Thursday, June 26, 2008

Master Japanese Taiko drummer Oguchi dies


Master Japanese drummer Oguchi dies

By YURI KAGEYAMA, Associated Press Writer2 hours, 16 minutes ago

TOKYO (AP) — Master Japanese drummer Daihachi Oguchi, who led the spread of the art of "taiko" drumming to the U.S. and throughout Japan, has died after being hit by a car, an official at his ensemble said. He was 84.

Oguchi was crossing the street when he was struck by the car Thursday. He was rushed to the hospital but died of excessive bleeding early Friday, said Yuken Yagasaki of Osuwa Daiko, the group in Nagano prefecture (state) in northern Japan that Oguchi had led.

Oguchi helped found top U.S. taiko groups, including San Francisco Taiko Dojo, which has performed in Hollywood movies and on international tours since its founding 40 years ago.

A former jazz musician, Oguchi was one of the first to elevate the traditional folk sounds of taiko to modern music played in concert halls, not just festivals and shrines.

He led and starred in the performance of drumming and dance at the closing ceremony of the 1998 Nagano Olympics.

"Your heart is a taiko. All people listen to a taiko rhythm dontsuku-dontsuku in their mother's womb," Oguchi told The Associated Press at that time. "It's instinct to be drawn to taiko drumming."

Charming, fiery and vivacious, Oguchi had been scheduled to perform with Kodo, a well known taiko group, later this year, although he was in failing health in recent years.

Along with Kabuki theater and "ukiyoe" woodblock prints, taiko is one of Japan's most popular — and respected — art forms in the West. Part dance and part athletics, modern taiko can be dazzlingly visual and acrobatically physical.

Taiko, especially the big ones that tower over the drummers, make dramatic booming sounds. A taiko drum is made from a single hollowed out tree trunk with cowhide strapped tightly across it.

"In taiko, man becomes the sound. In taiko, you can hear the sound through your skin," is the way Oguchi described it in the AP interview.

Thanks partly to Oguchi and his followers' efforts, hundreds of taiko groups, both professional and amateur, have sprung up not only throughout Japan but also in the U.S., Brazil, Europe and other nations.

Oguchi also was one of the first composers of modern taiko, writing catchy tunes based on historical themes, such as samurai storming on horses, and helping make taiko a household word in Japan.

Yagasaki said other details such as funeral arrangements and information on Oguchi's family won't be available until later Friday.



greetings from Japan

Kevin said...

Greetings! Thank you for visiting.