Thursday, July 13, 2017

Compositions for outdoors vs. indoors

So over the Obon weekend, I got to enjoy a lot of collegiate taiko, as well as play taiko myself.  One thought I had this weekend was how some songs are suited better to an indoor environment than outdoors.

Sounds die off a lot quicker when you're outside, and there's competition from environmental sounds (wind, conversations, traffic, etc.)  Complex patterns often get lost, while quieter passages sometimes can't even be heard!  It's a shame when I can see notes being played that I can't hear.

It can also be hard when there's not a strong, identifiable ji or underlying pattern that supports the rest of the song.  It can be simple, like dongo, or something with more flavor, but when there are interlocking/competing patterns without one of them being the clear base, I find some songs become harder to follow outside.  These same songs indoors might be easier to hear with tones decaying slower or timber more easy to differentiate.

This doesn't mean a song has to be boring so that parts can stand out, not by a longshot!  It comes down to volume and execution, usually.   But having a group of people playing different patterns on multiple drums while one person in back plays a polyrhythm on a shime can be hard enough to be clear indoors, let alone when that shime is really hard to hear outside!

Sometimes it helps just having more bodies - more hands, if you will.  But unless those hands can play together really well, more hands can easily mean more audio "clutter" which doesn't help.

Another possible solution might be to modify a song for outdoor use.  Simplifying patterns, switching out one section for another, etc.  No need to scrap a really good song because 5% would be hard to hear!

My point here is to consider how different environments can affect how a song is received.  When we play the instruments, we hear them louder than anyone else.  When we rehearse, many of us hear them indoors, and for others we hear them relatively close to us.  Putting yourself in a potential audience's shoes can be really enlightening, even leading you to compose songs specifically for an outdoor stage, perhaps?

image credit:

No comments:

Post a Comment