All our pieces are our own. We wrote our first songs when we first started playing together in Montreal in 2010-11. We also improvise, often using a duet structure – Futariuchi – taught to us by Kurumaya-sensei when we visited him in Fukui, Japan, in 2014. We’re currently working on new material, including a piece based on a traditional Scottish-Irish folk song. Here’s a little about our current pieces:
Two Taiko is inspired by the Fukui style of taiko which Alison learned while training with Mugenkyo in the UK. Fukui prefecture in Japan is where Mugenkyo’s teacher, Kurumaya-sensei, comes from and this piece features the area’s cross-handed style of playing, tsubame kaeshi. In Tokyo, Yumi learned the Sukeroku style of playing, where the drum is played tilted to the side, and for her solos in this piece she’s adapted this style to playing on upright drums.
Black Velvet is one of the first pieces we wrote and is named after our favourite 2taiko drink: one of us loves Guinness, the other loves cider. Turns out we make a delicious combination 😉
Kitsune no Yomeiri means Fox Wedding, which in Japan refers to strange weather which is a mixture of sunshine and showers. This piece was inspired by the unpredictable and wild weather of the North shore of Lake Superior, where Yumi spent some time, and it starts with the call of a bird from that region: when the bird sings the full call it is said to indicate fine weather, but when it doesn’t complete the call it’s said to predict rain…
This piece is played in the Hachijo style, named after the Japanese island where it originated, just off the East coast of Japan. The drum is placed horizontally at shoulder height, and played simultaneously by two players, one on each side, and is one of the few styles of taiko which has gender-differentiated playing techniques. While men play in the traditional taiko stance, women play in a more ‘ladylike’ stance which creates instability, lending itself to a visual and musical expressiveness which is deceptively elegant but requires great stamina and strength. We began to learn this style in March 2011, when we took a workshop with Chieko Kojima at Kaoru Watanabe’s Taiko Center in New York. Chieko Kojima is the world-renowned Japanese dancer and taiko player who popularised her own incredibly graceful version of this style with top Japanese taiko group, Kodo.