How to Learn Singing “Riverside” from Agnes Obel

Learning to Sing ‘Riverside’ by Agnes Obel

‘Riverside’ by Agnes Obel is a beautiful song that requires a tender, emotive delivery. This article will guide you through learning this song, focusing particularly on Obel’s evocative vocal technique.

Vocal Technique: Light Chest Voice and Vibrato

The main vocal technique in ‘Riverside’ is the use of a light, breathy chest voice, with delicate touches of vibrato. This is a common trend in folksy and indie music, and can also be heard in tracks like ‘The One That Got Away’ by Katy Perry and ‘Don’t Know Why’ by Norah Jones. Light chest voice provides a close, intimate tone whilst vibrato introduces dynamic variation.

To work on your light chest voice, check the ‘Sustain Vocal’ exercise. For an understanding of vibrato, refer to our article on ‘Singing with Vibrato’ and the ‘Beggars Bounce’ exercise.

Preparing to Sing the Song

Before you begin practicing ‘Riverside’, it’s beneficial to test your vocal range and assess if it comfortably fits with the song’s. Adjust the key if needed using our song search tool.

Begin by focusing on the melody. Use our Vocal Pitch Monitor to ensure that you’re hitting the right notes. Once confident with the melody,
test your pitch accuracy for further refinement.

Developing Expression

Expression is crucial to ‘Riverside’. The song is softly sung, so mastering dynamics, in terms of volume variation, is important. The opening lines are almost whispered, gradually building in intensity. The same applies to tempo. Obel uses rubato — the slight speeding up and slowing down of the tempo — to add emotional depth. Referencing our article on singing with emotion might help here.

Practicing the Song

Repeated, mindful practice is key to mastering ‘Riverside’. Break the song down into segments, working on each individually before piecing it all together. Practice consistently, but also mindfully, focusing on adjustments and improvements each time. Our tips on learning a song effectively outline this process in more detail.


‘Riverside’ is a beautiful, emotive song that, when approached with patience and thoughtful practice, can help expand your expressive capabilities as a singer. Make the most out of the resources on Singing Carrots to aid with your practice and understanding.