Contents/summary of tourbook:

     Titles and Tour Dates
     Tangerine Dream In Concert, October 1975
          Intro to the Concert/instrumentation
     Ecstasy without Agony
          Tangerine Dream under the microscope. Karl Dallas
          discusses their contribution to modern music
     Light on a Dark Group
          Talking to Tangerine Dream
     Dreaming for the record (The Making of Music)
          An Analysis of Phaedra and Rubycon by Karl Dallas with
          comments by Christoph Franke.
     The National Sound of German Rock
     Technology without Tears
          The instruments that make the music discussed by Chris


                         Tangerine Dream
                      A Let It Rock Special

           "We prefer doing special memorable events 
              rather than a series of concerts..."

October Tour 1975

4TH  COVENTRY CATHEDRAL (with kind permission of the Cathedral
16TH LIVERPOOL CATHEDRAL (by invitation of the Dean and Canon

It is emphasised, that with reference to the concerts on 4th, 16th
and 20th October, there must be no smoking at any time in the

Road Crew: Chris Blake, Des Seal, Roland Paulick

Special thanks to the tour promoters: Darrol Edwards.

Tour Manager and personal assistant to Tangerine Dream: Andrew
Graham Stewart, c/o Virgin Records 2-3 Vernon Yard, 119 Portobello
Road, London W11. (Tel:01-727 8070)

Programme written and produced on behalf of the Rock Writers' Co-
operative Society Ltd., 283 Grays Inn Road, London WC1X 8QF
(Tel:01-278 2633).

(c) The authors and the Rock Writers' Co-operative Society Ltd.
Art Direction: George Snow
Cover Illustration: Geoff McCloud.
Programme Design: Kevin Sparrow
Typesetting: Flaschtype, 48a Goodge St.,W1
Printed by: Chelsea Printing Services,
186 Campden Hill Road, W8.


The concerts are Tangerine Dream's first in Britain, since their
very successful tour in November 1974 -- except for the group's
sell-out appearance at the Royal Albert Hall in April.

     One unique feature of the tour is the concerts in the
cathedrals. Tangerine Dream have already played in major European
cathedrals in Rheims last December and in Munich in April. Asked
why Tangerine Dream had planned the cathedral dates, leader Edgar
Froese said: "The most important reason is that we prefer doing
special memorable events rather than a series of concerts.
Cathedrals have incredible acoustic possibilities, particularly
because most of them were built when amplification did not exist.
In no way are we attempting to create religious events, however, in
these buildings the atmosphere is more condusive to concentration
than elsewhere -- and our music demands concentration. The
intrinsic beauty of cathedrals goes without saying, and it is sad
these buildings are under utilized. Tangerine Dream consider it
something of an honour to be given permission to perform in
cathedrals. Representatives of the group have been liaising closely
with the cathedral authorities, and will continue to do so.
     The concerts outside the cathedrals will likewise be special
events. Where space allows, the group will employ a contemporary
dancer, who will improvise to the music. The amazing potential of
blending Tangerine Dream's music with contemporary dancing was
proved last November, when the Ballet Rambert used "Phaedra" for a
performance on BBC 2's Second House.
     Tangerine Dream will be bringing over a wealth of new
equipment, far more than they employed at the recent Albert Hall
concert. As usual, full quadraphonic sound will be used whenever
the facilities of the halls allow.
     Tangerine Dream are generally considered to be at their best
in a concert setting: as Steve Lake of Melody Maker has commented
-- "Live, the sophistication of their approach invariably
     Immediately following their U.K. tour, Tangerine Dream leave
for Los Angeles where they will see William Friedkin (Director of
'The French Connection' and 'The Exorcist') and discuss the
recording of the soundtrack for his next film. Concert dates in the
States are then planned, followed by visits to Japan and Australia.

The instrumentation of Tangerine Dream is:

Edgar Froese:
     Mellotron 400 Mellotron Mark 5 (new model with double tape set
     and double keyboard), Farfisa 400 double keyboard organ,
     Farfisa electric piano, VCS3 synthesizer with EMS sequenzer
     and EMS keyboard, Moog sequenzer.

Peter Baumann:
     Farfisa double keyboard organ (first model) Farfisa organ
     (professional model, Fender Rhodes electric piano, Mellotron
     400, Elka electric string organ, two AKS synthesizers with
     touch keyboards (EMS), ARP synthesizer 2600 with keyboard,
     Moog sequenzer.

Christoph Franke:
     Modified AKS synthesizer (EMS), Elka electronic string organ,
     two Moog 300 P synthesizers (big models) with two 4-Moog
     synthesizers (modified), ARP 3600, Farfisa organ Professional
     model, Mellotron 400, special-built computer-operated rhythm


Tangerine Dream under the microscope. Karl Dallas discusses their
contribution to modern music

     The vibration of the wire over the pick-up creates a changing
electrical potential according to the length of the wire and the
speed of its vibration. This potential is carried along conductors
to a complex assemblage of semi-conductors, potentiometers and
other electronic circuitry, whence it is conducted to a transducer,
from which is emitted a sound, the frequency of which is directly
related to the speed and length of the vibrating string -- which
may be varied at will.
     It is possible, by the use of variable filters, to so modify
the sound that almost vocal impressions may be aroused in the
hearer: the crying of a baby, for instance, or the wailing of a
banshee. If it is connected with a revolving tape loop, the person
who lengthens or shortens the wire and causes it to vibrate, may
have what he has just played repeated so that he is, in effect,
playing with himself. He may therefore, within limits laid down by
the intrinsic noise generated by the control, usually
foot-operated, he may cut off the 'attack' at the beginning of a
sound as he strikes the wire, so that the characteristic nature of
this particular sound source is disguised by changing the apparent
'envelope' of the sound.
     Is this a description of a new and particularly inaccessible
piece of multi-million dollar electronic equipment?
     No, it's called an electric guitar.

     Or try this.

     Air is blown through a column across which are stretched cords
of elasticated material which, like the wire ('string' of the
guitar, sound 'high' or 'low' according to whether they are
tightened or slackened. The resultant sound is fed into an acoustic
filter of a virtually infinitely variable shape, so that the
fibrating column of air may be directed against hard or soft
surfaces, flat, rounded, or polymorphous. The resulting filtered
sounds may be used to induce pleasure or to communicate

     Easy, isn't it. The answer is the human voice.

     The point is that the human voice, and even the circuitry that
has grown up around the electric guitar since T-Bone Walker first
electrified the blues, are regarded as simple because they are
familiar. Conversely, the electronic hardware of synthesizers upon
which a band like Tangerine Dream play is regarded as complicated
because it is unfamiliar.
     And yet all of it, from the simplest to the most complex --
and who is to say which is the more complex, the small human brain
or the electronic computer which stores a fraction of the
information in several times the space? -- is designed to  produce
a sound, and it is the sound we should be considering, not the
hardware that produces it.

