[编辑 Editor 吕大人 英译 Translator 刘大人 摄影 Photographer 刘大人]
日月交替、四季迁徙，这南方土地里无数的文化种子，能排除万难茁壮成长、经岁月辗转成乐，继而将迈入而立之年的 － 廿四节令鼓以及廿四节令鼓概念的原创人之一，陈再藩 (小曼老师) 正是今日大人的独家采访对象。这将是小曼老师首次以另一种视角，对外吐露了自身对节令鼓整个生态的发展心声以及对节令鼓未来的期许，非常感激老师在筹办两年一度的《第四届国际廿四节令鼓节暨中华杯大马节令鼓精英赛》之际，抽空接受大人的访问。
Time flies… It was in 2008 when the art of “drumming” was first introduced to China by the Foon Yew High School drum troupe during its visit to Teochew City, right in the heart of the city’s most recognisable landmark – Guangji Gate Tower. Fast forward eight years today (16 September 2016), we found ourselves right at the very spot of that fateful debut performance, where we swore we could still feel the rhythm and drum beat echoing around the city walls on this mid-autumn afternoon!
Come 17 September (just one day away), Johor Bahru is set to welcome drummers from all over the world to participate in the 4th International Invitation of 24 Festive Drums event. Since 2010, the Drums Festival was held every two years for local contingents to pit their skills against their international counterparts at a progressively high level of competition. On the eve of JB’s most iconic festival (at the time of publishing), we caught up with Mr Tan Chai Puan (more affectionately known as Xiaoman), the co-founder and proud father of a Johor-born Malaysian heritage, on his thoughts and hope for his “child prodigy” entering adolescence!
28 years, and still counting…
「廿四节令鼓成立28年了，我应该说它已过了儿童期或少年期，来到了成年期。马来西亚的节令鼓队估计有三百队，累积了约三万个鼓手，有些鼓手的孩子们也开始打鼓了，而且也成为了马来西亚非物质文化遗产，有一定的成熟度。」从成年期发展为成熟期，小曼老师相信节令鼓的前进度会渐缓，今后的发展不可能纯粹靠「数量」的增加，而必须靠艺术与文化「质」的提升。艺术性的提升表现在节令鼓的音乐性与舞台的表演性，这必须靠更专业的发展，同时也必须吸收更多艺术活血来输入；至于文化方面，「节令鼓是一种文化实质，以中华色彩的角度来看是不够的，而该去看廿四个节气这个由中国人在春秋战国到汉朝阶段所成熟发展的农耕文化。这就是天人合一的生活方式，培养了中国人如何在天地之间适当的变化里该做与不该做的事，而这种精神就是现今社会的 Environmental Friendly。」
As any parents who would hate to admit, a child will always be a child, even at a mature age of 28, but in the eyes of Xiaoman, the Festive Drum is at best a freshman just entering college and about to embark on a career-defining journey towards greatness (hopefully). Before he knew it, the once shy new “kid” on the block has now blossomed into a fine “gentlemen” with a great network, with more than 300 drums troupes worldwide including professional troops in Singapore, Taiwan, China, Thailand, Switzerland, United Kingdom and the United States. With over 30,000 members and still counting, Xiaoman expressed his comfort at seeing the offsprings of the early pioneers now in action, but also highlighted his concerns that the growth may now stagnate. As long as the growth remain organic and prosper in quality over sheer quantity, Xiaoman can breathe easier and look forward to a brighter and more “environmental friendly” future instead, as depicted through the harmonious music and choreography inspired by the cycles of the 24 seasons in the lunar calendar.
From Johor Bahru to world stage
When Xiaoman and the late Tan Hooi Song founded the Festive Drums in 1988, they did not envision that this dramatic art of drumming would grow into an international art form. While they were then working together on the 9th National Dance Festival in JB, they decided that drums would create the right mood as its resounding beats reflect the rhythm of life. From cultural ceremony to competitive drumming, the 24 Festive Drums has come a long way to take its rightful place as a performing art on the world stage. Admission was free at the first ever Drum Festival as a spectacle event to encourage more awareness and participation. The audience were so enthralled by the performers’ display that they were actually willing to pay for tickets to the subsequent events, for the dedication and professionalism that went into its organisation and the spectacle that was on show.
