FMP/FREE MUSIC PRODUCTION - An Edition of Improvised Music 1989-2004


Joe Sachse


FREEDOM FOR "DoppelMoppel"
(the "Fackel" for an improvising ensemble)

"Nothing disproves a theory more than its workability."*

When the two brothers Conrad and Johannes Bauer decided to put a group together and to bring in one musician each specifically for this purpose, this formation, whose name reminds one more of a saxonian textile mill or one of those "ever so funny" folklore groups, was founded. The duplication of instruments was probably a coincidence. The truth is that Conrad and Johannes were more interested in the musicianship and the creative drive of Uwe Kropinski and one Joe Sachse. "There are personalities in the country, of whom one knows nothing but the fact that they are not to be insulted." A kind of society, which leads to freedom through coercion may get stuck half way...."*.

Jazz in East Germany during the "Dictatorship of the proletariat" had more freedom than was internationally believed and a greater longing for freedom than was assumed inside the country. The beneficial working conditions allowed Conrad Bauer and the band to improvise in Berlin every week. Thanks to his personality and stature, Uwe Kropinski, the technical virtuoso, Johannes Bauer, the intellectual philosopher and the "humorous anarchist" 1) Joe Sachse, found a common denominator."Freedom is necessary in order to gain knowledge; but we are more locked by it than by dogma." *)Since the collapse of the wall, DoppelMoppel has been playing together regularly, something that was not so easy before, because Uwe Kropinski had moved to West Germany, although even then it had been possible from time to time. The present requirements for DoppelMoppel are different but in some ways similar: Different, because in a society of excess there is also an excess of musical rubbish, nicely packaged, which lulls its people to sleep, the subservient rascals, bringing to an end the long-lasting deceptive acceptance by dissatisfied members of the opposition. Similar because the structures of the Jazz scene are the same the world over, and the many personal relationships with musicians, managers and record companies continue to exist.
"Progress must be like a cleaner who moves and yet doesn't budge and still manages to polish the parquet. What keeps it going, is the glamour, and the appearance of freedom."*)

The appearance of freedom in the new society, which barely gets a weak smile from insiders, limits the revolution itself to the music.("Owing to adverse weather conditions, the German revolution took place in Music.")2)

And here I have got to the actual point: the freedom of free improvisation.

"Often it is just letting yourself go"..."It is unreal" John McLaughlin says, but he also says: "I know, theoretically it is right to play free,...."3)

Of course the question as to what it is that makes the members of DoppelMoppel play free within the group context, would obviously elicit four different answers. At a time where music is considered a commodity, everyone becomes suspect, who gives idealistic reasons for doing something that almost nobody needs. (The unpure don't believe in purity. And even if they believed, they wouldn't understand how to be pure, in a time, when nobody needs to be pure."*) Nowadays, every student of music learns when to play dorian and mixolydian modes. But the beauty of a "successful" free improvisation can hardly be described. It is a true feeling of happiness and reconciles us with the - obviously occurring - less successful parts. The latter do not happen too often with DoppelMoppel, safeguarded by the long experience of playing together, the new material, that each musician brings into the group due to his activities outside of the group and, finally, the ability to take on himself what happens in the solo parts immediately and, by doing so, to even out any rough patches.

"If an artist makes concessions, he doesn't get further than the traveller, who tries to make himself understood with broken German in foreign countries."

The heyday of the free improvising scene are long gone. Many of the musicians have rescued themselves using rhythmic-harmonic life boats. DoppelMoppel remains one of the few survivors. Free use of all possibilities was the motto of many East-german free-jazz players. This maxim, which includes extension more than limitation, is the reason why DoppelMoppel at times sounds like a rock band, like a chamber ensemble, like a swing band and like a Wagner sinfonia. It is a live band and in a studio plays differently than on a festival or concert.

"Technology is a servant, who is clearing up next door, with such a lot of noise, that the master cannot make any music."*

All over, in European towns and communities there is noise: cars screeching, sirens howling, guns firing, women screaming, proles and craftsmen getting off on the 4/4 beat of the tabloid press, building machines transmitting their vibrations to far off households, and every industrial area is like a mad house. The only place where the audience doesn't seem to be able to tolerate sounds is the concert hall. Here it seems to be about aesthetics and the indifferent background muzak of the lifts. A fact that proves, the state "we are living in is the true end of the world: how solid!"*
A 'DoppelMoppel' to all this!

Karl Kraus Aphorisms: "Sprüche und Widersprüche", "Pro domo et mundo" and "Nachts", Suhrkamp 1986, which became the basis for Karl Kraus´ "Die Fackel" from the year 1924.
1)Quote from "Norddeutsche Neueste Nachrichten" 20.6.1995
2)Quote from "Schnipsel" of Kurt Tucholsky, Rowohlt 1973
3)Quotes from John McLaughlin, Paris-Interview with Joachim Ernst Behrendt from "Das Jazzbuch", Fischer 1994

Translation: Isabel Seeberg & Paul Lytton

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