few years ago I wrote to Tangerine Dream and received a somewhat
esoteric reply stating, "Some wise guy once pointed out that
talking about music is like dancing about architecture."
This especially rings true when discussing instrumental music, but I
could not resist sticking my neck out by asking Edgar how a typical
Tangerine Dream track, if indeed there is such a thing, is composed
and recorded. "It's still the same, like in the old days. We
could start very simply with a bass line the function of which is
like the old basso continuum in Bach music, and then move into
nearly a classical counterpoint structure with up to five or six
independent voices, like in Bach's counterpoint stuff, for example.
If you do this in popular music today most people would not realise
what really goes on, but that's not a point you can think about too
much because it's a personal way of describing things."
also work in a very normal way, starting with a melody line, moving
into harmonising melodies and adding rhythm, bass and drums, so for
us it's a matter of choosing how to compose and record."
Having established that change is an integral part of Tangerine
Dream, how have your latter compositions developed from your earlier
ones? "As I've said, things are constantly changing, but the
problem is keeping what we call the red line - a kind of background
situation which will very often not be heard in the foreground. It's
more a mental part of what we do and that's very hard to describe,
like describing emotions." Or dancing about architecture.
That said, you no longer compose or perform the so-called
atmospheric or "spacey" sections of music for which
Tangerine Dream became recognised. Why is this? "The reason
has nothing to do with music because Tangerine Dream is a kind of
concept, starting in September '67 and going through many different
stages and levels. The red line is going through it all, but
Tangerine Dream is like breathing - the first twelve or thirteen
years was breathing out and the other decade is breathing in. The
simple concept is the inside and outside world. It's more
complicated if you go into it, but breathing in means that by the
natural aspect of breathing, it's inside and not spacey. It's not
macrocosm, it's microcosm." Likewise your current
compositions are generally a lot shorter than in the past. When
interviewing Klaus Schulze, himself a former member of Tangerine
Dream, for the June 1994 issue of Keyboard, I asked him why he has
never performed in the United States given that Tangerine Dream have
successfully toured there on several occasions. He replied:
"Well, in their first American concerts Tangerine Dream played
long pieces, like myself, but as they spent more time in America
they shortened them, because that's the American way of
entertainment." Would you agree with Klaus' assessment?
I absolutely disagree with Klaus, because the length of our pieces
has nothing to do with America or experiences we've had in America.
When I came to the States for the first time back in '74, I stood
there for quite a while and immediately got hit by all the
commercialism, the short top 40 radio pieces and everything. Even
then, I had no intentions of shortening our pieces right away. The
length of our compositions has much more to do with reading -
sometimes you want to read a novel, then maybe a thick book about
different philosophies and once in a while you want to read short
stories. I would say the composer has a right to follow the same
line as a writer does, for instance."
notable former members of Tangerine Dream live in the United States.
Much has been written about the departure of Peter Baumann, founding
father of Private Music with whom Tangerine Dream ironically later
signed in Los Angeles, and Christopher Franke, Edgar's longest
serving music colleague of seventeen years now residing in Los
Angeles as a successful soundtrack composer in his own right and a
respected member of Keyboard's Advisory Board.
this mass exodus can be partly explained by supposedly greater
financial opportunities on offer - a terminal dose of what Edgar
fondly refers to as the American influenza. Not so well documented
in the exit of fellow Los Angeles "casualty" Paul
Haslinger in early 1991. When Keyboard last featured Tangerine Dream
in their November 1988 issue, Paul appeared to be very enthusiastic,
so why did he choose to leave?
had the American influenza, which can only be healed by moving to
the place the influenza comes from. It's what I personally call
traveller's homeopathic therapy. So Paul lives like most other
former Tangerine Dream members in LA. He was, and somehow still is,
a very talented and funny companion. Unfortunately, he got screwed
by a few people in the LA business, but I personally wish him the
very best because I know LA specifically can be a monster and,
before you realise it, you find yourself in the monster's stomach
eaten for breakfast! Hopefully, Paul will hear his wake up call in
time. He has just released his first solo record called Future
Primitive and made a quite interesting approach into what I would
call a bizarre landscape of sounds. I hope he can continue that way
and, of course, wish him a lot of luck."
that musically you appear to be leaning more towards an American
audience these days, at least in terms of touring and record
companies, why have you chosen to resolutely remain in Europe?
"First of all, as a whole band we love the American
audience. They are somehow emotionally very warm, direct,
uncomplicated and open. But loving these people and is one thing and
spending your entire lifetime over there is something completely
different. My personal roots are growing very deeply in the ground
of Europe. Lots of my musical inspiration is European-influenced.
