“Making Taiko Music Become More Everyday Music” by Yuta Sumiyoshi

Making Taiko Music Become More Everyday Music

That’s what we had in mind when we launched this project, “The Heartbeat Laboratories.”

Even though many people know taiko from the music that accompanies Japanese festivals, and modern taiko performances, I think only a small number of people have heard the everyday sound of taiko.

For most Japanese people, taiko isn’t an everyday instrument.
I think that’s because people have stereotypes about taiko that they can’t push aside.

There’s “Japanese style background music,” which uses taiko and Japanese instruments. Many people think it only suits a particular type of scene, right?

In order to overturn that notion, we have to share a completely new genre of taiko music.

We can do that by not sticking to taiko alone, but by including Western instruments and electric instruments, and exploring a new ensemble beyond the limits of every type of music.

Some people may say, “That’s not taiko.”

To which I say, what do you think “taiko” is then?

For example, is it something composed in the Edo Period? Heian Period? Jomon Period?

Are you saying it’s taiko if it was created at a certain time?

And Kodo’s original instruments—Hibiki, Shime-jishi, and Kanade—they are Japanese drums, so are they “taiko”?

If you think about these questions and more, I think you’ll notice that the concept of taiko is more vague than you might think.

In every era to date, instruments have been continually improved to create the sound and musicality we want to conjure.
It’s the same for all instruments, not just taiko.

If people restrict the possibilities for taiko, by jumping to conclusions based on the fixed image they have of this instrument, then taiko music has no future.

That said, if we become bound by a Western sense of music, then we can’t escape from being labeled “Japanese style background music” either.

All we can do is keep creating deep-rooted, avant-garde music with Kodo’s identity at the heart of our sound. If we do that, I believe it will lead us to find new possibilities for taiko music.

We’ve decided to release new music for everyone’s listening pleasure, as well as for creators across a range of genres to use in their own creative works.

We hope Kodo’s new music will be used in films and other video productions, commercials and installations.

We hope to make taiko music become more everyday music.

Kodo will continue to share new taiko music with the world. Watch this space!


We’ve just released two digital albums: Kodo “Alatane” Vol. 1 and Vol. 2!:クラッカー:
Available on Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon Music now!

The Heartbeat Laboratories
“Alatane” Vol. 1 & Vol. 2

Featuring: Kodo Taiko Performing Arts Ensemble

◆Spotify
“Alatane” Vol. 1
“Alatane” Vol. 2

◆Apple Music
“Alatane” Vol. 1
“Alatane” Vol. 2

◆Amazon Music
“Alatane” Vol. 1
“Alatane”Vol. 2 

Note: Kodo plans to make these available to creators later this year.

My Kodo Discography Pick 07 | Issei Kohira: Kaden (Album)

Issei Kohira

Hi, everyone! How are you doing?
I’m Issei Kohira, a member of the Kodo ensemble.
Each member is introducing a Kodo CD or DVD they recommend, and I’ve chosen “Kaden,” an album released in late 2016.

It features pieces mainly from three Kodo One Earth Tour productions: Eternity, Chaos, and Evolution.

Eternity featured compositions that depicted vivid scenes, while the music in Chaos emerged from blending taiko and drum kits—East and West. Evolution showed Kodo’s journey to date lead to the creation of new Kodo music. This album combines the best of these three works.

When I became a junior member four years ago, Chaos was my first tour with Kodo. And I took part in the recording of Arrive, Toki no Ma, and Kukai—all three Chaos pieces on the Kaden album.
I was so new to the ensemble that I didn’t know which way was up, down, left, right, forward, back, or otherwise. So I mostly recall being in a hurry to keep up. (lol)
But I also remember feeling happy that I was going to appear on one of Kodo’s albums as a performer.

Personally, I recommend the track Toki no Ma!
Why, you ask?
Because I have a six-second solo on it! (lol)
Please have a listen and see if you can find my solo! (lol)

As you can see, for me, this CD packed with memories.
If you already own it, I hope you’ll listen to it again after reading this blog. And if you don’t, I hope you’ll add it to your collection so you can experience and enjoy a range of new sides to Kodo’s music.

I’d like to take this opportunity to say I truly appreciate your kind support and words of encouragement over the past few months. I’ll keep working hard, preparing for the day Kodo can tour again.
Thank you, everyone. I’m looking forward to seeing you again soon!

 

Album | Kaden

↓Listen to sample tracks

https://www.kodo.or.jp/discography/od018_en.html

↓Buy at Kodo Online Store

http://kodo.shop.multilingualcart.com/goods_en_jpy_82.html

My Kodo Discography Pick 02 | Jumpei Nonaka: Irodori (Album)

Jumpei Nonaka (Junior Member)

When I was little, every year when my family went to Earth Celebration we would constantly play this album, Irodori, in our car. According to them, I would keep playing the title track over and over again! (lol)

Photo: koji

Every time I listen to this CD, it brings back those memories of summer and makes me feel nostalgic. So I really love this album.

In fact, I still have and treasure that same CD we were listening on those trips!

Album | Irodori

↓Listen to sample tracks (Japanese webpage)

https://www.kodo.or.jp/discography/cscl1525_ja.html

↓Buy at Kodo Online Store

http://kodo.shop.multilingualcart.com/goods_en_jpy_97.html

My Kodo Discography Pick 04 | Moe Niiyama: Heartbeat Best of KODO 25th Anniversary (Album)

Moe Niiyama

Here’s my recommendation: Heartbeat—Best of Kodo 25th Anniversary!
This album is filled with definitive Kodo pieces.

My dad has been a Kodo fan since way back, and he always had this CD playing in his car. When he drove me to and from taiko practices throughout my childhood, sometimes we’d hum along to the rhythms as we listened to this CD, and sometimes it got us talking about the future.

Even now that I have become a Kodo member, when I listen to this album it reminds of those times in my dad’s car. It’s left a lasting impression on me.

This CD transports me back to the start of my journey!

 

Album | Heartbeat—Best of Kodo 25th Anniversary

 

↓Listen to sample tracks

https://www.kodo.or.jp/discography/sicl155_en.html

↓Buy at Kodo Online Store

http://kodo.shop.multilingualcart.com/goods_en_jpy_6.html

My Kodo Discography Pick 05 | Masayasu Maeda: Mondo Head (Album)

Masayasu Maeda

The album I recommend is Mondo Head.

When I was a senior high school student, I listened to it almost everyday on my way to and from school. This album completed changed my definition of wadaiko (Japanese taiko drumming) and made me think “Wadaiko is music!” for the first time. That’s obvious to me now, and I credit Mondo Head for that redefining moment.

Mondo Head is a collaborative work with amazing percussionists from around the world. I can’t get enough of their approach to music, the range of their instruments, the freedom of their sound, and all that improv! Though it was recorded almost 20 years ago, it’s forever new.

If I ever hit a creative wall, I listen to this album and it reminds me of all the things we can do with taiko.

 


Two of my favorite tracks are Kashira and Daraijin.

Kashira because, well, that insane groove gets me every time! (lol)
I know Kodo’s played it on tour in the past. I want to play it, too!

And Daraijin because it drew me to tabla and its broad range of tones.

I want to create music that will still be good when I listen to it in 20 years time. Music that taiko players will envy 20 years from now!

Album | Mondo Head

↓Listen to sample tracks (Japanese webpage)

https://www.kodo.or.jp/discography/sicp1_ja.html

↓Buy at Kodo Online Store

http://kodo.shop.multilingualcart.com/goods_en_jpy_86.html


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