Taiko Drumming Interview with Student 3

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00:00:01 - Permission to Record

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Partial Transcript: I: Alright! So, are you okay with this interview being recorded?

S: Yup.

00:00:06 - How did you come across taiko? Enjoyment of taiko

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Partial Transcript: I: Okay. Um, so I guess my first question is how did you come across taiko?

S: Well, I took Global Repertoires, and that was one of the three drumming styles that we were studying in class, as so I—we had, like, um one class a week devoted to learning a couple of taiko pieces and then we also had, um, a textbook by Shawn Bender called Taiko Boom, and so that kinda gave me some, like, historical, uh, background stuff.

I: Alright, cool. Um, generally speaking, how would you describe your level of enjoyment of taiko?

S: I really like it. Um, it’s physical, so it’s, you know, pretty fun. There’s a lot of kind of jumping around and, um, you know, there’s a lot of like stylistic stuff that we do, so…um…yeah it’s—it’s pretty fun. I think, like, of the three repertoires we did it was the hardest for me, just because of how physical it was, like—you know, you’re not like sitting on the ground, like, just banging something with a mallet or like sitting and playing an African drum with sticks; it was just, like, I’m not very well coordinated, so that, uh, that part for me was not quite as fun, but I think working on it and, and trying to play the music and trying to get that performance coordinated with other people was pretty fun.

I: So would you say you just sort of enjoyed the challenge of it?

S: Yeah! I enjoyed the, the challenge, definitely. Um. I enjoy the performance too, just ‘cause it—like you can see, like, people really like how loud it is, especially out there on the Westhampton Green, so it’s always kind of—you know, you feel kind of proud of yourself after that ‘cause it makes a lot of noise, and it’s really, um, you know people think it’s really impressive.

I: Mhm. Um, beyond just being loud or, um, just the challenge of it, was there anything in particular about taiko you find enjoyable or enriching? Or is that pretty much it?

S: Well, um. There were some things that we did in class that I thought were really interesting and enjoyable musically, um, ‘cause the sheer level of coordination that you have to have with other people just getting your rhythms really, really tight and not having, like, you know, flappy rhythms or whatever. You all have to hit the drum right at the exact same time in order for it to sound really, uh, really tight in performance, and if you don’t, then it’s just not as, um, well it doesn't sound as good, and it’s—it’s not as impressive. A lot of it is just being able to like, you know, all these people together making this one, really big sound that’s all, like, just really tight rhythms. Um, so, like, I kind of really enjoyed that, kinda the level of, like, collaboration that we had to do. We would all kind of—a few of us would get together like half an hour before class and try to practice, um, being able to—to get our rhythms exactly in time with one another, and Andy had us do this exercise where we would, um, he would play a—a rhythm. You know, just like a basic four beat or three beat or whatever, um, on the shime-daiko, which is like the high drum. Um, and then basically we’re just passing the rhythm around the room and in a circle in our kind of, like, taiko formation, and it’s really hard ‘cause the goal was to try to get it like a metronome, to make it sound like one person was just playing this one rhythm the entire time, and that’s really hard to do when you’re like anticipating somebody else, and then you have to jump in and try to get that right on time, so it just kind of go around the room like that, trying to like keep that all together without falling apart. And it always fell apart, but it was a lot of fun.

Segment Synopsis: Interviewee discusses her introduction to taiko and her enjoyment of it

Keywords: challenge; enjoyment; repertoires; taiko

Subjects: Music; Taiko (Drum ensemble)

00:03:56 - Global Repertoires at UR

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Partial Transcript: I: Cool. Let’s see. You said you participate in the Global Repertoires class here at UR, uh, which other practices have you studied as part of that class?

S: Um. We’ve done West African Ewe drumming, um, the style we performed was called Gahu, um, and then we also studied Javanese Gamelan, so that’s kind of a subset of, like, the Indonesian music style.

I: Alright, and, based on your experiences, are there any elements of the practice of taiko that distinguish it from these other practices you’ve studied?

S: Yeah. Um, in taiko, we were all doing the same thing, unless we were soloing, and that made it a little more difficult, and you’re a lot more, kind of, exposed in that way because if one person messes up, it’s so obvious, whereas in, you know, maybe Gamelan people aren’t as familiar with what they’re hearing and you have bunch of parts that are interlocking kind of in an orchestra, so if you know one person misses one note, you might not really notice that, but in taiko we’re all, um, the—the piece we play called “Renshuu,” we were all completely together, um, synchronized the entire time except, um, during a solo section where we got to do some improvisation, but even then the people who weren’t soloing all had to be together, um, tapping this one rhythm out on the side of the drums, so I would say, um, taiko was pretty different just in terms of, um, kind of the level of—of synchronization that we had to be, not—not just in, you know, keeping time together and making sure that everything fit, but just doing the same thing together perfectly all the time.

Segment Synopsis: Interviewee discusses her experience with her Global Repertoires course

Keywords: African; Gamelan; drumming; global; repertoires; taiko

Subjects: Gamelan; Synchronization; Taiko (Drum ensemble)

00:07:44 - Strength in Taiko and Gender in taiko

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Partial Transcript: S: Mhm. Um, based on your experience of just playing taiko, to what extent would you agree with the statement, “taiko makes me feel strong”? Why or why not?

I: I definitely agree! Okay, so, every time I practiced, like, my arms—well at first my arms would get sore, and then I leaned better techniques so my arms weren’t sore, but I always felt so strong, like, after just like practicing for just like twenty minutes or an hour or something. I’d just, like, flex my arm and be super dorky and be like, “look at me! I’ve got muscles!” Um, yeah! So it definitely made me feel strong, especially as like a kind of tiny woman. I’m just kind of wailing on this drum in the basement of Booker and knowing that I’m making a lot of noise and probably bothering somebody. Like that kind of, you know, gave me like a—a sense of power. Um, yeah. And also I think just some of the, the choreography we were doing, it’s a very kind of masculine tradition, so we were doing like shouts, and we were doing, you know, kind of this very um, you know, this thing—we would like put our arms out, so we’re kind of like spreading our, our bodies out and really extending them, like, pretty far, so we’re—you know, it reminded me of kind of like power poses that you can do. Um, so yeah, I think…yeah the whole tradition is definitely about strength, I think (I: Mhm), so playing it like, you know, you try to embody that kind of very…um…I guess, macho style of playing. I don’t know how else to put it, but yeah it definitely made me fell strong while I was playing.

Segment Synopsis: Interviewee discusses how taiko makes her feel strong along with her experience as a woman in taiko.

Keywords: gender; noise; strong; taiko; tradition

Subjects: Gender; Taiko (Drum ensemble); Women

00:11:10 - Conclusion and Thanks

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Partial Transcript: I: Hm. Um…I think that’s about all I have for you. Thank you so much (S: Alright!) for helping me out.

S: You’re welcome.

Keywords: Thank; welcome; you