Since the inaugural Drums Festival in 2010, competitive drumming has been taken to higher levels of performance and showmanship. To pick the best troupes to participate in the coming competition, four regional competitions were held in the Northern, Southern, Eastern and Central regions since June last year. Such stringent selection promises fans a stunning show, with the crème de la crème (best 11 from 35 teams) competing to prove their mettle and superiority over the rest of the field come September.
Over the years, fans of the 24 Festive Drums have witnessed how the art form evolved to a higher level of sophistication, with stylish drumming, choreography, costumes and themes with artistic formations, enhanced by professional lighting, sound and stage presentations. It is also heartening to note the Drum Festival has produced a new breed of coaches and event judges, as well as former drummers who are now capable of organising regional events to keep the competition going and hearts beating…
小曼老师不说，大人还真不知原来每一届的鼓节平均得耗约马币20几万以上的费用，「所以若以2000张票，各值100令吉，其实也等同于20几万，票值其实已超过了票价。问题是大家会否认为这值得吗？花几个小时看几个队伍比赛，就投入了20几万。成本是在这个活动上，可是价值不是，它的价值是这么大的一个节令鼓表演艺术文化，必须要有一个标杆，当这个标杆被做得精致了，所散发出来的魅力与磁场作用，才能远播。我们必须从这样的角度去看待鼓节的价值，如果没有这个鼓节，就无法创造制高点。同时我们也特别希望鼓节能在发源地 – 新山举办，配合新山现在的国际化发展而成为这个城市里一个国际性的文化品牌，所以我们这个鼓节除了是马来西亚精英赛，也邀请了西方、中国、台湾、新加坡的鼓队过来。」
How much are you willing to part with, for a piece of JB’s very own cultural pride and national heritage? Some would say RM10, while others may ten times more, but we would concur that the value to witness its growth and transformation is… priceless! A decent Drum Festival today will set the organisers back by at least RM200K. Even if the event could break even with two thousand enthusiasts willingly part with RM100 for entry to the coming events, its intrinsic value goes way beyond whatever investment has been put in and still required to keep the momentum and spirit alive. The bar has to be raised consistently and considerably higher with every Drum Festival, and more so to be held regularly at its place of origin – Johor Bahru! In the spirit of going global with the meteoric rise of Iskandar Malaysia as a world-class metropolis, it is imperative that our local troupes should benchmark ourselves against the best and take on whatever the rest of the world has to offer.
A glimpse into the future…
When the 24 Festive Drums was honoured as a National Cultural Heritage in 2009, this recognition drove drummers to develop this art form more professionally to keep it viable into the future. Since 2008, drumming was included in the primary 6 school syllabus and drum troupes were established in local primary and secondary schools, colleges and universities. Corporations and private enterprises have also started their own drum troupes as part of their team-building efforts, while we have also witnessed an increase in participation from the fairer gender which is highly encouraging.
Drumming up a new beat for JB’s heritage
小曼老师特别欣慰由于现今媒体的多元化，从而让节令鼓的参与人数与年龄、范围，做出了多面向的扩充，也因而有了生命力。「节令鼓节不应只培养教练或裁判，更需培养参与节令鼓的人能在文化上去推进节令鼓的发展。我举一个例子，像 Drums Cafe 的这一群鼓手，他们投下了时间跟财力，以节令鼓为题来开这家咖啡馆, 让节令鼓去接触普罗大众，找到过去所没有的感受，这样的感受是很珍贵的。」
编注：预想了解节令鼓为题的 Drums Cafe，可点阅大人之前的专访：不见击鼓身，却闻击鼓声
In a strategic move to diversify and to infuse a lifestyle twist to this heritage, a crossover project involving 2 drummer enthusiasts built a new “home” in a conserved three-storey shophouse along Jalan Ibrahim and Jalan Tan Hiok Nee heritage district. The upper storeys housed a meeting room, a future event space and dedicated practice area for the drum troupes, while the cafeteria occupies the ground level. Inspired by the 24 Festive Drums’ art of drumming, the drum theme is evident from its façade to the furniture, with many tables created from drum tops. To appreciate this unique art of drumming that was proudly born in JB over a cuppa, click to visit our earlier story on the one-of-its-kind Drums Cafe!
