Monday, March 6, 2017

Are you an equipment diva/divo?

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I've seen a lot of different artists in my 20+ years of taiko.  Not just taiko players, but other musicians, dancers, performers, etc.

And I've noticed a range of preferences in these artists, from those who just want things to work, to those who are exceptionally picky about every little detail.  I've seen people happy that they have an instrument that makes noise then jumping into it, and I've seen people that insist on great changes to ensure that a specific instrument is at a specific angle before they're comfortable continuing.

Now sometimes, it really depends on the venue.  If I'm getting paid to perform, I sure want things to be to my exacting standards, sure.  But aside from that, aside from an obligation involving money, where are you on that spectrum?  And how does it improve - or limit - your skill?

Do you gravitate towards the newest drums you have?  Or the highest-pitched shime?  Is it because they sound better?  What about appreciating the characteristics of older or less-loud drums?

Do you have to stand in a specific spot to make your performance better?  What if it's less optimal for you but better for the view/the audience/the presenter/the rest of the group?  Which matters more?

How much time do you spend adjusting things by inches, millimeters, when it's not a visual issue but a comfort one?  Will a drum being 1/4" in one direction mean you can't play it as well?  Sure, you don't want something to look askew on stage, but again, take the visual component out of it.

Actually, my point here isn't about the actual things you might be doing, but rather what effect it might have on your ability.  If you rely on really loud drums to be heard well, are you then neglecting to learn good enough technique to play on something "thuddy"?  If you only play with drums in a certain arrangement that gives you the "best performance", is that limiting you to learning how to adapt to other arrangements, especially when things aren't in your control?  What does your time and insistence on certain instruments and configurations do to your ability to be more adaptable, more grateful, more appreciative?

Look, to a degree, we all care about our equipment.  My questions here are to make you consider your habits, your limits.  Like any of you, I also care about the quality of my visual, my output, my performance.  There are definitely divas and divos out there in the artistic world that I imagine are trapped in the rituals of equipment expectation, and maybe someday when I'm a divo (ha) I'll enjoy being super-particular because it makes me feel better about my performance.  But until then, sometimes I like playing on the oldest drum and appreciating its qualities, or having drums in places I wouldn't normally put them, and seeing what happens!

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