July 16th, 2024

Popular percussion: Taiko drummers close season at Nikka Yuko

By Justin Seward - Lethbridge Herald on November 2, 2022.

Herald photo by Justin Seward The Yuko Taiko Dan drummers play Issho during their last performance of the season at Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden on Sunday.

This iteration of Yuko Taiko Dan drumming group wrapped up their first season with a performance on Sunday at the Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden.

Taiko is a type of Japanese drumming and this group focuses on the Kumi Daiko, which is an ensemble-type of drumming and means drum set.

“It’s ensemble style, you have different voices – high or low voices that are split – different parts that create this ensemble-style of music,” said Marc Vantol, Yuko Taiko Dan drumming artistic director.

This type of drumming also focuses on the community aspect.

Vantol described the drumming as getting people together, sharing the experiences and plenty of group effort to build and create sound together.

“It originated as a way for the community to get together,” said Vantol. “The guy that started, his name was Daihachi Oguchi, he first conceived it in the 1950’s. So he actually would use it at the temple he worked at for gatherings. So the community would get together and they would just start playing some rhythms together and then started doing some community gatherings, and then kind of spread from there into North America.”

Vantol chose for their Taiko demonstration songs that highlighted some of the cultural aspects including one written by Oguchi, and another written by Hawaiian drummer Chad Nakagawa.

“So it’s like an open source piece which is very much the community style,” said Vantol. “Taiko has what they call community pieces. So you can learn it’s like a jazz standard, you can learn community pieces and that was one of those.”

The group also composed its own Taiko song.

This is the first time the Garden has hosted this type of ensemble for themselves.

“They’ve always hosted other Taiko ensembles,” said Vantol. “I’m the director of the community ensemble as well. So we would often play here, but it would be two or three weekends out of the summer. So it’s an effort to get some consistency and something to market as their own experience, this was the first time they opted to get a house Taiko band.”

The group of three played every Sunday from April to October and will start back up in December for winter shows.

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