‘Cremona’ rope

Cremona rope

This is the kind of rope we use to tie up the two skins of a taiko stick drum. My teacher recently got this in order to replace the one on his taiko in Kyoto, which started to fray despite numerous applications of tsubaki abura (camelia oil). The label says, on the right, 太鼓用 (for taiko) and on the left クレモナロープ (Kuremona rope)… Cremona?

Cremona is a beautiful Italian city in Lombardy, famous for its violin-making tradition and the cathedral, just an hour drive away from my hometown, Brescia. I was wondering what kind of connection the city might have with Japanese taiko… I started fantasizing of XVI century missionaries from Cremona visiting Japan and transmitting the ancient rope-making tradition from Cremona.

A quick Wikipedia check demolished my fantasies: first of searching for ‘Cremona rope’ does not even bring up results other from Japanese pages, which points toward the label as being a Japanese invention. Second, Cremona rope is far from being traditional: it is a mix of vinyl and polyester fibers. Third, Cremona rope is made only by Japanese producer Kuraray – spelled クレラ (KURERA) in katakana. クレ is rendered KU-RE in alphabet, which can be rendered as CU-RE (kɾe) by Italian readers. KU-RE is the way Japanese spell KRE or CRE sounds, adding the [u] sound between K and RE.

Long story short: KUREMONA is not Cremona [kɾeˈmoːna] but a pun with KURE from Kuraray and something else which I don’t even know. Blah.


Taiko at 夏季研究会

This year’s summer kenkyukai will take place at Otsu dentogeino kaikan, a Noh theatre next to Miidera, on the Biwa lake. I will perform the maibayashi of the Noh
Kiyotsune, will serve in the chorus of the Noh Yashima and Ama, and finally play the taiko drum for the chu-no-mai dance from the Noh Shojo. This is my third attempt at taiko chu-no-mai and I feel I have improved a lot, though I still make mistakes. I realised that improving means being more and more aware of what the other instruments do, rather of how well you play your part. This form of music is collective, after all. Again I can see here an ethical value in an aesthetic context: an excess of concentration on one’s own role results in the lowering of the overall aesthetic result. Obviously this does apply to all forms of music, but for some odd reason I only realised it now…