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artist information

Florian Schneider

Florian Schneider-Esleben (born 7 April 1947, in Düsseldorf, Germany) is one of the founding members of influential and pioneering electronic music band Kraftwerk. He founded Kraftwerk with Ralf Hütter in 1970, the two having met in 1968, studying firstly at the Academy of Arts in Remscheid, then at the Robert Schumann Academy in Düsseldorf, and played together in the improvising ensemble Organisation.

Originally his main instrument was the flute, which he would treat using a diverse manner of electronic effects, including tape echo, ring modulation, use of pitch-to-voltage converter, fuzz and wah-wah, allowing him to use his flute as a bass instrument. He also played violin (similarly treated) and made use of synthesizers (both as a melodic instrument and as a sound processor). Later he also created his own electronic flute instrument. After the release of their 1974 album, Autobahn his use of acoustic instruments diminished.

Schneider, speaking in 1991, said: "I had studied seriously up to a certain level, then I found it boring; I looked for other things, I found that the flute was too limiting... Soon I bought a microphone, then loudspeakers, then an echo, then a synthesizer. Much later I threw the flute away; it was a sort of process." Although he has limited keyboard technique, and is a trained flautist, he apparently preferred to trigger the synth sounds through a keyboard in the group's 1975, 1976 and 1981 concerts (later, developments in sequencing limited the need for hands-on playing).

Schneider's approach appears to be concentrated on sound design (in an interview in 2005, Hütter called him a "sound fetishist") and vocoding/speech-synthesis. One patented implementation of the latter was christened the Robovox, a distinctive feature of the Kraftwerk sound.

He is known as the static, more secretive half of the elusive duo, apparently disliking touring. In a widely circulated interview video, he's shown as only briefly and sarcastically answering questions.

David Bowie titled his "Heroes" instrumental track "V-2 Schneider" after Schneider, and was heavily influenced by Kraftwerk's sound during his 'Berlin' period in the late 1970s.

Schneider currently lives in Meerbusch-Büderich near Düsseldorf, and has a daughter named Lisa. He is the son of architect Paul Schneider-Esleben.