Reaching out to the drummers and the uninitiated…
「文化需要创新，但创新不一定是‘无中生有’；创新不是放弃旧东西，而是让旧东西走出去。」小曼老师认为接下来节令鼓必须跨出华族文化，主动接触马来西亚多元的社会，让各族了解与接触。「首先我希望更多在华人圈子里的英语社群加入，协助去推动把节令鼓带到不同的媒体上，像我在新山的朋友Peggy Loh与KK Lew与其团队，他们都很乐意把节令鼓用不同的语言报导书写。」
The 24 Festive Drums is no longer confined to the Chinese community and fast gaining popularity among the non-Chinese communities, and Xiaoman is quick to acknowledge the members of the media, in particular Anak Johor such as Peggy Loh (My Johor Stories) and KK Lew (and his team from MAGistrate), for their in-depth coverage and continuous effort in reaching out to the English-speaking and international communities. Hopefully, this can lead to even more widespread awareness and worldwide recognition for what JB has held so dear.
The 4th International Invitational 24 Festive Drums Competition
Since that fateful day in 2008, when the Foon Yew High School dance troupe proudly performed the 24 Festive Drums at Teochew City, it was interesting that this art of drumming was first exported, with Malaysian students in China then helped to pioneer the first drum troupe in Hokkien province, which now has some 300 drummers! However, Xiaoman’s greatest wish is to welcome the first-ever dance troupe that is entirely made up of Chinese nationals, while looking forward to more creativity and diversity from the tertiary institutions, which currently has 23 troupes from local universities and 7 from Taiwan alone. Even the team from Oklahoma State University boasts of 16 nationalities, and their proudest achievement was in 2010 when they were invited to perform at the NBA games’ halftime in Oklahoma City. A rarity in any sporting and cultural context indeed!
Drumming unity in diversity, for generations to come…
1988 年某个早晨，前书艺协会会长朱自存先生 (原《南洋商报》总编辑) 陪我登门拜访当年80几岁高龄的老书法家黄石庵先生，请黄老为当年6月于柔佛古庙举行的廿四节令鼓题鼓仪式书写一对大联。
那是上午8点多，我还空着肚子，但黄老 「按例」倒了XO色酒迎客。斟酌辞句时，热烫的酒从喉头穿过胸膛直落丹田。摊开纸，黄老气定神閒，挥就了节令鼓的生命理念：上联 「擂响擎天的鼓声」、下联「思我不息的薪传」。我摀住酒气，恭敬地指着最后的「傳」字，问黄老为何傳字右上角多了一点。黄老仰头一口乾尽瓷杯裡的酒，说： 「中华文化呀！我们要傳多一点！」
A pair of Chinese calligraphy paintings hung on the wall, which can be translated as “drumming unity in diversity, for generations to come”, was written by Chinese calligraphy artist Huang Shi An, during the inauguration ceremony back in 1988. On closer inspection, the Chinese character “傳” appeared to have an additional dot which has left many observers clueless back then. To date, many sharp-eyed visitors would point out the apparent mistake which would seem as unbecoming from a calligraphy Grandmaster, only to realise that the additional stroke was purposefully included to symbolise, and to serve as a reminder for the local Chinese community effort to pass on this unique performing art for generations to come. What an ingenious masterstroke indeed!
老师当年曾道「鼓是传统的脉搏… 把廿四节气放在鼓上，用书法写出来，这一套鼓就是我们过节的鼓，就是我们岁月的鼓。」如今早已誉满全球的廿四节令鼓，随着1988年那第一声鼓鸣，带着惊人的步伐走向世界，成为了言语外的另一种交流方式，果真如同悬挂在 Drums Cafe那幅对联，「擂响擎天的鼓声，思我不息的薪傳」。 😀
One couldn’t possibly miss the centre of attraction inside the Drums Cafe – a unique wall art created with a collection of over a thousand drumsticks, forming the Chinese character “Drum”. Every “artefact” was preserved in its original state since the first beat was struck in 1998 so that visitors can view them up close and personal at its glorious best. As more global drumming fans are being garnered, drumming enthusiasts here eagerly anticipate the day when the 24 Festive Drums can be established as a permanent fixture in JB’s many iconic festivals and events.
May the drum beats never cease to flourish, and continue to touch the hearts of many near and far, for many more years to come…