Friday, November 30, 2007

New taiko tune

This is the latest composition from Amanojaku leader/master drummer Yoichi Watanabe, performed by Ayutsubo Daiko.
It's inspired by Tokyo festival rhythms that even young people these days are rediscovering.
Beautiful beasts, the natives gather around a phallic shrine/float/"yagura," celebrating in dance and music the harvest, filled with gratitude to the gods for the gift of Life.
The beat is nostalgic/primordial with a lot of sexy rock 'n' roll drive that gets your heart racing.
It's both new and old, faraway and immediate, all at the same time.
Why look to the West (rock, R&B, etc.) for the roots of cool when nothing is hipper than Edo-style "iki?"
We cannot live/express ourselves/function as human beings if we cannot be proud of who we are.
Yes, it's a challenge in this increasingly globalizing world. Economic power and other discriminatory hierarchies are used to define superiority, leaving chunks of people/races/regions out of a chance for personal realization, which is a human right.
It seems too easy to use culture (down to the simplest aspects of everyday life) as a tool to dominate/wipe out the legacy of weaker groups.
When a kid grows up to be a giant wanna-be, going blond or wearing dreadlocks (not that I have anything against these as fashion for fun and it's the concept of self-negation that's the problem),
something is wrong with us as parents.
We must also accept that we are all hybrids in this New Era.
We are no longer that Sukeroku samurai of Kabuki.
Japanese grew up on Motown and Mozart.
The cross-pollination from all kinds of music (blond/dreadlocks), as long as that truthfulness-to-who-we are remains, can give birth to a new kind of Japanese music.
The best in Edo culture has always been defined by influences from abroad, Korea, China, Europe.
Fortunately, being open to diversity is the essence of the Japanese aesthetic.
No one writes/creates by starting out with the goal of "being Japanese."
One must write/create with the goal of being honest/yourself _ nothing else.
And in so doing, you create what is Japanese _ and universal _ because that's what you are.
Watanabe talks about what makes for "the Japanese sound" in this englightening Podcast.

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