Certains ont chanté pour se procurer des sensations agréables, du repos, oublier la fatigue, la notion du temps. Al-Fārābī abū n-Naṣr Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad ibn Tarhan ibn Uzlaġ, Kitābu l-mūsīqī al-kabīr = Grand traité de la musique, Paris : Geuthner, 1930, p. 18
Our neighbours have a new kitten. While I am sitting at the garden table, it darts out of its hiding place, romps around the garden, and then chases a little cloth mouse under the table between my feet, breathing life into it by hitting it with its paws, apparently deliberately driving it into those hard-to-reach nooks and crannies from where it can only retrieve it by stretching its front legs under the curved garden table legs. By the way, of all possible hiding places, the kitten chose the pot in which the papyrus almost froze to death last winter, and where the dry stems and leaves rustle so loudly when it hits them with its paws.
I am perplexed by this endless pleasure. If I could ask the kitten why it was doing this, what would it answer? "Because I enjoy it?" "Because this instinct is part of my genetic nature?" "Just (like that)?" It probably wouldn't say anything to that. Just as its conspecifics would not ask it that question. If the kitten were capable of reasoning, the "Just (like that)!" would probably sum it up. In Korean 그냥, a word I hear often in Korea, not just among children, perhaps my favourite word from my Korean vocabulary.
All over the world, it was common for farmers to dance, sing or even play music together after they had finished working in the fields, often while still in the field or on the way home from the field. In some areas, this custom can still be found today, if not in the field, then in a corner with benches and wicker chairs of the common outdoor space of the settlement or in a inn. Feierabend
(knocking-off time, lit. celebrating evening): I think this is my Korean partner's favourite word from the German vocabulary.
Like every farmer's child, I know that tilling the fields during the day is part of the game. But so is the evening. And this change is what puts one in a joyful mood to celebrate. I don't think that has changed much with the advent of craft and even service occupations. The forcible deprivation of this joy through servitude, exploitation, enslavement is unforgivable as man is deprived of being human. Fortunately, the human will is indomitable: even slaves sang to forget their weariness.
Our tr'ensemble training
seems to be a continuation of the celebrating tradition. In the training, we exchanged our thoughts about this idea. In fact, the Feierabend
feeling seems to be the unifying element of the training. It quickly became clear that there is no need to add anything to it at all. We are all very familiar with this feeling of simply enjoying life after work and doing things that make us forget the hardship. Nobody asks us why we join the tr'ensemble training. The most appropriate answer would probably be "Just (so)!" Like the kitten, we enjoy stimulating muscles and vocal cords, trying out rotational axes, letting torques work, letting frequencies ring out. A compensation for the neglect caused by the grind.
Linguistic detour no. 3 (the German language really lends itself to philosophising): In the end, are "dancing", "singing" and "playing musical instruments" simply synonymous with "Spielen" (playing)? Or where does this "Spielen
(playing) of the instrument" come from? Ditto: jouer un instrument
; play an instrument
Completely equal to dancing, singing and making music, eating and drinking are just as inconceivable apart from celebration, just as much a thing that makes us human. Celebration equals being human.
Unlike the Feierabend
, which in the quotidian and weekly existential cycle returns "just like that" like going to bed, Feste
(festivities, pl.) have a longer lead time of several days to several weeks. This longer lead time allows one to jump from a longer run-up to a higher climax. The annually cyclical nature of the seasonal year lends itself well to providing reference points to this.
A festivity is a festivity when everyone is "involved", when everyone present "makes" the festivity a festivity. This is where it differs from a consumption event. Consuming something is not participation enough. Participation as an exchange of feelings and as a commitment to
the festive society. That already starts with the lead time. For me, engagement means agreeing together on the object of celebration (in East Asia this is traditionally the autumn harvest season, the New Year and the ancestral legacy; for the latter, see Obon
), engaging with it especially emotionally, finding our personal contribution to the appropriate mood and then contributing it. As a broadly anchored tradition, Fasnacht
(carneval) perhaps comes closest to this in Central Europe, when participants sew the costumes themselves and join in Cliques
(marching bands), or the "Tanzfeste" in Switzerland until around 1800 which may have sounded like for example the Löckler-Tanz recorded by Tritonus
and whose spirit may have survived into the youth movements of the 1980s and 90s. Non-consumerist folk festivities of more recent date sometimes manifest themselves as neighbourhood festivals and festivals of squatted houses and Wagenplätze
— I am grateful to have experienced real folk festivities in Central Europe as well, not only in East Asia and in Italy. Size does not matter after all.
For example, when we play shinbayashi
from the nakayama-daiko
custom, I find it primordial that we create the festivity association within us, visualise what the motivation for the custom was (presumably as a celebration of a good harvest or a prayer for rain), how people have celebrated the custom over the generations, and then put ourselves in a suitable festive mood, indeed evoke it. Pungmul
are indivisibly linked to festivities that are shared by the entire local population. I feel a strong certainty within me that the most fitting way to be able to live these traditions with our tr'ensemble group here in Europe is by organising our own annual Fest
as a group. In this way, we can naturally inspire those around us to "be involved". Eating, drinking, dancing, singing and making music together outside, welcoming everyone: A celebration wants no exclusion, isn't it? We have already agreed in the group what we want to celebrate in the tr'ensemble Fest
: A year of growing together as a group, sharing sweat and feelings, learning from each other.
That festivities happen in this way, and that it has been so since immemorial time that humanity needs festivities to be human, all this I read from the image presented at the top of this text which originates from the last days of the kingdom of Elam (620-580 BC), to which Eurasia, North and East Africa owe their musical legacy to a considerable extent. To save humanity from its loss of self: The raison d'être of tr'ensemble. "Simply (so)!"
We are delighted to be playing this year at the Perspektivenwechsel cultural festival on 18 September in Basel's St Johannsvorstadt, which is taking place at the originally planned time of our own festival. The fact that there will therefore be no tr'ensemble Fest
organised by ourselves this year also leaves me with a feeling that we are depriving the course of events of something quite essential. Next year we will definitely have our Fest
again. CC BY_SA 4.0 韓 山 Han_San
Raw text fragment for "Drumming together".
Source of image: Bo Lawergren, "MUSIC HISTORY i. Pre-Islamic Iran," Encyclopædia Iranica, online edition, 2016, available at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/music-history-i-pre-islamic-iran (accessed 19 May 2016).
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