1.   They've just deleted Karlheinz Stockhausen's Greatest Hits

     At the beginning of Jonathan Cott's book, "Stockhausen --
Conversations with the composer", the subject quotes a conversation
he had with Suzuki, the Japanese zen philosopher, about what is
natural and what is artificial, and he records the zenman's
rejection of the distinction he was trying to make between older,
'natural' music and this modern 'artificial' stuff with tape
recorders and gadgets. "You see," says Stockhausen, "he took
artificial to be something that is more than merely artful. If
something conflicts with our natural feelings and prevents our
being at one with ourselves, only then would that be artificial. So
a machine, a computer, is a quite natural extension of the brain.
It's like producing a baby." As we all know from our biology and
physics lessons, everything comes down to electricity in the end.
It was interesting to see that Wilhelm Reich, in his "The Function
of the Orgasm", uses a diagram to illustrate what he called the
sex-economy energy process, an equilateral triangle with the left
hand side an arrow pointing to the apex, marked "tension" and the
right-hand side an arrow coming down to the corner of the base,
marked "relaxation", and that in a book by Daphne Oram, first
director of the BBC's radiophonic workshop, she used a similar
diagram to illustrate the similarity between the electrical
discharge from a capacitor, the creation of a musical note, and a
musical work of art.
     "The time taken for a capacitor to discharge its tension may
be a fraction of a second, for a trumpet to play its crochet, a
fraction of an hour," she wrote. "As phenomena they strike me as
being surprisingly alike. Each one an interplay of potential,
resistance and time resulting in the release of power. Each is
achieving its effect on the outside world by disciplining the
potential, by creating varying resistance so that the power is
modulated in perceptible, finite time."
     And in describing the pattern of the first side of "Phaedra",
Christoph Franke of Tangerine Dream used a similar analogy, which
could in itself be symbolized by the shape displayed on an
oscilloscope by a so-called square-wave tone. Indeed, the word
"ramp" he uses, comes from waveform terminology: "The envelope of
the whole piece is that you have a very slow ramp, having sound
coming from nowhere, at first very abstract and amorphous and then
slowly picking up melodies and rhythms, getting stronger to a
climax, there is a very quick stop at the end of the ramp and then
it goes very slowly up to the end, coming from very noisy sounds,
from very abstract sound to a very harmonic sound,"
     There is a problem of terminology, of notation, In an age when
we are coming to the end of musical (and all?) literacy, when each
modern composer creates his own private language to demonstrate
what he is up to, we have to resort to visual images to describe
what we mean. Notes are described as getting 'higher and lower'
when what we mean is that they vibrate faster or slower. Electronic
sounds are described as 'white noise' (the sort of random sounds
you get if you tune an FM radio off the station without operating
the squelch or mute button) and 'pink noise', which means that some
of the frequencies have been filtered out to 'colour' the sound.
What this actually is is the end of the visual symbolism which has
dominated music (eg harmony is the creation of clusters of notes
observed to be in a vertical relationship on a printed stave) since
it became separated out into an art form.
     And it is the attempt to elevate electronic music above other
more popular forms which makes the innovations of Stockhausen and
his associates less relevant to the needs of today than the playing
of any rock guitarist. Cornelius Cardew, an old associate, has
taken up a Maoist position on Stockhausen's work which relates his
mysticism (a charge which was once made by Marxists against
Einstein) to support for imperialism, but it is really the stance
of the classical composer which makes his music anti-popular, not
the medium within which he works.
     Electronic music can only work if it becomes a popular form,
which means that it needs to fit into a rock context, to my mind.

2. I Like It Because I Can't Understand It

     Few new bands have received such a bad press as Tangerine
Dream when they began to be heard in Britain. Steve Lake,
apotheosis of the avant garde, wrote them off as Muzak. The same
critics who had saved their most vitriolic epithets till then for
slagging off Mike Oldfield turned on the Dreamers with the same
adjectival aggro: somnolence, cures for insomnia, amorphousness,
perm any one of three charges. Up until then, electronic music, in
either the popular or classical field, had lived up to Lillian
Roxon's description of the United States of America, who in 1967
had been one of the first rock groups in the world to use
predominantly synthesized sound: " ... their music was too
contrived, too mechanical, too cerebral." A sort of negative
Stalinist position was adopted by those critics who might have been
expected to be most sympathetic to anyone blazing new technological
trails: if it was accessible, then it couldn't be much cop. To be
fair, this was a justifiable position to adopt. Walter Carlos's
brilliant (but musically insignificant) "Switched On Bach" had
sparked off an incredible range of inferior imitations which lacked
his wit and used the massive resources of Robert A. Moog's
invention to produce poor mimicry of the sounds of 'real'
     We were approaching a situation where there was a direct ratio
between the level of musical boredom and the amount of electronic
hardware employed. After all, in Stockhausen's Mikrophonie he had
managed with a tam-tam, a mike, and an amplifier to produce his
effects. Perhaps we were suffering from technological overkill.
     The "difficulty" or otherwise of any piece of music is no
gauge of its value, either way; Leadbelly's Lousiana accent was
well-night indecipherable to a whole generation of British blues
fans, but that didn't stop his music from awakening a kindred spark
in their hearts which lay at the root of the entire British blues
boom and hence of rock and roll in this country. The musical
vocabulary of one genre, even one as simple as rock, may make the
music a completely foreign tongue to one raised in a different
tradition, where it is the entertainment of babes in arms. And a
music whose vocabulary eludes even those who profess to like it may
in fact have nothing to communicate.

3. The synthetic and the concrete

     There was (and is) another reason why Tangerine Dream's music
sometimes sounds excessively bland, on the surface at least, to
those who have not bothered to get further into it, and that is the
use they make of the Mellotron, which makes them an uneasy hybrid
between the two kinds of electronic music, the Parisian and the
Kolnisch. Although composers have been experimenting with the
mechanical and electronic generation and manipulation of sounds
since as early as 1899, when William Duddell produced a musical
note by placing a coil and capacitor in parallel with an electric
arc, the first real break-through into electronic music as a genre
in its own right came from the studios of Radio-Television
Francaise in Paris and the musique concrete of Pierre Schaeffer,
who used tape recorders, filters etc to modify previously recorded
"real" sounds like street noises and even actual musical
instruments, resulting in music that could only be performed by
running the tape.
     Although Stockhausen produced his first electronic etude in
the RTF studio, he switched pretty fast to the WDR studio in
Cologne where it was believed, in his own words, "one can recognise
a first criterion for the quality of an electronic composition by
hearing the degree to which it is free from all instrumental or
other auditive associations. Such associations divert the
listener's comprehension from the self-evidence of the sound-world
presented to him because he thinks of bells, organs, birds or
faucets ... From this we should conclude that it is best for
electronic music just to sound like electronic music, that is, it
should as far as possible contain only sounds and sound-connections
which are unique and free of association and which make us feel we
have never heard of them before" (Die Reihe, 1961).
     Of course, like that other enfant terrible of the avant garde,
John Cage, Stockhausen didn't always feel himself bound by these
rules, and in fact the whole history of electronic music has been
a record of the conflict between the two attitudes. But it has to
admit that when Stockhausen allows concrete sounds to intrude into
an electronic passage, as with the voice which intones "les jeux
sont faites" during the fourth region of his otherwise brilliant
Hymnen, it destroys the sublimity of what has gone below and
reduces it to the banal.
     This is what Mellotrons tend to do. The Mellotron is a
keyboard instrument which is loaded with tapes playing each of the
keyboard's notes: a tape may be of strings or voices or trumpets or
what you will, and with his ten fingers the musician can create a
ten-piece brass or string section or whatever. For this reason, the
Mellotron ran into understandable trouble with the Musicians' Union
at a very early stage in its career.
     Now though Christoph Franke plays a Moog synthesizer, and the
other two members of Tangerine Dream play smaller synthesizers from
the British EMS company, if this was all they did they would be
reduced to playing single melody lines all the time, since at the
present stage of development it is impossible to play chords on a
synthesizer keyboard. This is why they rely on organs and electric
pianos and the Mellotron to create the full wash of sound against
which the single notes of the synthesizers can stand out like
pinpoints of crystal.
     They use complex arrangements of electronics to modify the
resulting sounds electronically, phase shifters to make the sounds
appear to move spatially and up and down as well as across the
stereo image, filters, and so on, but they are still faced at times
with which sound to me like un-easy compromises and I am reduced to
imagining what their sound might be like if it were totally
     This is especially so in the case of the Mellotron, for
reasons which I have found it hard to analyse. Perhaps it is the
lack of attack at the beginning of the notes, or the fact that some
of the commercially available tapes are not really of very high
quality musically or electronically (Tangerine Dream are working on
recording their own special tapes), but there is something in the
Mellotron in the hands of Edgar Froese which brings out all his
innate romanticism and almost spills over into sentimentality.
     At times, like the noble theme he plays on Mellotron strings
on the ludicrously titled 'Mysterious Semblance at the Strand of
Nightmares' (perhaps it loses something in the translation from the
German) at the beginning of side two of "Phaedra", his lyrical gift
triumphs over the shortcomings of the instrument, and the visions
conjured up, as Peter Baumann's synthesized wind noise sweeps
across the speakers, is epic. And again, at the beginning of his
newest solo album, he directs the resources of a veritable symphony
orchestra of Mellotron overdubs to produce a stunning effect. And
yet, live, they do sometimes lose their way into modal doodles
which are cloying rather than sweet, sickly rather than
     This is one of the penalties of a music that is completely
free. While their albums are for the most part performed live, with
as few overdubs as possible, they do of course have the opportunity
to reject tapes which start promisingly and peter out into
meanderings, something which is likely to happen to the most
creative free musician, let's be honest.
     There is also the melodic fact that unless you are going to
strive all the time for the note of anguish that so many associate
with avant garde music, which is not Tangerine Dream's aim at all,
you do run the risk of playing safe games on the black notes. Any
kid who lives in a house with a piano must have produced 'Chinese'
or 'Scottish' music on the black notes without any musical
knowledge at all. What he is playing is a pentatonic gapped scale,
which used to be regarded as discordant but now, thanks to the work
of Debussy and Ravel, is merely attractively exotic.
     What is fun in the front parlour (if he doesn't keep it up for
too long) can be a sweeter kind of hell in the concert hall, and
while Tangerine Dream's creativity is of a higher order than that,
it's got to be admitted that while they wait for inspiration to
come, or to return, their playing does lack bite.
     It is this uncertainty as to whether they are going to pull it
off and they usually do that makes each Dream concert an exciting
experience in its own right. But it is risky.

