Oscar-nominated German composer and experimental pianist Hauschka explains nature's vital role in his composing
Being in nature is something that has always been very fulfilling for me. It’s where I feel embraced and welcomed. It reminds me that I am part of something greater. It brings me confidence, peace of mind, and oxygen.
When I was a boy being inside felt a little bit like a punishment, especially when the weather wasn’t too cold. Even when it was -10 or -15 degrees Celsius I was outside as much as I could be. Today I try to be outside as much as possible. It’s important for me even with my crazy schedule. I use nature as a sort of recovering resort where I decompress, but it’s also a place where I come up with ideas that are not polluted by the noise and chaos of everyday life. When I am writing sometimes I wake up inspired and I can write all day, but then there are days I have to find a way to get out of the mind frame where thoughts and ideas are getting crunched. When this happens, I usually go for a run or a walk in the woods to relieve myself of the tension and get back into a detached way of thinking.
Everything I am doing has the nature of contraction and release. It is important to know where you experience each reaction, and learn how you can influence them for yourself. How to get out of a blocked way of thought, and how to shift yourself into a place where you can create, or release, is a vital part of the creative process.
It’s nothing new; every musician and artist is influenced by nature in some way because we are part of nature. It’s in us. It feels almost abnormal to talk about the meaning of nature to me as it’s so inherently ingrained in me.
Nature is somewhere we can exist without attachment: without being someone, without wanting to reach for something. We just get from A to B and perhaps return when a storm comes. In a society where everything is becoming more and more digitised, we’re often looking into a virtual world for answers. It’s very easy to feel lost, overwhelmed, and detached from it because it is not natural. It is a simulation.
Nature induces a kind of existential wonder. It helps me to get a different perspective on my goals and my decisions. I’m aware this isn't something that exists for everyone. Everyone has their own system and their own way of using life experience and reflection to decipher which things are working and which things aren’t. For me, white noise and nature are the two things that are my restart buttons. They clear my mind from destructive thoughts and ideas that are misleading.
When my me and my siblings were aged between 10 and 16, we had very cold winters. On some days it started to rain and then to freeze. The forest close to my home would be covered in snow and ice, and the patches that you could walk or drive on became very slippery. We took sledges and walked up the highest mountain behind our house, which was around 800 metres high. It took us 90 minutes to walk up there with a sledge on our back. When we arrived we had a short break, and then we shot down the hill extremely fast. We had to use skates to keep the sledge on the road and for 15 minutes we rode down the hill through all different kinds of wood: very dense needle wood and open mixed wood with oaks and birches. Afterwards I remember feeling so satisfied and so happy that I went all the way back up to go again.
I am describing this not to romanticise but to explain that the process of setting a goal where you want to go and then doing it with pleasure is sometimes enough to be happy. In a way, I’m doing this as a composer. I am choosing my goals to keep moving and I am trying to move with satisfaction. It's hard sometimes to decide between options but at the same time many ways are often leading to the same place you want to go.
I would love to do everything I can to keep the nature in the same shape as I knew it. I wish that my kids and their kids will experience the same benefit that I experienced from forests, rivers, mountains, desserts, valleys, parks, etc. It’s something we all need to prioritise in today’s climate.