Monday, June 5, 2017

How much ma can you stand?

Ma is the Japanese word for a gap or space.  In taiko, ma is a concept that is really useful, but that many don't really embrace.  So here's my question to you:

Imagine you're playing a solo on a stationary drum.  Doesn't matter what type.  Play play play, and then stop playing, even though it's still your solo.

How long can you go before you need to return to the drum?  How long can you stay still/hold a pose, make a motion (or several), move around, whatever, before you feel like it's uncomfortable and you need to make some noise?

Be honest with yourself - I'm sure you can imagine yourself not playing for a while, but really, with people around you watching, the rest of the group behind you supporting, the energy all around you, can you really hold out for a long time?

Ask yourself, why are you uncomfortable without playing notes?  What is it that compels you to return?  Is that something you can work on?  Could work on?  If not, why not?  Couldn't you make use of it in your personal repertoire?

Mind you, there's a point in any song, in any solo, where you can have TOO much ma.  But most of us won't cross that threshold.

This isn't to say that people need to play less notes in their solos, and it's not a judgement of any sort.  I Just want you to self-examine and feel that uncomfortable-ness on purpose for once, and use that feeling to start some internal dialogue.  Because why not?  Questions can lead to answers and answers can lead to growth.

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