4. The personalities of an impersonal group

     So far, Tangerine Dream have usually played in semi-darkness,
Not, I assure you, to create any mystical aura about them, but
because they wanted to focus attention upon the collective sound of
the music as a whole, rather than what any one member was playing.
     They are beginning to recognise, however, that though to have
the lights go DOWN rather than up when a band comes on stage must
have been a refreshing change when they first began playing, it has
now become a restrictive image, and they are actively seeking ways
of smashing through the particular wall that it has become between
their music and their audience. Impersonality can, after all,
become the worst kind of ego trip.
     Actually, if it weren't for the semi-darkness, the musical
personalities of the three members might be more easily
recognisable and, in my personal opinion, their music much less
mysterious to their fans who enjoy what they do without quite
knowing what is going on.
     Edgar Froese, as I've said, is the great romantic of the
group. A big, slow-speaking man with sandy hair, married to the
lady who has designed most of the band's record sleeves, he plays
the Mellotron. He tends to be the spokesman for the band, though on
technical matters he defers happily to Christoph Franke.
     Franke is the man who sits in the middle, in front of the
space terminal bank of the Moog. An ex-drummer whose rhythmic base
shows in the way he uses the Moog's sequencers to lay down complex
polyrhythms for the rest to improvise upon. When Peter Baumann left
the group briefly earlier this year to be replaced by Michael
Hoenig, the new man's rhythmic interests produced some of the
funkiest music I have heard the band play, but possibly tended to
over-balance the band at the expense of melody. For whatever
reason, he left and Baumann returned.
     Peter is the only member of the band who started on keyboards
and it does tend to show in his playing. He is also very much into
the electronic modification of natural sounds and utilises the
whole vocabulary of electronic yelps and twitters and hows which
the VCS3 synthesizer puts at his disposal .
     Of course, all three play several instruments, and the
electronic hardware they deploy to modify their sound is the
equivalent of several more, but this may give some sort of starting
point to who is playing what.
     What needs to be stressed, however, as well as the individual
musical personalities of its three members, is the collective
identity of Tangerine Dream as a BAND, inter-acting and
intercommunicating on stage and in the studio. Edgar Froese's
analogy of their music with a good conversation is a true one, for
each of the other two will respond to what the others is doing --
and, in the process, react again upon the first musician.
     In so doing, they build up a musical empathy which is,
perhaps, the most remarkable thing about them.
     Ever since Louis Armstrong invented the cornet solo, and led
jazz away from the strict traditional confines of New Orleans,
musicians have been striving for absolute freedom, often
discovering merely a new kind of tyranny, the abhorrence of
concordant sounds, even as an accident, the neglect of the
underlying pulse which is at the base of all music, stemming from
the heart-beat and the labour process.
     Freedom is seen as an ego-expanding situation, which must
necessarily be at the expense of the rest: collective
responsibility is disregarded in the sacred name of doing your own
thing, so the soloist becomes absolute dictator, if only for the
extent of his solo, and the other musicians his subjects, bound to
do his bidding.
     This extreme individualism, which has its roots in the 19th
century romanticism of Byron and Tchaikovsky, which itself was the
expression of an age when individualistic entrepreneurs were
opening up the world for exploitation, will not be found in the
freedom of the playing of Tangerine Dream. They work together, not
against each other.
     I was interested to find that, to the Dreamers, the supreme
test of their empathy is when they come to the end of a piece
spontaneously, without any overt message between them.
     "We are now at the point," says Froese, "that we can find the
end of a piece without connection between us. It sometimes
surprises us too that we come to the end after 40 or 50 minutes and
we all begin to feel it must end, so we are going down and then we
stop without any signals from one to the other."
     Lovers of Indian music will not unfamiliar with this
situation, having seen the look of joy that will pass between a
master sitarist like Ravi Shankar and his tabla-player as they
finish a piece precisely on the same beat. As in so many things,
the true avant gardists are reinventing the past.
     It was this sense of timelessness, of a connection, through
electronics, with a period when music was literally closer to the
heart of every man, and everything he did was a kind of sacrament,
that led Keith Michell to use Tangerine Dream to record background
music for his Chichester production of Oedipus Tyrannus. And though
the collaboration was a failure, this probably tells us more about
the irrelevance of proscenium theatre, even when self-consciously
brought out into the auditorium, to the cultural needs of the
present day.
     Tangerine Dream have not yet reached the pinnacle of the peak
they have been attempting to scale since 1965, and it may be that,
without some fundamental changes in attitudes within the music
industry, the ultimate Everest is inaccessible for everyone.
Because they are developing a new musical vocabulary, it sometimes
becomes difficult to indicate verbally their more successful
excursions, compared with times when they just spend time seeking
for a direction.
     They, themselves, are highly critical of their earlier work,
not merely their formative recordings for Ohr of Germany which are
so untypical of what they are playing now that they have tried to
stop their distribution in the rest of the world, but even parts of
their much more significant later British recordings.
     But I feel that in their attempt fo find a new way of making
music that is accessible to every man and woman prepared to
surrender to the flow of the music, they are probably showing us
that there is nothing unusual, nothing artificial, certainly
nothing impersonal in electricity.
     After all, that's what holds us all together.

"Music is the electric soil in which the spirit lives, thinks and
invents." Ludwig van Beethoven said that.


Talking to Tangerine Dream

The Beginnings

Peter Baumann: In the shops where they played their records they
     had to renew the ceiling because it dropped down. This is when
     we heard the first time of Tangerine Dream. It wasn't just the
     volume ...

Edgar Froese: It was a free rock form with normal instruments --
     drums, bass, guitar, flute and violin. In some of our earliest
     experiments we had arranged songs by the Doors and people like
     this and so when the group started in 1968 there were a lot of
     aggressive points inside it. It was not the kind of musical
     discussion like we have it now. It was another feel. 

     I started on guitar with the group, but I stopped because I
     found I was getting so much of my inspiration from the old
     ways, aggressive things, power things. Until then, we had
     known only one thing and that was the loudness. Then it was
     too loud, nobody could listen to the drums, the drummer
     couldn't listen to the guitar, things like that.

