Tuning into the design aesthetics of Dieter Rams. Here, a Braun RCS 9 radio design, photograph (CC-BY-ND) by Ruper Ganzer.

Composer/producer Jon Brooks has a love piece for the Braun AB-30 alarm clock, and its iconic designer Dieter Rams, entitled, appropriately enough, “Music For Dieter Rams.”

“Every sound on this record, from the melodic sounds to the percussion, the atmospheric effects to the bass lines originates from the Braun AB-30 alarm clock.”

In turns whimsical and reflective, the minimal soundtrack is inventively melodic. Pads and beats extend in roomy spaces, giving patterns room to breathe, free of ornament or effect – just as you’d expect music in homage to Dieter Rams to be. Calmly repetitive, the music hums away cheerily and efficiently, all of the zenlike balance of a Braun clock with none of the anxiety of an alarm. Some would be pleasant to wake up to. But it’s not all restraint, either: sounds cover the spectrum, squeezing every imaginable timbre out of the source material, up to the spacey, futurist cut “Elektronische Schaltungen.”

Dieter Rams’ aesthetic I expect has had a deep impact on neo-modernist electronic musicians, whether in the production of their music or as an impact on software and hardware design. (At least, it has between baroque layers of music and faux wood paneling and imaginary tubes reproduced on screen, which have their own, distinct place.) I think a lot of us would like to see more Rams-inspired design in music and visual tech, more of his humanistic notions about design. They don’t all have to be spun as Jon Ives-ian Apple chic, either – indeed, it’s a reminder of the importance of returning to the source of some of those aesthetic choices.

But that makes these musical poems all the more moving. They’re in no way slavish, translating one set of ideas to a novel medium, and dealing with the materiality of the product itself. It gives a design for a humble clock still one more way to last.

Read about this and other projects on Jon’s blog:
http://cafekaput.blogspot.com/

And more of the “good design” thoughts of Dieter Rams:

It’s not a sound design tour-de-force in the same way as the Dieter Rams album, but also well worth listening: Music for Thomas Carnacki.

More in the vein of the Braun project is a Brooks’ wonderfully-clever “Electronic Music in the Classroom,” as produced by a fictitious D.D. Denham and pupils. It’s simultaneously retro parody and freshly-modern; like the Braun piece, it effuses sonic wit.

  • Stevie Mac

    I have a musical friend who is equally enamoured with Dieter, have a listen:

    http://soundcloud.com/ramspocketradio

  • http://reflexaudio.com James Grahame

    One of the hardest things to learn is that less is more. What you take out of a song / design / device is often critical to its success.

  • http://noisepages.com/members/afrodjmac/ AfroDjMac

    Thanks for this link, Peter, I find this extremely inspiring! It's incredible how far you manipulate sound.  Beautiful album.

  • http://www.samuelvanransbeeck.be Samuel Van Ransbeeck

    Very beautiful, I will buy the CD

  • http://www.jeremyabel.com Jeremy Abel

    Ah man, this stuff is great! Really diggin' this album. Nice morning chill music. I'd love to see a Diego Stocco-esque process video as to how he generated these sounds.

  • Robert Thomas

    This is really great stuff. Thanks Peter

  • http://www.raeo.net robraeo

    The problem with this project is this: Dieter had about zero to do with the design of the Braun clocks. It should be called "Music for Dietrich Lubs" – he was the typography king at Braun, and designed this and many other clocks. (and calculators etc…)

    That said, it's still an impressive exercise, however titled incorrect…