Odaiko New England

Blown Away by KODO

ONE's Mark and KODO's Jun rock on Miyake

ONE's Mark and KODO's Yosuke rock on Miyake

My first live KODO concert experience started with a pleasant surprise. By being at the right place at the right time, my son and I got to go backstage at Symphony Hall before the concert and meet some of the KODO people. One performer was practicing shime-daiko with bachi that were tapered almost to a point. He was drumming very quietly, and very rapidly — an extremely difficult combination! — right on the edge of the drum head. Unusual bachi, unusual technique, unusual skill. Yeah, I thought, this is going to be good.

Good is a wholly inadequate word to describe the events of the next couple of hours. Phenomenal, astonishing, spiritual, inspiring, and awe-inspiring — now we’re getting warmer. The precision, the creativity, the energy, the pure joy that the performers displayed was incredible.

We had seats in the balcony that were close enough to spot some of their spike marks on the stage, see every nuance of expression on the performer’s faces (beads of sweat too!), and viscerally feel the drums. I spent much of the concert literally on the edge of my seat, leaning forward, straining to absorb all that I could. I was actually tired at the end of the concert!

ONE performs Mahora for KODO

ONE performs Mahora for KODO

I was completely captivated by their first piece, Zoku. My second favorite was their rendition of Miyake. I paid particular attention to the Kiyari singers, as I am a singer-wannabe. I want to learn how to make that guttural, catching sound that gives their voices such a primal quality. And I was completely blown away when the Odaiko soloist, after playing like a madman for ten minutes or so, jumped down and went straight into playing Yatai-Bayashi. I think he played in all of the rest of the songs in the concert, just in case there was any doubt about his superhuman stamina.

Later, ONE hosted a reception at our dojo for KODO. It was a thrill, and an honor, for us to be able to play Mahora for them. It felt good, like we were giving something back.

I am left with a renewed sense of commitment to do everything I can do become a better taiko player. KODO, thank you for the inspiration.

5 comments to Blown Away by KODO

  • joy

    I think that Zoku is my favorite taiko piece ever, by any taiko group, anywhere. It’s the first song on Kodo’s “Live at the Acropolis” (on the Japanese version), which certainly helped shape my image of taiko.

    It feels like Zoku epitomizes the spirit of kumi-daiko, ensemble drumming. Several different parts, each played by 2-3 players, none standing on its own, but all coming together to create a cohesive whole. One soloist, sometimes the center of attention, sometimes just another member of the ensemble. Each part is essential and exciting, but only combined do they make music. Unity supported by individuality.

    When we visited Kodo as part of the KASA/MIX tour, they performed Zoku for us. It was … just amazing.

  • I am a Kiyari wannabe singer to and I am excited to be able to take the Kiyari workshop given my Fujimoto san (Kodo) at Asano’s 400th anniversary this June. Btw, any ONE members planning to come to the birthday party? I’d love to meet some of you. I’ll likely be there every day.

  • I hope you will post something about the Kiyari workshop!

    It’s possible that someONE of us will be there, as there always seems to be someone taking a trip to Japan, but it won’t be me. However, you can meet all of us if you come to Boston! We welcome visiting Taiko players into our classes.

  • Kani

    David san.
    The one playing miyake with Mark is Yosuke and not Jun.

  • david

    Thanks. Fixed.