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Chapter 6
– Musicians who maintained a distinctive voice whatever the context.
– Musicians who changed their voices, techniques and materials according to the
context, and consciously divided up their output.
– Musicians who created contexts where all voices and sub-styles could exist alongside
each other, often over the course of a single performance.29
Of the first category, guitarist Olaf Rupp, who, despite having recorded for FMP, was
part of (and closer in age to) the Echtzeitmusik community,30 described with a smile
that he was perhaps, “The only player in Berlin who [had] played with Annette Krebs
and Michael Wertmüller”.31
His projects ranged from high-energy, dense, Free-Jazz-influenced music (the trio
Rupp-Mahall-Jennessen) to abstract, fast-reacting, non-jazz-orientated, textural music
(Weird Weapons), and even into more slowly developing Post-Reductionist/Abstract
music (TAM). However, by no means describing himself as a Reductionist or a Free
Jazz musician, his signature “rasgueados, arpeggios and tremolos [refined] in such a way
that they can be used for overtone and cluster effects to create new, ‘virtual’ sounds”
[Rupp, 2013] were clearly to be heard in whatever context he played - the surroundings
changing, but Rupp not.32
Of the second category, 48-year-old trumpeter Axel Dörner33 and 41-year-old clarinettist
Michael Thieke were involved in a similar diversity of projects and collaborations to
Rupp, however, their approach was to utilise (often) vastly differing voices between
these different contexts, rather than remaining the same throughout - arguably to the
point where the unknowing listener might not even recognise it was the same person
Dörner moved between acoustic noise (his solo performances were sometimes constituted
Essentially this approach was the same as ‘All-over’ Improv’ (see p. 116).
See p. 44 for more on FMP. According to many sources, Echtzeitmusik was Rupp’s term, and,
further confirming that Echtzeitmusik was not necessarily Reductionist music, Rupp asserted that,
“At that time, the whole idea of the meaning of this word, Echtzeitmusik, was completely different to
what it means today... I think for many of us it meant a broader approach than the FMP approach to
Improvised Music... [including] the whole noise music itself... this improvised rock music stuff, and lots
of other things also. [...] It felt like “Wow - we found something, something new.” [...] And then those
players who play this Reduction[ist] stuff got very strong at the end of the 90s - they were very good
and very developed, and so the meaning kind-of took over this.” The same sentiment is expressed in
[Eichmann, 2005, 21].
Guitarist Annette Krebs was central to the late-1990s Berlin Reductionist movement, whereas
Michael Wertmüller, as well as being a renowned composer of Neue Musik, was one of Free Jazz legend
Peter Brötzmann’s drummers of choice.
As Chapter 8 will show, a certain degree of flexibility was necessary in the repertoires of even the
‘purest’ of improvisers.
Dörner plays a conventional Bb trumpet, as well as an extremely rare Holton ‘Firebird’ (which has
valves and a trombone-like slide).
Splitting between a wide range of projects, like Thieke and Dörner, was common to several
mid-career musicians (mid-30s to early 40s), such as Clayton Thomas, Matthias Müller, Chris Heenan,
Nils Ostendorf, and younger musicians such as Mike Majkowski and Hannes Lingens (both around 30),
who reached further still into other styles of non-improvised music (see Chapter 6.3).