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Paul Yoon

(b Los Angeles, CA, April 2, 1953). American taiko artist. Of Japanese American descent, he studied drumming, especially jazz and rock, from an early age. He first experienced taiko in the early 1970s and joined Kinnara Taiko in 1975. His interest in taiko was fueled by an emergent sense of his ethnic identity. He went on to study with the San Francisco Taiko Dojo in 1976. Endo felt that it was important to emphasize the Asian aspects of his heritage, and to this end he traveled to Japan in 1980. For the next decade he studied kumi daiko (ensemble drumming), hogaku hayashi (classical drumming), and matsuri bayashi (festival drumming), and he became the first non-native to receive a natori (stage name), Mochizuki Tajiro, in hogaku hayashi. While in Japan, he studied with and was a performing member of Oedo Sukeroku Taiko and Osuwa Daiko. He moved to Honolulu in ...

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Alexander M. Cannon

(b Savannakhet, Laos, 1947). Laotian composer and singer. He began his musical training by studying Lao folk songs with Buddhist monks. Before age 20, he already had garnered a reputation as a creative maulam, or narrative singer of lam (or lum)—a genre of traditional vocal music from southern Laos of solo or male–female repartee singing accompanied by khene and oftentimes a small ensemble. He later studied composition and performance and was employed in 1965 by the Department of Lao National Fine Arts. In 1968, he entered the army and worked as a singer for the National Radio Broadcast. After the Pathet Lao came to power in 1975, he worked at the military radio station singing propaganda songs. In 1979, he escaped to Thailand, and in 1980, immigrated to the United States, first living with his cousin, Bountong Insixiengmay, in Bowling Green, Kentucky. He soon relocated to Minneapolis—a city with a large population of Lao émigrés—and in ...

Article

Megan E. Hill

[Seisho ]

(b O’ahu, Territory of Hawai’i, Feb 12, 1912; d Honolulu, HI, March 19, 2011). American sanshin player. Born in Hawai’i to Japanese immigrant parents, he was taken by his mother to her native Okinawa to be raised by his grandparents. There at the age of nine he began playing the Okinawan sanshin. The sanshin is a three-stringed instrument with a skin-covered soundbox, which predates the similar Japanese shamisen. He was given a sanshin by his uncle—also an accomplished player of the instrument—when he returned to Hawai’i in 1925 and began formal instruction in 1933, taking lessons from a number of sanshin grand masters and visiting Okinawa whenever possible. For the next six decades Nakasone performed sanshin at gatherings for the Okinawan community in Hawai’i, playing for festivals and various celebrations. He also taught sanshin in college classes and gave private lessons, led the Okinawan classical music ensemble Seifu Kai, and became the first non-Japanese citizen to receive a teaching certificate from the nationally recognized Nomura Music Academy in Okinawa. Nakasone was on the ethnomusicology faculty at the University of Hawaii, Manoa, from ...

Article

Alexander M. Cannon

(b Anlong Vil village, Sangker City district, Battambang Province, Cambodia; March 1953). Cambodian musician. A master musician of Cambodian traditional music, Chum began studying the music of the pinn peat (court ensemble for dances, plays, and ceremonies), mohori (court ensemble for entertainment), and phleng kar (wedding ensemble), and the instruments sralai (oboe), kong (gong circle), and sampho (two-headed drum played with the hands) with his grandfather, Hieng Um, at age ten. As a young man, he continued his studies with several master musicians, becoming proficient on many instruments, including the skor thom (two-headed drum played with wooden sticks), roneat ek (21-keyed wooden xylophone), tror (bowed fiddle), and khimm (hammered dulcimer). By age 18, he was already considered a master teacher (krou) and worked as a professional musician—employed by his home province and performing in official ceremonies. In 1974, he was selected to represent his province at a national contest and residency at the University of Fine Arts in Phnom Penh. During the reign of the Khmer Rouge, he lived in Cambodia, feigning no musical ability for fear of death, and working first in rice fields and then as a hospital orderly. In ...

Article

Paul J. Yoon

(b 1943, Tokyo, Japan). taiko master of Japanese birth. He is widely regarded as the father of North American Taiko. He first traveled to the United States in 1967 and noted the absence of taiko drumming at Japanese American festivals in San Francisco and elsewhere. Determined to change that situation, Tanaka returned to Japan to study with, among others, Daihachi Oguchi, founder of Osuwa Daiko. Tanaka returned to the United States and in 1968 opened the San Francisco Taiko Dojo, the first school of its kind in America. It is Tanaka’s oft-stated goal to make taiko as well known as sushi or karate.

Since his initial training, Tanaka has studied with Susumu Kowase (Sukeroku Taiko), Shosaku Ikeda (Gojinjo Taiko), and Kiyohiko Fukuhara (Yokobue flute) and has also trained in kabuki dance and martial arts. The breadth of this training in drumming, dance, flute, and martial arts has made him a major influence for nearly every North American taiko player. In addition, Tanaka has always been open to teaching anyone, with no restrictions on age or gender, so long as they can withstand the rigorous physical conditioning he demands of his students....