Alternative music reviews

September 3, 2008

Ferndorf by Hauschka

Filed under: hauschka — @ 9:23 pm Comments (2)

Ferndorf by HauschkaI’m pretty familiar with John Cage’s prepared piano. He would take a handful of screws, nuts, bolts and throw them onto the piano strings. When the pianist played his compositions, the notes would sound very different depending on wherethe detiritus ended up. All sorts of plinks and plonks got introduced. This introduced chance (the fancy word is ‘Stochastic’) into a composition. Every time it was played then it would sound very different.

I always suspected John Cage of being a bit of a trickster – he would take a radical approach to composition but often maintained recognisable melody. The end result was was actually rather pleasant – the opposite result of much contemporary ‘classical’ music.

Hauschka is modern composer who, on his latest album Ferndorf, uses the prepared piano as his main instrument. The piano also underlies the music rhythmically and allows extensive use of the cello and even a bit of brass to allow the music to soar off into the distance. And it does soar, it takes you off on a daydream-like journey like only the best instrumental music can.

Freibad by Hauschka

Freibad by Hauschka (clip)

Certainly this isn’t an experimental work. Cage did the experimenting and Hauschka profits from that and uses the beauty and surprise of Cage’s work as part of his creation. He adds a touch of the Phillip Glass/Michael Nyman use of motifs and what you end up with is interesting, entrancing, and rather beautiful.

Schiones Madchen by Hauschka

Schoenes Madchen by Hauschka (clip)

Hauschka on MySpace


  1. Your account of Cage’s prepared piano method is highly inaccurate. He left nothing to chance. He did not “take a handful…and throw them on the piano strings”. The pianist did not play randomly altered piano notes. You are confusing this phase of Cage’s output with his later experiments in chance. The prepared piano pieces were meticulously worked out and notated. Some take hours to prepare.

    Comment by sam — December 17, 2008 @ 10:28 pm

  2. You are absolutely right.

    Comment by Cool Noise — December 20, 2008 @ 2:40 pm

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