Monday, October 10, 2016

Soloing for the song (feat. Ringo Starr...kind of) part 1

There's a tribute video to Ringo Starr, featuring several iconic Western drummers.  It's not a new video, but I just saw it recently.  You can watch it here.

Two things stood out to me in this video:

At 0:41, Questlove mentions how the most timeless drummers are the ones that are the most simple.  That's followed at 0:45 by Dave Grohl asking how to define the world's best drummer.  Is it technical proficiency, or is it someone who "sits in the song with their own feel?"

At 2:24, Dave plays a super-simple downbeat pulse and remarks how skilled a drummer is if a beat that simple can make people dance.

In taiko, solos often seem about playing the most notes, about one-up-ing the person who came before, about a new "trick", etc.  There's also a lot of focus (from instructors, from students) on proper technique, which is never a bad thing.

But none of those take into account the song itself.

Taiko is also a visual art form for the most part, but what if you were playing for an audio recording, or people who couldn't see you on stage?  Even if they can see you, are you "sitting in the song"? How are the skills you develop during practice and in performance helping you for a situation like that?

Oh, I know it can be difficult to add that to the other litany of things to worry about - your form, ki, sequence, tempo, volume, endurance, etc.  This is definitely something easier to consider for people that have been playing for a while.  But if you're not at least thinking about it early on, it's not like it's just something that magically comes to you one night as you sleep!

So ok, but what does it mean to "sit in the song?"  How do you play simply and still have an interesting solo?

That's a blog post for another time...

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