Update

A lot of Taiko has happened in the last few months. We have continued to practice every week as we do, with more emphasis on drills and learning new repertoire with our new members. Yes, we have grown! and the different levels in the group mean we need to take it slower and differently.

Almost all of Aber Taiko are here – one missing.

But hey, going back to basics is good for everyone – and practice is the place to do so. Reflect on our form, movements, efficiency, power and musicality.

Miyake and Odaiko practice are also going on separately once a month.

And a new style has been added to our journey – Yatai Bayashi. We enjoyed a whole day of teaching from Tsuchigumo‘s Martin and Shonagh.

Learning the yatai bayashi rhythm every which way: sitting down with drums slanted, on the Odaiko, on shime and upright. Then move around, pick a new position and repeat.

With Shonagh and Martin we also had a session on small percussion: the chappa (small cymbals) and chanchiki (handheld metal plate), on shime, movement, and interlocking rhythms. The Tsuchis, as we like to call them fondly, are great taiko players and excellent teachers. They gave us lots of input and so generously.

And a special mention goes to Miyuki Williams, co-founder of Mugenkyo who generously spared almost 2 hours prior to their Swansea gig to teach us some of her philosophy on playing and some Fukui rhythms which we love. She is the source and inspiration to much of the UK taiko scene.

And if we are on the subject of Fukui, we are continuing to learn from Alison Roe, which we all really cherish.

The more we play, the more we have to learn! And we are grateful to each and every one of our teachers who are so generous with their knowledge and time and energy.

We were also quite busy in the gig front – a repeat invitation from the Ospreys got us into the Liberty stadium again. We played for the Swansea Chinese new year’s celebration in the waterfront museum – and gave workshops to the public – and to the mayor himself! and a special gig for us was at Sam’s 7th thank you gig where we helped raise funds for Morrison Hospital’s cancer ward.

At the water front Museum during the celebrations of the Chinese new year.
Playing ‘Raku’ in a pub for Sam’s Thankyou event
In the Liberty stadium, with a ball heading our way!

Naname with Ting-Chi Li

  • It has been a long time in the making – but we have now arrived at the point of being mature enough to start learning to play the drums in the Naname style.

Sam made us 4 stands for our Nagados.  But of course, the Okedos can also be slanted on the various other stands we have: an x-Miyake stand would do, and the classical okedo stand can also work.  And for Hiras there is always a chair that can be tied up.  

We asked Ting-Chi Li to teach us. She has been playing with San Francisco Taiko Dojo for many years and has much experience playing Naname. And she has been teaching us before and performed with us in our concert at the Taliesin.

We practiced the basic stance and grip, worked on various drills and finally played the matsuri rhythm together. It was a holistic mind and body day of exercising and learning.

Miyake and Odaiko practice

People who play taiko know this: the more you play, the more you want to play! so now we have added an extra monthly practice night. This one is devoted to practicing Miyake and starting on a journey with our new Odaiko which is actually a big okedo.

Miyake is quite strenuous as the drums are low and the players need to squat while playing. We kept playing for a few runs of 15 minutes. Uchikomimas!

Then it was Odaiko time. First ever practice of Odaiko for us. This time it wasn’t so much about technique, but improvisation – we all wanted to just go for it! so we had a person on the one side playing straight Ji uchi (back beat) while the other side improvised. Then change sides and so on until time was up. Never enough time…

Till next month!

Summer Taiko

Summer  has been a busy time for us, with gigs almost every weekend of July. After the Tanabata festival we played for the

lovely day for a beer mile!

tipsy runners of the beer mile relay in the Love Trails Festival. We gave them an ‘Oroshi’ (a kind of a drum roll that conveys the feeling of wind swooshing down a mountain) to start the drinking and while they ran we played our pieces for the cheering audience. This repeated 7 times – the last of which we had taken turns playing improvised solos to the mitsu-uchi (don d0 ko) back beat. Indeed we have come a long way since we had been wincing to the thought of soloing in front of anybody!

Drum line and set list at the Gower Chilli Festival

2 weeks later we played at the Gower Chilli festival. It was a bit more grim and the rain was absolutely pouring down but this didn’t stop us having fun and cheering wet people up.

Immediately after we went down the road and gave a workshop to the guests of a lovely wedding. They had then played their hearts out for the bride and groom who enjoyed the show immensely. It was nice to be part of that.

 

 

In August we had a break from gigs and group practice but some of us had gone to study taiko – with Mark Alcock at his summer school for chappa and Yoko Uchi and then – Taiko Baka with Tiffany Tamaribuchi. Taiko Baka happened for the first time in the UK, 3 days of Odaiko playing.

We couldn’t really let Tiffany leave the UK without teaching us some more so we invited her to our practice session and she helped us find energy and spirit when playing Buchi Awase, one of our favourite songs. And she also gave us some tips on playing 2 or more drums. We now have many ideas for drills and movement. We are so inspired by Tiffany’s teaching and demonstrations – ready to start our 4th year together now in September.

 

Spirit of the Dragon – the concert that was

Months and months of preparation from all of us: practice, design and sewing of new costumes, planning the song order, drum formations and drum movements, creating a PR video, posting on social media, practicing, creating projections for the different songs, designing and building bespoke banners, planning of lights, designing posters and flyers, practicing, singing, skipping, learning new styles, coordinating people’s activities on the days before and on the day itself, dreaming, being excited, new t-shirts, new logo, being terrified, a bit of stress, more practice, pulling together… and finally playing on stage and enjoying every minute!

Ting-Chi Li reciting the Norito for “Hiryu San Dan Gaeshi” at the opening of the concert

And maybe most of all – the strong connections which we have  re-forged with Ting-Chi Li, Xun Dong, Yumi Célia and Alison Roe.

SFTD· 共鳴   playing “Gongming 2018”

Ting-Chi Li and Xun Dong, a.k.a. SFTD· 共鳴  (San Francisco Taiko Dojo – Resonance) style is strong, powerful, thoughtful and elegant – with every piece they played they gave every ounce of energy they had. Their collaborative spirit showed as they were perfectly in tune and in sync even though most of the time could not actually see each other.

Yumi Célia and Alison Roe, playing “Two Taiko”

Yumi Célia and Alison Roe, a.k.a  2taiko style is quite different – soft and flowy movements, sometimes very fast and sometimes slow, with lots of bachi twirls. This softness of movement does not take from the powerful strikes of the drum, which are almost unexpected!

“Nidan” – common roots are what enabled these 4 to play together having never played together before!

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