Research, project development and footage for the documentary and pilot
by Ina Pillat (2010-2013).
In the early 60’s there was an instrument built in East Berlin that was far ahead of its time. The Subharchord was an electronic sound generator, designed by leading audio experts in the country. Today there are only a few people left who know the instrument’s history.
One of the film’s protagonists is Gerhard Steinke, an energetic, curious and cheerful 85-year-old. Steinke was leader of the “Labor für musikalisch-akustische Grenzprobleme (Laboratory for musical and acoustic boundary issues)” from 1956, in East Berlin – where the Subharchord was developed and built.
Early in 1968, three employees of the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation came on a visit to East Berlin. A short time later, a Subharchord was secretly sent to Oslo. Since this meeting, Gerhard Steinke hasn’t known anything about what happened to the instrument that was sent to Norway.
Of the six instruments that were built in the former DDR, only three remain – one in Vienna, one in Berlin and one in Trondheim. This documentary delves deeply into the Subharchord’s story, based on the copy that was bought from NRK (Norwegian National Television), revealing a story that has parallels to the Cold War, Norwegian experimental music and cultural politics.
Director Ina Pillat is originally from East Germany, now living in Oslo.
She was educated at the Burg Giebichenstein in Halle and Art Hochschule für Medien in Cologne. Pillat has directed and produced several documentary films and has worked at several German TV stations.
The project is produced in collaboration with Atelier Nord, PNEK, NTNU / music technology, The National Broadcasting Corporation and True Fiction and has received support from The Norwegian Film Institute, Fond for lyd og bilde, Arts Council Norway and Atelier Nord.