Friday, February 19, 2010

Taiko

Back in the early 1980's, I attended my first and only taiko concert by Kodo, in Orchestra Hall, in St. Paul, Mn. It was an awesome experience, and I'd love to do it again some time here in Japan. I've seen some other taiko performances by amateur drummers, and the ones living in the U.S. are to be commended for giving it a try, but I have to admit that it makes me want to pull my eyes out, watching them. Kind of like watching white belts trying to do blackbelt level kata. It's one of the reasons why I don't bother following taiko now - few groups have a clue as to how to live up to Kodo's level.



Anyway, I was talking to one of my students about music (he's a classical fan) and the topic turned to drums (I used to pretend to play drums, but I was never any good at it). I spent a few minutes teaching him the English names of different kinds of drums, and he asked me if I liked taiko. He followed this up by asking what I thought of Eitetsu Hayashi. I didn't recognize the name, so as soon as the lesson ended I ran to wikipedia and youtube (in that order). Turns out he's a founding member of Kodo, so there's a chance that I'd seen him perform in St. Paul. But, he went solo in '82, so maybe not.



After watching a few of his videos, I realized that I missed watching performances like this. Now I really want to see it live, either Eitetsu himself, or Kodo again. I'd really like to watch either or both on Sado island. As a side note, even if you're not familiar with his name, if you like anime, there's a good chance you may have heard his work, since he's written and performed on a number of sound tracks (Samurai 7, Dagger of Kamui). There's a good article in English on him at the Singapore Magazine site.



I just wish there were more straight solo performances by him on youtube. However, the Ye Shen Chen video, which features a lot of other instruments as well, is still worth listening to. (Disclaimer: none of these videos are mine, of course. I just put them here to draw attention to Eitetstu.)

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