October 15th, 2002

red panda eating bamboo

Drumming

On Sunday the OH and I went to see Eitetsu Hayashi's The Wings of Flightless Birds at Stanford Lively Arts.

Eitetsu Hayashi is a drummer. I want to say a taiko drummer, but for the first half of his performance, his setup was pretty far away from any taiko drumming I've seen. He was a member of the group that spawned Kodo. He performed with two other taiko drummers, a shamisen player, and a shakuhachi player.

The closest I can get to describing the performance is to say that if you want to experience going over Niagara Falls in a barrel without leaving your seat, go experience Eitetsu Hayashi. Don't just buy the DVD, because you don't just see and hear the performance, you feel it. Or maybe you disappear and are subsumed into it.

I've done drumming for the purpose of trance-journeying. This was different -- not entirely different, but almost. The point of that drumming is to numb your rational mind so the rest of you can fly. This didn't numb my rational mind so much as keep it busy enough that it didn't have time to worry about anything else, and eventually it just kicked back and enjoyed along with the rest of me.

I've experienced loud rock music, the kind that takes away your individuality and turns you into a cell in a mob of swaying screaming people. This was different -- not entirely different (the shakuhachi playing in the midst of loud drums and twanging stringed instruments reminded me a bit of Ian Anderson), but almost. I didn't feel at all part of the crowd; I felt a part of the music instead. I didn't feel like the sound was doing things to me (the way I feel when I hear a hot guitar solo). I was the sound, doing things.
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