Kodo Drum: Into the World of Musical Masterminds
As part of our Niigata Sake tour we visit the world famous Kodo drum group at their home on Sado Island. Since 1981, Kodo Drum has been enriching musical palates and educating people around the world about the rich culture across Japan. If you didn’t know about them before, you’re about to be inspired to expand your musical appetite.
Who is the Kodo Drum Group?
The Kodo Drum group is a talented collection of artists who formed a taiko drumming group on Sado Island, Japan.
The word ‘taiko’ in Japan means wadaiko or “Japanese drum”. The group began in the early 1980’s, quickly popularizing taiko drumming, both in their own country and around the world. Today the best Taiko drummers in Japan are recruited by the Kodo drum group and go on to represent the best of the best, performing both in Japan and around the world.
What Do They Do?
Aside from a heavy use of drums, the group also incorporates vocal performances, dancing, and instruments like the flute and the shamisen. The large group of performers are known for performing traditional rhythms that are well-known in Japan. Additionally, they also perform musical pieces that are written by the members themselves or professional songwriters.
How Did They Come to Be?
While the Kodo Drum group is said to have had their first performance in 1981, they are actually the child of a previous group called Ondekoza. Ondekoza was established in 1971, and was also a taiko drumming group. As time went on, however, the leaders of the group began to leave or find solo careers, and the group eventually re-formed with new members.
Embracing a blend of old and new members, Kodo Drum began to find its own sound in the taiko world, and quickly gained popularity and recognition all over Japan.
Why the Name?
The word “kodo” has two particular meanings. The first, is “heartbeat”, which highlights the first and most constant rhythm we experience. The second meaning for kodo is “children of the drum”, which perfectly represents the group’s youthful approach to playing and exploring with music. Just wait until you pick up the sticks on our tour – you will feel like a big kid banging a drum!
View this post on Instagram
Click on the Instagram Video above – make sure you turn up the sound!
Making Some Noise
Kodo Drum had their sights set on international fame. Since their first festival performance in 1981, the band has performed more than 4,000 times. They perform across Japan, North and South America and parts of Europe. One of their most notable performances took place in Los Angeles, where the group performed for the 1984 Olympics Arts Festival.
The band’s growing popularity opened up many windows of opportunity for the musicians. The group was able to offer taiko drumming lessons to the public, as a way to enrich people of all ages about the drumming tradition in their culture. Additionally, the group was able to start a non-profit known as the Kodo Cultural Foundation in 1997, offering lessons to the public and also tours focused on the history of taiko drumming.
Kodo Drum is undoubtedly the best taiko group in the world, and more than likely will be a large part of the opening and closing ceremonies at the Tokyo olympics in 2020. Those who are able to witness these talented musicians in their element will be inspired by the carefully-timed rhythms and constant flow, as well as the sheer athleticism of the members who hit every beat as if it was their last.