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David Helbock: Pianist

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David Helbock: Musician and Pianist
Andreas Broger, David Helbock and Johannes Bär
David Helbock and Lorenz Raab[/caption]For it was in the proto-bebop of the 1940’s that “statement, form, and virtuosity”, “still coherent, in which traditional pianistic methods are still used to say something new” are there for all to see as reinvention in musicianship on the piano began to unfold. And it happened at the hands of the great Thelonious Monk, whose inimitable pianism resulted in a melodic, harmonic and rhythmic explosion, which resulted in the first true revolution directly affecting how a piano came to be played forever after. Monk’s music became a sort of palimpsest for piano music all over the world, affecting the values of notes and of rests in Classical compositions and cadenzas, Jazz compositions and improvisations, and practically every other musical instrument including the human voice too when musicians from Ornette Coleman and virtually every other musician in the so-called avant-garde (movement) of the 1960’s and ever since got hip to Monk.

The Austrian pianist David Helbock is hip to Thelonious Monk. Helbock is also hip to an enormous array of sounds, from the sound of wind to the birds in the trees of the forest, and David Helbock. And then there is Arnold Schönberg and Prince, Hermeto Pascoal… and David Helbock. The bellow of the bass ukulele is something that Helbock finds fascinating, as well as the drums, the tuba, trumpet and flugelhorn, the piccolo trumpet and the bass trumpet, the baritone horn, the alphorn, helicon, the sousaphone, didgeridoo, trombone the bass clarinet, trumpet, the sounds of many saxophones, and the many sounds of the piano… and David Helbock. The drums are as tempting as the piano sometimes. It just depends on the kind of sound that is ringing in his head. And yet, there is nothing more fascinating to David Helbock, it would seem, than to make a new sound, a sound that has probably never come out of the piano before. Is this the secret behind the name “Random/Control” that he once gave to his band? It seems highly plausible…

It would seem that David Helbock is fascinated not only with music, or even his music, as much as he is fixed on recreating the sound he hears in his head and he seems to be determined to make the piano do the work for him, albeit with the occasional help of other instruments, especially those he can play while he is also playing the piano. It’s a tall order really, but if it’s something Helbock can imagine, then it’s something that he can and will play. On the piano. To Helbock, nothing is impossible. If the piano cannot bring a sound to life, then he will make it come from the piano by any means necessary. This would explain his manipulation of the piano in many more ways that musicians were willing to go in the past. His collection of toys that he employs to hammer, and scrape the strings, to muffle their resonance beyond what even the felt of the dampers can do; the collection of brass bangle-like objects with which he rattles the shivering strings, the sticks stones and mallets, indeed the array of toys and other implements with which strings are struck is staggering. But then it’s worth it because ultimately David Helbock gets the sound he wants. What sound?

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