     After a couple of years, it's over. You can't find out the
     very different things. The little things, the little sounds
     are whispering you know. Christoph sold his drums and we all
     sold our normal instruments. We were quitting the business, it
     was all dead. We had been a rock group and we had a good
     background for that but we couldn't listen to it.

Christoph Franke: We went through a long period of experiment. We
     used other instruments, special guitars and so on, to try for
     other feelings. I tried to change the style of my drumming
     from beat drumming to other colours and structures. But it was
     very hard, because instruments have clearly defined borders,
     which you cannot cross. I tried other drums, not only European
     drums, and then I tried to make myself electric drums with
     special mikes.

     Then I got rid of my drums and got a synthesizer which was a
     better way, because there are far more possibilities. On a
     synthesizer are very many instruments and each of us can
     choose the instruments he likes.

Peter: I was playing organ in another group, and I was always
     looking for something that I had never done before. I just
     wanted to play and keeping playing and I did that for two
     years without finding it. Then suddenly I heard a glass smash
     in a kitchen and I sensed the electricity in the moment when
     the glass fell down. When the glass fell in 2001, it was a bit
     like this.

     I realised there were different ways of expressing yourself,
     and all that day I really started trying all sorts of
     different sounds, twanging the blade of a knife on the edge of
     the table, to find something to express what I wanted. Then,
     later, we found that the best way to find those sounds was

Edgar: The biggest shock I ever got as a guitarist was to listen to
     Jimi Hendrix, I saw what could be done with the guitar. On the
     other hand, I wasn't a very good guitarist. I was not a bad
     one but I was not really a good one. I put it through a fuzz
     box, put other things between the instrument and the
     amplifier, then I put it into a synthesizer to change the
     sound. But we were still trying to transform the music and so
     I changed back to keyboards, which I'd played for about four
     years, ten or 12 years before.

     I wasn't actually very, very interested four or five years ago
     in pure technical things. So I had to teach myself very hard,
     because I hadn't very much sympathy for that field. But after
     a couple of years, it's very open for me now. I think everyone
     could learn it.

Peter: We started at a point where nobody was interested in the
     music we were doing. There was such a small number of people
     interested that there wasn't a name for it. It wasn't pop and
     it wasn't avant garde, we just did it. It grew and the people
     who liked to listen to it grew too and so it has just grown by
     itself, with no one giving it a name.

Electronic music

Edgar: Our first idea after we got all the electronics was to find
     out the sounds that have normally not been heard before. We
     listened to a lot of electronic stuff on record and it's very
     well known to a lot of people. If they went to an electronic
     concert they would know maybe 80 or 90 per cent of the sounds.
     But the problem for us is that we've tried to go further, to
     find out sounds that are very unknown. We are now at the point
     where there a lot of possibilities to mix all the things we
     have, but to find out really new sounds, we can't do that at
     the moment.

Christoph: Specially in America, there is a special image for
     synthesizer groups. There are a lot of such groups but they
     make very different music from us. We like to make our image
     with our music, not with our instruments. If we use, next
     time, other instruments, maybe computers or wood instruments,
     then we are not a wood instrument group or computer group. We
     like to make our names only for music.

Peter: Why does somebody learn to play bass? Why doesn't he choose
     a guitar? Why does somebody learn to play organ and not Celtic
     harp? I mean, it's personal feeling towards instruments and
     there are some people who take a saw on the stage and saw a
     table apart and that's part of their musical expression. And
     there are others who take a glass and throw that against the

     We've found that we use those instruments as personal
     expression. They suit us best.

Edgar: ... we try to find the togetherness of all possibilities of
     sounds. There's a normal way of producing music, you can
     listen to the special sound: it's a guitar, or it's drums. You
     have so much association to all things you've heard before,
     that what's behind, it's impossible to listen to. So we've
     tried to change all that. We play the guitar, not like a
     guitar. We play an organ not like an organ. We change the
     instruments to change the experience of listening.

Peter: We have tried to find the sounds we want by conventional
     means. But we found in the end that the most direct method to
     get the sounds we wanted was electronically. And so if the
     audience finds it simpler to think about the electronics then
     we won't mind. But the real point is to find exactly the right
     sound for the mood we are trying to create.

Edgar: Electronic music isn't our theme. it's a little help of
     ours. We can find every tone, much more for instance than a
     flute or guitar. You know, you hear it's a guitar. You hear
     the guitar lines. We shook it free of that.

Peter: I think you shouldn't talk too much about electronic music
     because it sounds like lots of patterns, just sitting there,
     and some kind of mathematic We just use electronics to do what
     we want to.

     There is a relationship between every kind of music because
     music exists from certain factors -- tempo, dynamic, height of
     the tones. This is basically what music is and there is a
     relationship between every kind of music. But if you ask if
     there is a special emotion or a special touch to our music, I
     don't think we consider our music as any new kind of rock
     music. We don't consider it at all. I think maybe there's no

Edgar: We like to be thought of as a group working out good ideas,
     new ways of music and possibilities for the future, but we are
     definitely not a "synthesizer group". We like to integrate all
     sorts of music, but I think a lot of readers of the papers may
     begin to think of us as just human potentiometers. We are
     still musicians. The musical conversation

Edgar. On one hand we are always talking about the togetherness,
     how we must play together, we must do our things together, we
     must feel together the same things at the same time and on the
     other hand we are very different persons, we have really
     different thoughts about music. And maybe it's that point why
     we have come together on stage with our music, that each
     member of the group can give from their different backgrounds.
     Maybe one member of the group sitting down won't get any ideas
     about the things he wants to do now. Then he gets a message
     from left or right. And then the talk between us stops because
     one will give a question to another and someone gives an
     answer. It is just like conversation.

     But what you can't do when you are talking is for one man to
     say the same thing as another, only louder. He has to wait for
     a space and then when he has spoken he has to fade out his
     voice so that the others can give their comments. It's the
     same in music.

Peter: It's silly to say that we play at every concert something
     that we haven't played before. We can't do every day two hours
     of completely new music. Of course, we could play for ten
     hours just demonstrating what we've got on our instruments.
     This is no problem and you won't hear us repeat anything for
     ten hours. But this is not the togetherness of the music which
     happens if it is a good concert.

Edgar: Some of the spirit on the first one or two albums, perhaps,
     may have been mine. And even today in the recording studio,
     perhaps, where you can stop the tape or emphasise one thing at
     the expense of another and make overdubbing, but on stage it
     is impossible for us to have a leader.

     If I were the leader I would have to give signs about what's
     happening now or to play louder now or what should be done on
     the instruments but it's not possible. Each member of the
     group has to respect the others. Another way is not possible.

Peter: We are different persons, of course, and we have different
     backgrounds, so we play differently on the same instruments.
     He uses the same synthesizer as I do, but he will never play
     the same as I do, nor will I play the same as he does.

     Everyone looks at the instrument in a different way. So you
     can't possibly say that Christoph is playing Moog, that's why
     he's making the most synthetic sound and Edgar is playing
     Mellotron, so he's doing the most classical sound. It's very
     hard to define by the instruments.

Edgar: Our way of playing music is the togetherness of all the
     people in it, and it's not only the way of playing, of working
     with an instrument, but the feeling behind the instrument.

Peter: It's all improvisation, but since we know each other there's
     some kind of harmony between us that you cannot explain. We
     have some basic feelings and emotions that will appear all the
     time, but there are special ways, special scenes, it depends
     very much upon the scenery where we're playing, they influence
     the music so that every concert is different.

     The tendency of the music of course is the same, but we never
     have two concerts the same.

Edgar: I think we know exactly what the other one feels and the way
     of playing is when one of us starts with a special thing, the
     other two help him to work it out. And so, when he has done
     that, another one of us starts to work his thing  out, and the
     other two help him. It's not a thing of solo parts, and to
     fight it out how I want to be the biggest now. It's not our

     Of course, in Berlin we are not always together. We meet, one
     or two times a week, for rehearsal or for talking about it,
     and so we don't see each other in the meantime. Each person
     has his own way, his own thing, his own private atmosphere. So
     when you start to play again each person can bring in new
     feelings, new experiences.

