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.
Our “Swansea Year of Taiko” project is nearing its end – one last day of adult and family workshops to go…
We have learnt so much this year and we love playing taiko even more. We want to celebrate this feeling, celebrate the things we learnt and the new people we met, the new connections we made and the effort we have all put in.
And what better way to celebrate than to simply play the drums? So we decided to show what we have learnt so far in a concert. We chose the Volcano Theatre as our venue: it is a rugged and friendly place, fit for a community group at the start of our way.
We have invited some of our friends to play with us. They are our friends, our teachers, our collaborators. James Barrow, Taiko Mynydd Du and Alison Roe. The concert will feature many of the elements of taiko that we have learnt from our guest teachers this year. It will contain traditional pieces such as Miyake and Buchi Awase. We will also play more modern pieces inspired by different styles of taiko whose origins are in different parts of Japan such as Hokuriku, Hachijo and Hiroshima. There will also be some original pieces written here in Wales.
This concert is also partly funded by the Arts Council of Wales.
Ursula Frank and Heather Murray, founders of Taiko Mynydd Du gave us three workshops. First was a family workshop where parents and children learnt a piece called ‘Godzilla’ written by Ursula and inspired by the music of the original Japanese film.
The adults then had a beginner’s workshop where we learned a simple version of a classical Japanese piece called ‘Buchi Awase’ and in the more advanced workshop we learnt another piece written by TMD called ‘River’.
But it is not just the songs that we learnt – we learnt the basics of stance, movement and strike. We tried playing as a group – listening to each other and engaging with each other. When this is accomplished, any song we play would be so much more interesting and engaging both for us and for our audience.
This workshop was kindly funded by the Arts Council of Wales.