We would like to invite you to two Taiko-related events happening at the end of August. We are so lucky to host a Taiko legend who has many years experience of teaching and performing in both the United States of America and Japan.
The Japan Day in Bath was organised by the Bath and Beppu association in support of the tsunami disaster at the Museum of East Asian Art (MEAA). One of the organisers, Mamiko, was looking for a taiko group to play at the festival and contacted us. We were so happy to have been found! One of the highlights at this festival was a bon odori song/dance called Tanko Bushi. We got the music from Mamiko, Thomas created a double version and we all set to practice it – in Swansea we practiced the rhythm and in Bath they practiced the dance.
The outdoors events started with a drum roll (oroshi) by Yasmin, a kendo demonstration and then we played for half an hour in the sweltering sun (28 degrees!!). There were many people who came to support the day and we had lots of fun. Although we did feel a bit weak at the break between our two performances…For the second performance we took to the shade and it was much easier. And then when the music started, we positioned ourselves in the centre facing outwards towards the dancers and played the drums to the music. Some of us took to the dancing this time. Everybody looked so happy to dance.
We felt honoured to share our taiko with the Japanese community in Bath.
A lot of organisation goes into a gig such as this. Find out who is available on the day; who can drive? which drums go in which car? which songs shall we play that can fit into our time slot? how to arrange the set list? what to say between songs? who will compere? (is there a PA system?) how will the drums be arranged on the day for maximum effectiveness and symmetry?
Occasions like this one push us to practice more; and its not only our taiko playing that improves. Our organisational capacity grows, and with it our friendship.
Every year at the beginning of June there is a lovely event organised by Tsunagari Taiko centre in Paris. Taiko groups from around the world are invited to strike 3 times, strongly, on their drums. And while doing this, spread a vision of connectedness, wake people up , move people to change their lives for the better. Here are our three beats for a better world, together with TMD and other participants in James Barrow’s workshop day. Many groups and individuals participated – from Paris, Tokyo, Germany, Hungary, Australia, Spain… so nice to be part of a global community of beautiful people. You can find their diverse 3 beats here !
5 of us went up to Glangrwyney for a whole day of Taiko tuition with James Barrow. The day was organised by Ursula Frank from TMD. People came from as far as Oxford and Birmingham. James taught us his piece ‘Eclipse’. After his first demonstration it sounded so complex, but he broke it down to very short phrases and we had it in the first 2 hours. It is a great piece, with accents on left and right hands, on the on and off beats, a real brain teaser. We started out on upright stands but had a chance, throughout the day, to try playing the magnificent Odaiko, give katsugi okedo a go, and also some Yatai style. And another very useful tool – play the same piece with different musical intention. So we started out with thinking of a happy, floating moment and played Eclipse light heartedly. We then descended into a chaotic and creative few minutes where
everyone just made all kinds of rhythms and sounds. Out of that darkness we were pulled out by a sombre mitsu-uchi on the Odaiko, and played it again with a more grounded, powerful feel.
And as always with Taiko – we all were supporting each other with shouts, smiles, eye contact and body language that conveyed our utter happiness to be there at that moment in time, playing together.
James made ‘Eclipse’ open source and we will definitely use it to improve so many skills – left right coordination and dexterity, musicality and creativity.
For the second year now we brought our drums to Swansea bay – to the beach near the 360 café. We drummed in support of the rainbow runners as they completed a 5 km run on the sand. Not only do they get covered in sand, they pass through several paint stations where they get sprayed with paint. They end up tired and very colourful!
The event is done to raise funds for Ty-Hafan, the Welsh children’s Hospice. We couldn’t think of a better cause to help!
Our drumming motivated the runners in the final lap of the trail and we were really inspired by the big effort the runners made to arrive at the finish line.
We played until the last runners arrived at the finish line, a total of 2 hours. We were quite tired but happy at the end of the day. Playing on the beach with the sea and the Mumbles in front of us is one of our favourite things to do!