Last week on November 15th, the Swarthmore taiko ensemble performed at Bryn Mawr’s annual Asian-American culture show! It was challenging preparing all the pieces in the short amount of time that we had, but the results were super rewarding when we managed to pull off the performance.
We played three pieces – two excerpts and one full piece. The first piece was an excerpt titled ‘Tassijima’, composed and choreographed by our taiko coach, Kim Arrow. The piece contained interesting East Indian rhythmic structures, and I enjoyed playing it very much. The second piece, titled ‘Breaks’, is composed of multiple pieces that had been broken apart and stitched together. Full of different playing styles and rhythms, it was the most challenging one in terms of making sure everybody was in sync.
The final piece, and my personal favorite, is titled Goshinji. Created by Isaburoh Hanayagi from Tamagawa University in Tokyo, this piece is a 16thcentury work from the Ishikawa prefecture. Loosely translated, the titled means ‘respect for the religious services of the Shinto ritual’. Goshinji was created to propitiate the gods in order to end an infamous drought. The masks in the piece represent three demons related to agriculture and a farmer. This piece was very fast-paced and required a lot of energy, but it was also a lot of fun! Playing around with the masks and getting into character was a new experience for me. At the end of the performance, my friend had drummed so hard that his hand had started bleeding! In comparison to that, my blisters seemed like nothing.
Our next performances will be at the Swarthmore student dance recital on December 5th and 6th. We’ll be performing a longer version of Breaks, with a portion featuring uchiwa daiko – fanlike drums.
Anyways, I guess my point is taiko is awesome and anybody who is interested should try it out. Check out the link for a video of our Goshinji performance!