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Jane Alaszewska

[wadaiko, taiko] (Jap.: ‘Ensemble of drums’, from kumi: ‘group’, ‘ensemble’;-daiko: the suffixing form of taiko, a generic term for Japanese drums)

An ensemble using mainly indigenous Japanese percussion instruments for performance on the stage.

Japanese indigenous percussion traditionally served as an accompaniment in ritual music and classical theatre. Its post-war transition to centre-stage was mainly a result of the work of jazz drummer Oguchi Daihachi who, by featuring these instruments in a series of compositions exploring the interface between jazz and ritual drumming, brought them to the fore in contemporary composition. The performance of Oguchi's work at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics inspired the formation of similar ensembles nationwide, notably in the Hokuriku area where kumi-daiko performance became standard evening entertainment at hot springs.

During the 1960s Japan underwent a period of rapid modernization. Many felt the ‘new’ Japan to be losing touch with its ‘traditional’ culture, leading to renewed interest in such arts. As part of this interest Den Tagayasu began assembling a commune with friends for the pursuit of traditional arts and crafts on the remote Sado island. Among the many projects initiated was a ...