Berlin Q-damm 12.4.81



Synthesizer, Piano, Harpsichord, Cello, Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, [Rhythm Machine] – Heiner Goebbels

Trombone. Annemarie Roelofs

“I shoot, I’m not joking!” (A Policeman) A few years later—as my first single record to be released in 1981—I composed “Berlin Q-Damm 12.4.81”. The composition is focused on a documentary field recording of civilian policemen, protesters, and onlookers during a demonstration in Berlin. And it starts with a constant repetition of the sound of smashing a glass window. This characteristic sound is a sudden opening for the rhythm of the piece, marks the violence of the situation and punctuates the voice of a moderator, who presented and commented the dramatic acoustic scenery on the radio the same day:

About 9.30 pm in front of the department-store Wertheim on Kurfürstendamm, the protest march has left in the direction of the Gedächtniskirche. Two young men throw stones into two small glass cabinets. Suddenly two elder men in plain clothes break off the crowd of spectators and lunge at those who threw the stones. “Stop! Police!! Or I shoot!” A gun is unlocked and held sideward to the head of one arrested. “Stop! Come along! I shoot, I’m not joking!” “Who are you?” “Police!” “Show me!” “You can see it later!” “Take the gun away! Take the gun away!! Take the gun away!!!”

The five-minute sound collage includes several different composition- techniques: programed analog synthesizer phrases, filtering, tape-scratching, cuts and loops, temporarily played backwards, a prepared piano, cembalo clusters, screaming trombone sounds, a heavily distorted e-guitar followed by a smoothly played acoustic guitar—on various layers of looped trombone and cello-parts, which I had recorded with the method of so called “Frippertronics.”

Everything (except the trombone) was performed by myself. But the core of the piece, with which everything started—musically and in real—is the breaking glass; the confrontation between “violence against things” answered by the threat to shoot. But to tell you the truth: the documentary recording did not include the smashing of the glass, the journalist switched his tape recorder on only after the glass cabinet was destroyed; so I recorded that sound much later at home while a flat in my neighborhood was renovated.

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Berlin Q-damm 12.4.81
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