     If we sat around each night and talking and talking and
     talking, it will always be the same.

Christoph: Liquid, that's a very important word for our music, each
     part flowing from one point to another, very smooth, very
     liquid. You don't have very big cuts or breaks. It's like

     Sometimes there's a waterfall, maybe, but no stop.

Edgar: On the Mellotron I have about ten sets of tapes, each with
     three different possibilities. There is one tape with a lot of
     different noises, you know from steps on the floor or bells
     ringing or drums, traffic noises, all sorts of strange sounds.
     What we want to do now is to record our own tapes.

     You can also use the Mellotron with something like a wah-wah
     pedal or a fuzz box. I did it one time, but I wasn't very 
     satisfied with it The only thing I did is to change the sound
     with a phase shifter or put the Mellotron into the
     synthesizer. By that I could filter the sound or have a
     special attack on a single key or I could change the wave form
     a bit, things like that.

Peter: Hearing music at any time will never be the same as any
     other time because the situation is very important and the
     time you hear the music is very important. Every time you're
     going to hear different aspects and you wander around in the
     music. The music is there somewhere in the room and you walk
     and look at the music and feel the music and see different

Edgar: The time, it's moving, and so for the music, for the
     feeling, it's the same. In one moment like this, we are just
     sitting around, but this situation will never be again. It's
     only in this time, only in this connection. It's the same with
     a concert, it's a situation of maybe eight o'clock in the
     evening and only then. It will never be again. Communication
     from the darkened stage

Edgar: We like to go on stage in a dark situation, without any
     lights and things like that. Going on stage and sitting behind
     the instruments and starting to play and then going off again,
     and not saying anything, you know, that's the image that we
     have. But now I think it's not enough and I don't know how we
     could work it out, but I think we must do some other things to
     get a better communication.

Peter: When we first went on stage in darkness it was such a new
     situation for the audience that they really got into what we
     mean. But now, maybe it's become, "Oh yeah, Tangerine Dream,
     they play in the dark." They know when they go there what to
     expect. It's much too predictable.

Edgar: The audience at the Royal Albert Hall was really marvelous.
     It doesn't matter if the audience is a bit noisy because we
     start mostly with synthetic sounds from the synthesizer so we
     can always integrate what they are doing. After a couple of
     minutes they come down, they will be very quiet.

     At the start of our second piece we used a tape loop from the
     Rainbow concert of people handclapping and whistling. We tried
     to show the people that they are a part of the music and there
     is a feedback from them to us.

Christoph: Sometimes I get very angry if we finish a piece and one
     second later a big noise is in the audience. Maybe we could
     find out a system to keep the audience to one minute's
     silence. Maybe with a very low tone, and the people understand
     "Wait a minute", to keep that impression of that piece.

Edgar: What we had at the Albert Hall was what you could call a
     satisfied situation where the audience was saying, you know,
     "Come on again, play again, we want more". So, I ask myself
     why is it that they want more? 'Cause it's not a rock concert,
     you know, and we really want to know why they want more. We
     can't ask them, we can't go with a tape recorder and a mike to
     everybody and ask them what they felt -- That's not possible,
     so we have to test them with another form of communication.

     We've thought that the first step could be to change the whole
     environment of a concert. OK, that was the first step, and it
     was working about thirty to forty per cent. But now we have to
     think about a new form of communication.

Peter: Maybe we won't play together on the stage any more. Maybe
     one on the stage and one in this corner and one in that
     corner. I'm just suggesting, maybe something where we can get
     to the point of what Tangerine Dream is about, again to the
     people. When we started to do music it was a smaller audience.
     When we started having bigger audiences, we realised that the
     bigger the audience, the more the distance was to the
     audience. Now we try to get back to the audience, very, very
     close together.

Edgar: Everybody who wants to be creative, who wants to put out a
     lot of things from himself, he tries to find his special way
     to explain it, first to himself, what he wants. Because only
     to think about it is not enough. I must work it out and see
     what happens, and then I have the possibility to have

The future lies ahead

Edgar: I believe that the next time we have a concert in England it
     will be a completely new experience, because to repeat old
     things is one part we don't like.

Christoph: Maybe we find out some new systems for rehearsal,
     especially our personal interaction. Then maybe that will mean
     we have to play with the lights on to see everything we do, so
     that our music is maybe just a thing for the ears.

Edgar: I want to work more on the way to change sounds. You know,
     it can be boring for me to play one and a half hours of only
     Mellotron and organ, so I have to learn a lot of things about
     how to change sounds, especially on the Mellotron, to work out
     new technical possibilities with the Mellotron. It's one of my
     main instruments ...

Christoph: I'm working with traditional instruments like the
     harpsichord for my solo album. Then a new thing, an instrument
     called a speech synthesizer which can produce vocals and
     consonants in a way that you can synthesize your own speech.
     I'm not interested to make sentences in a semantic way. I want
     to use speech only as an instrument. On my next album I have
     a rhythm programmer because I use pulses from one sequencer to
     another at the same time, so that I have several different
     rhythms in it. I can programme it up to maybe fifty bars but
     I can make it return when I want, maybe after one bar, after
     three, or after fifty bars. I can make a notation for it and
     then I play it from the notation, with pins and notes and
     switches, how many notes. For example, I have a scale, C, D,
     E, and so on, and I take C, D and another C and in the next
     bar I switch off the second C and take A on it, and in this
     way I can get together any melodic line I want.

Edgar: The main change for the future will be that we have to work
     much, much harder. With the group it means working harder on
     a new project and working much harder for ourselves. I don't
     know if it happens all the time in other groups, but I think
     that success could make you very lazy.

     When you've used two hands for half a year, then after a
     couple of success situations you are only using one hand and
     maybe one year later you would be using only two fingers. You
     know what I mean? And so we found out that we must work harder
     than we did in the past.

Peter: We weren't lazy two years ago. It was just a part of the
     music. We are not the group to go into a rehearsal and start
     to do some sounds and tunes. What we did and intended to do
     was to go on stage and play what we felt.

     You know, if you have done that for 3/2, no four years, up to
     now, then it starts to get a little dishonest because you 
     know each other very much and you get in that way, lazy,
     because you repeat what you know. It sounds quite good, and
     the people like it because they have heard it not so often.
     But you lose the feeling of the tension that you played the
     first time.

Edgar: We have been working on the new things for the tour that we
     have to make of America, not that it's an important gig or an
     important tour, each concert for us is important, whether it's
     the deepest countryside of England or Germany or France or
     Carnegie Hall in New York, it's all the same for us, there's
     no difference.

     For us it's a great feeling we need before each concert that
     we join the stage and really don't know which way we have to
     go. We only know the three persons, one by one, and that's all
     we know.

     It's really good to have an open field, without any barriers.
     It's inspiration, just inspiration.

