Ex Bibliotheca

The life and times of Zack Weinberg.

Saturday, 5 February 2005

# 5:40 AM

drums in the dark

Today V and I went to see Kodo perform at Zellerbach Auditorium (on the Berkeley campus). Kodo are best known as taiko drummers, but they also do other sorts of traditional Japanese music, and have picked up little things from all over the world.

What really blew me away was not so much the music itself as the showmanship. For three guys to play an elaborate rhythm on three huge drums is "merely" a matter of technique, but to do it while jumping around the stage, swapping off drums, etc. — that made that particular bit as far as I was concerned. Other really impressive acts included the one with five drummers on ten drums, passing the rhythm back and forth between them; and the interlude for vocal and flute that they did in the middle of the second act.

Interestingly, the larger the drum is, the less painful it is to one's one's ears. Well, to my ears anyway. The largest drum they have is about six feet in diameter, at least that long, and weighs over a thousand pounds. They wheel it on stage on this platform thing surrounded by paper lanterns. It has a drumhead on each end, and they play both ends simultaneously. When they're not playing very fast, you can hear each drumbeat echo off the other end of the drum a few milliseconds after it's played.

In case anyone is still wondering, I should mention that the day after the previous post I took the twenty-seven-point-two-millimeter seat post back to the bike shop, with the bike in tow, and they were happy to exchange it for one that fits. My bike is fully operational again.