It's like my backbone. Many years ago I remember I wanted to move to
Australia maybe for one or two years, but even then I would have
come back to Europe." Some former colleagues are still
European-based. Do you remain in contact and have an opinion about
their post-Tangerine Dream work? "I'm in contact with
Johannes Schmoelling. He lives in Berlin too where he runs his own
private studio. He's producing quite a lot of music for theater
plays and I quite like the stuff he does. I've known Klaus Schulze
for many years and he is producing masses of music so that even I
can't listen to it all. It's his philosophy of doing it and I get
the impression that he needs that sort of workaholic way of playing
around with sounds. My contact with all other former band members is
American realist director William Friedkin asked Tangerine Dream to
score the music soundtrack for his follow-up to The Exorcist in 1976
to much critical acclaim, the group found themselves in the unlikely
position of Hollywood darlings.
lucrative second career ensued funding vast amounts of unique
custom-built equipment put to mind-blowing use on record and stages
throughout the world. With today's commercial music technology
readily available at more realistic prices, soundtrack work no
longer plays such a vital role and Edgar's reason for cutting back
on this activity provides another interesting insight into his
psyche. "It has no real relevant aspect right now. We
refused to compose five scores in 1994 alone. We are not interested
in these bloody, horrific, macho-type of car chasing thrillers and
often asked myself which brain in this terrible, horrific world of
lunatic humans and monsters needs a second illusion which
illustrates all of this again on a big screen just for money
purposes. Tangerine Dream did some scores a few years ago which I
personally will not identify myself with any longer. As a composer,
you have a responsability to what and how you apply your mental
creativity. I am realistic enough to know what a good thriller is,
without having to see heads and legs getting cut off in slow motion,
five times in a row. However, if a great movie comes along where we
feel we can talk to the director and producer and find a way on an
intelligent basis to work things out, then we are definitely on
again." In the past you worked with Michael Mann on two
occasions. Is it true that he approached Tangerine Dream with a view
to scoring the music for Miami Vice?
heard that Michael originally was interested in us because Thief was
quite a big success for him personally and it was a kind of music
that had not been heard in movie theaters before. So when he started
thinking about the score for Miami Vice, he thought about us too."
we did not talk about it because at the same time we signed up for
what was supposed to be another big TV series in America, so we
could not even meet. When we signed the contract for Streethawk, it
was supposed to be about thirty to forty sequences, but after a big
take off the series died after twelve sequences and Miami Vice went
on for years."
life goes, I was never depressed about it because I know Jan Hammer
didn't know whether it was a huge burden or if he was quite lucky to
sign for the series. It brought him a lot of money, but artistically
I know that it is hard work to go on and do three or four sequences
every month. That's about an hour and a half of music material."
In this case, it appears that Jan Hammer attempted to compose in a
similar style to Tangerine Dream. "That's true. Jan Hammer
did lean his stuff quite closely to what we were doing specifically
at that period of time, but what can you do about it? He is a very
talented musician and overall he did a good job. I'm very happy if a
talented and true musician on this planet has enough money to make a
good living and can be creative. If there is sometimes a crossfade
of interests, I would say as long as you are creative and original
there is enough money and work for all of us."
is particularly ironic that Christopher Franke considers electronic
music to be seen in some way as second class in American film
circles since it is sometimes produced very quickly and simply. With
this in mind, he has formed the Berlin Symphonic Orchestra for
soundtrack work in a quest for melding electronic and acoustic
instrumentation. This, together with his assessment of Tangerine
Dream's current music losing its original appeal, understandably
cuts no ice with Edgar. "I have to disagree with Mr Franke.
I would say an outstanding Hollywood film composer is, and has to
be, a professional and extraordinary artist, no matter if they make
music by blowing into a glass bottle or conducting a 180 piece
orchestra. That is common, artistic law in the business, so if you
want to stay there for many years, permanently increasing your
professional abilities and reputation, then you have to be that way.
But there are great synthesizer scores and great symphonic scores -
apart from our own work - Vangelis and Zimmer have also shown
brilliantly how it perfectly works in both directions. There are
great scores featuring just country music or scores just compiled
from songs. No matter what it is, it's just music, so to say
electronic scores are out of fashion is absolutely incorrect and
simply one subjective opinion by Mr. Franke, who might have a reason
to think so." Fair comment, but it is true that Tangerine
Dream have also employed orchestras in the past. For example, in the
early 1980s you worked with the Munich Philharmonics for a European
television appearance and your version of Ravel's orchestration of
Mussorgsky's 'Pictures At An Exhibition' on Turn Of The Tides
features the Vienna Horn Ensemble. On your brand new release,
Tyranny of Beauty, there is the orchestral version of Frederic
have always tried to introduce different sound colours into our
music and we have from time to time used orchestras on our records.
