Taiko Drumming

In the article ‘“She’s Really Become Japanese Now! ’: Taiko drumming and Asian American identifications”, author Paul Jong-Chul talks about taiko drumming and how performers have conflicted views on the identity of the taiko group Soh Daiko. The author explains that he was also once apart of the Soh Daiko group, which is an Asian American performing group.

The group included members of Asian ancestry such as, Asians who live in America, Japanese Americans, Chinese Americans, Korean Americans as well as Filipino Americans.Asian American identity is often associated with homogeneity. The author focuses on the Soh Daiko to show the difficulties in deciding what the group’s identity should be associated with. The author states that both the music as a sound symbol and the overall presentation of the group shows how Asian American identity is created and conflicted. In the article “Taiko in Asian America”, author Deborah Wong writes from her own experiences as a Taiko drummer. She starts off describing the feelings she felt when performing.

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She then introduces her teacher, Reverend Tom and the experience he had had as a Taiko drummer before forming his own group called the Satori Daiko. Wong concludes that politics of ethnicity in taiko are never ending, but when she plays she makes sure that she learns something about Asian Americans. In the article, “Asian Masculinities and Parodic Possibility in Odaiko Solos and Filmic Representations”, author Paul Jong-Chul talks about how performers have influenced the way Asian masculinity is represented in film and music.Movies and the way Asian male bodies are seen on stage and screen have influenced the taiko tradition, odaiko. The Odaiko solo is the representation of power. The other than goes on to explain how the odaiko solo is performed.

Soloists wear a fundoshi which helps show the musical element of the performance but also the body of the performer. Odaiko means big taiko and is the largest drum in a Taiko ensemble. Because Japanese lost the war, they lost a sense of their pride, specifically their masculinity.The author then talks about how the Odaiko solo help reshape the view of masculinity through movies and music.

The first article, ‘“She’s Really Become Japanese Now! ’: Taiko drumming and Asian American identifications”, by author Paul Jong-Chul clearly shows how there was a conflict with identity through examples provided in the article. Jong-chul explains that taiko means drum in Japanese and is a form of drumming that originated from Japan.Taiko drumming came to the United States in 1976 when Seiichi Tanaka attended the San Francisco Cherry Blossom Festival and noticed that the celebration was missing the sound of the Taiko, so he started the San Francisco Taiko Dojo.

Soh Daiko spawned positive, strong images of Asian Americans that other Asian Americans could affiliate with. This image helped displace negative stereotypes that were often associated with Asians. This was a good thing because Asian Americans were able to see themselves through a new light because of the positive images that Taiko drumming produced.Taiko is Japanese in origin, however it is able cross ethnic boundaries between Chinese, Korean, Japanese and so on, but this formed tensions because some Asians do not like being classified with other Asians. With the examples the author provided in the article, which were quotes from members of the Soh Daiko group who were not Japanese American, it really showed that the parents of the members of the Soh Daiko group were really upset over the fact that they were playing Japanese music as well as performing in Japanese clothing, because many of the members were of different Asian races.

Because of this, many members suggested playing different Asian origin music such as Chinese and Korean. This is important because, among Asians there are many different groups of Asians and each group has their own culture and tradition. It is good that Soh Daiko made an effort to show different traditions of Asia through the Chinese lion dance and the Korean Salmunori, however it would have been better to see Soh Daiko collaborate and create more music from different Asian cultures.

Author: Jana Bass


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