A Speaking Archive

There are quite a few music archives around. Alas, it seems as if the thought of how to maneuver them got a bit neglected. Since music firstly wants to get heard, and only then possibly get categorized or explained, the solution to this is easy: Make the archive speak!

In a way, the approach of Follow Music is related to that of European medieval cartographers. Their mappae mundi weren’t striving to exactly depict the world, but rather intended to broach issues they found fascinating, e.g. Bible stories, mythology, or certain knowledge. Being a DJ, my way of addressing musical phenomena is the mix.

The mix as interface

Besides providing sound environments, the thematic mixes, or: programs of the Avant-garde and Avant-pop series function as a sort of user interface.

In a future version of the archive, many tracks in such programs will serve as optional gateways – to get to know more about their context, artistic concepts, or related music. Users will be able to leave the mix and maneuver the archive in their own unique ways – based on context related suggestions, with no AI involved. 


A lot of the featured tracks capture remarkable moments I came across during an extensive search for radiophonic miniatures. With the ongoing series Fundstück (relic), results of this sonic archeology (which included the complete Ubuweb sound section) are broadcasted in the cultural magazine Kompressor on Deutschlandfunk-Kultur since 2015. The episodes tell stories, take listeners on acoustic journeys, or document situations. They’re presenting works of sound art, field recordings, animal music, poetry, or something else.

Paul Paulun, February 2020