Arashi | 嵐
Based on the piece “Odaiko Kakeai Kihon Kyoku,” composed by Kenny Endo, Arashi was arranged by Pittsburgh Taiko founding member Ikuko Kurasawa. A rousing piece highlighting the ō-daiko, it features interplay between multiple groups of players, a driving beat, and extended solos on the ō-daiko that are sure to excite the audience.
Bon Daiko | 盆太鼓
An arrangement of rhythms used to accompany dancing during Obon, a Japanese festival that takes place in late summer in celebration of the one-night return of the spirits of one’s ancestors to this realm, Bon Daiko takes inspiration from San Francisco Taiko Dojo founder Seiichi Tanaka’s arrangement “Matsuri.” Bon Daiko utilizes the slant-stand performance style developed in 1960s Tokyo by the group Sukeroku Taiko.
For groups of three drummers, Buchiawase Daiko is an arrangement of festival drumming rhythms from the Miura Peninsula south of Tokyo, as taught by taiko soloist and Wadaiko Ensemble TOKARA leader Art Lee. This drumming is performed during fishing season by groups of fisherman; it is believed whoever gives the best performance will receive the best catch that year.
Hiryū San-dan Gaeshi
Composed by Daihachi Oguchi of Osuwa Daiko, Hiryū San-dan Gaeshi was first performed at Expo ’70, the 1970 World’s Fair held in Osaka. With the title meaning “The Dragon God Descends Three Times,” and featuring a chanted prayer calling for good luck and fortune to come out of bad situations, “Hiryū” takes inspiration from a winding river near the Suwa Grand Shrine called the Tenryuu-gawa, or “Sky Dragon River.”
Korekara | これから
Composed by Walter Clarke and Michelle Fujii, Korekara was written for the 2005 North American Taiko Conference. Translating roughly to “From Now Onwards”, the song is meant to honor the teachings of the original creators of wadaiko and look forward to the new and exciting directions that the art form may take.
Maru Neko | 丸猫
Based on rhythms used in the Sukeroku Taiko piece “Oiuchi Daiko,” and arranged for Pittsburgh Taiko by founding member Benjamin Pachter, Maruneko gets its name from the circular choreography found throughout the piece (the “maru” in the title means “round”). It is a bouncy piece that brings together group choreography and individual solos.
Raku | 楽
Composed by Chabo, artistic director of Shidara Taiko, in 2007. The lively flute melody and choreography makes it a fun piece to play as well as to watch. Pittsburgh Taiko learned this piece from Rakko, the high school taiko club from Nihon Fukushi Daigaku Fuzoku Koto Gakkou in Aichi Japan during the Tomodachi Ties Through Taiko exchange in 2015-2016.
Shin En | 心宴
Composed by Mark H. Rooney, Shin En celebrates the ability of taiko to bring people together. In performing, we share its positive energy with each other and with the audience. Taught at nearly every North American taiko conference, it’s become a classic with a part for everyone.
Arranged for Pittsburgh Taiko by founding member Jonathan Lui, Thunderhorse is based on the Osuwa Daiko piece “Isami Goma,” composed by Daihachi Oguchi. Through driving rhythms and choreography, the piece evokes images of war horses carrying medieval samurai to battle.
Umi No Taiko | 海の太鼓
Composed by Nagano-based ensemble Dengaku-za and shared through the lineage of Himeji-based ensemble Shachi, this piece is a lively, choreography-focused ode to the ocean.
Uneri | うねり
Composed by Kodo in 2020, Uneri was made available to the worldwide taiko community through their One Earth Music initiative. The word Uneri in Japanese can describe undulating waves, swells, or whirlpools, and this composition will envelope the audience in a strong wave of sound. Pittsburgh Taiko learned the piece in online remote practices during the 2020 pandemic shutdown.
Yui | 遊い
Composed by Ryo Shimamoto