Monday, August 1, 2016

Soloing, part 15: Consider the song

There are a whole bunch of taiko pieces out there.  Many of them have solo sections in them.  But what I often hear in taiko performances are players that play very similar solos from song to song.

We all have a personal style within our group's style, yes.  And there will be people who are more geared towards movement, rhythm, energy, etc.  However, I think to really be a good soloist, a player needs to consider the song they're playing in.

Take a song like Matsuri.  Many groups play a version of this piece, a very festive, loose type of piece where solos generally can be very creative.  What fits that piece?  What doesn't?  Does anything go?  Those are questions with very subjective answers, depending on who you ask.

So think of it this way.  Take one of your solos, then take away the song.  Do that for a couple of the songs you solo in.  Do the solos look or sound the same?  How?  Why?

Think of it as a series of cupcakes: chocolate, red velvet, angel food, vanilla.  Each one is made from different ingredients and tastes different.  But then you put the same flavor icing on each.  Do they still taste good?  Sure, probably.  But by the 3rd one, you sort of know what to expect.  You may even start getting tired of that same taste!  As the baker, what are you missing out by just making the same icing over and over?

It never hurts to consider how your solos look and sound compared to each other from time to time, even if you don't change a thing.  Maybe buttercream is your favorite flavor, but do you really want it on every cupcake?

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