We've found it rather stupid to put different value parameters to
the use of technical hardware or the stylistic side of human
software - it is the quality of the composition which counts
One of our next steps will be to perform an orchestral versions of
Tyranny of Beauty with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchester in Europe
and possibly the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchester in the USA and we
also started composing a classical music play to be performed in
Sydney, Australia in 1998 - it will be Dantes 'Divine Comedy' for
full orchestra and mixed choir. So we are quite into classical
scoring, but inbetween we will continue with our other work
including electronic sound research and get the same results."
Referring to his latter days with Tangerine Dream, Christopher
Franke is on record as saying, "We did not have the time to
explore our minds or the great computer instruments we had at our
disposal. Kids with much more time than us, but less experience,
began producing better sounds, and I began to feel our quality was
dropping. This was a very bad feeling for a group who always wanted
to be on the cutting edge of music." Have you been able to
remedy this situation in recent years?
artist must be judged by what he 'does' and not by what he says. Mr.
Franke is speaking for himself in this case. Within the last 8 years
- after his departure from T.D. - he had the opportunity to show
what he really wanted to do 'without the pressure of the band'. So
judge him by the work he's done on TV scores and other compositions:
If that's the cutting edge of music he wanted to move into, then
others may judge this - No comment from my side. Tangerine Dream's
inner quality of composition always had other goals and perspectives
than often described even by some of my former colleagues, I'm
personally not a speedway-donkey on the cutting edge of musical
opportunism - people who can and will listen to the body of our
music, know this."
what have Tangerine Dream been up to lately? Well, having done
sequencer work for about eighteen years, Edgar has talked about
their recent albums of shorter tracks in terms of "song
structures", stating, "that period has now ended with a
record we will be releasing in early '95." What can you
tell us about this new record? "The one that's finishing
this cycle is called 'Tyranny Of Beauty'. It was born out of the
fact that the term beauty is more and more ruling a big portion of
our day-to-day lives. Models have become extremely popular. Work-out
videos are always top sellers. People try to re-shape their bodies
to become more beautiful, but what about all the so called 'normal
ugly ones ' who can't measure up to all these beautiful images ? 'Is
anybody out there asking to re-shape of our terribly confused mental
structures which rule our daily lifes from tragedy to tragedy ?
Everything is being brought back to the individual and that's part
of the materialist world. You suddenly realise that this world
doesn't look beautiful at all, so the record is somehow a bit of a
final description of the way all things have to go and that's why
the cycle ends that way."
the start of the next cycle on the next record we have a very
optimistic forecast of another area with things starting much better
and even ending much better, but that's something different. So,
talking about Tyranny Of Beauty, that's what it's all about."
then said Tangerine Dream will be going, "in a completely
different direction. In terms of technologies, it will change the
complete process of composing. We will have a short break for about
a year, change systems and places, and then be back in early '96
with a completely different musical approach." Can you
expand on this statement? "No, because even for ourselves it
will be quite a change and so it would take too much away from it's
integrity and impact if I started talking about it." In
changing "systems and places", will this involve
physically moving, perhaps to the United States? "Let's put
it this way: It will be a move, but not in terms of location and we
will not move to the US, except for longer or shorter visits."
Your ability to smoothly join one distinct section of music to
another always made for fascinating listening and, to a certain
extent, you still do this in concert. Is there a possibility of
Tangerine Dream composing longer tracks again?
I guess we will on what we call the new style release, but people
should not be surprised because even long pieces will have a
different meaning to us, so it's not always the timing itself which
makes the piece long."
1973 - 1983 Edgar spent much of 1994 comfortably ensconced in the
studio compiling Tangents: 1973 - 1983, a beautifully packaged
retrospective boxed set of five CDs of studio; live; soundtrack and
unreleased recordings dating from Tangerine Dream's seminal years
with Virgin Records. He is credited with all remixes; arrangements;
additional recordings and, in some cases, re-recordings - a mammoth
task indeed given the vast Tangerine Dream catalogue from this
far as the public reaction is concerned the boxed set is quite
successful. A lot of people like it and somehow a lot of people were
waiting for it, so because of that I've got a lot of offers for
those records produced between the period of '83 and '88 - almost
another ten records. They're contractually free and ready to be
re-released. Maybe they could form another boxed set, but there's no
hurry and the Virgin boxed set was such a terrible procedure in
terms of work that I have to give myself a rest." When
making additional recordings it must have been difficult to select
new sounds that would sympathetically blend with the original
atmosphere of the tracks?
