Monday, August 24, 2015

Musical Technique vs. Musicality

One of the Four Principles in SJT is "Musical Technique".  A lot of you have heard this, either from my blog, from SJT, or from SJT members in person.

It's supposed to incorporate all the things you hear when taiko is played, as well as how you use kuchishoga to learn the patterns.

But really, that's a LOT to cram into one Principle!  So unfair.  There's really two aspects of Musical Technique (MT) that come into play: Technique and Musicality.  This isn't a brand-new idea, just something worth thinking about.

The mechanics of playing have a lot of different elements.  There's the balance between the right and left hand, the dynamic of volume you're trying to achieve, how consistent the paths of the bachi going down and back are, even what kind of grip you have at any given time.  These are things most people can be taught over time, to some degree.  It often comes down to how aware a person is of what they're doing, and how well they make small adjustments that "stick" once they're made.

Then there's musicality.  It's where your notes land - on the beat, juuust ahead, juuuust behind?  It's how well you feel the beat, how well you stay on tempo when someone else is moving away from it.   In soloing, it's where you place your notes and use ma (space) in your solos, how you phrase patterns, how well you feel a count in 4, 8, or whatever the meter.  Musicality is *much* harder to teach.  I personally think a good musicality comes from how much music a person listened to growing up, both the amount and variety of music.

I bring this up as a post because it's often to lump these two categories together.  A person might have great musical sensibilities but not ability to execute, or excellent technique but can't play in tempo consistently.  Even though there may be two aspects that make up this Principle, each aspect is made up of so many little things.  The more little things you're aware of, the more you can work on them and help others work on them as well.

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