Edo Bayashi: Halfway Home

Edo Bayashi: Halfway Home

Update on our progress – Alexa Tang


Hi! I’m Alexa – I’m working with Oscar as one of the editors of our Edo Bayashi blog series, and will be bringing you updates every so often on progress and the random behind the scenes moments as we prep for April.

Halfway home

Alexa Tang

We are about 2 months into our journey of learning Edo Bayashi, which also puts us about 2 months away from performing with Suzuki-sensei in April. We’ve accomplished and learned quite a few things by this halfway point, and we still have quite a few things more to do ahead.

Let’s start with what we’ve accomplished so far!

Suzuki gets an artist visa

While I wasn’t directly involved in the process, I do know that applying for anything through the government takes a lot of time and patience. This artist visa will allow him to make the three stops planned for his visit to the US in April, where he’ll be visiting:

    • Chicago: Ho Etsu Taiko
    • Minneapolis: Enso Daiko and Ensemble Ma, supported by TaikoArts Midwest
    • New York: Kaoru Watanabe Taiko Center

I looked up what it means for someone to get this kind of visa. I love that it specifically calls out that individuals must demonstrate “extraordinary ability or achievement” to qualify – a nice little shout out both to Suzuki’s internationally-acclaimed skills and the collaborative efforts it took to get the visa.

Our learning process

We’ve now made it through teaching each other the shime parts of all five sections of Edo Bayashi. It could seem impressive that we’ve learned the basics in only two months, but when you compare it to how we were originally expected to learn it during our 5-hour intensive workshop with Eien, it seems almost too luxurious. (My brain still hurts when I think about that weekend.)

What’s fun is how we’ve gotten to peek inside each other’s brains to understand how everyone in the group learns. We’ve pretty much covered all of the basic memorization techniques to help the music stick, and we’ll share some more of our favorite methods through our blog later on as well.

Thanks, technology

After learning the first 3 sections assigned by practice-master Tiana, we took a video to send to Eien for feedback. We were rough, at best, but Eien kindly sent back a number of valuable tips, along with a video on Edo Bayashi shime technique (check out Eien’s other instructional videos on his website!). We like to watch Eien’s video tips before practice as a refresher on how to hold our bachi and proper form when hitting the shime, and then we all wave and say, “Goodbye!” before we sign off.

Watching Eien’s video

It’s also been very useful for us to listen to Edo Bayashi on-the-go. Most of us have the pieces downloaded onto our phones so we can listen anytime. If you see us plugged in and wildly chanting around the city, that’s why!

Looking ahead, we’ve still got quite a bit of work to do. Learning the shime parts has been challenging enough, but we’ll also be picking up the odaiko and atarigane portions of Edo Bayashi. Donny has taken the lead on learning the melodic fue part, which as we’ve been discovering is absolutely essential for the music to blend together. It’s no easy undertaking — the melodies might sound simple, but nuances of timing, intonation, and embellishment are always trickier than they seem on first glance. More to come on this in later updates!

Drills, Drills, Drills

Though we have learned all sections of Edo Bayashi, I can’t truly say that we *know* all sections of Edo Bayashi just yet. There will be several more hours of practice, both individually and as a group, before we’ll be ready to perform alongside Suzuki-sensei. No pressure.

But when I think about how far we’ve come compared to where we started with the mad note-taking, I think we can do it. Ganbarimashou!


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