had to break into the very specific aura of the old days, otherwise
I would have had no chance of reproducing anything. That gave me a
lot of headaches because musically I did like the time, but mentally
and for some social surroundings I did not like the time very much,
so it was a heavy procedure for myself mentally to move into that
period of time again."
it was not a problem at all because I have all the hardware and
necessary software and just had to pick up the right piece of
equipment. Everything is MIDI-fied, so I could easily connect
things. That was the cool part of the story."
did you go about completely re-recording tracks like 'Logos (Blue
Part)' which are instantly recognisable, yet brought up to date into
the current Tangerine Dream style?
was an idea of showing a bit of the red line which runs precisely
from the very early days of Tangerine Dream, even from the days when
we did not record any records in '67/'68. So it was a good
opportunity to move into various aspects of our music from what I
would call anarchy to conventional structures and back again.
Sometimes I could stay within the given parameters and sometimes I
added new sounds just to show the progression into different areas.
'Logos' specifically wasn't that difficult because basslines and
chords are already more conventionally structured in the original
1981 version and also the melody lines do not contain too much ad
lib playing - so this was just half as complicated as for instance
the 'Ricochet' or 'Force Majeure' stuff, which had much more
improvised sequences with lots of random events in all parts of the
composition. The work on these tracks brought me to the edge of my
patience and my own musical abilities as far as reproductive
creativity is concerned."
have to point out clearly that working as an artist with very
precise ideas of what you want to do and later on listening to the
stuff as part of the audience and following their pre-conceptual
ideas of what Tangerine Dream has to be is a completely different
story. People should respect the artist here, I guess." Did
you record new parts onto the original master tapes or digitally
copy them beforehand? "I would say I did everything possible
from the remixing of original 8-track and 24-track tapes to doing
recordings parallel to the sometimes very noisy original quarter
inch master tapes and then taking the original away, leaving the new
recording which obviously then had a very strong correspondence to
did some overdubbings of some endings and starting points of pieces
that had to be cut for inclusion on the boxed set because they were
originally 18 minutes long and I was only able to use six or seven
minutes. As working tools to do the entire process I used two Mac
Quadra 650 (32MB Ram), two Mac Quadra 840 AV (also 32 MB). Pro Tools
Harddisc Recording (16 Track) using 4 Quantum Empire Harddisc's.
Sequencer Software Cubase Audio DAE and Opcode's Studio Vision Pro
in connection with Galaxy Editors. Midi routing: Opcodes Studio 5
LX. For various Soundtreatments I used Digidesigns DINR
Noisereduction and the L1 Ultra Maximizer + Q 10 EQ from WAVES.
Another treatment was given to the final master with the Junger
Audio digital dynamics processor D 02. Various parts of
postproduction equipment are custom build for very specific needs
within the studio periphery."
the endless process of equalisation given to all sounds has taken a
big portion of time. I think that it does not make any sense to give
exactly the same thing to people who already have the entire
Tangerine Dream catalogue, even on CD. There has to be a difference
in soundquality and musical treatment otherwise there is no point in
them spending their money on something they have already got. For
this reason I do not understand the point of critics from some
quarters who say, 'Hey, why did you not leave it the way it was?'"
years ago you stated that you counted around ten triple albums worth
of unused material dating from your last years with Virgin Records.
Christopher Franke claimed that by percentage you were responsible
for the group's organisation whilst he concentrated more on the
music production side, although a degree of overlapping did
naturally exist. Given that Tangents: 1973 - 1983 is intended as a
Tangerine Dream retrospective, some would argue that it is strange
that the majority of the unreleased tracks on are solo recordings by
of all, lots of thanks to Mr Franke for his dignified description of
my musical envolvement in Tangerine Dreams work - is it a joke? It
is true that I am a musician and a businessman and Mr. Franke
profited from both my efforts. It's far below my professional
attitude to move into more precise description of Mr. Franke's
strange memories. The fact is, that both of these gentlemen - Mr.
