Monday, July 8, 2013

What are you watching?

When you watch a taiko performance (especially a live one), where are you looking?

Early on, the soloist or the front row or the odaiko player in the back would get my attention the most.  Now I’m finding that the more taiko I watch, the more I look at the people away from the spotlight.

I’m not “looking for weaknesses”, I’m just trying to see how the ensemble functions as a whole:  Where are the newer members placed?  Have they teamed up the weaker players with the stronger ones or kept them apart?

Mind you, as a composer, I want people to watch the stuff I want them to watch.  I don’t want them to focus on the back row, for example, even if the back row is doing just fine!   However, as an observer with that in mind, I find that watching the rest of the piece can be more interesting than just what’s meant to get my attention.

This method does mean I’m more likely to just enjoy the songs as if I was watching the “intended” parts, but sometimes all it takes is a quick look here, a small glance there, then I’m back on the focal point again.

This is made much easier through recording and watching it later, but we don’t always have that luxury.

So, as an observer, break away from the “shiny object” you’re meant to be watching and see how the rest of the song looks.  As a composer or arranger, assume people are going to see not just the polished side of the rock, but also the rough edges as well.

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