KODO were recently in Seattle, but my wife & I caught their show in San Diego and I cannot tell you how much of an inspiration that was. Being a professional drummer, there’s always the allure of “let’s go watch some drumming event”, but coupled with the centuries-old art of Taiko Drumming, this group of performers took it from barely a whisper all the way to a roaring cacophony that you felt all the way into your DNA.
From their website: “The taiko: a traditional Japanese drum with limitless rhythmic possibilities. Kodo’s mission is to explore these possibilities, and in the process forge new directions for a vibrant living art-form. In Japanese, the word “Kodo” holds a double meaning. It can be translated as “heartbeat,” the primal source of all rhythm. Indeed, the great taiko is thought to be reminiscent of a mother’s heartbeat as felt from the womb, and babies are often lulled to sleep by its thunderous vibrations. If read in a different context however, Kodo can also mean “children of the drum,” which reflects the group’s desire to play the drums with the simple heart of a child.”
From a cultural standpoint, it was amazing to see a “different” take on musical ideas emanating from players that far pre-date our modern use of rhythm and structure. To hear a “modern face” be put onto these age-old instruments, it breathed an inspiration into me and made me very painfully aware that I was, at that moment, over 1100 miles away from my drums and I couldn’t run down and play!
It’s amazing that the entire show was completely unamplified; what you heard coming from the performers was 100% honest, heartfelt and raw, pure emotion coming out through the surface of a drum. There were flutes as well, and their meandering melodic message were of perfect contrast to the soul-stirring emissions from the many various-sized drums. I cannot say enough good things about this ensemble and will leave you with a video. You must go see them when they return! So, so very good.