The roads toward artistic achievement are manifold. In music you have, on the one hand, virtuosos such as pianist Marc-André Hamelin or percussionist Zakir Hussain who impose by sheer manual dexterity and the complexity of their performance and expression. Edgar Froese, a father figure of electronic music who died of a pulmonary embolism on January 20th, was none of this. He was just average on his original instrument, the electric guitar. As a keyboarder he was just on a basic professional standard. His compositions were based on conventional classic harmony patterns. And still he managed to become a major influence on almost everybody making electronic music today by taking a historic opportunity with his band Tangerine Dream and developing standards for sound and production in electronic music in the seventies and eighties when synthesizers were only known to a few. You may not like his later recycling of classic Tangerine Dream themes, you may not like the way he extended the TD sound with sax, flute and vocals, you may even think that the band’s most profound achievements were the wild experimentation and improvisation of their early years (what I think would be too short) – you cannot work in electronic music today without refering, one way or the other, to the standards set by Froese and the many musicians he introduced to the electronic music scene, Peter Baumann, Chris Franke, Johannes Schmoelling or Froese’s son Jerome.
Opening pop and rock music to electronic sounds has probably been the most important achievement of a generatioon of German postwar musicians who came to be known as Krautrocks. Some important figures such as Conrad Schnitzer or the reclusive Florian Fricke have died in recent years. Klaus Schulze, maybe the most influential apart from Froese, has left the stage. Later generation may hardly imagine the revolution they have brought to music. Whether you’re an ambitious musician yourself or just an amateur synthesist like me, you owe gratitude to Edgar Froese’s work.