Here is a small sampling of classical music, folk dances, festivals, Obon and other Japanese performing arts with a heavy bias for those that use taiko and those of which I have studied or have some personal connection to, often thanks to my time with Kodo.
I know that so much of this music is inaccessible to someone who doesn’t know about Japanese music or culture- including people born and raised in Japan. I always ask people their honest reactions after listening and invariably people say that Gagaku was “very annoying” – a completely valid response! However, it is my hope that as people start to gain familiarity with the music, they start to hear all the beautiful subtleties and nuances contained within each note.
I did NOT grow up listening to Japanese traditional music and wasn’t really exposed to it until I was an adult. I’ve spent years asking practitioners and scholars questions, taking lessons, visiting locales and reading books. Little by little, the secrets are starting to unlock and incredible microcosms of humanity, spirituality, philosophy and art are revealed. My journey has barely begun but it’s been incredibly rewarding so far.
I find when working with master musicians from various cultures and musical genres, ie. Indian classical music, jazz, Korean traditional music, Spanish flamenco, etc. we always end up talking about the traditional musics that are the foundation on which our works are built upon. Finding the commonalities between these traditions often allow the collaborations to unfold in really profound ways.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself while viewing these videos:
- What are the instruments being used? Can you identify them?
- How do each instruments sound individually and how do they sound collectively?
- What do you think the music is about?
- Where is the region where the music comes from and what is that region like?
- What is the role the taiko has in the overall performance? What makes it effective?
- What are the artifacts being used? masks, costumes, fans, swords, mikoshi, yatai, sasara, etc.
Heian Period (794–1185)
1. Gagaku: Etenraku
Muromachi Period (1336 to 1573)
3. Noh: Dojoji
4. Noh ensemble (just musicians)
Edo Period (1603 and 1868)
5. Kabuki: Musume Dojoji
6. Kabuki: Renjishi
7. Kabuki: Kanjincho
8. Kabuki: Sukeroku
Regional Folk Dance
9. Iwate: Kurokawa Sansa
10. Iwate: Iwasaki Onikenbai
11. Iwate: Shishiodori
12. Iwate:Otsugunai Kagura
13. Saitama: Chichibu Yomatsuri
14. Saitama: Chichibu Yomatsuri (inside the yatai)
15. Osaka: Danjiri Matsuri
16. Osaka: Danjiri Matsuri (practice)
17. Osaka: Danjiri Matsuri (accidents!)
18. Tokyo: Miyake Island Festival Gozutennou Matsuri
19. Tokyo: Miyake Island Togan O-Matsuri (passing the Omikoshi)
20. Niigata: Sado Island- Iwakubi: Onidaiko (Ondeko)
21. Morioka: Tsugaru Akimatsuri Tozan Bayashi
22. Aomori: Nebuta Matsuri
23. Nagano: Onbashira (nothing to do with taiko but it’s awesome)
24. Akita: Nishomonai (Yosedaiko)
25. Akita: Nishimonai
26. Sado: Ogi Okesa
27. Okinawa: Eisa
28. Tokyo Bon Odori
Folk Arts for entertainment
30. Gojinjo Daiko