Monday, May 9, 2016

What's in my arsenal

I'm often saying to try *this* or do *that* when it comes to soloing, but I often forget that sometimes people learn best from watching or being given examples.

So when it comes to soloing, these are my go-to's in no particular order:

  • Syncopation.  This is my bread-and-butter.  With good syncopation, you don't need to play a lot of notes and the variety of available flavors is plentiful.
  • Repetition.  Playing even a short sequence of notes more than once means you don't have to think about what you're playing and can plan the next few seconds.  It also gives the audience something familiar to enjoy.  Lastly, it makes it sound like you're being intentional rather than random.
  • Flams.  A simple percussive technique where one bachi strikes a hair before (or after) the other.  It's a variation on the single hit, but sounds different.  You don't hear it a lot in taiko but it's not hard to do.
  • Move away from the drum.  98% of the time, a taiko soloist is always within striking distance of their drum(s).  Moving away is unexpected.  Of course, you have to do something once you move away...
  • Express.  Making it look a little harder than it actually is (because I'm using good technique) is a crowd-pleaser.  There's a fine line between this and overacting, though
  • Ma.  Space in between notes is something to relish, not avoid.  Gives time to think, but also gives a solo a different flavor from one that's chock-full of notes.
  • Planning an ending.  For several songs, ending strong is a priority for me.  I like to have something to end with, whether it's eight measures long or just one.  Ending because I've just "run out of stuff to play" often doesn't sound, look, or feel as good.
These are just off the top of my head and I might think of more later, but this is a good list.  Maybe you like something you see and want to incorporate more, or maybe you think of what makes your list in order to make it stronger.  For the analytical players among us, use your predilections and figure out what works for you!

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