Monday, October 15, 2007

Makoto Taiko

Pasadena is having a festival. The theme is "skin". No kidding.

"Skin" is sponsored by the Art and Ideas Festival. Read all about it here.

Complete this sentence: "Skin and Pasadena go together like ..?.. and ..?.." No, I can't do it either. At least the participating organizations get to pool their marketing efforts.

Via this website I discovered this press release announcing a free concert Sunday afternoon by this Japanese taiko drum ensemble. The group is called Makoto Taiko.

If you're not familiar with Taiko drumming, they put great emphasis on playing loudly, no doubt as a result of the style's origins in Japan. The performers use a lot of energy. There's a reason you never see an overweight taiko drummer.

Koji Nakamura performs solo on a taiko drumset (c) David OckerI arrived after the concert had begun. For me (and for many others as well if overheard comments count) the most memorable moment was the very first drum note a person heard. This drummer, Koji Nakamura, carefully choreographed the silence before striking the drum the first time; an excellent lesson on how to focus attention on a single note. Could be a good idea for lots of Western performers.

Mercifully the concert also included quiet musical moments - I heard performances with both a shakuhachi and a koto. But, to be honest, they couldn't compete.

I noticed that one of the smaller drums caused an actual physical sensation in my body - somewhere on my left side just below my heart. Maybe the drum was tuned to resonate with the whole room or with the spot I happened to be sitting or maybe it was amplified somehow by the iPod in my pocket (which was off). Whatever the reason something about that one drum and something about me met on the same frequency. (I know what you're thinking. No, that's too metaphysical.)

I used my pocket point and shoot to video the last minute of the last piece. I managed to get it on YouTube (a first for me). Here it is. It'll give you an idea.

(Click here if the embed thing isn't working.)

After the concert I asked a member of Makoto if the rehearsals were always as loud as the concert. "Pretty much." was her answer. I also asked if it would be okay to post a video online. She seemed to think that wouldn't be too much of a problem.

Taiko Tags: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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