Tokyo Damage Report


that’s right, i didn’t take that picture. or the others.

The hippies from the drum museum last week just hooked me up with free tickets. They were in the back row but that turned out to be fine because any closer and I prolly woulda died from the sheer heaviness. That shit is just tribal as hell – and ALL BASS. I mean it’s all big drums and bigger drums. Compared to all the gongs and little drums from korea or china, this shit is just KNOCKING.


Other shit about it:

Western (i.e. hip hop and rock) rhythms are short, repetitive, like 1 or 2 bars, and a good rhythm, like a good chord progression, builds up tension on the last beat and releases that tension on the downbeat of the following bar (best example: the beat from ‘walk this way.’). but taiko is not like that. Taiko straight-up DOES NOT REPEAT.

There’s like a dozen really short simple one-beat phrases (such as "duh-duh-duh" or ‘ba–bom’) that are combined at random into 5 minute songs, with VERY FEW repeating parts. Or at least that’s what it sounds like!! It’s like they just wrote down the dozen basic one-beat phrases on little slips of paper and then picked the slips of paper out of a hat, and that’s how they composed the song. Jesus, I can’t imagine memorizing all that stuff. Nor can I imagine why they’d do a genre without any of the tension and resolution that repitition brings.

There’s one huge drum the size of your ass, and then 2 medium-size drums, and one smaller drum, and they each are playing counterpuntal rhythms, unless that is a word I just made up. Also there is like at least 4 of each kind of drums, and they’re all being played in unison – there is almost no improv, unlike samulnori. The unison plus the huge amount of rote memorization required, remind me of the fascist Japanese schools.

So far it sounds like I’m bagging on it, but really I’m not. The reason why taiko kicks ass, in spite of the lack of improv or repitition, is this: THE STICKS. OH MY GOD THE STICKS. The thinnest stick is like an inch in diameter. The BIG sticks are like baseball bats, except they cost more. You know the arena rock concert, where Tommy Lee or whomever throws his sticks into the audience after the encore . . . if they did that at a taiko show, people would just DIE stone cold dead.

also they do get kind of harlem globetrotters with it sometimes. Like one guy was all doing a steady beat in back, and there were like 8 drums set up in a row in front. And this other guy just ran on stage and played the 8 drums by running across the whole stage while drumming, and then ran off stage. Then another guy came on and did the same thing. That was awesome. There’s a lot of ‘two people swapping drums while playing’ and a lot of cartoonish ‘winding up’ motions before hitting a drum really loud. Like when bugs bunny is about to throw a baseball and his whole body corkscrews around like 720 degrees during the windup? They do that.

The best thing ever, though was song #2: there were just two guys, like, playing a Motorhead drum solo, but they were playing ALTERNATE NOTES. The whole time. like alternate sixteenth notes, and all the drums were tuned differently so they were playing melodies too. it was like, ‘YOU FUCKERS! YOU DIRTY FUCKERS!!’

So yeah, I saw my first taiko ever. then, on the way home, I had amazing starbucks macadamia nut /white chocolate cookies for the first time, and got way stoked about THAT. It was like that simpsons episode where homer is like ‘OHMIGOD! That man is my identical twin!! OHMIGOD! That dog has a puffy tail! Hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee!!’

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