Interview: Kiyoshi Nagata

We’re happy to announce the release of another entry in our Interview series! This time, Ben sat down (virtually, at least) with Kiyoshi Nagata of Nagata Shachu from Toronto, Canada. We spoke with Kiyoshi in advance of the release of Nagata Shachu’s Toronto Taiko Tales DVD and a series of concerts April 7-9 celebrating this release. During our conversation, we covered a wide range of topics, including Kiyoshi’s performance background, playing taiko in Toronto, the act of collaboration, teaching taiko in a university setting, and the troubles of recording taiko.

Click here to visit the interview page and listen to the interview or download the mp3 for listening later!

Kiyoshi Nagata

Recorded March 30, 2017. 47.4 MB, 69 minute mp3 file.

From the Nagata Shatchu website:

Kiyoshi Nagata, the ensemble’s artistic director, is Canada’s preeminent taiko soloist who has been performing in a career that spans 33 years. His principal studies were with Daihachi Oguchi (as artistic director and performer of the Toronto-based, Suwa Daiko from 1982 to 1992) and with Kodo (as an apprentice from 1993 to 1994). With the assistance of a Chalmers Performing Arts Training Grant in 1999, Kiyoshi studied classical percussion with Paul Houle at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto.

Since 1998 Kiyoshi has taught a credit course in taiko at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Music. In September 2003, he began teaching a public course at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. For eight years, he instructed two community groups, Isshin Daiko in Toronto and Do-Kon Daiko in Burlington, which he helped establish in 1995. Kiyoshi is also regularly invited by universities and taiko groups to conduct workshops and present lectures.

In 1994, Kiyoshi founded the cross-cultural percussion ensemble, Humdrum, whose debut Toronto performance was ranked fourth in Now Magazine’s “Top Ten Concerts of 1995”. He has composed and performed taiko music for dance, theatre, film and radio and continues to collaborate with artists from all genres of music including traditional Japanese instrumentalists.

We spoke with Kiyoshi in advance of the release of Nagata Shachu’s Toronto Taiko Tales DVD and a series of concerts April 7-9 celebrating this release.

During our conversation, we covered a wide range of topics, including Kiyoshi’s performance background, playing taiko in Toronto, the act of collaboration, teaching taiko in a university setting, and the troubles of recording taiko.

The Discover Nikkei interview mentioned during the conversation can be found here.

New Interview: Jennifer Milioto Matsue

It’s time for another TaikoSource Interview! Returning to the taiko scholar sub-series we began last year, this time I interviewed Jennifer Milioto Matsue, Associate Professor in Music, Asian Studies, and Anthropology at Union College in Schenectady, New York. During our conversation, we discuss her background as both musician and scholar, her diverse research interests, and her work on taiko both as a researcher and as the instructor of a class/ensemble on taiko performance. Click here to access the mp3 and listen to the interview!

Jennifer Milioto Matsue


Recorded January 26, 2017. 34 MB, 53 minute mp3 file.

From Jennifer’s page on the Union College website:

Jennifer Milioto Matsue (B.A. Wellesley College and M.A. and Ph.D. University of Chicago) is an ethnomusicologist specializing in modern Japanese music and culture. She has conducted research on a variety of music cultures in contemporary Japan including the Tokyo hardcore rock scene, nagauta (a type of traditional chamber music featuring the three-string lute shamisen), raves, the increasingly popular world of taiko (Japanese ensemble drumming), and most recently, Vocaloid Hatsune Miku. She is interested in how performers find meaning through participating in such worlds, with a particular focus on women’s roles in music making. She is the author of the monograph Making Music in Japan’s Underground: The Tokyo Hardcore Scene (Routledge 2008) and Focus: Music in Contemporary Japan (Routledge 2015), as well as several articles on related topics. She is Director of Interdisciplinary Studies and of the World Musics and Cultures Program, and serves as Associate Professor in Music, Asian Studies, and Anthropology at Union College in Schenectady, New York.

During our conversation, we discuss her background as both musician and scholar, her diverse research interests, and her work on taiko both as a researcher and as the instructor of a class/ensemble on taiko performance.

New Interview with Mark H Rooney

We’ve added another interview to the collection, this time with taiko performer and teacher Mark H Rooney! During our discussion, we talk about Mark’s taiko journey, his thoughts on taiko pedagogy, and how to move cities and maintain a career as both performer and teacher.

Follow the link to listen to the interview or download the mp3!

Mark H Rooney


Recorded January 31, 2017. 36.5 MB, 54 minute mp3 file.

From Mark H Rooney’s website:

Mark H Rooney – the world’s most dangerous half-Japanese/half-Scottish solo improvisational taiko artist – studies, performs, and teaches taiko, a dynamic form of full-body drumming based in Japanese tradition. Mark combines this traditional foundation with a modern sensibility to create performances and classes that emphasize connection, reaction, and interaction.

During our discussion, we talk about Mark’s taiko journey, his thoughts on taiko pedagogy, and how to move cities and maintain a career as both performer and teacher.

East Coast Taiko Conference 2017

Last weekend, I was at the 2017 East Coast Taiko Conference at Brown University. As has been the case at every ECTC since 2012, I was running around all weekend taking photos! After editing what ended up being 3,527 photos between myself and one other photographer, I have uploaded selections from the weekend to the TaikoSource Facebook page. Visit the following links to check them out!

Day 1 – Friday, February 17

Day 2 – Saturday, February 18 – part 1

Day 2 – Saturday, February 18 – part 2: Concert

Day 3 – Sunday, February 19

New Interview: Michael Jürges

We’re happy to release the next in our interview series! This time, Ben spoke with Michael Jürges. Michael is a taiko scholar and the creator of the international Wadaiko Toshokan and the German-language BiblioTaiko portals. He earned his M.A. in Transcultural Studies at the Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg in Germany. In his M.A. thesis, he explored and documented the gradual development and adoption of taiko drumming in Germany throughout the past three decades – a topic that he is currently looking to make into a book.

Visit the interview page to listen to the recording or download the mp3!

Michael Jürges

Recorded November 16, 2016. 42.1 MB, 63 minute mp3 file.

Michael is a taiko scholar and the creator of the international Wadaiko Toshokan and the German-language BiblioTaiko portals. He earned his M.A. in Transcultural Studies at the Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg in Germany. In his M.A. thesis, he explored and documented the gradual development and adoption of taiko drumming in Germany throughout the past three decades – a topic that he is currently looking to make into a book.

During our interview, we discuss his background, the history of taiko in Germany, and how he proceeded with the study of German taiko performance even as the majority of studies on the art form – and thus the primary sources from which he could draw – have been geographically limited to Japan and North America.

New Taiko Music History Article: “Taiko in a Recorded Medium: Ondekoza and Kodo”

After much work and research, we’re proud to present to you the next article in the TaikoSource Music History series: “Taiko in a Recorded Medium: Ondekoza and Kodo.” Rather than focusing on a single piece, as we have done to this point, this article explores the recordings created by Ondekoza and Kodo in the late 1970s and early 1980s. These recordings reveal how the groups were evolving, exploring more musical and artistic directions.

Unfortunately, these recordings are long out of print, but copies can still be found on record sales websites like Discogs. Nevertheless, we hope this article offers a glimpse into what Ondekoza and Kodo were striving to accomplish as they explored the presentation of taiko performance in a recorded medium!