Thursday, February 19, 2015

Bachi, bachi everywhere

When it comes to using bachi, there are two schools of thought:
  1. The bachi used should match the song and/or drum to facilitate the sound and look you want.
  2. A bachi is a bachi; you should be able to play well regardless of the kind you use.
Where do you fall? 

Personally, I'm more in the second camp but I understand the other point of view.

I'm not taking about songs like Miyake or Yatai Bayashi, where you often need specialized bachi because of the style of movement/playing.  Also, if playing odaiko or okedo, you absolutely need specific bachi to make sure you can play with good technique and not damage the drums!

But what about playing the same kind of drums (chudaiko, josuke, etc.) but in different arrangements or on different types of stands (betta, naname, etc.)?  Do you want a different bachi for song A, song B, song C, when the drums haven't changed?  Some of you are thinking "yes" and others "no".   And that's why it's an interesting question.

In a regular touring show, I'm using at least six different pairs of bachi.  I have my "generic" pair (lately walnut), odaiko, small katsugi okedo, large katsugi okedo, kulintang, and shime.  I have to keep track of what pair is on which side of the stage as I use them and cross over.  Adding another pair of bachi for a specific song adds even more to keep track of and sometimes the tables we use at a theater are pretty cramped with all the other stuff on there.

I'm also "fortunate" enough to be rather tall and I can't buy regular bachi at conferences or taiko stores that match what fits my length.  They're never long enough!  So I have to make my own which puts me at the mercy of the local lumber stores.  Walnut again?  Walnut again.

So I've been using the same weight, length, and density of bachi for many years now, for every song that's solely on chudaiko.  Would I want a different pair depending on the circumstances?  I'm not sure.  If my sound would truly be better, I'd seriously consider a lighter/denser wood, but I don't really fancy juggling a dozen bachi in a concert since space is not always a luxury.

But even more important than being good with one kind or several kind is - can I strike well with any type of bachi I have to use?  If I forget to bring my own or break one during a show, can I strike well with a smaller pair that I'm not used to?  Or a lighter one?  Heaver?  That's more important than having the "right" bachi on hand.  And ultimately, that's the point of this post, albeit it a long way to get to it.

Maybe you swear by using different bachi to achieve the maximum effect when you play, or maybe you've never thought twice about using anything other than the kind you first started with.  Regardless of which camp you tend to side with, is your technique solid enough to make a good sound with bachi that aren't ideal for you?  Or do your bachi mask a weakness that you may not be aware of?

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