Baumann and Mr. Franke - were not available at the time this project
needed to be finished in Berlin. Baumann was not doing music anymore
and Franke was scoring TV series in LA. I had to find my way through
hours of material which could be used for this project without
waiting for their comments. Please understand that it is waste of
time to explain this unpleasant background."
performance has always been important to Tangerine Dream. Only their
numerous other activities prevent Edgar from going out on the road
more often, such is his enthusiasm after so many years: "Unfortunately,
we have always had a schedule problem. We have private contacts in
Japan and go there often because we are involved in some equipment
developments but we simply cannot play there at the moment. It's a
similar situation with Australia, but there are quite a few things
you have to plan long in advance and some others, which are quite
important for the development of the band, will come in on short
early tours were plagued with problems due to the unreliable nature
of the equipment involved and, on the whole, these problems have now
been overcome: "It's still a difficult situation because a
stage is not a studio and a bumpy road is not the backyard of your
living room. So, bearing that in mind, you have to have a live set
which is resistant against most of the troubles you are not usually
faced with in the studio." So how do you decide which
instruments to use on stage? "We've got a very easy way: We
throw each piece of equipment three times out of the third floor of
our studio complex! If it's still functioning properly, we'll take
it on the road. If not, we send it back to Tokyo! No, honestly, we
have to carefully consider what to put into our racks and sometimes
the luxurious editing of some sound textures has to come second."
impact of Tangerine Dream's first North American tours in 1977 is
well known. How would you compare the experience of your last visit,
captured for posterity on the 220 Volt live album and Three Phase
video in 1992?
the entire 1977 USA tour, we had these tuning problems with our
analog modular equipment as well as adjustment difficulties with our
keyboards. From unloading our gear to loading it up again after the
gig, the whole tour was headlined as a trouble-shooting nightmare."
if a technical problem comes up during a tour, you just call up one
of the 100 addresses around the country and you will get gear
replacement or other technical support within a short period of
time. Back in 1977 over 80% of our equipment wasn't even known to
most musical technicians and equipment companies. We had to fix lots
of things ourselves."
to the old days, we now live in a wonderland as far as tuning and
equipment support is concerned. 99% of our live equipment is
software controlled, so you easily have access to all the parameters
of your gear on the monitor in front of you - that is technical
paradise compared to what we went through 20 years ago."
1992 North American tour saw Tangerine Dream performing in more
intimate night-club surroundings in addition to larger venues. What
are your plans for the forthcoming tour?
is the plan to tour North America for five to six weeks in Autumn
'95, but that will maybe be the only tour because it will tie in
perfectly with our other activities here in Europe."
are definitely not into equipment bombardment like some people
believe it must be done today, so everything will be broken down to
a minimum and we will go on with those things which are really
necessary to perform music. Of course we will have a good show, but
people should not expect a Floyd show!" Do you consider
yourself primarily as a composer or a performer? "I am a
Dream were one of the first groups to realise the benefits of owning
their own recording facilities, having previously run up exorbitant
costs recording the likes of Stratosfear in commercial studios,
although this proved problematic in itself: "In '76/'77
Peter Baumann decided to build a recording studio. When it was ready
to go we were in the middle of an American tour. He had been flying
back and forth to check out the studio and then coming back on tour,
but finally he announced that it would be his private place and that
he was stepping into commercial business. That was not the way it
was supposed to be and was a contributing factor in splitting the
band. I myself did not feel very comfortable with his decision, but
that's a long way back and long forgiven." Presumably you
moved to your present studio location when Christopher Franke left
the group, taking his impressive Polygon studio facilities with him?
was the second unpleasant experience I had. We did quite a few
recordings and soundtracks in there, but one should not forget that
I had to raise most of the money to set it up. I did not invest my
private money in his place, but I was always looking around for
soundtrack work to get things going, as one can imagine that it cost
a lot of money. After the decision was made not to continue anymore
in August '87 I had to look around again. With help from some real
friends I could keep things going, so I went through that period as
well and learned my lesson." Did you own any studios
yourself prior to moving here?
the aim was that each member of the band had his own recording place
to work independently and prepare things, because if there was just
one big studio and one member was working or trying to do his sound
research then the others would just be hanging around and waiting.
That would not be very economically wise, so we then decided that we
should have some smaller, independent places where we went to do our
work and then move together in a bigger place to finalise and finish
that is long gone and today Jerome and myself are running a couple
of places, but the fact is that during the last 25 years we know so
many people around the world where we share studio time and places.
When they come to Europe they move into our place and when we go
abroad to Asia, America or the UK, we call our people in advance and
there will always be spare time available."
