt, H 67

Gonzaga, Luís 114, 115

Good Golly Miss Molly 61

Gorytzki, Lydia 89

Göteborg 5, 8, 58, 62, 90, 114

graceful 68

Gracias por la música 88, 107

Gråt inga tårar 61

Great Pretender, The 41

Greece 35

greed as a virtue 16

Greensleeves, Fantasia on 31

Grenada 29

Grenier, Line 8

Grieg 31, 34

Guaraná 10, 11

guerrilleros 112

guitar 35

acoustic strum 62

offbeat split chords 62

Spanish strum 102

twelve-string 31

guitar, electric 41

Gulf War 121

guns 43

Gurrin, Tony 49

Gustav Lindströms visa 52

gypsy music 35


habanera 60, 113

Hageman, R 46

Haggard, Merle 45

Haider, H 30

half-cadence 54

halfway-house tritones 53

Hamm, C 88

Händel 31, 32, 44

Hang Up My Rock and Roll Shoes 61


circle of fifths 64

harmonic rhythm 49, 50

mixolydian 57

static 31

tertial-functional 53

harp(s) 41, 38-9, 67

Hay Paula! 41

Haydn, J 36, 37

He Was Despised 44

Heatherton, Fred 53

heavenly 39, 41, 42, 67, 68

Hedenström, Claes-Göran 45

Helsinki agreement 6

hemiola 102

Hennion, Antoine 123

Hep Stars 90

here-and-now 117

hi-hat in disco 62

Hill, Joe 111

Hispanic 43, 67

historical context 90

hi-tech 11

Hjalmar och Hulda 52

Högerpartiet 122

Hollywood 6

homelessness 119

Homeward Bound 63, 64

Hong Kong 89

Hooker, John Lee 49

Hoola Bandoola Band 92, 95, 96, 102, 103, 112, 116, 117

Hootenanny Singers 90

Horizons Unlimited 34

Horn, David 8

Hotel España 118

House of Lords 8, 123

huayno music 95

Hugill, Andrew 8

Humboldt-Universität 8, 104

Hungary 35

hurdy-gurdy 35

Hymas, Tony 34

Hymne à l’amour 63

hypothetical substitution 43

appoggiature 43, 44, 46

bass line in verses 42

difference in political

message 117

endings 84, 85

Gluck 44

Händel 44

Haggard 46

order of sections 118

sunrise motif 37


I Cannot Sing The Old Songs 45

I Do I Do I Do I Do I Do 61

I Have A Dream 10, 12, 16, 63, 116

I Hear Ya Knockin’ 61

I’d rather be a hammer than a nail 37

‘I’d rather sail away’ 37

I’m Walking 61

I’ve Got A Luvverly Bunch O’ Coconuts 53

Iakovakis, Giorgos 8

Ibotirama 8-14, 114

Ich will bei meinem Jesu wachten 55

ideological critique 111

ideology 105

musical mediation of 117

IKEA gospel 91

IMF 113, 114

imperialism 11, 113,121

‘In der Wald’ 32

In Paradisum 38

In Splendour Bright Is Rising Now The Sun 36

In the Mountains 31, 32

Inca Flute 29, 30

Indian (S. America) 31, 67, 68

inexorable 43

Ingmar Nordströms 61

initial tritones 55

innocent 41

insatiable 56, 57

instant altiplano 29, 95

Institute of Popular Music 6

interlude in Fernando 73

Intermezzo no.1 (Abba) 63

International Monetary Fund

developing countries 11

Inti Illimani 80, 95, 106

introduction 67

inversions 63

Irishman, The 39, 40

irregular periodicity 49

It’s My Discothek 62

It’s Now Or Never 54

It’s Only Make Believe 41

It’s Over 42, 43

Italy 89

ITT 120

Ives, C 31, 34

IWW 111


Ja-da 64

Jantelagen/Janteloven 122

Japan 89

Jara, Victor 80, 95, 101

martydrdom 94

song title, see Victor Jara

Jefferson, Blind Lemon 49

Johannes-Passion 44, 50

Jönköping 90

Jönsson, Görel 88

Jordan, Louis 61

Josefsson, Göran 91

Judy 41


Kaoma 115

Karaxú 80

Karbušicky, Vladimir 16

Kayser, Dietrich 116

King Kong 46

Kingston Trio 90

kitsch 13

Kjellgren, Lennart 52

kleine Nachtmusik, Eine 44

Knepler, Georg 57

Knowing Me, Knowing You 107

Kojak theme 6

Koko Joe 61

Korg M1 49

Korngold, W E 46

Kors på Idas grav 52

Kristina Nilssons visa 52


L.A. Law 13

Lady of Spain 29, 30

lagom 122

Lambada 115

large 68

Lark Ascending 31

Last Train To San Fernando 48

Latin America 6, 80, 81, 106

reception of Fernando 112

latinamericanicity 113

fourth hand 105

Laura 46

Law of Jante, The 122

Lawdy Miss Clawdy 61

Lazy River 64

lead-in 50

Lee, Pedro van der 8

left-wing cultural politics 15


string pad 59-60

sincerity 43

strings = love 46

Leierman, Der 33

Lendvai, E 75

Levis jeans 10

Lewis, J L 40

Leyland, Laura 62

liberation struggle 105, 106, 112

library music (see also ‘Boosey & Hawkes’)

