Thursday, June 2, 2016

On Odaiko

 photo from Wikipedia (drum from Kodo)
Just going to start typing and see if I can sort my thoughts out...

Playing odaiko is not about showing off, it's about the truth of your technique.

In playing odaiko, you expose yourself to the audience through the drum.  Even if they can't see your face, it doesn't mean they can't see you - your strengths, your weaknesses, your intention, your technique.

All the things that you can get away with on betta or naname are laid bare on odaiko.  Extra motions, excess tension, stiff wrists, not using the lower body - there's nowhere for any of it to hide.

The iconic vision of the odaiko player is a man in a fundoshi, almost naked facing the drum.  While I don't ever need to wear one, I can understand what it's like to be bared to the drum without anything "extra".

Some people think it's all about playing loud and hard, but you can do that on any drum, really.  Others think it's about the solo but without the technique to support it, what are they really showing off?  And there are others who are just plain intimidated by what the odaiko "asks" for - big noise, a power stance, and "special" technique.

But the technique's not that special.  There's a learning curve, of course.  There are stylistic differences to be taught, yes.  But when it all comes down to it, it's about your fundamentals.  Stance.  Grip.  Relaxation.  Core strength.  Intention.

If you haven't really had the chance to play odaiko and you can take a workshop, I strongly recommend it.  Even if you have trouble doing what they ask of you, the experience itself is priceless.  If you are able to play and feel like things are difficult, use what you already know, because everything is connected!

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