General Manager of Design Laboratory
Manabu Kawada

Formerly obsessed with canoes, now with my house

I've continued to love travel ever since the mountaineering days of my youth, and even after I graduated from university and stopped mountain climbing, I would go canoeing almost every week in the summer. There's a branch of the Tenryu River called the Kida River that's perfect for canoeing, and I would go on overnight canoeing trips with friends from my university days, where we would enjoy cooking food over an open fire on the broad riverbed. I also love drinking around the fire while gazing at the night sky. On mountaineering trips, fires were strictly forbidden, and drinking water was our most precious commodity. On canoeing trips, we could build fires and drink all the water we wanted-maybe the river suits me better. I just finished building my house, though, and lately I've been very focused on that. There's a broad, earthen-floored room on the first floor, where I enjoy spending time every day, surrounded by my past works and poring over new ideas. I'm also looking forward to growing my own vegetables in my little garden.

Observing the relationship between human and instrument through performance

I've been designing instruments for quite some time now, but I myself can hardly play anything at all. However, just because you can't play any instruments doesn't necessarily mean you can't design them-just as designers of medical devices don't all have to be doctors. I like music, and I love watching performers and their instruments. Despite that single word, "instrument," I believe there is actually a great diversity of relationships between player and instrument. An instrument that is held in the arms, like the guitar, offers pleasure to the sense of touch, to the skin. You can play both single notes and chords on it, and sing while you're playing it as well-guitar players look almost like they're having a conversation with their instruments.

With wind instruments, on the other hand, you blow your own breath through them, and they become almost like an extension of your own body, of your organs and vocal cords. While they can only play one note at a time, and are each limited in the range of notes that they can play, it is truly enjoyable to watch them come together in harmony. Likewise, you sit while playing instruments like the piano or the drums-with the piano, the lightly perched posture of the player and the sight of the fingers dancing over the keyboard lends it a unique beauty. With the drums, the slightly off-kilter posture looks somewhat uncouth, but also cool, with the player twirling his sticks. Woodwinds, brass, strings, percussion, and keyboards-they each have their own unique kind of relationship with humans. Even more important to remember is the presence of the audience. It is just as important for instruments to look good to the audience as it is for them to be comfortable for the player to play-they are the very physical interface by which one person connects to another. Because instruments also have such strong ties to different types of musical genres and cultures, and because they require a high level of specialized ability, it's difficult to come up with an entirely new form of instrument. That's why I like the saying, "Don't betray expectations-betray preconceptions." The various expectations of the players have to be met, while not being exactly what they imagined. I want to keep betraying people's preconceptions in a positive sense, in order to help maintain Yamaha as a brand where we "Create 'Kando*' Together."

* 'Kando' (is a Japanese word that) signifies an inspired state of mind.

Work from period at RCA / Rhythm Palette