Walter Ruttmann, Wochenende (1930)

Walther Ruttmann’s Weekend (Wochenende, 1930) is an early piece of musique concrète, a montage of raw sonic material. But the piece is hardly composed of “found sounds.” Ruttmann recorded the sounds using an optical sound film track with the newly developed Tri-Ergon process. In Weekend, he seems to be trying do the same thing with sound as Berlin: Symphony of a City did with images, presenting a cross-section of life in Berlin over the course of a weekend. (Another good intertext might be Menschen am Sonntag, 1930).

The first couple of minutes feature some excellent cross-cutting of language and noise for satirical effect. At one point, a little boy reads a couple of lines from “Der Erlkönig”—”Wer reitet so spät durch Nacht und Wind? Es ist der…”—only to be interrupted by the sound of a buzzing saw.

Listen to the first 11 minutes here: