Friday, August 17, 2007


Reduction as a Room to Expand

It was 1994 when I had my first record major deal with Sony Music. I was rapping and singing with my cousin in our band God’s favorite Dog. After the first record was not selling well the pressure to write the Hit Single was getting huge and we failed because we were always inspired by passion and not by function.

At that point I realized that I needed to find a way to connect people with my inside world and enthusiasm. The only possibility I saw at that time (1997) was to get rid of all structure and function. I heard a lot of electronic music that had no melody and was purely noise.

I tried to transfer that into my music because I was feeling that my music was tonal and needed more of my inner melancholy. So I started to work with people together on electronic projects called Tonetraeger and Music AM.

In that stadium I learned that association is often stronger and more unique then concrete composition (which means that sometimes I reduced a phrase of melody or a rhythm as much as I could without loosing the feeling for it). When I programmed a rhythm for a track I changed functions so that bass drum sounds played the snare function and the other way around. Then I took the rubber tool of my software and deleted as many events as I could without loosing the groove. We had so much fun listening together to the result in front of the speakers and filling in the missing notes or gaps in our heads without hearing them.

I realized that it gives the listener a lot of more freedom to associate with already heard rhythms but without having them as actual heard notes in the composition.

I was so excited by this result that I had to carry on with it by creating electronic sounds without using electricity. At that time I was starting to record my first piano album Hauschka Substantial and I started to experiment with preparations without knowing much about the history of John Cage or the prepared piano in general.

Later I found out that he started prepared piano because he was performing music to a dance piece where the stage didn’t have enough space for the piano and percussionists. But the composition was written for piano and percussion and so he decided to play the percussion with the piano. A quite practical aspect of finding new ways to create sound.

My search was also driven by practical reasons.

When I pasted the first material between the hammers and the strings of the piano I realized that this seemed to open a huge range of possibilities even though the set up was the most simple. I only needed a piano and different material that fitted into the piano or that wasn’t too heavy. When I pasted plastic folio on the strings it sounded like a processed hihat or when i taped the bass strings with thick tape it got the sound off a picked bass guitar. I found out that the parameters and the quality of a specific sound were already in the piano and when I used material on top I could emphasize the percussive side of the sound or the tonal aspect of the sound.

Also, I was completely independent from the tempo and pattern changes because I didn’t have to be in sync with any kind of machine. A band is much more flexible because you can make decisions by eye contact or you just slip into a new pattern and tempo...that is quite complicated with computers, especially when using rhythmical patterns.

The preparation of the piano is a great challenge and it seems to be simple but at the same time so complex.

The reduction of possibilities are in my opinion the most efficient way to find a good expression and a good view for the strength of individuality. Looking back I see all the aspects that were covering a clear view.

That doesn’t mean that all expression has to be minimal. Personally, minimalism has guided me to the essence of certain music and I've realized that reduction is much more powerful and unique then the overloaded mainstream which everyone somewhere experienced in socialization.

There is also the aspect of emotion. In every individual person there is a musical memory that is longing for always the same pattern (which means if you like, for example, mainstream pop music, that your memories are triggered by those sounds). But there is on the other side a longing to discover new music that can touch you with an extraordinary experience. The experience of the unheard.

I think there is no new music at all...that everything has been done and composed already. It is either the mixture of already existing styles and genres or it is the reduction that is giving you the possibility to explain the heard sounds and melodies by yourself and give it a meaning in connection with your memories.

Sometimes you will find a unique composition, but the texture and the sound appearance seems to be fitting mostly in an "heard" category. But if you have no knowledge stored of that sound it can be a discovery of music that has already existed for many years.

I am very happy not to have gotten involved in the mainstream music business back in 1994. I would have lost the chance of finding out what is possible with my musical expression and that the inner world of a boy from a small village in the deep forest of Germany is strong enough to find similar souls and relatives all over the world.

This is mainly the essence that makes me carry on with my work.


Blogger James said...

haushka was wonderful in Boulder earlier this month. wonderful post! wonderful blog, glad i came across it.

11:40 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home