Berlin’s favourite instrumentalist Nils Frahm has been keeping himself pretty busy as of late. Last weekend saw the completion of his three-day residency at the Barbican, which included a series of performances, talks, and screenings. It was a roaring success. To add to the string of recent accomplishments, last week also saw the launch of his second book of sheet music – Sheets Zwei.
Sheets Zwei is no ordinary book of sheet music. While it includes printed sheets of some of his most loved works, it also marriages some wonderful photography from Klaus Frahm (Nils’ father), an endearing written introduction from Nils, and some helpful but equally humorous ‘DIY’-type diagrams.
To celebrate the book’s launch, friends were invited to an evening with Nils for a live Q&A, joined by Klaus, Torsten Posselt (arrangement and production), and Stuart Bailes (photography). Taking place at the Town Hall Hotel, the room was just like a very large, very nice, living room; a Steinway grand sat nearby on which a number of selected guests performed pieces from Sheets Zwei throughout the evening.
The Q&A was chaired by Max Reinhardt (BBC’s Late Junction), who facilitated some candid storytelling, and exposed some insightful aspects of Zwei’s conception. Discussing the book’s making, Nils found it interesting to learn the whole process of putting together such a bespoke artifact – from the editing, to the binding, to the collaboration with his father. Klaus recited the story behind the photos, which, for a time, seemed like they would never come to completion: the photos were taken in 1987 on a holiday to Portugal, but while developing the film, he accidentally walked into the dark-room, exposing all of the photos and rendering them unusable. His second and third attempts were also thwarted by similar misfortune, where Nils’ mother would make the same mistake. Klaus could see the humour of it all, and we all laughed along with him.
When asked whether Nils’ ever practiced his scales, Klaus paused for a moment before exclaiming “oh, he was so terrible at practising!”, a wide grin across his face. At the time Nils couldn’t decide whether he wanted to be a pilot or a pianist, and Klaus cut a deal with him: “you get to keep the Fender Rhodes if you choose to become a pianist” – it seemed like the deal paid off in the end.
Reinhardt commented that it’s pretty rare today, in the twenty-first century, that people were gathered there that evening to look at sheet music – a real testament to the success of the project, and a warrant for perhaps the creation of Sheets Drei in the not-so-distant future.
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Words: Vince Morris
SHEETS Zwei is published via Manners Mcdade and distributed via Faber & Faber – info HERE.