Thursday, January 5, 2017

Question Everything: Sacrilege

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What's sacred in your group?  Not in a religious sense, but what practices were taught to you that were mandatory, what rituals are you expected to perform during the course of practice?

Are the bachi you play with sacred conduits or just pieces of wood or something in between?  Are the doors/entryways a place where you must stop and bow or simply the places in the wall you have to go through to get to other places?  Is the practice area only for practicing or used for meetings, eating, etc.?

It doesn't really matter what your opinion is; I just want you to think about it and understand why you think what you do, why your group thinks what it does.  Let's look at the bachi example:

Your standard pair of bachi, that you use for most songs, are they venerated?  Do you treat them like you treat the drums themselves?  What about when they splinter, crack?  Should they be played with until they threaten damage to the drum?  Is is respectful to tape them up and continue using them?  Are they just tools to create sound?  What about using them to strike the floor/stage?  What about tossing them in the air or to other people?  Is it silly to give a broken bachi thanks or is it a sign of gratitude?  Does adding LED lights make a bachi any less venerated?  What about other decorative markings?  Should you only use one side of the bachi?  Are shime bachi more or less sacred than the ones you use on chudaiko?  How about odaiko bachi?

That's a lot to think about for just bachi, but you can also apply that to the drums, other equipment you use like drum stands and hand percussion (How do you grab them off the shelf or from the bag?  Are they things that make noise or musical instruments?)  You can ask yourself similar questions to things like bowing at entrances or the edge of practice spaces (How long do you bow for?  What if you just need to hop off and grab something for a second?)

My point here is not to say any opinion is bad or wrong, that's never been my style.  I believe you should understand why you believe a thing is sacred - or not - and also know why other people might think the opposite of you.  This is especially true if you're someone teaching these ideas to students, so you're not just repeating what you've been told without thought!

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