Andean styles 95

Lied von der Erde, Das 33

Light of Experience, The 31

Lilla Vackra Anna 52

Lilli Marlene 51

listeners 103

Little Richard 40, 61

Livet är en fest 92

llorando 47

logocentric 87

lonely 67

Lonely Boy 41

long ago 68

longing 12, 55, 56, 57, 59, 64

ambiguity of 83, 112

fulfillment of 84

resolution of 83

resolved in fade-out 112

love 40, 78, 79, 93, 105, 107, 109, 110, 111, 112, 115, 118, 121

legato strings 46

love ballads

dramatic 43

love theme 39

Lully, J-B 44

lush 59

Lyngstad, A 10, 13, 49, 88, 91, 92, 102, 117

lyrics 77

Abba in general 116

discussion 79

English 5

English version 77, 115

love 107

middle-of-the-road 118

Spanish 78, 106

Spanish v. English 112

Sweden, 1970s 92, 93

Swedish version 77, 78, 107

Victor Jara 101

Lyrische Stücke 34


Mahler 31, 33

mainstream pop 122

Major Mood Music 95

Malagueña Solerosa 47

Malvinas 121

Mama Mia 107

Man I Marry, The 40

mandolin 31, 35

Manifesto 95

Mare di Marcellina 35

Marley, Bob 15

Maróthy, J 48

Martin, Andy 62

Marxism, vulgar 15

masturbatory pose 108-110

Mathis, Johnny 60

Matthew Passion 29, 44, 50, 55-6

Maurício, Ivan 114

Mayer, Günther 67


McCloskeys (Argentina) 106

Meadowsweet 34

Mediterranean 30, 35, 48

melancholy 30, 37, 67, 68, 74

‘melancholy, valley’ 31

melodic pitch 102

melody-accompaniment dualism 35, 48, 67, 68, 70, 74, 106

Men Vision 62

Mendes, Sergio 105

Messiah, The 32, 44

metallic glitter 12

metropolis 113

Latin American meaning 13

Mexico 47

middle-of-the-road pop 118, 122

Middleton, Richard 122

military 43, 67, 68, 106

milksap 40, 41


Eng./Sp. versions 106

vocals close up 68

mjukdisco 62

MNW 94, 95

Moderaterna 122

moderation 122

modernity 113

modulation 102

modus irrealis 83

Mon Dieu 63

Moneda, La 94

Money Money Money 116

monocentric panning 48

monocentricity 118

Montego Bay 62

Moore, Roger 69

Mörike Lieder 56

Mothers of Invention 118

mothers of Plaza de Mayo 119

mouth organ 54

Mozart, W A 44


music for in TV disco 69


analysis of 29-66

table of 26

table of occurrence 27

music as symbolic system 121

music hall 53

musical processes 67

musicals 50

Mussorgsky, M 31

My Love My Life 63

My True Love 41

My Way 63, 64

mystical 67, 68


Name of the Game, The 5, 63

Naples 35

Nascimento, Milton 9

National Film School 49

Nationalteatern 92


mus. mood category 34, 72

open 72

