Name: Hans Arnold
Occupation: Composer, drummer, multi-instrumentalist
Current Release: Hans Arnold's Interim is out via TELESKOP.
Recommendations: Dans les arbres is an improvising band with a unique sound, playing their instruments with extended techniques.
Palm is a band from Philadelphia, very unique in terms of songwriting and sound of a "rock" band.
If you enjoyed this interview with Hans Arnold and would like to stay up to date with his work, visit his official website. He is also on Instagram and Facebook.
When did you start writing/producing/playing music and what or who were your early passions and influences? What was it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?
I had classical piano lessons by my grandma since the age of 7, but had my first crucial experience with music at the age of 14, being fascinated by the energy of live music when listening to the school band.
[Read our feature about the piano]
After that I began playing drums and was mainly listening to music by The Beatles, generally music from the 60s/70s or a daily jazz program on local radio, which I recorded on tape almost every day for a while.
I was especially attracted to the energy of live sounding instruments, which might be the reason why I chose drums as my main instrument. For me, it's a true sound focused instrument.
When I listen to music, I see shapes, objects and colours. What happens in your body when you're listening and how does it influence your approach to creativity?
Like a lot of people I get goose bomps or butterflies if a particular piece of music is touching me very hard.
So the emotional approach is important, but there is also the analytic way of listening that gets me to know new music and extends my musical horizont.
How would you describe your development as an artist in terms of interests and challenges, searching for a personal voice, as well as breakthroughs?
I was classical trained with piano, but soon I was searching for ways to improvise and that stays important for me until now. Later I studied jazz and pop music (drums), so I went through an education and specialized in the techniques and the creative ways of playing a particular instrument includung music theory, improvisation and composition.
Besides that I was always listening to songs of let me call it "good and authentic" pop/rock music in its various styles and enjoyed bands creating an individual sound.
Nowadays I am interested in a combination of songlike music, conceptual attitudes of composed contemporary music and the sound explorations of improvised music.
Tell me a bit about your sense of identity and how it influences both your preferences as a listener and your creativity as an artist, please.
I feel myself quite strong connected to a more nature bound, season following life. This is where I get my energy and inspiratio. For me my music somehow orchestrates the atmospheres surrounding us.
Besides the artistic life I feel drawn to basic handcrafting work. I'm doing piano restaurations and tunings as a selfemployed pianobuilder. I can see the connection to handcraft showing up again in my musical work, looking for a physical, material-exploring way.
What, would you say, are the key ideas behind your approach to music and art?
I use conceptual and intuitive processes to hopefully achieve something refreshing and nonetheless emotionally touching. I'm seeking for the coexistence of noise AND beauty - aspects some people might describe as strong contrasts.
How would you describe your views on topics like originality and innovation versus perfection and timelessness in music? Are you interested in a “music of the future” or “continuing a tradition”?
I have great respect for traditionally played music and I enjoy coming back to it from time to time in my practice or as a listener.
The music I create and play for the people, however, is definitely intended to be original.
Over the course of your development, what have been your most important instruments and tools - and what are the most promising strategies for working with them?
I use natural sounding instruments like the Wurlitzer piano, a simple (bass)drum, objects out of metal or pieces of wood to prepare or extend the sound. Without that physical, natural base it's hard for me to get inspired.
In addition to that I use some electronical devices, specifically effect pedals, to modulate the accoustic sound if I want to.
Take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work, please.
Personally and honestly spoken, I am a father of a daughter since one year and at the same time started to restore an old house. This crashed my whole routine.
But if it's about work, I fill the remaining gaps with either preparing myself for a special concert, doing the oganizational work as a musician or tuning some pianos.
Could you describe your creative process on the basis of a piece, live performance or album that's particularly dear to you, please?
Ok. I hope I won't get too nerdy. The song "Distancing" of my new album Interim represents a track that I started with a rhythmical concept. Groups of seven as basic pattern, accented on either every sixth or eigth note. This created a long rhythmical shift.Starting with a written, notated sketch, I was jamming around with it, finding melody and groove.
Then it was about looking for a form, sometimes I even imagine a graphical line. And in the end I had to choose the sounds and realise them.
Listening can be both a solitary and a communal activity. Likewise, creating music can be private or collaborative. Can you talk about your preferences in this regard and how these constellations influence creative results?
At the moment I am mostly interested in real band work and I am also thinking about a more open collaborative project concerning the people and instruments involved.
In the last years I was spending a lot of my creative time in a private lonesome way, writing for groups I play with or for my solo project. The results of the private and the collaborative way are completely different but they benefit from each other.
How do your work and your creativity relate to the world and what is the role of music in society?
Music is an abstract way of communication and helps encouraging each other, musicians and listeners. I see it as support in life, that may lift you up, bring up new thoughts and perspectives etc.
Art can be a way of dealing with the big topics in life: Life, loss, death, love, pain, and many more. In which way and on which occasions has music – both your own or that of others - contributed to your understanding of these questions?
Since really getting into music as a teenager, music was my companion for everything that happened with and around me, including love in vain or daydreaming.
Thinking about especially those years in my youth, I remember using particular songs to strengthen a particular mood.
How do you see the connection between music and science and what can these two fields reveal about each other?
I would see my musical approach not very close to mathematics but I do get a lot of inspiration by reading about or listening to composers of spectral music for example. Composers like Giacinto Scelsi or Gerard Grisey looked at sound from a perspective of physics and accoustics, which opened up for completely new timbres.
Besides that a scientific concept can help in the process of developing music, that finally can be experienced completely intuitively or emotionally.
Creativity can reach many different corners of our lives. Do you feel as though writing or performing a piece of music is inherently different from something like making a great cup of coffee? What do you express through music that you couldn't or wouldn't in more 'mundane' tasks?
Music is abstract enough to trigger different reactions depending on the listener. The diversity of this phenomenon might decrease the more mundane a task is.
Music is vibration in the air, captured by our ear drums. From your perspective as a creator and listener, do you have an explanation how it able to transmit such diverse and potentially deep messages?
Music seems to find its way to the unconscious parts of our soul.
For me that's the special thing about instrumental music, bringing different parts of ourselves in resonance than words would do. (Though sung, spoken or yelled words can become sound too.)