|D>Elektro |2.1| |> Material|
||> History/ies + Sounds|
|of modern electronic / experimental music in Germany |<|
D>Elektro 2.1 - |> Material |> Press | Interviews
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.
Christoph Franke: We went through a long period of experiment. We
used other instruments, special guitars and so on, to try for
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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 aspects.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
Based on extracts from conversations in London and Berlin between April 1974 and July 1975. Copyright, 1975, Karl Dallas.