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radio too struggled to find a new art form to come to terms with this specific aspect of the medium, and that was the radio play.
At first an attempt was made to fill out classical theatrical material with elaborate acoustic ‹settings›: sabres rattle, doors bang, feet march rhythmically on crunching gravel, all this had to be created appropriately and on time in the studio, as all broadcast were live, with a single microphone in the broadcasting studio. (see « acoustic stage set of a battle in the broadcast studio,» 1924) It was only the arrival of the talkies in the late 1920s that provided a storage medium offering a perfect synthesis of image and sound. The equipment needed for Tri-Ergon optical sound recording used to fill an entire truck, today such a device fits in your trouser pocket. It was possible to record sounds from ‹real life› and, for the first time, to process them using editing and montage. These techniques were first used for a radio play in 1930, its author: Walter Ruttmann.
But before we come to this radio play we must cast a glance at Ruttmann's work after the «absolute film.» In 1927 he made «Berlin. Die Sinfonie einer Großstadt»,
a film without actors, without a screenplay and without a story. It consists simply of a day's events in the metropolis, and Ruttmann works by «selecting, grouping and using montage» on «natural material.»
Ruttmann also uses this «creeping up on reality» in his first and only radio play. The eloquent title «Weekend» (1930) in fact explains what the play is about: the events of a weekend from Saturday evening to Monday morning are presented using only sounds recorded on the spot, compressed into 11 minutes. It is an acoustic film without images, artistically as well as technically. Ruttmann himself refers to it as «photographic sound art.» [QT]
Ruttmann uses montage associatively, for example as the weekend dies away, almost literally: in the ‹fade-out› of the weekend, which can be taken almost literally: first the clink of glasses as ‹cheers› is said, then the animals' bells, finally the church bells, in the evening and at night, and in the morning the ring of the alarm clock and the rhythm of work making its reluctant start. As a sound montage, «Weekend» anticipates both Musique concrète (Pierre Schaeffer)