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:

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Published by

Erik Born

I’m an Andrew W. Mellon postdoctoral fellow in the Society for the Humanities and the Department of German Studies at Cornell University. My research and teaching focuses broadly speaking on relations between old media and new media, and particularly on questions of mobility.