Feast your eyes on Hauschka, the Dusseldorfian prepared pianist.
|What he lacks in body fat, he more than makes up for in creativity.|
Prepared piano refers to the technique of placing objects on the inside strings of a grand piano, thus completely altering its sound. Hauschka utilizes a number of household objects including Tic Tac boxes, paper clips, and ping pong balls to achieve various percussive effects, turning the already versatile piano into a percussive instrument. While he is not the first pianist to experiment with such techniques, it is certain that he is the first to achieve a wider following. John Cage originally experimented with prepared piano in the 1940's to critics' distaste. Adding hardware to inside strings was only one of Cage's techniques that wider audiences found too radical, and they questioned whether his compositions had "musical integrity."
The early 2000's, however, saw a riper time for prepared piano, and Hauschka has achieved relative fame in the music world. Volker Bertalmann, stage name Hauschka, spent his youth in a German hip hop band and was not a classically trained pianist at all. This lack of training perhaps enables his ability to creatively see new capacities for the piano. Indeed, Hauschka compares the piano to the human brain, where only a small part of its total potential is used.
In an interview with NPR, Hauschka describes how critical trial and error is to his creative process. His willingness to add new materials to the piano often results in failure, but certainly accounts for the brilliance of his more unique pieces. When he plays, it sounds as if the room is filled with instruments when really it's just Hauschka, a piano, and assorted Tic Tacs. The following video shows this process:
I adore the compositions that Hauschka is able to produce from a few strategic alterations to a classic instrument. His ingenuity produces countless percussive effects which he expertly uses to enhance traditional piano sounds. Herein lies his genius--Hauschka seamlessly weaves the beautiful piano sound with the novel ones he creates to produce an entirely unique music experience.
Above is my favorite Hauschka composition