Motorik is the 4/4 beat often used by, and heavily associated with, krautrock bands. Coined by music journalists, the term is German for "motor skill". The motorik beat was pioneered by Jaki Liebezeit, drummer with German experimental rock band Can.[1][2][3][4] Klaus Dinger of Neu!, another early pioneer of motorik, later called it the "Apache beat".[5] The motorik beat is heard in one section of Kraftwerk's "Autobahn", a song designed to celebrate exactly this experience.[6] It is heard throughout Neu!'s "Hallogallo", from their self-titled album Neu!.[7]

Some music critics observed that the motorik style conveys a similar sense of forward momentum as the music of Beethoven and Rossini and bears a resemblance to the rhythmic drumming in jazz.[8] They opined that it initially evoked the "glorification of the industrial modern era".[8]

The motorik beat is in 4/4 time, at a moderate tempo. The pattern is repeated in each bar throughout the song. A splash or crash cymbal is often hit at the beginning bar of a verse or chorus. Klaus Dinger emphasized that it was "very much a human beat," adding, "It's essentially about life, how you have to keep moving, get on and stay in motion."[9] The basic pattern is as follows:

Staff notation showing the motorik drum beat


The word's use in music journalism may be derived from a punning modification of "motoric", a term long used by music critics to describe relentless ostinato rhythm,[8] or simply from a combination of "motor" and "music" (German: "musik").[10] In addition, Motorik is the German word for motor skills. The name may derive from the repetitive yet forward-flowing feel of the rhythm, which has been compared to the experience of driving on a motorway.[11]


The drumming style of Moe Tucker, the drummer in the Velvet Underground, has specifically been characterized by music critic Chris Jones as "proto-motorik."[12] Apart from the German krautrock bands, the motorik beat has been used by bands from many different genres, most often in psychedelic rock, post-punk, indie rock, and contemporary non-German "krautrock" bands. The motorik beat was a characteristic feature in the music of Siouxsie and the Banshees through the involvement of drummers Kenny Morris and Budgie.[13][14] Other notable artists include Joy Division, Beak, the War on Drugs, Electrelane, the Rapture, LCD Soundsystem, King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, Thee Oh Sees, the Modern Lovers, Iggy Pop, Public Image Ltd, Ultravox, Stereolab, Yo La Tengo, Endless Boogie, Idles, Moon Duo,[15] and Sam Fender.[16][17]


  1. ^ Adelt, Ulrich (2016). Krautrock: German Music in the Seventies. University of Michigan Press. p. 18. ISBN 978-0-472-05319-3.
  2. ^ Savage, Mark (23 January 2017). "Jaki Liebezeit: Can drummer dies aged 78". BBC News. Retrieved 26 January 2017.
  3. ^ Millions, Kid (23 January 2017). "Love Time: Remembering Can Drummer Jaki Liebezeit's Otherworldly Groove". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 26 January 2017.
  4. ^ Spice, Anton (22 January 2017). "Can drummer Jaki Liebezeit has died aged 78". The Vinyl Factory. Retrieved 26 January 2017.
  5. ^ Kopf, Biba (2002). "Klaus Dinger interview transcript (2001)". The Wire. Retrieved 26 January 2017.
  6. ^ Albiez, Sean; Pattie, David (2011). Kraftwerk: Music Non-Stop. UK: Continuum. p. 102. ISBN 978-1-4411-9136-6.
  7. ^ Taylor, Steve (2006). The A to X of Alternative Music. UK: A&C Black. p. 160. ISBN 978-0-8264-8217-4.
  8. ^ a b c Bottà, Giacomo (2020). Deindustrialisation and Popular Music: Punk and Post-Punk in Manchester, Düsseldorf, Torino and Tampere. Finland: Rowman & Littlefield. p. 48. ISBN 978-1-7866-0738-6.
  9. ^ "Klaus Dinger: Pioneer of the 'motorik' beat". 9 April 2008.
  10. ^ Buckley, David (2015). Kraftwerk: Publikation. UK: Omnibus Press. p. 86. ISBN 978-1-7832-3618-3.
  11. ^ Jurek, Thom. "Neu! — Neu!". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved August 29, 2018.
  12. ^ Chris Jones (21 June 2007). Review of "The Velvet Underground & Nico" for the BBC. Retrieved 20 October 2007.
  13. ^ Gillespie, Bobby (2021). Tenement Kid: Rough Trade Book of the Year. UK. ISBN 978-1-4746-2209-7.((cite book)): CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  14. ^ "Siouxsie And The Banshees: 'We were losing our minds'". Uncut. 24 October 2014. Archived from the original on 24 September 2022. Retrieved 24 September 2022.
  15. ^ Arizuno, Lee (22 May 2009). "Motorikpop: A Secret History Spotified". The Quietus. Archived from the original on 28 July 2012. Retrieved 24 September 2022.
  16. ^ Petridis, Alexis (7 October 2021). "Sam Fender: Seventeen Going Under review − music that punches the air and the gut". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 20 November 2021. Retrieved 3 August 2022. clipped and taut, equal parts motorik beat
  17. ^ Merrick, Hayden (22 October 2021). "Middle England Woes and Glistening Guitars Collide on Sam Fender's 'Seventeen Going Under'". PopMatters. Archived from the original on 26 August 2022. Retrieved 24 September 2022. Here, again, is the driving motorik beat that doesn't let up