SoundCloud has posted a somber memorial to the Berlin Wall, for the 25th anniversary. The concept is intriguing not only for its content, but also its form. The work uses time as a measurement of space – the duration sound would take to travel the length of the whole wall. In comments on SoundCloud, the 120 people who lost their lives are counted out in their fateful location. See the full description below. I’m curious to hear what readers think; my own preference would have been for an abstract interpretation rather than such literal, figurative sounds, but this is entirely personal.

The anniversary of the fall of the wall has in Berlin brought a host of events – including many celebrating the musical renaissance that followed reunification. And it is no exaggeration to say that Berlin has become a world capital of music technology, host to Ableton, Native Instruments, and SoundCloud, but also countless researchers, artists, electronic musicians, and small builders, as a direct result of this historical event.

Perhaps against this, it is worth reflecting on the text of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, the fourth movement “Choral,” which was played yesterday on the anniversary.

O Freunde, nicht diese Töne!
Sondern lasst uns angenehmere anstimmen,
und freudenvollere.

Oh friends, not these sounds!
Let us instead strike up more pleasing
and more joyful ones!

The text: Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller. The original word was not joy, but the more politically-loaded freedom.

Given that last night is, somewhat incomprehensibly, both the anniversary of the fall of the wall and the horrific Kristallnacht, in a city that was home to Nazis and the fulcrum of a nuclear standoff with my own native United States that very nearly destroyed humanity and a lot of life on earth, this is the reason we have to make sounds in Berlin or far away from it- we are at a boundary line for humanity.

Marking the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The Berlin Wall of Sound is an acoustic reconstruction of the Berlin Wall.
Its duration of 7:32 minutes reflects the time sound needs to travel the
155 kilometres length of the Berlin Wall. Its sound wave’s shape mirrors
the wall of concrete and its watchtowers. There are no comments –
the tags depict the victims and mark where they were killed.

The Wall of Sound is not easy to bear. But 27 years locked behind
the concrete Berlin Wall were unbearable.

Back in 1989, SoundCloud’s headquarters would have been part of
the Death Zone next to the Berlin Wall. We dedicate the Wall of Sound
to the 120 women, men and children, who lost their lives in their
attempt to live in freedom. We will not forget.

Major original quotes used:

Walter Ulbricht (former leader of the GDR and responsible for the construction) saying a few days before the construction started: „Nobody has the intention to raise a wall“

Heinz Hoffmann (former GDR secretary of defense): „To those, who don’t respect our border – they will feel the bullet.“

Erich Honecker (longtime and most powerful leader of the GDR) celebrating
40 Years of the GDR in 1989: „The German Democratic Republic will exist another 40 years and beyond.“

At top: three balloons among thousands staged as public art installation in the Lichtgrenze, a work by Christopher and Marc Bauder. I had the honor of releasing balloon number 1,833 not far from this spot in Kreuzberg.