塩江龍王太鼓 – Shionoe Dragon King Taiko

I have mentioned in past updates that I was a member of a taiko (Japanese drum) group, but thus far haven’t really had anything to show for it.  Most of our gigs are pretty small, and tend to be at homes for the elderly.  While this is certainly a feel good way of giving back to the community, its not the sort of ‘cool’ that I would document and brag about.  But at last, we’ve had one of our larger events, the Shionoe Firefly Festival (more on that soon).  This was one of my town’s local festivals, and was essentially my taiko debut.  Those in attendance were largely my students and their parents, as well as a few of my friends who had come out to take part in the festivities and support.

The concept is pretty simple so I don’t think I need to say too much about how it works; you bang a drum with a stick.  Having had some experience with drums back in the States, I thought this would be a great cultural opportunity that wouldn’t be restrictively difficult to get into.  I wasn’t too surprised to find that it was harder than it looks though.  Memorizing the music and choreography, and pairing it with a fluid and natural stance isn’t something I’ve yet gotten the hang of.  I was a bit nervous at the festival, not feeling 100% about my memorization of the music, but I managed.  I only played on one of the five songs, as I have yet to learn the rest, but I played on the biggest drum, called the Odaiko, which feels pretty cool.

Me having at it.  You really do need to lay into these drums.  Bonus fact – this drum cost $22,000.

This shot doesn’t include me, but shows the rest of the drums and such.  You can see the choreography in the arms, all moving as one.  This is the part that I struggle with, but I hope to get on that front line soon.

This is me and the taiko group.  They are all a lot of fun, great people and I’m really lucky to be plugged into a group like this.  I’m the one in the middle, second row.

Last, here is a video of me playing, the sound is a bit muddled.  Credit for all media goes to my friend Gary, who is fantastic with cameras.

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