Based on extracts from conversations in London and Berlin between
April 1974 and July 1975. Transcript (C) Copyright, 1975, Karl


An Analysis of Phaedra and Rubycon by Karl Dallas with comments by
Christoph Franke.
     Tangerine Dream have mixed feelings about recording. On the
one hand they feel that the necessity of selecting material which
can survive repeated listenings goes against the spontaneity which
they feel is so important. But the very fact of selection offers
them an opportunity of presenting a distillation of the best that
they can do.
     They compromise by performing most of their recorded music
live, keeping the use of techniques that would only be possible in
the studio, such as overdubs, to a bare minimum, though Christoph
Franke is already dreaming of using the voltage controlled,
computer directed mixing desk at the new Manor Studio as a
programmable rhythm machine, its faders rising and falling to a
previously predetermined pattern -- something that I'll bet Helios
didn't have in mind when they designed it.
     In the following analyses, the judgements are mine, and the
quoted comments are from Christoph Franke, but I would like to
acknowledge Christoph's help in sorting out who is playing what.
Side one: Phaedra
     In classical Greek literature, Phaedra was a lady who fell in
love with her stepson. The story was translated into a French
classic by Racine and has recently been rewritten in an Indian
colonial setting for the London stage.
     No attempt is made on the record to follow the story with any
kind of musical programme, though Edgar Froese once told me that he
had the poetic atmosphere of the play very much in mind when they
were composing the music.
     The very slow beginning is in fact a very rapid sequence of
notes from Franke on the Moog.
     "It is a very soft, slow, cloudy beginning, starting very
outside of the room, made with echo plates, and then it comes into
the room a little bit, going drier and drier, and the electric
piano from Peter makes some slow counterpoints to it."
     As the sequence is slowed down a rhythm pattern becomes
evident and the exact notes are perceptible. Baumann's piano notes
and chords become more and more bell-like. As the pitch and speed
of the rhythm rises and goes more into echo, Froese enters on
voice-tape Mellotron playing very high chords and the rhythm goes
into tape delay, doubling the apparent speed of the rhythm as every
note is repeated. The rhythmic pattern is taken over by Froese, on
guitar. "Over this I made some glass noises with the Moog."
     The Moog takes back the rhythm sequence and simplifies it down
to three tones, to which Franke adds notes one by one, while Froese
plays phased long chords on Mellotron strings-tapes. Franke adds a
second rhythm sequence, three times as quick as the main rhythm,
while he overdubs a similar sequence on organ. This is the first
overdub to be heard so far.
     The basic rhythm reasserts itself once again, with washes of
phased string chords from the Mellotron, and then a high, crying
note from Baumann's flute, jumping octaves, up and down, while the
intensity of the Revox echo delay on the sequence is changed
constantly, as well as the exact sequence of the notes.
     Very low bass chords on the Moog underpin the sequence which
changes pitch and rises to a climax, while Baumann's flute notes
sail in and out of the mix, together with bottleneck guitar sounds
from Froese.
     Baumann's synthi has added a percussive pattern of white noise
sounds in a similar rhythm to the sequence on the Moog, which rises
higher and higher as the colour of Baumann's pattern is altered.
The rhythm rises to a climax and Froese comes in again with very
high voice-tapes on the Mellotron, while the rhythm hits its
highest point and repeats over and over. Froese resolves the climax
with final Mellotron chords and a long beat on the tam-tam from
     "That's not a gong, it's a tam-tam like Stockhausen used in
'Kontakte'. It has an unvoiced sound. A gong has a little hill in
the middle and that gives it a voice. Then I try to make the same
sound like the tam-tam with generators and filters which is lying
now under everything. A tam-tam has a decay but I want to hold the
sound so I made it on the Moog. And I change the colour of the
noise sound with a filter bank, which I can do by pressing a key.
Otherwise I would need a whole bank of different natural
instruments to produce these sounds."
     Baumann's phased piano interjects over these basic gong
sounds, and then he produces a new sound on the synthi which Franke
describes as "a very spacey sound, like a dog in the desert, which
I like very much".
     Froese's voice tapes sing out over more Moog gong sounds,
changing in pitch as Baumann's dog noises return, followed by his
organ and heavy string chords from Froese replace the voice, with
electric piano chords. The piece moves to a slow, almost heavy

Side Two

     "The first piece is mainly a Mellotron piece from Edgar, with
some added wind noise from Peter's synthesizer. I don't play
anything on that piece. The second piece we made all together and
the third piece was made by Peter with very long and different tape
delays, played with this little wood flute, a recorder, like the
young people are learning at school"

Mysterious Semblance at the Strand of Nightmares

     "This first thing from Edgar is a very harmonic piece,
starting with wind noise. They are mainly minor chords and I get
the impression of going walking into a very empty countryside, in
the dark maybe."
     The sound of the Mellotron and the wind noise are both phased,
moving their presence about the stereo image. Later this phasing is
controlled by a generator which creates a flutter on the Mellotron
     After a few Fender Rhodes piano chords from Baumann, the
Mellotron rises to its climax and subsides into silence, the wind
noise rises in power to be joined by twittering voltage controlled
oscillator sounds on a VCS3 synthesizer.

Movements of a Visionary

     Baumann begins by feeding his voice into a synthesizer, to
which high-pitched noises are added, joined after a while by a fast
sequence of notes on Franke's Moog. "It is several generators given
into a ring modulator which multiples the frequencies and you get
anharmonic overtones such as you have in all percussive instruments
like a glockenspiel or xylophone or a vibraphone or gongs or drums.
It means that the steps from one overtone and the next are not in
a proportion like one to two to three to four. If you hit a glass
you get anharmonic sound. It is the difference between a violin and
a church bell. It sounds here a little like a marimba."
     The sequence is echoed by Baumann's synthi and organ, and
Froese plays very high notes on Lowry organ. Baumann interjects
echoed chords on a Davoli piano. The whole thing seems to carry on
much longer than the amount of creativity merits, even though it is
actually quite short.
     "In fact I don't like this side very much because it's not as
well done as it could be. It was our first recording in England and
we couldn't take as much time as we liked, The next record was much
better because we took more time.
     "The thing is that we use the complete studio as an
instrument, so it is not possible for us to go into the studio and
play only pieces we have rehearsed before. We make the concept and
composings there in the studio. For instance, the mixing for us is
a real creative thing and the mixing board is an instrument with
which you control the dynamics, which are an important part of

Sequent C'

     "That's just Peter playing. It's like a fugue made with a very
long delay so after maybe 20 seconds he can play a new melody line
over the old line. It goes a little in the Terry Riley way of
producing music which I like, in fact, very much. I like this piece
very much. I think it's a very beautiful end for this record."
Part I

     The beginning is Baumann on Fender Rhodes piano, "playing very
lonely notes", with bell-like Moog tones from Franke, joined by an
oboe sound from Froese's Mellotron. All three lines come closer and
closer together, but there are quiet spaces between the notes.
     "It's the first time we have put breaks between the notes, but
it's very important, so you can get your brain clear for what's
     A very high melody line on Franke's Moog comes over the long,
slow notes, is joined by tapes of mixed voices on the Mellotron
with glissandi from Baumann. The Moog melody returns and Froese
changes to strings tapes for a brief section of trumpet-like tune
and strings.
     "Peter has some very nice voltage-controlled bits with the
synthi. Sometimes he comes very near with his glissandi, through
the well tempered melody line. I like it very much if there are two
scales of notes together -- a well-tempered scale and a
not-tempered scale producing, like birds, quarter notes, like
     "This part gives me the impression of a very big river, at the
end of the river coming into a big sea, the ocean. It's very
     Wind noise is followed by a cymbal-like tone created by a
cluster of 20 or 30 notes very close together and a very low bass,
with feelings of fuzz in it. "It's a little meditation tone."
     After a rhythm sequence, Froese plays the main theme on the
strings followed by a remarkable duet between Baumann's Fender
Rhodes and Froese's oboe-tapes, in which they swap phrases and half
phrases. The rhythm continues, very ostinato, "a repetitive rhythm
like the Negroes make it, very often", Baumann switches to organ
and the duet continues.
     The rhythm doubles and Franke adds an overdubbed piano tape
loop: a backwards tape is joined to a forwards tape so that the
sound comes to its attack and then dies away.
     The rhythm becomes very complex, with Moog tones and
snare-drum sounds, plus overdubbed piano, "prepared" with pieces of
wood stuck between the strings to give a more percussive effect.
Over this Froese plays chords and Baumann plays a very high melody
line on organ.
     A change in the rhythm is overlaid by clashing sounds from
Baumann's voltage controlled oscillator, played over a very
fast-running Leslie speaker and very long echo delay. Froese plays
a reprise of the original oboe melody while the decay of the snare
drum sound becomes longer and longer so that the beat disappears.
Later Baumann plays grand piano over a Leslie.
     "In this piece I think all the melodies, rhythms and all the
sounds are much, much more complex and much better than on Phaedra.
I think it is a step forward, this record."
     The piece ends with a long sitar-like sound created by
scraping the strings of a grand piano with a piece of metal,
recording it, cutting off the attack at the beginning of the note,
and playing it back on multi-track at different speeds, giving
several different pitches.
     The rhythm becomes simpler and simpler, moving from three to
two to one single tone, and the piano loops are faded across to
each other, making chords, slowly shifting.