TO DIGITAL CONVERSION
developments have obviously revolutionised the entire recording
process and it is a medium that Edgar has embraced wholeheartedly:
"Funnily enough, I never moved into the 24 or 32-track
digital recording procedure in one of our own places because I've
never ran a really commercial studio, so the studio was always
designed for our own needs. We easily could have got one of those
bigger systems, a SSL Console and a 32 Digital Multitrack but I know
from colleagues that one day you have to go commercial because of
all the daily costs involved, so you easily could lose your
independency - a situation which we didn't want to run into."
we were looking and waiting for until it happened, started with all
those AudioMedia cards -SoundTools, ProTools - hard disc recording
in general. Instead of having big mixing consoles in the studio we
use the sequencersoftware integrated midimixing facilities. We also
installed three different working platforms which operate as a
network. So Jerome and myself can work totally independently, using
the same Soundlibraries or other software incl. our 8 Gigabite
storing unit. We can dump parts of a composition from one system to
the other to continue the working process while moving from my
midified composition over to Jerome, who is then working with his
guitar on the audio tracks or the other way round. It's very
time-and energy saving. We expanded our harddisc recording and we
use now two 16-track Pro Tools systems after the very good
experience with Digidesign Products during my `Tangent' Production.
What we love is that the whole thing is a completely open system and
you can easily upgrade and expand everything, if you like."
our 'special sounds' are transfered for ultimate use to our CD Rom
library which are manufactured by ourselves using the Philips CDD
522. Whenever something is finished on hard disc we do our DAT
streamer backup or copy our tracks digitally onto various
synchronized ADATs for extra safty and take everything to another
place and continue working on it. That makes it quite easy because
most of the studios that I know have got some ADATs and some sort of
hard disc recording. That's not a problem anymore. We've saved a
fortune on commercial studio time over the years. Sorry for the big
places, but I guess they will make their money anyway !" Do
you have an opinion about the ongoing argument raging over analog
"warmth" verses digital clarity?
a question which has history. On digital recordings it's said there
is a certain frequency range where a sound could become a bit
metallic. "For instance, we've made tests a few times in our
studio here and at a friend's place in New York. We played analog
and digital tapes to the same people. There were musicians and sound
engineers, most of whom had knowledge and experience in listening to
sounds. Most of them, believe it or not, quoted wrong."
then thought about whether it's a psychological, preconception thing
by having a different opinion, or is it really a technical thing? In
the end, I gave up discussing it. I suppose every sound engineer has
his own little secret and his own opinion about it."
Presumably the mix is effectively created at the composition stage
exactly what we do. As I pointed out before we're working only with
software mixers and they're normally part of the sequencer program.
We've given Steinberg's new Cubase Audio a few special treatments
and we feel that composing and mixing has never been easier than
today. The big mixing console in one of our places is just used for
acoustic signals like chamber orchestras or times where we have to
remix stuff from previous recordings we did years back on analog 24
multitrack. Sometimes we use it on request for one of those final
dubbings we do for scores or sound effects which for some reason
don't necessarily have to run through a computer."
TO ANALOG CONVERSION
you listen to all of Tangerine Dream's albums chronologically, you
practically have a history of synthesizers, sequencers and samplers,
with up-to-date analog and digital sounds."
is, of course, more than a modicum of truth in Edgar's sweeping
statement, although a pre- warning of his alleged reluctance to
discuss music technology was alarming and proved to be unfounded in
the event. It is almost inevitable that the subject would rear its
ugly head at some point in the proceedings when talking shop with
Tangerine Dream and I found Edgar to be a willing participant after
all. Do you ever look back on the days when you were looked up at in
awe because of the unique equipment you had at your disposal which
other amateur musicians could not afford?
my own musical world, and I think every true musician and composer
will agree, you should never think too much about what others do or
have. The moment you are absolutely unique with the musical micro or
macrocosm of sounds, it does not matter whether that particular
feeling hit you whilst sitting at a $100,000 concert grand piano, or
by pressing keys on a 200 buck Casio keyboard, which has maybe been
stolen at twilight from the backyard of a department store because
you couldn't afford it!"
me, music has absolutely nothing to do with this materialized world
of unpleasant and destructive ways of human behaviour and living.
The world of music is something on it's own. It's absolutely
dust-free, clear and clean. Music is one of the most neutral things
on earth. It symbolizes the 'highest frequency' of all art forms in
it's abstract, neutral manner."
may well be the case, yet it is debatable whether some of Tangerine
Dream's groundbreaking recordings and concerts would have been
entirely possible without involving their custom-built equipment,
much of which remains in Edgar's possession to this day: "I
still own all of the analog equipment and it's stored in a basement
somewhere in Germany."
the current analog revival, Edgar's reluctance in divulging the
location of this Aladdin's cave is understandable and Jerome later
rekindled my curiosity by revealing that the large, heavily
customised modular synthesizers with the overhead lamps visible on
the sleeve of the 1977 double live album Encore are also in storage.
I jokingly suggested that if the whereabouts of these highly
desirable items ever came to light, then Tangerine Dream should
consider hiring around the clock security guards!
