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Posted 10.22.13

“German composer Hauschka, a.k.a Volker Bertelmann, is a practitioner of the ‘prepared piano,’ a technique where the player places objects on the strings of the piano so as to alter the sound. Hauschka will wrap the piano hammers in aluminum foil, for example, or attach binder clips to certain strings. For some performances, he tops the strings with ping-pong balls, which pop and bounce within the hollow of the piano. On later albums, Hauschka has increasingly included additional instrumentation (often violin and cello, as on his excellent Ferndorf record), but most often I come back to his earlier ones (Substantial, The Prepared Piano) where the technique is more clearly on display. While the preparations are meticulous, there is always an unpredictability to how the objects will react to the struck note, and this is what I admire about the technique: the surrendering of control. It is something I try to emulate in my own writing process, a willingness to listen to how the words and images are bouncing off one another on the page in ways I couldn’t have foreseen.”
—Ian Stansel, author of Everybody's Irish (Five Chapters, 2013)

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