The first time I ever heard a performance by Kodo was in February 2012, in Vienna. I hesitated at first because the ticket was very expensive, but the whole group came all the way to Vienna already — how could I miss this unique chance? So I managed to convince myself and got the ticket! I must say my hands got wet after hearing their performance. I never thought their performance in combination with power and aesthetics would give me such an impact. I would never forget that special moment as they played the drums in their sit-up position for a long time. If I played in that position like they did, I would definitely land in the hospital.
Drums are one of the most ancient instruments. About 2000 before Christ they were already mentioned in Egypt. Once I heard heart beats through ultrasound and at that moment I finally realised how the heart beats and drums sound similar. These are the primeval beats, THE BEATS that a baby hears in its mother’s body. That is the reason why we feel our hearts racing when we hear drums sound. And this is the reason why drums are the only instruments used in war to motivate the soldiers.
The drums that the Kodo Ensemble use are called Taiko. There are different types. Some look like buckets; some have shapes like an hourglass. The name KO means drums, DO means childhood. The group name means the obligation of simplicity and back to the roots. That means also life’s heart beats and primeval beats.
At the moment there are about 50 members in the Kodo Ensemble. They all live and do their training together on Sado Island. Every morning they run for 10 kilometres and after this they start their intensive training. Before becoming official members the candidates have to pass many years of training, including calligraphy, tea ceremony, theatre and cooking. They even have to train to use chopsticks with their non-dominant hands, to help them play with greater symmetry.
The Kodo Ensemble spend four months abroad for performances, another four months on tour in Japan, and the last four months for developing new programmes.
On 11. February 2018 Kodo came to Vienna again. Surprisingly, my friend told me she invited the Ensemble Leader Mr. Yuichiro FUNABASHI for a workshop before the concert. And I was allowed to observe the workshop. At the beginning Mr. Funabashi led the group to warm up for about 30 minutes, because it is very important to relax the muscles. And everybody had to have bare feet! Only this way can we feel a connection back to the roots, to feel the contact between our feet and the earth. After this he led everybody to play simple rhythms, and got more complicated later, with three groups playing. I learned a lot just by observing.
The performance “Evolution” that night was very different. It did not give me the huge impacts again, but it was kind of contained in its way. The drummers’ discipline and synchronised playing are like mutual understanding, which can only grow by the way they live and train together for years. I look forward to their future performances.
第一次聽鼓童的演出是2012年2月在維也納。原本我還有些猶豫因為票價很貴, 但是整團都來維也納了怎麼可以錯過這難得的機會呢? 所以還是咬了牙買票進去了! 我必須說我聽完他們的表演後手都冒汗了。沒想到他們力與美結合的表演會帶給我如此的震撼, 尤其是他們在仰臥起坐的姿勢打鼓讓我永生難忘。要是我這樣打鼓的話之後一定要進醫院了。
鼓算是很原始的樂器，西元2000年前在埃及就有紀載鼓的存在。我曾經透過超音波聽過心跳聲，當下我終於了解心跳聲和鼓聲的雷同。這是很原始的悸動, 是胎兒在母體中聽到的聲音。所以這是為何我們聽到鼓聲會莫名的心跳加快, 也是為何這是在戰場上唯一用來鼓舞士氣的樂器。
鼓童KODO用的日本鼓叫太鼓, 有不同的造型。一種是筒狀, 另一種是沙漏狀。KODO的名字來源KO是鼓, DO是童年。這是隱喻簡單的義務及回歸根源, 也就是生命的心跳及原始韻律。
目前鼓童樂團有約50成員, 他們都在佐渡島（Sado）一起生活及練習。每天早晨先跑10公里, 之後開始密集式訓練。在成為正式成員之前, 所有的候選人都要通過多年的訓練, 包跨書法, 茶道, 戲劇還有烹飪。甚至訓練平時不用的手拿筷子吃飯, 才能讓打鼓時雙手力道可以控制一樣。
他們4個月在國外巡迴演出, 4個月在日本巡迴演出, 最後4個月準備未來新的表演。
2018年2月11日鼓童來維也納演出。沒想到朋友告訴我她請鼓童的代表船橋裕一郎先生來教課, 我可以去觀摩。一開始他帶領大家暖身將近30分鐘, 因為肌肉放鬆非常重要。整個過程都打赤腳喔! 因為這樣才能回歸原始, 身體和大地接觸的感受。之後他慢慢帶大家從簡單的節奏打太鼓, 一直到最後可以用蠻複雜的節奏分三組一起合奏。光是觀摩讓我獲益匪淺。
晚上的演出Evolution和以前的風格非常不同, 雖然沒有以前的震撼, 但是有不同的內斂感。他們的紀律及同步的節奏感是因為多年一起生活及鍛鍊下才能培養的默契而做得到的。真期待他們下一次的演出。