Part II

     "The second side is beginning with the sound of contemporary
music, a mixture of a gong sound and very complex glissandi sounds
made with several synthis, about seven different glissandi, three
synchronised on the Moog which is very easy to do, and other made
with other generators going up and down at different speeds and
between different intervals. So it is like the pile of a carpet, a
carpet of glissandi.
     "I like this beginning because it is very different from
everything we've made before. It is really a piece of timbre music
with lines so close together that you cannot separate them."
     The glissandi section is followed by Moog sounds recorded on
Mellotron tapes and played by Froese. Baumann's Leslie organ  goes
to a fundamental major C chord which is picked up by a very fast,
almost subsonic bass rhythm.
     The very percussive rhythm is in fact two sequencers, and
Franke is switching from one to the other, changing notes in each
sequencer as he changes. "I make accents on several notes by
playing the filter which makes the timbre higher."
     Over "clouds of chords" on the Mellotron and Leslie organ and
synthi and Moog rhythm, Froese overdubs a backwards tape of guitar
played with echo.
     The rhythm has changed to a deep heartbeat tempo, which fades
and then returns at a higher pitch, more prominently, under
Baumann's fast, staccato organ. A twittering sound is created by
oscillators controlling other oscillators.
     "It is frequency modulation, controlling one tone with the
wave of another. That's what the birds can do with their voice,
changing the tone so quickly that you get a noise sound from it."
     The side moves towards its end with concrete sounds of sea
recorded on the South coast of England, played on two tape machines
with varying speeds so there is phasing, changing the location of
the sound.
     "This technique is important for the work that Edgar did with
the artificial head on his solo album, 'Aqua', because with phasing
you can change where the sound comes from, not only from side to
side, like ordinary stereo, but also from front to back.
     "You have only two channels for hearing, so with stereo you
can hear everything. Quadraphonics is only a game. It's not really
good, only pseudo-space."
     The piece ends with a relaxed sequence for three organs and
flute Mellotron, long, gentle chords with the flute flying at
almost stratospheric level, fading like the flute in Debussy's
"Afternoon of a Faun".
     "This is music that we would like to perform in churches, all
evening, without rhythms. Maybe each one of us is playing in a
different place in the church, and the natural reverb makes it a
very smooth sound.
     "We bought a generator to make power so that we can make that
music outside, in total silence, in forests maybe."
Issued in Germany by Ohr-Musik, Berlin: 
Electronic Meditation (1970) 
Alpha Centauri (1971) released in UK as Polydor Super 2383314 
Zeit -double album (1972) 
Atem (1973) released in UK as Polydor Super 2383297

Released in UK by Virgin Records 
Phaedra (1974) V2010 
Aqua - Edgar Froese solo album (1974) V2016 
Rubycon (1975) V2025 
Epsilon In Malaysian Pale - Edgar Froese solo album (1975) TCV 2040

     "Kraut Rock" is a meaningless genre invented by xenophobic
critics, claims Gerald O'Connell. In fact, Germany is the most
important centre of musical experimentation in the seventies. If
you have prejudices to shed, prepare to shed them now...
     For the past five years or so there has been a gradually
increasing awareness of German rock in Britain and America, but the
process has been a slow, and in some rather unfortunate cases,
painful one, The generally accepted idea is that German rock is at
best brilliant but rather cold and uninvolved, and at worst
gloomily derivative of the superior Anglo-American product. Both of
these views ignore the most important point of all: German
musicians have grown up in a social and cultural environment which
is unique, and which has shaped their ideas in such a way as to
create a large body of highly original and worthwhile music, What
i want to do here is to examine that environment and perhaps
establish some of its main connections with the music.
     The most startling aspect of the native German scene is the
extent to which it is fragmented. There are no established musical
centres like London, New York or LA where musicians congregate
around recording facilities and large audiences. Any list of major
bands reveals an equally long catalogue of place-names with which
they have remained in association over their whole life-span, The
result has been an almost total absence of cross-fertilization of
styles or any prevailing musical orthodoxy. Bands like Amon Duul II
in Munich, Can in Cologne and Tangerine Dream in West Berlin have
developed more or less in isolation, and their music has taken a
course directed more by the logical development of certain
individuals' artistic ideals than anything else. This lack of
elitism is a barrier in some ways -- nobody is likely to get into
a series of German bands because x reminds him of y and so on.
However, it does cultivate originality and avoid the mindless
bandwagoning endemic to Britain and America: psychedelic rock,
country-rock, glam-rock. What's next, Kraut-rock? No chance.
     Of course, the other great impetus for this particularly
insidious characteristic of rock music is a commercial one -- it
simply pays well to follow the market leaders. This force too is
mostly missing in German rock. Those who copy British or American
bands tend to be ignored completely, and nobody of any originality
is making enough money to attract a spate of imitators. The mass
audiences of German youth are still largely wary of their own
culture -- the shattering psychological aftermath of World War II
in West Germany is still felt in areas like Music, where it is
considered more wholesome to import Anglo-American developments
lock, stock and barrel. A number of members of Amon Duul II have
admitted to me that they see little hope of financial success in
Germany, no matter what they do. The result is that they have
played the music they enjoy and feel to be most valuable, and then
attempted to sell it outside Germany.
     This situation has also meant an absence of any large-scale
live audience for German bands. Consequently they have not been
under the kind of pressure to 'entertain' that we take for granted
in Britain and America -- nobody has ever had to stop to bother
about whether anyone can dance to their music (Germans are too
reserved for that sort of thing anyway), and records rather than
live appearances are the accepted medium. It is fairly easy to see,
therefore, why so many bands seem to be operating on the
technological frontiers of rock. The Kraftwerk/ Neu/ Cluster/
Harmonia family of groups -- the two members of Neu had been in
Kraftwerk previously, and when they split up, Michael Rother joined
the two members of Cluster and the band became known as Harmonia --
have consistently created music rooted in electronics and based on
machine rhythms, and are a good example of this tendency! In fact,
this type of approach often appears to be the sole common thread
running through German rock -- a fascination for pure sound and its
electronic manipulation in music is still an important factor. To
see why this should still be the case in Germany, while it has been
considered passe elsewhere, it is necessary to go back to the
contrasting situations of the late sixties.
     West Germany in 1967 saw no 'Summer of Love'. The bland
consumer culture created by the post-war economic miracle was an
absorbing preoccupation in a nation anxious to forget its recent
past, and far too many young people were caught up in its delights
for such wild notions as 'flower power' and 'alternative
lifestyles' to gain much grip on their imagination. The system had
its critics, but they were few and isolated. Typically based in
universities and art schools, they regarded the majority of rock
uncritically imported by their contemporaries with justifiable
suspicion: it all looked like more garbage from the capitalist
conveyor belt. When, in 1968, Europe was swept by student unrest,
these strange little outposts found themselves in the vanguard of
a widespread change in attitudes. More significantly, in their
midst there appeared a series of musicians determined to carry
their political commitment into the musical sphere. This movement
was never discredited in the way that the Anglo-American hippie
phenomenon was: it even had its successes -- the downfall of the de
Gaulle government in France was attributed in large part to the
initial student disturbances of 1968.
     By contrast, in England and America, the forward-looking
musical developments of the late sixties have largely been cast
aside in favour of a gradually imploding artistic form. We have
fled enormous resilience and sense of musical purpose which is
finally beginning to pay dividends.
     There is such an enormous variety of music now coming out of
West Germany that none of the characterizations of 'Krautrock'
which have been made in Britain and America are at all adequate. On
the one hand there are a number of jazz-rock groups of varying
degrees of originality, the most prominent being Embryo led by
Christian Burchard. They have made a series of albums (two
featuring veteran jazzman Mal Waltron) of an extremely high
standard, which, had they been made by an English or American
group, would have attracted a good deal of attention. As it is,
they are still unknown. In another direction there are ballads like
Jane and Grobschnitt (both on Brain-Metronome) who sound very much
like British hard-rock bands, but with a higher level of
composition and musicianship. Jane in particular show a sense of
dynamics and swing not usually associated with continental bands,
and their first album remains an all-time classic.
     Disproving the cliche that German rock is humourless and
over-intellectual, Guru-Guru's albums have been consciously
ingenuous in their own meandering sort of way. Enormous brass band
riffs degenerate rapidly into acid-distorted Chuck Berry and Bo
Diddley interpretations; but behind everything there is always a
great sense of fun in their music.
     Both Jane and Guru-Guru have worked with producer/engineer
Conny Plank at some time, and his influence on German rock has been
tremendous. Plank's ability to get a crisp, immediate sound on disc
is unequalled anywhere - but he does not make this his sole
objective. Working with groups of various styles and aims he has
rarely failed to use advanced studio techniques in order to enhance
the musical end product. His views on his own role in the recording
process are highly instructive:
     "It is my conviction that every music has its own sound
landscape and its own sound weather, and it is the task and duty of
the producer to feel and consider this very special climate."
     It is this willingness to adjust his approach to the needs and
requirements of the bands he is working with that makes Plank's
work so important in Germany. There is no such thing as the 'Conny
Plank sound' and this is deliberate. He is scathing in his
criticisms of developments in recording outside Germany -- the
progress made in the sixties impressed him, but then, "this
development degenerated into an empty mannerism which turned the
sound of even good bands into insensitive music."
     And here perhaps he has encapsulated the difference between
what is happening in Germany and events elsewhere: there is still
a belief in individuality and experimentation for its own sake,
coupled with a healthy attitude to the future of rock, rather than
a necrophiliac obsession with its past. For my own part I believe
that this attitude is sufficiently ingrained to survive the
vagaries of financial success. Hopefully, the musicians I have
mentioned (and many others besides) will get the chance to prove me

