Tull Legend Talks Umlauts

Jethro Tull Legend on Umlauts

The Germanic umlaut is often synonymous with hard rock and heavy metal. The umlaut’s usage in the rock scene has always been for aesthetic purposes, but Jethro Tull leader Ian Anderson says it has been spectacularly misappropriated over the years. When asked about the usage of umlauts in the title of Jethro Tull’s new album, RökFlöte, Anderson explained, “Before I started work on the album, it had a working title of ‘Rock Flute’, in English, because I thought, ‘I’m gonna make a rock album and it’ll have a lot of flute on it’. So that was what was at the top of my page when I started work on January the 1st of 2022. And during the course of the day, I narrowed down my thoughts about the subject matter to deciding that I would write, focusing, really, on some of the Gods from Norse paganism, the polytheistic beliefs in Norse religion. And in a fanciful way I decided that perhaps the title should become not ‘Rock’ but ‘Rök’, which in old Icelandic means ‘destiny’, and ‘Flöte’, which is the German- and other Germanic-language pronunciation and spelling of flute, the instrument I play. So that’s what it became.”  He went on to call out other bands, “The umlauts are there for a legitimate reason because they are correct in the linguistic spelling, whereas the misappropriation of the umlaut at the hands of, for instance, Mötley Crüe or Motörhead, ought to make you either laugh or get angry, depending on your point of view.”

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