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33 1/3 revolutions, 33 1/3 years later
The foundation for music promotion of SUISA turned 33 1/3 years old this year.
Photo: SUISA / Manu Leuenberger
By Urs Schnell, Director FONDATION SUISA
Sometimes the thoughts that come to you while listening to music can be rather strange. This is what happened to me recently when I listened to the wonderful album “Kind of Blue” by Miles Davis. It reminded me that this music was originally released on vinyl, that is, on a long-play.

33 1/3 revolutions per minute – that’s how leisurely a record spins – but incredible things happen on this so meticulously cycled time plane. “So What” – the first bass lines already pull you into another world. The rhythm that rises after that releases thoughts which often begin in places one would not have expected. I admit, had we not just now launched a revamped website, including a new application portal, I would not have delved so deeply into the history of the foundation. And then I would hardly have come across the fact that 33 1/3 not only stands for the revolutions per minute of a long-playing record, but that our FONDATION SUISA turned 33 1/3 years this year – a third of a century.

Miles Davis and John Coltrane, who juggled time planes in pieces like “Freddie Freeloader,” “Blue in Green” and “All Blues”, connecting yesterday with today to sketch a new tomorrow – that is also how I improvised my way mentally through the past, present, and future of our foundation.

The record player – still one of the main protagonists when the foundation was established – quickly disappeared thereafter. With the arrival of the compact disc, the physical sound carrier evaporated into virtual space, and with the loss of something haptic, the music industry was completely torn from its hinges. A gigantic change, especially for those who live from music. But also, for those who support current music creation.

33 1/3 years in the service of music makers and their creativity

Under the fleeting, melancholy sounds of Miles’ trumpet, I thought of the thousands of applications reviewed in those 33 1/3 years, the countless hours spent at foreign fairs to get Swiss music out there. And above all to the many people – whether on the Foundation Board, in the juries, or the administrative office – who have shown an almost unbelievable level of commitment since the foundation was established in 1989, not only to keep the “car” running, but also to keep it on course, again and again, despite drastic changes.

At first, it may sound like a cheap transition to the readers of these fleetingly sketched lines, when a “Get Going!” escapes me at John Coltrane’s lyrical saxophone. But “Kind of Blue”, with its magical moments, reminds us of the humility that music can trigger in its audience. And of the fact that the energy and time we put into our funding programmes are always in the service of the creativity of the music makers.

They are the reason we do what we do. And that’s what it’s all about.

Supporting the creative drive of the Swiss music scene

May economic structures collapse to make way for new realities; may formal conditions change in such a way that musicians must “reinvent” themselves – our task is to constantly adapt in order to keep up with the creative drive. Because the creativity of the Swiss music scene remains unbroken. The kick-off financing campaign “Get Going!” is one of our latest projects, which beyond all conditions, far from genre definitions and stylistic pigeonholes, allows music creators the freedom to develop as they wish.

There will always be good music. And good music will outlive even us – just look at, or listen to, “Kind of Blue”. Yes, even vinyl records are celebrating a brilliant comeback. 33 1/3 revolutions per minute are not bad at all as an anachronistic statement to bits and bytes. Paired with good music, they serve – as proven here – as a stimulant for mental playfulness. Did I mention that in 1959, when “Kind of Blue” was recorded, both Miles Davis and John Coltrane were 33 years old?

And on that note … keep turnin’
Urs Schnell, Director FONDATION SUISA

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