Arp Dinkelaker is a designer, composer and musician living in Berlin Mitte with a broad, almost a bit frayed, musical background:
After he had received a profound classical education in his teenage years (choir, violin, piano and also harmony, because he was already composing at the age of 12), he emancipated himself from that classical approach at the age of 20. He learned the guitar within a very short time, wrote his own songs , founded a band, landed a record deal and then… released the two probably most unknown and most unsuccessful power pop albums of the 1990s – yikes! – before and while he devoted himself uncompromisingly to studying architecture, minimal art, and electronic music (perhaps that’s why…).
In 1997 he followed his love and the party to Berlin, where he lost himself in the minimal techno universes typical for the town at the time.
Ever since he has been working – lately less and less secretly and desperately – on a synthesis of all of these actually quite incompatible facets of his musical biography and has rediscovered the piano (luckily he still has his old semi-acoustic Yamaha CP80 grand piano) as an effective means for his works on neopolyphonic sound clusters and on cultivating a playing style that he discovered and developed while practicing a three-part fugue by Bach.
Arp´s motto on Instagram:
„Designing by daylight, playing minimal piano after dark“. Spot On.
A Night Trilogy for Solo Piano
Pt. I – Serial Serenade
The topic of the trilogy´s first part, “Serial Serenade”, is the evening, the blue hour, the transition from being awake to falling asleep.
“The album is a literal serenade: The tracks came up at a time when the kids wanted to listen to some piano music while falling asleep and, at some point, it was part of the ritual that I had to keep playing until they really had fallen asleep. I gave all and tried everything: intimate little threads of melody like in a slow movement from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, but also shimmering, serial, mesmerizing ‚acoustic techno‘.“
Instead of a classic tempo designation such as “Allegro” or “Largo”, each track has an English verb as a designation that describes the movement´s mood.
“I wanted to stay classically abstract when naming the pieces, because they aren’t songs but rather classical piano pieces such as bagatelles or nocturnes. However, I also wanted to dust off the terminology a little. Therefore this a somewhat different type of designation …“
Serial Serenade – Album link to Spotify
Pt. II – Music for Night Shifts
In the second part of the night trilogy, “Music for Night Shifts”, Arp deals with the dying and death of his parents, whom he lost in quick succession within four weeks at the turn of 2019/20.
“That was a lot of night shifts within a very short period of time… Of course, there are no pianos in intensive care units (probably there should be sometimes?); all you can do is hum and sing to counteract the process of dying and the inevitable. Of course it didn’t work, which is why the night shifts continued at home after the funerals and during the corona lockdown. And so the humming and singing turned into the piano music you can listen to on ‚Music For Night Shifts‘.“
The album is a collection of six so-called „Songs without Voice“ and intervening interludes.
“I consider the ’songs without voice‘ as classic pop songs with a melody and lyrics, verse and chorus. In fact, there are lyrics for each of these songs. But since I think my voice is so bad, these texts remain unsung … but only until Henning May from AnnenMayKantereit or Tom Waits give me a call and sing the vocals. So on the album there are, so to speak, ‚karaoke versions‘ of the songs. I will gradually publish corresponding lyrics videos on YouTube. Then everyone can – again – hum his own version.“
Music For Night Shifts – Albumlink to Spotify
Album snippets from Pt. I & II
Pt. III – The Dawn Tapes
Every Night has its Dawn – and this Night Shift has its Dawn Tapes, played and recorded in the blue hour of early dawn when black birds wake up and begin to sing.
The release of this album marks the end of 8 years of writing and playing and 1 year of mourning. Its a great relief.
Album snippets from Pt. III
UK – Urbane Kontemplation
„Jetzt ist halb vier und nur der Club noch ne Option.
Da kann ich weiter rumstehen, weiterdenken – urbane Kontemplation.“
„It´s half past three, only the club is still an option
for hanging around and further thinking – urban contemplation.“
In this snippet from the lyrics of „Zu lange“, my first Song Without Voice on the Nightshift-Album, I came up with a designation for a special form of insomnia: Urban Contemplation. When it´s 3:30 am and your body´s weak but your mind´s still wide awake…
UK – Urbane Kontemplation is the title of a series of fist fights between an acoustic piano, some synthesizers an that typical endless urban 4-to-the-floor-pulse. Sometimes elegiac, sometimes ecstatic, always restless and stirring – exactly the opposite of what you need, when you try to get some sleep.
„And when the day is done
thoughts start spinning around
lost and found and around
and they keep spinning until dawn.“
Questions and Answers
How would you describe your music?
„When I am sitting at the piano I always try to combine polyphonic or polyrhythmic sound patterns with serial elements from minimal music and melodic and harmonic set pieces from jazz and pop. The resulting music is sometimes audible silence, sometimes a song structure and then again a shimmering, serial carpet of sound. I consider my music as ambient, but you don’t have to be bored if you listen carefully.“
„I consider my music to be located between the serial music of Steve Reich and the melancholy of Ludovico Einaudi, and between the ballads of Keith Jarrett and the intimate piano sound tinkering of Nils Frahm, without denying my love for the classic or romantic tunes…“
Why is nobody allowed to call you a pianist?
„Because I’m not. To say so would be an insult to everyone who really is and who has worked hard for that status. I have played the piano all my life, but rather to create my own stuff than to interprete the stuff of others. Now I think like Patrick Carney, the drummer of the Black Keys, who – I think – once said: I can’t play the drums, but I’m a drummer!
My credo: As long as all the super pianists aren’t playing my stuff, I have to do the job … the music is definitely worth playing. And when I look at what other neoclassic piano virtuosos have to offer, I don’t have to hide.“
Your check out tips for „Serial Serenade“?
„Track 2: ‚Undulate in C Major‘ – A repetitive C key meets a dreamy melody and some serial sound clusters.
Track 5: ‚Undulate in E Flat Minor‘ – A serial black key orgy
Track 6: ‚Shiver in G Minor‘ – like a Largo by Vivaldi: a fragile, polyphonic, crystalline chill.
Track 9 ‚Yearn in E Flat Minor – meditative like the Mondschein Sonata, but on speed.“
Your check out tips for „Music For Night Shifts“?
„‚Zu lang‘ (Track 3) is the right start for the Night Shift album. It contemplates the thoughts of an aging night owl who realizes that a few things have to change. The only question is: how?
‚Like Michael Douglas in Falling Down‘ (Track4) is my current Berlin anthem. This is how I often feel when I take a walk through my neighborhood and hardly recognize it anymore. Starts like an early Tom Waits song and ends in an angry ‚Rachmaninoff staccato‘ …
The first interlude ‚Album Leaf For Alice, Not Elise‘ (Track 5) is a big thank you to Alice Sara Ott, whose YouTube-recording of Beethoven’s 3rd piano concerto helped me through some of my darkest hours.
‚Für Dich und Mich‘ (Track 7) – a shimmering piano sound carpet meets the perhaps most beautiful melody I’ve ever written.
‚Was dann?‘ (Track 7) – A farewell song, sad and yet relaxed and flaky like a Chopin nocturne.“
It´s called „A Night Trilogy“ – what about Part III?
„I hope there will be the trilogy’s part III in 2020.
The last track on the Night Shift album anticipates the mood: the birds greet the day in our backyard in Berlin Mitte. One morning during the lockdown – I think it was March 28 at half past three – I just turned the microphone on and recorded it. How calm and at the same time lively … That will be the basic mood of the third part.“