Reversal: German railways drop plan to use atonal music to disperse loiterers

Posted on: September 6, 2018

“When it was announced that atonal music would be played in Berlin’s S-Bahn public rail network to disperse drug users and homeless people, as it considered this form of music ‘hostile,’ I thought it was absurd,” writes Lisa Benjes in Friday’s (8/31) Guardian (U.K.). “I work at the Initiative Neue Musik—an organization that champions contemporary music in Berlin…. We organized an atonal music concert in protest…. We got together some members of the most important contemporary ensembles in Berlin [to perform] on the street outside the Hermannstrasse station, where the S-Bahn was to pilot its scheme…. It was at 7pm, so people could come after work, and about 300 people turned up. We hoped to attract the homeless people around the station, so we brought food, and it worked: they got to eat, we chatted and they asked if we would do it again…. The S-Bahn’s manager, Friedemann Kessler, turned up. He listened, and at the end said … he decided to drop his plans… We had organized a month of contemporary music … in September… Our protest garnered more attention than our entire month’s worth of events. So we are really quite grateful to the S-Bahn.”

Posted September 6, 2018