‘Naturvolk’ 35

Nearer My Job To Thee 112

Netherlands 89

New Orleans R & B 60, 81

new wave 118

Nietzsche, F 36

Night on a Bare Mountain 31

Nimmersatte Liebe 56

ninths 54

Nivellierung 122

Njurling, Sten 52

Nobody But You 41

nordestinos 13, 114, 115

North, Alex 46

Norway 34, 89

nostalgia 81, 114

notationally literacy 7

Now Voyager 46

Nueva cancion chilena 95

Nylöf, Göran 91


O sole mio 54, 58

Oh Carol 41

Oh Darlin’ 61

Oh mein Papa 5, 52

old age 106, 113

old v. new 113

Olofsson, Sölve 91

Omkring tiggarn från Luossa 52

On the Prairie 31, 32

On the Steppes of C. Asia 31-32

One Night With You 54, 58

One Of Us 5, 12

one-two-three-go motif 50, 69

open 67

operetta 45

oppression 94, 103

not applied to ‘us’ 119

Orbison, Roy 41, 42, 43

Orfeo e Euridice 44, 57

organ 59

other-worldly 39, 42, 68

Över kölen 34


pad (strings) 59

Paloma Blanca, Una 110

panning 67

flutes 68

monocentric 48

paradise 38

parallel thirds 35, 37, 38, 43, 44, 46, 118

parlour song (French) 63

Parlour Song Book, The 14

Pastoral Symphony 32, 33, 34

pastorality 31

patriotism (US) 45

Patton, Charlie 49

Paul and Paula 41

Peace in the Woods 34

peña 95

pensando 47

pentatonicism 29, 35, 74

People Need Love 94

perfect cadence 52

periodicity 49, 50

irregular 49, 68, 80

Perón, Isabella 106

Peru 30, 35, 107

Peterson, Ray 41

Philichord 59

phrygian 35

Piaf, Édith 63

piano 39, 41

picturesque 118

Pie in the sky when you die 112

Pink Floyd 34

Pinochet, A 8, 106, 120, 80, 123

pinquillo 80

Piteå 8, 42

pivot chord 55

pizzicato 41

plagal delay (interlude) 73

plains 31

Platters, The 41

Playmates, The 41

Plaza de Mayo (mothers of )119

pleading 40, 68

plectrum 31, 35

pling-plong 38

Poison Ivy 61

Poland 89

Polar Music 10, 88


Fernando v. Victor Jara 101

political context

different presentations in

popular song 117

political involvement 117

politico-musical polarisation


politics and musical meaning 121

politics of poverty 11

Pollack, Benny 8

polysemic 87

poncho 68

Poor Me 61

Pope Woytila 10, 11

popularity of Fernando 88, 89

postcard 113, 118

poverty 11, 13

picturesque 68

poverty and riches 113

cultural aspects 14

prayer 40, 41

Preacher and the Slave, The 112

prehistory of Fernando 93

Presley, E 40, 54, 61

Price, Lloyd 61

Prima, Louis 61

private enterprise 121

privatisation 16

processes in Fernando 67, ff.