Edgar has reason to hold onto his analog gear and an interesting
theory behind the popularity of second-hand analog equipment today:
"I laughed back in the days when people started selling
their entire analog equipment because of the Yamaha DX7. If you are
used to the process of creating sounds electronically you should
know that FM sounds could never create the same frequency structure
as a low or high pass filter influencing the waveform of an
oscillator. It's a completely different process. The voltage
controlled principle invented by Bob Moog, and brought to a variety
of high class hardware equipment by Tom Oberheim in the late '70s
and early '80s, simply cannot be reconstructed by FM synthesis. One
should ask Bob Moog about his fantastic voltage controlled filter.
It was a miracle and he could tell you even more about the actual
given process which I guess is still unbeaten today. Without Bob
Moog and Tom Oberheim, TD's history would have to be re-written.
Both are great minds. They should be credited on "all" pop
and rock records these days."
talking of a warm sound, what people believe to hear is not really
the sound source but the image of a sound created by a filter. The
filter is doing the mass of work and that can partly explain why
analog is a completely different world. If you give up analog you
give up a big portion of your musical ability, technically."
asked Edgar whether he would consider using any of these devices
again: "It depends. On 'Tyranny' you hear Moog and Oberheim
Sounds from beginning to end. If it's necessary to do something,
then I will. Everything is functioning and MIDI-fied now, so I just
hook it up and it works."
again, Jerome provided more specific information, stating that a
Korg VC10 vocoder had been pressed into service on a track of
Tyranny Of Beauty, called 'Catwalk'. Also the old four voice
Oberheim, the "original" incl. 16 Channel Programmer from
1978 can be heard.
WHOSE TALKING TECHNOLOGY.
Edgar is clearly not one for looking back, yet, according to Jerome,
he is in "his element" when playing the likes of the
Roland Jupiter 8 and Jupiter 6 analog polysynths nestling
comfortably alongside their digital counterparts in the studio
during my visit. A quick glance revealed a Korg T1 (undoubtedly
functioning as a master keyboard at an Apple Macintosh Quadra-based
workstation), Kurzweil K2000 and Roland D70, JD 800, with numerous
rack- mounted modules, including a Korg Wavestation; Waldorf Wave;
Oberheim Matrix 1000; Oberheim Xpander; tuning stabilized MiniMoogs;
Yamaha TX816; various E-mu Proteus; Roland MKS70; Roland U220; Akai
S 3200 and several Quasimidi Quasar, several JV 1080 to name but a
few, as well as numerousunidentifiable modules and sound equipment,
which defintiely can't be bought around the corner.
time of writing, the group's latest acquisition is a Control
Synthesis Deep Bass Nine MIDI- and CV-controlled single-space
rack-mount monophonic analog synth module, as reviewed in the
February 1995 issue of Keyboard, happily triggering the
aforementioned Jupiter 8 "to reach a certain Bassline sound"
as Jerome pointed out.
dilemma in choosing a favourite synthesizer: "It maybe sounds
unrealistic, because if you've got so many you must have one you
really love, but the thing is I don't look at synthesizers like I
look on kids. Quite simply, they are tools and if they don't work
the way I want, I throw them out or put them in the basement or send
them back to the manufacturer."
never had a favourite because it would be like you asking me if the
bass line in music is as important as the rhythm or melody. All
musical structures have their specific needs and you can't do
everything 100% with one instrument."
virtually unlimited access to many instruments and sound colors, I
wondered if Edgar felt hindered working with just one instrument on
this project. Judging from his humorous reply, this was not the
case: "It was a little song which took a little while to do
and gave us a chance to help the company selling the instrument!"
you tend to use each instrument in your studios for a specific role
in your music?
Each instrument has a very specific role and a certain identity, so
it cannot be used for every part of the composition. You have to be
clear beforehand about what you want to do. If not, you get lost
because of all the possibilities. Secondly, there are certain needs
within a composition which cannot be fulfilled or arranged with each
instrument alone. In some cases we've given some of the modules
names similar to how they serve us as individual sound entities, so
the Micro Wave is " the metal bone", the T1 is called
'Flagship' the Akais are symbolically called 'the pimps' like all
the samplers we have, because the variety of services they offer is
endless, though their range in quality is still limited in my
opinion. The other FM devices get called 'cable cars', we call our
analog gear 'fat granny brigade' and so on... It adds a more human
someone involved in such technology intensive music, Edgar's
attitude towards sampling comes as a shock: "Sampling is
really a subjective opinion and to me it's becoming something like a
blind man looking in a dark bathroom for a black spider which isn't
there anymore! Sampling has long overstepped the borderline from
being helpful to becoming the crutch of helpless musical amateurs
and it's not my business to talk about them."
are now working on different sound events which have nothing to do
with what I would call plastic loop events created by most samplers
and even sound modules. What gives life to a sound is the random
process - irregularity and the unexpected merging of frequencies.
