Be it Blue Öyster Cult, Motörhead or Mötley Crüe, the Germanic umlaut is a grammatical mechanism that has been synonymous with hard rock and heavy metal for decades. While it's clear that the umlaut's usage in the rock scene has always been for rather aesthetic purposes, that hasn't stopped prog legend and Jethro Tull leader Ian Anderson pointing out that it has been spectacularly misappropriated over the years.
When asked by German radio station Radio Bob about the usage of umlauts in the title of Jethro Tull's imminent new album, RökFlöte, Anderson explains (as transcribed by Blabbermouth):
"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."
Anderson then goes on to reference in umlauts famous usage by other rock artists, noting: "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."
RökFlöte, Jethro Tull's 23rd studio album, will arrive on April 21 via InsideOut. The prog icons will play a one-off show at London's Shepherd's Bush Empire on May 23, before going on to headline the Walled Garden Music Festival, which takes place in at Tonbridge Castle in Kent, in September.