Florian Schneider

Florian Schneider-Esleben (born 7 April 1947)[2] is a German musician best known as one of the founding members of the electronic music group Kraftwerk, taking his role with the band until his departure in November 2008.

Florian Schneider
Florian Schneider.JPG
Background information
Birth nameFlorian Schneider-Esleben
Born (1947-04-07) 7 April 1947 (age 72)
Öhningen, Germany
Occupation(s)Musician, singer
InstrumentsSynthesizer, vocals, guitar, flute, saxophone, drums, percussion, violin
Years active1968–2008, 2014-2015
Associated actsKraftwerk


Florian Schneider-Esleben founded Kraftwerk with Ralf Hütter in 1970. They met in 1968 while studying at the Academy of Arts in Remscheid, then at the Robert Schumann Hochschule in Düsseldorf. They played improvisational music together in the ensemble Organisation. Before meeting Hütter, Schneider had played with Eberhard Kranemann in the group Pissoff from 1967 to 1968.[1] From 1968 to 1969, Schneider played flute, with Ralf Hütter on Hammond organ, Eberhard Kranemann on bass and Paul Lovens on drums.

Originally Schneider's main instrument was the flute, which he would treat using 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), electric guitar (including slide guitar), 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.

David Bowie titled his "Heroes" instrumental track "V-2 Schneider" after Schneider,[3] and was heavily influenced by Kraftwerk's sound during his "Berlin period" in the late 1970s.

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."[4] Although he has limited keyboard technique, 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 is 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. Hütter said of Schneider's approach:

He is a sound perfectionist, so, if the sound isn’t up to a certain standard, he doesn’t want to do it. With electronic music there’s no necessity ever to leave the studio. You could keep making records and sending them out. Why put so much energy into travel, spending time in airports, in waiting halls, in backstage areas, being like an animal, just for two hours of a concert? But now, with the Kling Klang studio on tour with us, we work in the afternoon, we do soundchecks, we compose, we put down new ideas and computer graphics. There’s always so much to do, and we do make progress.[5]

Schneider is also known for his comical, enigmatic interviews, although he has only seldom given permission to be interviewed.[6][7][8]

In 2015 Schneider and Dan Lacksman with help of Uwe Schmidt released an electronic ode, "Stop Plastic Pollution", for ocean environment conservation as part of a campaign "Parley for the Oceans".[9][10]

Departure from KraftwerkEdit

Schneider did not perform on any of the dates of the Kraftwerk 2008 world tour (his last performance with the band was November 2006 in Spain). His position onstage was filled by Stefan Pfaffe, an associate working for the band as a video technician. According to a close associate of the group, Schneider left Kraftwerk on 21 November 2008.[11] On 6 January 2009, NME confirmed Schneider's departure.[12]


  1. ^ a b e-kranemann.de
  2. ^ Copyright paper for Kraftwerk, filled by Florian Schneider, 1970
  3. ^ Roy Carr & Charles Shaar Murray (1981). Bowie: An Illustrated Record: p.92
  4. ^ Pascal Bussy (1993). Man, Machine and Music
  5. ^ Mojo magazine interview, August 2005
  6. ^ Brazilian non-interview with Florian Schneider - 1998 on YouTube
  7. ^ Che ill von Guevara & Don Schneider - Viva2 interview 2001 on YouTube
  8. ^ Florian Schneider at MusikMesse 2009 - Frankfurt on YouTube
  9. ^ Jones, Daisy (8 December 2015). "Kraftwerk's co-founder made this track to save the oceans". Dazed. Internet Archive: Dazed Media. Archived from the original on 22 April 2016. Retrieved 27 October 2017.
  10. ^ Roland, Mark (31 December 2015). "Florian Schneider and Dan Lacksman". Electronic Sound. Pam Communications. Archived from the original on 12 March 2016. Retrieved 27 October 2017.
  11. ^ "News". Elektrodaten. 2008-12-16. Retrieved 2008-12-16.
  12. ^ "Kraftwerk co-founder quits band". 2009-01-06. Retrieved 2011-08-27.