Kodo, Japanese Drumming

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A week ago I watched a strangely complex and perverse movie called The Tin Drum. It’s about a boy named Oskar who rejects the “stupid” adult world and it’s hypocrises. At age 3, he stops growing and learns to assert some control over adults through beating on a tin drum and his vocal talents.

Tonight I decided to carry that drumming theme out a little longer. I got tickets to the world-renowned Japanese taiko drum troupe at Proctor’s Theatre in Schenectady. An evening of pulse-pounding percussion unlike anything I’ve ever heard before. The concert wasn’t merely something I watched or listened to. It was a cacophony of sounds that I felt — literally.
The vibrations of the drums shook my seat and pierced my mind. Kodo is the name of the troupe which stands for “heartbeat” and/or “children of the drum”.

Though I only stayed for one set, I was truly impressed with the performance. It felt great to be away from listening to my roommates watch reality shows on Thursday nights. Will there ever be an end to these annoying programs?

As written in the Times Union today…”Kodo has been rattling the roofs of theaters around the world with their big world beat for nearly a quarter-century. Formed on Sado Island off the coast of Japan in 1981, the troupe’s initial intention was to establish a school for traditional folk arts, including weaving, carpentry, pottery and woodworking. Originally, the drumming performances were intended as a way to raise funds for the school; soon, the drums took precedence.”

Before the show I talked with an author of a book about Kodo. The book describes how Kodo performers live on a small island and commune together. They eat, sleep, and play together. They cook, clean and gather food together. They practice for years and years together before they even take stage. The author went on to describe the types of fishing boats they use to net fish and oysters. An absolutely fascinating life style that I’d love to do a documentary on someday…if it hasn’t been done already.