Machine Music - Four decades of German Electronic and Dance Music | Documentaries | DW | 01.11.2010
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Machine Music - Four decades of German Electronic and Dance Music

Ever since Kraftwerk - that is for the past forty years - German acts have been storming the charts and dance floors worldwide and dominating the electronic dance music scene.


Kraftwerk - „die Beatles der elektronischen Tanzmusik“ (New York Times)

What do Kraftwerk, Alphaville, Camouflage, Snap, Enigma, The Real McCoy, Mr. President, Culture Beat, La Bouche, Fragma and Cascada have in common? They all make electronic dance music, have had tunes on America's Billboard Charts, and they come from Germany.

The story that was to change pop music history began in a Düsseldorf courtyard in 1970, when architecture student Ralf Hütter and music student Florian Schneider set up what was to become the famous Kling-Klang Studio and founded the group Kraftwerk. The same year, American electronic music pioneer Bob Moog developed his Minimoog, the first compact synthesizer suitable for concert performance. After releasing their first two groundbreaking albums "Kraftwerk" (1970) and "Kraftwerk 2" (1971), the group took the final step toward the "pure doctrine": from 1973 on, Kraftwerk made all their music with purely electronic means and without using conventional music instruments. "Autobahn" is considered the first Electro-pop album. It reached number five on the American charts. In the discos, people were suddenly dancing to electro-beats from West Germany.

DAF/DOS Deutsch amerikanische Freundschaft Musik Gabi delgado und Robert Gröl

Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft, known under the acronym DAF

The Synthie-Pop of the 1980s - Depeche Mode, Human League, the Pet Shop Boys, Soft Cell - was also heavily influenced by Kraftwerk. West Germany also produced Alphaville, Camouflage, Progaganda, Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft, Der Plan and Die Krupps.

Paul van Dyk, Reflections

Paul von Dyk

In the late 1980s, Techno (also spelled Tekkno) developed in West Germany, a sound based on heavy rhythms that still shake the world's dance floors today. Its protagonists are names like Sven Väth, Westbam, Marusha, Tanith and Paul van Dyk, among others. Practically overnight, Hamburg's Scooter made Techno a commercially highly successful, but still exciting party sound.

From Techno and Synthie-Pop came Eurodance. During the 1990s, beats suitable for mass consumption dominated the world's charts and dance floors. Among the best-known German exponents are Captain Hollywood Project, Culture Beat, Haddaway, Jam & Spoon, Mr. president, Real McCoy, Snap!, U96, ATC, Fragma and Sash!

This two-part documentary tells the story of electronic dance music from Germany from its beginnings to the present day through music videos, live and file footage, and interviews with its leading protagonists. Of the music forms Germany has produced, why was this one such a success?

Broadcasting hours:

Part 1:


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