What all true artists call the creative mistake. You could never
have that in a sample. It does not matter how long it is. You press
a key and play it back and it is always the same. "Sound
morphing" - what you find in some modules - could have been a
good direction, but technical development was stopped before it
could take off. Maybe companies like E-mu could not expand on
research and development for financial reasons. The Morpheus was a
bit of a new taste, at least."
this view is not shared by Christopher Franke who set up Sonic
Images after leaving Tangerine Dream initially to market a
successful sampled sound library, much to Edgar's distress: "When
I heard this library, one could imagine that I was just amused and
scared at the same time, because it was like a walk through a
leafless forest. Some sounds which I could remember very well, came
across like a dead warmed up Egyptian mummy. But to be fair , I have
to say that Mr. Franke did a good job on the soundtransfer and
looping which was definitely not easy to do. But once again: A
soundsample is like the two-dimensional postcard from heaven -
nothing to do with the real thing."
the years Tangerine Dream have been heavily involved in sound
research, playing a vital role in the development of music hardware
and software. Is this still of interest today?
more than ever, but we stopped talking too much about it because
lots of things have been invented that are identical to some bizarre
thoughts we ourselves had about sounds and music. Ironically, people
began to manufacture hardware and software exactly as we had spoke
about it and released stuff in different market places under their
own logo without even mentioning our name. That was not very polite
and we went through that procedure quite a few times."
you can be sure that anything new I talk about right now, in terms
of hardware and software, is already trademarked or we ourselves are
the patent holders. That's the way we've had to organise things
through the years."
is obviously in a better position than most to speculate on
developments in music technology with some pretty startling future
predictions: "For some reasons I'm absolutely sure about
what way technology will go. I could give you a little example: The
original way of composing music, like it happened at the time of
Beethoven, Mozart and Bach, is gone and not possible anymore. There
is a spiritual background as to why it is not possible, but that's
not part of our conversation. As far as what I call the crutches are
concerned - those things which help you move for a while because the
original way of walking is not possible anymore - within ten years
we will move into a completely different way of data memory storage
to what we know now."
entire storage system will be replaced by what could be called PMUs
- Plasma Memory Units. This will allow for three dimensional data
processing and data compression, so we can assume that this memory
system will have a storage capacity which is practically
unimaginable today. These mass memories will be used in all the
usual data processing areas since they are not limited to one
particular use of course."
will no longer be serial or parallel data busses. All the data
stored in the PMU will be ultimately accessed through a fibre optic
system which will have been developed and put an end to all the
known forms of interfaces, as well as that which we could call a
cable salad in studios and other places!"
division between the hard disk and the Random Access Memory, as it
is known today, will also become redundant, because the selected and
processed data will be parked on different high frequency levels
within the PMU. They will not interfere with one another, but will
be able to interact simultaneously. Billions of addresses will
relate to all kinds of events, structures and 'open sounds'. The
musician will become a real 'sound sculptor'."
will be a world of sounds which we can't even imagine today, because
the components creating the sounds will no longer be related to
hardware in the old sense of the word. One of the most adventurous
things will be the possibility of expressing oneself in sound and
that exactly hits the musician. There will be a so-called E-Ball and
the E stands for emotional, which counterpoints the human factor.
This ball will be hand-sized, made of special synthetic material and
will contain a small magnetic field which will respond to a special
partition within the PMU."
them by their old-fashioned name, the partial waves available in the
PMU will change from one pattern to the next according to the
various contacts with the magnetic field on the E- Ball. What we
today call touch sensitivity will be called a three dimensional
pattern of expression. It will be possible to convert one's
impressions in every available sound parameter, without using a
keyboard. The sound will be heard three-dimentionally through a
large field of vibrating helium, framed by a magnetic invisible
field, like a huge invisible box."
the pitch will be determined is especially interesting because the
12 halftonestep scale will belong to the past too, but that would
get too involved. I can tell you that all this is already under
patent. It's necessary that the role of the creative composer will
also change. For some reasons the keyboard will move away. It
doesn't matter what these reasons are, but what you need as a
composer is a more ultimate access to store your mental structure
without the 10 years training on an instrument, needed to perfectly
expressing yourself - that's the main idea behind it."
doubt Tangerine Dream will be among the first to try out this
exciting new technology and endeavour to remain on the cutting edge
of music for many years to come.