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Berlin. Die Sinfonie der Gro▀stadt (Ruttmann, Walter), 1927
 
 
 

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more so a pure, sound-oriented existence as a simple reproduction. That never applies to us: our use of everyday sounds is always very direct. One of our works refers to a radio play by Walter Ruttmann. In the 1920s and early 1930s, Ruttmann carried out many fascinating projects in Germany, one being »Berlin. Die Sinfonie der Großstadt« a silent movie for which he developed his own editing technique. Ruttmann’s film depicts the passing of a typical day in Berlin: waking up in the morning, men cleaning the streets, then the raucous bustle of the workday, with howling sirens, throbbing machines, workers and coffee breaks, the workday ending again, and even more. Ruttmann also made a radio play version of this project, entitled «Weekend». (Walter Ruttmann, «Weekend,» 1930) Here he depicts a virtual weekend. Because there was no other technique for sound editing at that time, he used film sound. This technique is called TriErgon. He recorded everyday sounds while driving through the city in a van: people at work, walking or hiking. What makes this interesting now is that Ruttmann’s material was, so to speak, edited musically; he developed a score, and the sounds were edited in a way that

 

created a great dynamic. This is what makes his radio play sound so modern, and it ranks among one of the first «recorded» radio plays. Before that, there were only «live» radio plays, with actors that spoke into microphones. The radio station of the Bayerische Rundfunk approached us about making a remix of «Weekend». DJ Spooky and Mick Harris had already done so. But while listening to the original, we quickly realized that the original was perfect. It was too good to make again as a remix. For us, it seemed senseless to create samples and to put a beat behind them. So we tried to reconstruct Ruttmann’s method with modern means. We went through the city with mini-disk and data recorders; we eavesdropped on Berlin, and while certain sounds, such as church bells and footsteps, remained unchanged, other sounds did change, and more sounds were added to those, namely all the technical sounds: the subway, clicking noises, and money machines at the bank. All around us, everything peeped or whistled. From our own material, we created an audio-piece within a situation similar to Ruttmann’s. He was actually a Pre-Musique Concrète artist, and given the conditions he worked under,

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