Monday, March 30, 2009

Uchi Komi 打ち込み

Yesterday, Shippu Uchi Daiko had a combined practice with Iki Daiko from Kyoto who I mentioned here. In November, we went up to Kyoto and this time they came down to Wakayama.

No time is wasted during our usual Sunday practices which run for 7 hours (9-5 minus 1 hour for lunch) and I appreciate the focus because my time here is limited and I have many years of things yet to learn. Yesterday was a break from the routine but, there's nothing else like the sense of community created by uchi komi in a room with 25 taiko players!

The word uchi means "hit". The basic meaning of komi is "inclusive of" but it can be used in a few different ways. So, the way I like to think of the phrase uchi komi is to hit the drum in a way that involves your whole being and focus to the point that the rhythms fill your body and you, in a sense, become the act of playing wa-daiko.

We usually spend some of Sunday's practice doing uchi komi but with only 4-7 people. Sensei was nice enough to allow breaks and rotations yesterday. So, in our small practice space, we set up stations where people cycled through playing "do ko do ko" as loudly as possible for a total of 40 minutes. It's a bit complicated to explain as there is some overlapping, but if you had a group of 4, you would play 3-8 counts and rest for 6-8 counts and repeat. Call me weird, but this is part of the reason why I love taiko:

A room full of people sweating, yelling, encouraging, focusing, grimacing, supporting, feeling, absorbed, aching... All playing the same beat with our bodies, all feeling the same assortment of emotions at perhaps different times, all the same amongst our differences. Community.

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