When the duo Neu! broke up drummer Klaus Dinger went on to form La Düsseldorf, whose track ‘Geld’ featured recently on this blog. Meanwhile guitarist Michael Rother moved back to his other group Harmonia. Harmonia were basically an instrumental band, and this is the title track of their second album from 1975. These minimal lyrics are the only words that appear on the album, though they are repeated on the track “Monza (rauf und runter)”.

NB I couldn’t find a video of the original. This faithful cover by The Secret Machines will have to do.


Immer wieder rauf und runter
Einmal drauf und einmal drunter
Immer wieder hin und her
Kreuz und quer, mal leicht, mal schwer

Again and again, up and down
One time on top, and one time under
Again and again, back and forth
Hither and thither, sometimes easy, sometimes hard


The lyrics looked pretty simple at first. Then I wondered, why ‘Rauf’ rather than ‘Auf’? And so begins another of my occasional voyages into German grammar…

If you are learning German, then after Wo? (where?) you soon come across Wohin? (where to?) and Woher? (where from?) NB Her is pronounced like “here”.
So Hin indicates direction away from the speaker, while Her indicates towards the speaker.
NB Hin and Her are separable.

Wohin gehst du? = Wo gehst du hin? (Where are you going?)
Woher kommst du? = Wo kommst du her? (Where do you come from?)

Hin and Her can also be used as prefixes to create new verbs.
e.g. Herkommen (Come here)

Komm bitte her! Ich muss mit dir redden. (Come here. I must talk to you.)

e.g. Hingehen (Go away/Pass)

Geht bitte irgendwo anders hin! Ich brauche Ruhe! (Please go somewhere else! I need quiet!)

Hin and Her with prepositions.

Hin and Her also combine with prepositions, and the result is usually abbreviated.

Aus (out) => Hinaus, Heraus => Raus

i.e. Both are abbreviated to Raus, which seems logical enough for Heraus, but less so for Hinaus!
NB Aus (out) must be used with an object i.e. out of something, but Raus can be used without an object.

Ich gehe aus dem Haus. I’m going out of the house.
Ich gehe raus. I’m going out.

Ein (in) => Hinein, Herein => Rein

Ich gehe in das Haus. I’m going into the house.
Ich gehe rein. I’m going in.

Auf (up) => Hinauf, Herauf => Rauf

Ich gehe (auf den Berg) rauf. I’m going up (the mountain).

Unter (under) => Hinunter, Herunter=> Runter

Ich gehe (in den Kellar) runter. I’m going down (to the cellar).

So finally we have rauf und runter from the song lyrics! The movement they are singing about doesn’t refer to any objects so rauf and runter are used, auf and unter can’t be used.

NB Most of the examples above are taken from this excellent page:


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