centripetal 111

chorus 1 70

choruses 2 and 3 75

exclusivity verse/ chorus 72

here and now for good 75

proportional duration of 75

summary 76, 111

to here and now 71

to there and then 73

verse 3 74

Procul Harem 63

Professor Longhair 60

progressive music movement in Sweden 92

progressivity in music 15, 92

proportional duration of sections 75

propulsive repetition 50

Prøysen, Alf 52

psalms 50

Publik-/ programforskning 89

El pueblo unido 84, 95

pull-push 52-54

punk 72, 118

pure 41

push-pull 52-54


quena 29, 30, 34, 35, 37, 49, 68, 74, 80, 81, 94, 102, 103, 105, 113, 117

mix level and panning 106

Quilapayún 80, 95, 103

Quintetto Tiempo 106

Quizás 51, 58, 59, 81, 103, 113


radical movement

Sweden, 1970s 92


Sweden in 1970s 91

Raksin, David 46

Ravel, Maurice 36, 43

ready-steady-go motif 50, 69

Reaganism 16

Reaves, E 30

Rebscher, Georg 31

reception of Fernando 103

cultural background in

Europe 116

East Berlin 104

Latin America 105, 113

method problems 104

Sweden 103

Sweden and DDR 105

recitative 49, 50, 68

recordings of Fernando 88

Rede Globo 13, 113, 114

refugees (Chilean) 94-5, 116, 123

reggae 72, 118


traits in Fernando 121

regrets 63

reification 113

folklore 114, 115

relative minor triad 40

religious 39, 40, 41, 42, 67, 68

reminiscing 80-1

repas d’amour 109

Requiem 38

resolution of longing 83

responses to Fernando 103

Return of the Saint, The 69

reverb 29, 35, 60


spatio-temporal/musical 82

Revox 15

rhythm (harmonic) 49, 50

Rhythm Of The Rain 45

rhythmic license in vocal line 49

rhythm and blues 49

riches 11

riches v. poverty 113

Riethmüller, Albrecht 71

riff (‘second-line’) 61

rifle 43, 106

Righteous Brothers 57

Ring Ring 61, 94

Rio Grande 79, 80, 105, 106

Rio São Francisco 10, 12

Rios, Waldo de los 63

rising pitch 36

Roberts, John Storm 61, 114

Robin Hood, Adventures of 46

rococo music 44

Röda Kapellet 61, 95, 118

Røde Mor 118

rodoviário 9

Rodriguez, Silvio 115

romance 40, 60

Romance for Piano 39

Romania 31

romantic 39

Romeo & Juliet 37, 46

Rose von Chile, Die 104

Rosie and the Originals 41

Roslagsvår 52

Rota, Nino 46

rote Schlager 93

rumba 60, 113

Run Joe 61

Running Scared 42, 43

rural 49, 113

rural v. urban 115

rurality in music 31, 34

wide open spaces 72

Russia 35


Saab-Scania 11, 114

Sadler, Staff Sergeant Barry 42

sadness 30, 31

Saffron and Green 34


Fernando 88

Victor Jara 102

Salvador Bahía 9, 12, 89

Salvation Army 111

Sandberg, Frederic 53

Sandberg,Sven-Olof 53

Sandemose, Carl-axel 122

Santana 105

Santiago de Chile 80

fascist coup 94

São Paulo 9, 11, 13, 105, 115

state conservatory 12

saudade 12

Sayonara 46

Schmitz, A 36, 43

Schubert, F 31, 33, 37, 39, 44, 45

Schuler, M 46, 63

Schumann, Robert 55

Scott, Jack 41

Seasons, The 37

second line (New Orleans R&B) 60-61

Sedaka, Neil 41, 94

Seeger, Pete 90

Selected Sounds 30, 95


Fernando / Victor Jara 103

semiotics of music

cultural context 87

political aspects 121

rudimentary theory of 15, 16

serious v. fun 118

sertão 12

sex 108

Shannon Fen 34

Shepherd, John 50

Shepherd’s Song 34

Shine On Crazy Diamond 34

Sibelius, J 38-39

Side By Side 64

Simon, Paul 30, 37-38, 63, 89, 93, 94, 103, 105

Sinatra, Frank 63

sincerity 39, 41, 43, 63, 67, 68, 111, 117

Singapore 89

Singles - First Ten Years 88, 107

Sjömans begravning 52

SKF 11, 114

Skiles, Martin 60

Skinner, F 39, 40

Skovstillhed 34

Småland 90

smoothness 60

So ist die Lieb 56


Sozialisierung 121

Vergesellschaftigung 119

soft disco 62, 73, 117

solid state stereo 11

solidarity 117, 121

Chile 95, 102, 116

as national policy 104

Solina (string synthesiser) 60

SOS 5, 63, 107

soundscape 35

rural and urban 71

source music 68, 69

South Of The Border 62

Soviet Union 89, 119

Spain 30, 35, 89, 110

Spanish Autumn 29, 30

Spanish language

speech rhythm 47

Spanish version 105

Specht, R 36

speech rhythm

Stagecoach 46

standardisation 122

standards (32-bar) 50

static harmony 31

Staying Alive 62

Steiner, Max 46

Sten och Stanley 91

