Kodo’s all-male drummers, with ad-libbing shouts, summon up immense power from within to push physique, percussion techniques and emotive resonance to the highest realms. Juxtaposing traditional taiko artistry with new focus, thunderous bombardment and startling tranquillity, the group’s muscular, mind-blowing exploration delivers a rich music experience and a primordial yet strikingly touching encounter with our inner selves. Dadan was greeted with overwhelming acclaim for its European premièred in 2012. Since then, it has continued to evolve, each show a pulsating tribute to the timeless call of the taiko drum.
Established in 1981, Kodo spends one-third of the year at home on Sado Island and the rest on tour, performing over 5,500 shows in prestigious venues including Carnegie Hall in New York, Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London, and the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. Led by the legendary Tamasaburo Bando, a veteran kabuki artist and “living national treasure”, the group provides a fresh take on taiko drumming and innovative staging, spectacularly revealing the folk art’s limitless potential to energise and elate.
(Fri – Sat)
* Some seats may have a restricted view
Thunderous one moment, serene the next, taiko drumming is an elemental, ever-changing art as Kodo, a major exponent of the traditional Japanese musical form, has shown the world for more than 30 years. In this performance-demonstration, Hong Kong group O．Daiko provides an all-female perspective on taiko, along with the opportunity for audience participation. A special guest appearance by Kodo demonstrates further taiko styles to showcase the many different possibilities of drumming.
Special Guests: Drummers from Kodo
Established in 1981, Japanese taiko group Kodo immediately made a name for itself through its primal energy and stirring sound. Percussionist Angus Fu demonstrates how the art of drumming can touch the soul.
Speaker: Angus Fu (Director of 4 Gig Heads Percussion Group)
Yeh Chin-yi / Doctoral candidate at University of the Arts in Taipei, lecturer in the Department of Music at Chiayi University.
Percussion dates back to the early times of human civilisation when people combined local climate, resources, customs and traditions to create their own percussion culture. In those early periods, ethnic groups around the world used percussion music mainly in ceremonies and rituals, dance and entertainment, and weddings and funerals. Today, percussion ensembles from various traditions like Chinese drum music, Korean samulnori, Japanese taiko, Indonesian gamelan, Caribbean steel drum, and jazz are shining brighter than ever, as “percussion” thrives in different forms across the globe.Asia — Tradition and Innovation
To this day, Chinese percussion and wind music has developed to incorporate local folk cultures, as reflected in the invention of folk percussions like Shifan luogu (ten sound variations of gongs and drums) and Xi’an drum music. In the early eras of Taiwanese society, koa-á-hì (Taiwanese opera) was an important form of entertainment for the people. The “percussion section”, comprising the gongs and drums, resounded throughout the performance venue. The recent years have seen a bourgeoning of percussion groups in Taiwan. From professional percussion troupes to student percussion ensembles, the cluster of percussion artists has bloomed along with the number of commissioned works as well as international exchanges.
“Taiko” and “Japan” are invariably linked in popular imagination. In 1969 Den Tagayasu revamped traditional taiko with his founding of the contemporary taiko troupe Ondekoza. The troupe’s motto, “running, drumming and dancing on Earth”, points to an intrinsic link between percussion and running. Such performance styles blending tradition with innovation have taken the stages of Japan by storm. Debuted in 2009 to rave reviews, Kodo’s Dadan has continued to evolve with new versions.
Richness of percussion is a key feature of Southeast Asian music. The Vietnamese t’rung (bamboo xylophone) and k’lông pút (bamboo pipes) are two special instruments in the traditional music. The Thai ranaht (xylophone) and ching (small cup-shaped cymbals) are the centrepieces in a Thai music ensemble. The variety of gongs features prominently in Indonesian gamelan, making it the centre of the gong culture in Southeast Asia. Many Southeast Asian composers are fascinated with the East, drawing inspirations from Eastern philosophies, special musical instruments and sounds, and folk elements to create distinctive works.
The United States — Diverse and Inclusive Development
The diversity of percussion music bloomed in the New World. In the early 20th century, musical instrument manufacturers began to make and refine percussion instruments. Performer and musical instrument designer Clair Omar Musser was a pioneer in making the xylophone an important solo instrument. The jazz drum and metallophone entered the jazz realm, while percussion maestros like Buddy Rich, Steve Houghton and Gary Burton redefined the soul of jazz with their virtuosic touches.
Composer Edgard Varèse stunned the world of Western music with Ionisaton, a ground-breaking composition for percussion ensemble that inspired many composers to embark on writing for percussion. An audience favourite, the percussion group Stomp uses ordinary objects in their shows that embody John Cage’s notion of “life is music, music is life”. In the 1960s, the Percussive Arts Society (PAS) was officially established to promote the percussive arts. Being an extremely active organisation, the PAS organises annual meetings and competitions and offers scholarships, providing an excellent platform for the development of percussion music.
Europe — Champion of Percussion Ensembles
Percussion only came to popular attention in Europe in the 20th century. The pioneering percussion ensemble, Les Percussions de Strasbourg, was founded in the 1960s in France. Other percussion ensembles followed, including Kroumata from Sweden and Amadinda Percussion Group from Hungary. Today, annual percussion events including International Percussion Competition Luxembourg, The Universal Marimba Competition & Festival Belgium, World Marimba Competition Stuttgart, and International Timpani Competition of Lyon continue to expand the frontiers of the art form for percussion artists.The Future of Percussion
The 20th century theatre has had a profound impact on percussion music. Composers like Georges Aperghis and Vinko Globokar incorporate elements of theatre into the performance of percussion music, while cross-disciplinary performances open up an experimental realm for percussion artists.
With the development of the internet, exchanges in various arenas are happening at an accelerating pace. Founded by the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra in 2003, the Hong Kong Drum Festival presents the annual concert series Majestic Drums which feature top performers and ensembles in one of Hong Kong’s major music events. The 8th Taiwan International Percussion Convention in 2014 was a week-long showcase of percussion panache that set the audience ablaze. Let us all be witnesses to this: Now is the most vibrant time for percussion music! Be it ethnic music or Western classical music, percussion artists from various traditions set out to revitalise and innovate the art form. Percussion pulsates in eclectic forms in different corners of the world, as percussion culture is passed on from one generation to the next.