If you are in Kyoto in early July, you hear some lively music every evening at different parts of the town. Neighborhood musicians are practicing traditional instrumental music, Ohayashi, to be ready for their performance on the top of parading floats (Yamaboko) .
I was there ten years ago strolling and listening to the tunes, feeling comfortable and calm. I am sure may people would feel the same. But come to think of it, Ohayashi is not a quiet kind of music, cheerful with bells, drums, and flutes. You can hear that in this video.
Why should you feel comfortable and calm, then?
Two things must have contributed to it. One is memory of actions or events that you took part before, and that you associated with this music. You walked in Yukata (kimono for summer) on the street with your family or friends, had a glass of chilled Japanese tea, and played water yo-yo at a street vendor. These are fun activities yet quieter ones that you enjoyed in the evening after very hot days, all while listening to Ohayashi.
Another contributor to the calmness, I think, is a series of visual images that accompany this music.
The scene is dark (the practices place after work and school) of hazy kind, not the crisp darkness of dry air. It is very humid in Kyoto in summer.Then you see paper lamps, in ones and twos in front of town houses, or many together at where the music practices take place. Each paper lamp produces warm light of orange, not very bright since it is filtered by paper.
So the visual image here is a very soft contrast between darkness and brightness. I would call it silky contrast that suggest certain textures, smooth, flexible, cool, yet warm. This visual image calms you down, makes you feel comfortable, even mindful, while you are listening to the cheerful Ohayashi.
Strange and intriguing, isn’t it, what memory and visual images do to your mood while listening to the music. (Y)
Video is courtesy to Itsuka Kyoto Sumou 2.