The instruments that make the music discussed by Chris Simmons.
     Future generations of music students will surely regard the
synthesizer as the instrument of the seventies. Although electronic
keyboard prototypes had been designed years earlier, it was only in
the seventies that the boundaries and conceptions of rock music
were greatly expanded by the widespread acceptance and use of the
new keyboards. Of the many exponents of electronic music currently
advancing the conceptions of sound, Tangerine Dream are one of the
most prominent. Their own success story is dealt with elsewhere:
here we concern ourselves with the workings of their chosen
instruments and, with the three members handling some four
keyboards each, the total array is a formidable one.
     Technically, the proficient keyboard player can learn to play
the synthesizer without difficulty, but along with its advantages
it brings several drawbacks. While the sound of the electronic
keyboard is quite innovative, its capabilities remove all the old
conceptions of music making. The player and audience must both
learn to accept totally new modes of expression. With such new
sounds, then, it is gratifying to find the internal workings of the
synthesizer suitably complex. Fronting the T. Dream line-up are the
Moog, the VCS3 and the Mellotron, a potent combination more than
capable of providing their unique sound.
     The original idea behind the design of the Moog, so named
after American founder Dr. Robert Moog, came from the workings of
the already established electric instruments. The guitar, for
instance, functions by taking an acoustically produced note, and
changing it via the pick-up into electrical energy and then back
into a different sound, perhaps louder and with different tonal
qualities through a speaker. The idea for the synthesizer was to
dispense with the acoustic origin of the sound, and use in its
place an electrical component capable of transmitting the same
characteristics in an electrical current as the magnetic pick-up.
This component was the oscillator, and forms the basis of the Moog.
Varying amounts of electrical energy can be passed through the
oscillator, determining the intensity of the current, and thus the
final note. So, almost by itself, the little oscillator facilitates
simple production of truly electronic music. The current produced
by the oscillator can be turned into the sound of a certain pitch,
and so much more voltage will produce the note a tone or semi-tone
above, and less current similarly gives out the lower notes. Thus
middle C on the synthesizer keyboard, although finally playing
middle C through the speaker, is simply the tab providing the
amount of current needed to make the sound of middle C. So far, so
     However, when another key is pressed down, our overworked
oscillator receives not two separate voltages, but the sum of the
two voltages. The resultant note would be well out of tune with
everything else, with the consequence that the oscillator is by
necessity monophonic. Still, the oscillator can be additionally
controlled from another source, to give it attack and decay for
example, and the tone can be altered by means of filters and other
components which can themselves be manually adjusted like the tone
controls on any amplifier.
     For the production and adjustment of the note, the synthesizer
basically has three circuits; tone sources, tone modifiers and
control devices. The tone sources, as we have seen, derive from the
oscillator with its minor subsidiary noise generators. The tone
modifiers include several filters and modulators, controlled in
most cases by a sample and hold circuit. This is the facility so
often used by the showman who wants to impress his audience by
leaving his machine to 'play by itself' while he walks away from
     It is obviously necessary to tune the oscillators to the same
pitch as the other instruments in the band, and this has been one
of the primary problems in synthesizer technology. For T. Dream,
using so many electronic keyboards, keeping in tune throughout a
gig has been their major problem, expressed so often by band
spokesman Edgar Froese. "We have tuned up half an hour before the
start," he said recently, "only to find that temperature changes
had forced the instruments out of tune."
     Nowadays any tendency towards temperament on the part of the
components is minimised at the manufacturing stage by a simple
survival of the fittest system. The completed instrument is left to
run for some hours, and anything that can't take it is removed and
replaced, and the test repeated until the instrument is stable.
Unfortunately this means that for the components to be stable the
machine must be given some time to warm up. A fine tuner control
allows final adjustments to be made if necessary, and the concert
is ready to begin.
     The VCS3, also extensively played by Froese, has since its
inception in 1969 been one of the most popular synthesizer models.
Its attractive features include compactness combined with
versatility, and, like the Moog, is capable of producing the most
unusual sounds and effects so vital to the T. Dream music. With the
same basic oscillator principle, the VCS3 features attack, decay
and reverberation controls among others, and, while the panel looks
like the flight deck of Apollo 6, the instrument can turn out
noises ranging from simulated drum ruffles to vowel-sounding
     The third main instrument in the band's line up, already well
used by such exponents as Tony McPhee and Patrick Moraz, is the
mellotron. Though the mellotron sounds are as exciting in their own
way as the synthesizers', it operates on rather different
principles. Originally designed by another American called
Chamberlain, the 400, the most popular model, contains 35
pre-recorded tapes each with three parallel tracks. The depression
of a key causes one of these tapes to run. The normal sounds on
these tapes are flute, three violins and a cello, although a tape
of any instrument can be installed to particular requirements, A
track selector chooses a sound, and on adjacent tracks the machine
facilitates a mix of two tapes. The single keyboard model includes
volume, tone and track controls, with a patch controller for tuning
and special effects, plus the swell foot pedal. It is a sure sign
of the rapid advancement in the electronic keyboard field that
Mellotronics (responsible for manufacture and distribution) have
recently introduced a new two-keyboard model, incorporating 40
tapes mounted on movable and interchangeable heads.
     Whether you like their music or not, the members of Tangerine
Dream are certainly fine and adventurous musicians and the
combination of such players and such machines should certainly give
the current music something to sit up and listen to very carefully.