October 7, 2008

inSingapore: cheap (well, actually free) and good – Japanese Drum Concert

Posted in Travel and Culture tagged , , , , , , at 6:21 pm by myrlinn

So, last night, I made my way to watch a taiko drum concert. Never mind that I’d never heard of taiko drums before this. Or Hiroshi Motofuji. It’s free. OK, in truth the fact that he’s billed as a leading taiko drummer in Japan did play a part. I mean, I wouldn’t want anyone to think that I’m a freebie addict without any discernment whatsoever!

And the other draw? It was held at the Jubilee Hall at Raffles Hotel, one of my favourite venues, intimate and classy.

The show exceeded my expectations. Just shows that when someone is good at what they do, , as Hiroshi Motofuji and his drummers were (he had two guys with him), everyone can appreciate it, even the know-nothing-at-alls like me. The variation in drumming rhythms, the thumping beats (and the contrast with delicate soft beats) of the huge Japanese drums, the dramatic showiness of the drummers made for a riveting show. Of course, it didn’t hurt that those drummers had great biceps.

Hiroshi Motofuji rockin’ the taiko beat.

Hiroshi Motofuji and the two drummers he had with him. The one with the afro had great intensity in his performance. The other one had a more conservative performance style, but was clearly highly skilled at working those drums.

What struck me about Motofuji was not just his prowess with the drums, but the obvious fact that he obviously made himself a name because he’s a good marketer. He talked about taiko, both traditional and new style. Pointed to his non-traditional attire (flashy jeans and shirt). And his efforts to incorporate drum styles from different traditions into taiko drumming. He also took pains to talk up taiko drumming, calling it a sport as well as a performance and a musical form.  Like, I said, a good marketer and advocate for his work.

And I must say whoever thought to invite him to Singapore did their job. He’s just the right performance to bring here to represent Japan. His desire to make taiko relevant to today, through incorporating new elements — that’s something people here  can relate to.

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