Inspiration: Nils Frahm

I have been listening to Nils Frahm ad nauseam lately after his new album “All Melody” came out last week. I have always found him incredibly inspiring as he seems to create such beautiful works through simplicity and repetition.

I think he is more “classical” than “electronic” in that he prefers to use keyboards, pianos, organs, etc., yet I feel he would be right at home in the modular world. I would be curious to hear what he would come up with given opportunity (or interest) to build a modular synth and what one of his performances would sound like.

I find his techniques are very similar to what we use: rapidly evolving repetitive notes, slow morphing of filters and envelopes, and heavy use of delay and reverb, among other things.

Here are some of my favorite videos of him performing and his work. I have also included a video of the most beautiful studio I have ever seen where he recorded All Melody.

I hope you all find him as inspiring as I do, and let us know what you think!


I’d like to add this video of a session with Olafur Arnalds:


Thanks for sharing, I haven’t seen that video, so diving in and watching now.

Good share. I’ve been enjoying Nils’ music for a long time now. I first saw him live at a small venue in Brighton for Erased Tapes 5th anniversary shows. It was interesting to see how quickly people caught on, to the point that the next time I saw him a few years later, he was playing the Albert Hall as part of the alternative proms for BBC 6 Music.

I’m really liking the new album & my wife & I are going to see him play again on the 21st. I’m suspicious that if he went modular, he would continue to have an all analogue approach - he seems to have a distaste for anything digital from the interviews that I’ve seen / read.

If you’re not already familiar with the rest of the Erased Tapes roster, I’d recommend diving deep. They’re a great label with quite a varied output, but excellent quality control when it comes to the musical output & aesthetics of their releases.


Somehow I missed Nils’ output up to now. Had been aware of his name, but that’s it. I’ve been listening to “All Melody” and am blown away by the beauty of the music and the production on the album :astonished: Sooo pleasing to the ear!


he is truly amazing. I saw him in Columbus, OH a couple years ago and I am getting chills recalling it. Somehow I wasn’t aware of All Melody yet, so thanks!

The “Says” KEXP video is definitely at or near the top performance videos that I have seen. So much emotion evoked with relatively little change and relatively little equipment, just both the song elements and the gear being very well curated and, quite obviously, known by him super intimately. The way he sort of abuses the RE-501 (I think that is the model) is pretty incredible, and the manual control of the Juno filter throughout the performance is subtle and amazing.

Felt is a great album. Piano, dampened by felt; have listened to repeatedly for the past 2+ years


I’m so jealous that you are seeing him on the 21st. Where I live in the US there will be no shows for his upcoming tour that are within driving distance. One day I’ll see him live!

I think he could maybe go modular using just analog modules, but then again that would be very limiting. I am all about analog in a way as well, but I am also not totally against it and I have my fair share of digital elements in my arsenal. Wait, I just remembered something: in some of the videos I linked to there was a laptop in his setup. So … Nils, what the heck man? ha. I swear in some of his new work I can hear what sounds like a Mutable Instruments Rings to my ears.

I’ll check out more of the Erased Tapes artists, good recommendation.

jeez, just relistening to the KEXP performance…the transition at ~5:30 (don’t skip to it, watch the whole thing!) is one of the most beautiful (to me) musical things that exists, then somehow 2 minutes later it somehow ramps up from there. I’ve watched/heard this probably 50 times and cry or nearly cry every time.


I’m glad you could discover his music today :slight_smile: my work here is done! ha

I recommend an album called “Entanglement” by an artist called Michael Price. It’s all piano & modular synth & is truly great headphone music.


Awesome, I just added the Entanglement album to my Spotify! :+1:

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Nils Frahm has been perhaps my favorite musician for years now, and the new album is really truly excellent. So much of his solo work has been piano focused, while his collaborations have covered a broader territory, so it’s nice to see a more varied album from him.

The track #2 stopped me dead in my tracks when I first listened to the new album.

On the modular front, he’s clearly using some standard 5u set-up in his new studio. I imagine some of the percussive envelope sounds on some of his arpeggios in a few of the new pieces may be coming from that.

If people are into the Trance Frendz stuff, be sure to check out some of his older collaborations Olafur Arnalds (Loon and Stare), as well as nonkeen.

I missed a chance to see him at Funkhaus in Berlin a week ago, but have tickets to see him in San Francisco in April. Very much looking forward to it.


He’s probably the reason I got into synthesizers in the first place…and continues to be a huge inspiration. Can’t wait to see him in March at NYC and Philly!


He’s coming to Vancouver BC in April. Can’t wait to see him live!

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Fans of All Melody might want to check out Greg Haines’ “Where We Were”, which was mixed and mastered by Frahm and treads similar (if a bit more electronic) ground!


The more I listen to his work, the more I actually appreciate the solo piano stuff the most; I mean, it’s all great, but there’s something going on when he’s just playing a piano that really works for me. I’ll also note that if I had a Space Echo of any kind I would probably smear it around as liberally as he does.

I am sad I’ve never seen him live - had tickets in 2014 but ended up in Australia for work, and then each year he’s become harder and harder to get tickets for. One of the artists that used to a feel a bit like ‘my secret’ but now he’s fairly popular over here. Ah well. I’ll always have the music.

(Other favourites of his: the soundtrack to Victoria.)


Just got tickets for the show at The Knockdown Center. Super excited about this.


see ya there! 20 charssssssssss


Hes really good - when i first listened i instantly thought of Keith Jarrett of which i’m a big fan. He records alot of his stuff live and improvised. The Koln concert, La Scala and his work on The Survivor’s Suite are my favourites. :


the toilet brushes thing on youtube is good too