Taiko in North America and the Dilemma of World Music Performance
by Wynn Yamami

[April 11, 2008]
 

 

Originally rooted in the Buddhist tradition of Japanese American culture, taiko drumming in North America has steadily increased in popularity and in recent years has been featured in popular music collaborations, movies, television programs and commercials, and a well-known video game. With this increased exposure, individual drummers and the taiko community at large have been forced to address issues of copyright, transmission of repertoire, and self-identification within the “world music” marketplace.

In this lecture-demonstration, I will chart the history and development of taiko in North America, paying special attention to Soh Daiko of New York City. From there, we will explore the role of the body within taiko through performance theory, a short demonstration, and audience participation. Finally, I will discuss Asian American identity and my own activities as a taiko drummer, highlighting the collaborations with Iron Chef, New York Anime Festival, Lincoln Center Afro-Latin Jazz Ensemble, and Korn.

Note: Drummers and non-drummers alike are encouraged to participate. Please wear comfortable loose-fitting clothes and bring a bottle of water.

 

 


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