Monday, May 11, 2015

Question Everything: Power


We all have our own idea of what that word means.  We all have different visuals in our head when reading that word.  The word can mean two (or more) different things at the same time: "the power of the sun" can mean that we get amazing amounts of solar energy, that it makes life possible, that the heat up close is immense, etc.

What is power then, when it comes to taiko?  What does it mean to you when you say taiko is powerful?

Does strength = power?

Do bigger people and bigger muscles mean a bigger noise?  How many powerlifters have you seen playing taiko?  There are definitely some ripped taiko players, those who rigorously work out to maintain excellent physique.  How much strength does a person need to be "powerful" on taiko?

Does intensity = power?

Most of us have seen taiko performances where the players are almost screaming at the audience with a direct, vocalized energy.  And there are other performances (taiko and otherwise) where people are putting out a tremendous amount of sweat because of the sheer physicality of their movements.  Are these forms of intensity powerful?  Is intensity of spirit or effort the same as power?

Does precision = power?

A taiko player whipping their body around and nailing a solid hit is an example of precision.  An archer hitting bulls-eye after bulls-eye is also precision.  Are they both powerful?  What about someone throwing darts and hitting their mark again and again?  Is there power in the act of being so precise?  What about power in "raw-ness", or a lack of precision?

Does volume = power?

Imagine the biggest drum you've ever seen.  So loud that even a first-timer striking it would make the loudest sound you've ever heard on a taiko.  Is that power?  What about a group playing a song at full volume for a few minutes, creating this almost-palpable sea of sound?  Powerful?  Why?  Can there be power in something quiet?

Does skill = power?

Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire were phenomenal dancers.  Would you call them powerful?  Penn and Teller are amazing entertainers, but are they powerful?  What about some of the best ballet dancers?  Does their physical skill equate to power?

Does speed = power?

Okedo crossovers are fun to watch, if a bit of a party trick.  Does playing them fast mean playing taiko powerfully?  If someone can play don tsuku steady at 300bpm, is there power in that?  (Granted, something will catch on fire, but you get my question.)  I've seen people solve a Rubik's Cube in under a minute, but is that a display of power?


So what makes taiko powerful?  Is it a combination of these attributes?  Is it something not found in them?  Ultimately, the question is an exercise in exploring things you might take for granted.  If you're able to recognize why something is powerful, then you have a better chance at creating it yourself and passing that same feeling on to others!

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