One Percussive Evening | てれつくてれつくてんてんつ

English follows Japanese!


シルクロードアンサンブルと共演した際にご一緒した、元鼓童のメンバーで今はアメリカで活躍されている太鼓&篠笛Kaoru Watanabeさんのワークショップがコロンビア大学で開かれたので、勉強に行ってきました!



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My first lecture to attend at Columbia University was a workshop by Kaoru Watanabe, a Japanese taiko drum & shinobue flute player yesterday. We performed together as members of the Silk Road Ensemble concert last year, and I have always wanted to learn Japanese music more.

One of the things I found really interesting was verbal succession of taiko drum music. As taiko music is not written in Western notation, they use certain syllables to indicate which stroke to use.

For example:
ten(てん)= normal hit, tsu(つ) = quiet tap, tsu-ku (つく)= two quiet taps, te-re(てれ) = two normal hits etc..

According to Kaoru, the “melodies” of taiko music are made up with these syllables, and taught verbally by teachers. At the end of the lecture, we learned one passage from one kabuki (Japanese theater) scene from a show called “Kanjin-cho” and practiced it.

ten ten ten ten ten ten ten ten, ten ten tere-tsuku ten ten tsu, ……

These syllables somehow become a beautiful melody, especially when accompanied by Kaoru’s shinobue flute. This was very surprising to me who plays an instrument with Western notation, and I had so much fun playing the passage actually on the taiko drum.

Even as a Japanese musician, it was such a great opportunity to learn Japanese traditional music since I had never got a chance to study it. I would love to write about it with more details sometime in the future! 🙂