Photo by Mareike Foecking
Hauschka, the German composer and recent Oscar nominee (Lion) talks about harnessing the power of the Disklavier, a modern-day version of the player piano, prior to his show at Funkhaus on April 4.
"With my first records on [Cologne label] Karaoke talk, I tired to use only the piano to see what I could get out of it. Pianos have a great aesthetic appeal to me, seeing how they function on the inside. After my last record, Abandoned City, I felt like I wanted to create even more drastic sounds with the instrument.
It started when I played a gig with Hendrik Schwarz [of Tiefschwarz] in Amsterdam and saw him trigger, play and loop a Disklavier via a keyboard. Of course, I knew that these Disklaviers existed, and I had been aware of Conlon Nancarrow, a composer who used player pianos’ non-human properties to create very synthetic, almost synthesizer-like compositions. When I found out that you can control a Disklavier with an iPad, I got one and started experimenting. You can play a Disklavier like a regular piano, but you can also record what you are playing, modify it on the spot and send MIDI signals which trigger individual piano keys. You can influence the tempo, play continuously and very fast and, above all, you can play all 88 keys simultaneously. These superhuman qualities make it very exciting.
My live set comprises a grand piano and two Disklaviers, to avoid dealing with a mountain of synths on stage. I don’t want to portray myself as the grand magician, moving back and forth between synths. I find this very self-centred: “Look at all the gadgets I can play!” That’s just not me."
Hauschka Tuesday, April 4, 20:30 Funkhaus Berlin, Schöneweide