stereotypes of nationality 106

still 67

Sting 119

Stoppa Matchen 95

Story of Pop, The 41

Strauss, R 36

Streetcar named Desire, A (A North) 37

Streichenglorienschein 29, 59

strife 68

string filler 46

string halo 29, 59

string pad 29, 59, 62

string synthesiser 60

Stringman (Fender) 59

students 93


class differences of 122

patterns of 121

suck-blow 52

Sugar Cane 62

sun 48, 67, 95

Sun City 119

sunrise 36, 37, 67, 74

Super Trouper 116

Superman 11

swan 45

Sweden 5, 11, 14, 15, 34, 51, 52, 53, 61, 89, 90-95

alternative music movement 94, 95

Conservative Party 122

cultural climate, 1970s 110

cultural context 116

cultural policy, 1970s 92

Fernando’s audience 103

lagom / law of Jante 122

left-wing and Abba 92

progr. music movement 92

tennis v. Chile 95

Swedish album cover 108

Swedish lyrics 107

Swedish Rhapsody 53

Swedish version 89

album cover 107

Sweet Georgia Brown 64



musematic occurrence 27

musemes 26

Tagg, Philip 47-50, 87-89

Taguatinga 11

tango 60, 113

Tatuí 8, 12, 105

Taube, Evert 51, 90

Tchaikovsky P I 46

techno 118

teen angel 40, 41

Tell Laura I Love Her 41

Tema medievale 34

tense, change of 82

tension 58

tertial-functional harmony 53

tritonal 54, 55

terror 94, 103, 115

Thank You For The Music 63, 107

Thatcherism 16

then v. now 113, 114

there v. here 113, 117

thirty-two-bar standards 50

Thorleifs 61

Thorsén, Stig-Magnus 89, 93

‘Thou shalt not believe thou art someone’ 122

threat 67, 68


vocal 50, 68

Time-Life Magazine 113

Tiomkin, Dimitri 103

tiptoe bass 41, 42

Toma Tequila 95

Torremolinos 108, 109, 110

torture 94, 103

tourism 9-13, 34-35, 105-107, 110, 113, 115

traffic 71

transcendental 39

transcription (Fernando) 19

treble boost 31

Trede, G 30

tremolo 60

Trenchtown 73

Tretow, Michael B 13, 120

triple 80

Tristan & Isolde 57

Triste partida, A 115


hook 50

initial 55

motif 51

precadential 51, 52

tension 54, 84

halfway-house 53

troubadour 90

true love 40

Tulips From Amsterdam 45

Tunstall, J 92

turn (Hispanic) 29

turnaround I vi ii/IV V 40

TV shows 13

Twitty, Conway 41


UK 89

Ulvaeus, Björn 13, 70, 88, 90, 93

Unanswered Question 31, 34

unattainable 56

underscore 68, 69

unemployment 16

Unidad Popular 80, 94

Universal Studios 6

University of Liverpool 6, 8

upbeat figures 50

urban (see also ‘rural-urban’)

enclosed 72

urban v. rural 115

Uruguay 89, 115

USA 89, 115

embassy in Sweden 6

imperialism 113

role in Chile coup 94


Valens, Ritchie 41

Vals i gökottan 51

Vaughan Williams 31

Vee, Bobby 40

Venceremos 95

Venice 35

ventilation 71

verbal narrative

importance in recitative 50

Verfremdung 109

Vergesellschaftigung 119

Vernillat, France 63

versions of Fernando 88

Victor Jara (song) 95, 101, 103, 112, 116, 117

lyrics 101

no appoggiature 102

transcription 96

vocal delivery 102

Videla, General 106

Viennese classicism 44

Vietnam war 45, 121

Viglietti, Daniel 115

Vikingarna 61

Vilariño, I 47

Vinton, Bobby 40

Virginian, The 47


mix level 106

rhythmic license 49

timbre 50

Victor Jara v. Fernando 102

voix céleste 59

Vorschläge 43

vox humana 59

Vox organ 59

Vrethammar, S 48, 54, 55, 110

vulgar Marxism 15


Wade, Pete 8

Wagner,Richard 57

Wait For Me 41

waiting 55, 56

waking up 36

Wallis, Roger 45

Waterloo 15, 63, 95, 107

Waters, Muddy 49

waves 45

We Are The World 119

Welche Erhöhung der Sinne! 37

welfare state (dismantling) 16

wide (open spaces) 67, 72

Wiederspieglungstheorie 71

Wiehe, Michael 102

Wilder, Alec 6

Will I Be An Angel, Daddy? 14

Williams, Larry 61

Willis, Chick 61

Wilson, Jackie 41

window of silence 59

Wine Festival 29, 30, 48

Winner Takes It All 12, 63, 107

Wish You Were Here 34

Wolf, Hugo 56


Workers of World, Awaken 112

Woytila (pope) 10

WXYZ pattern 53


Xerox company 114


Yancey, Jimmy 60

Yes 63

You’re Walking On The Fighting Of Me 45

You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ 57, 58

Youmans, V 48

Yugoslavia 89

yuppies 123


Zamfir, Gheorghe 31, 93

Zamora, Felix 8

Zappa, Frank 118