2019. Deborah Wong. At publication date, a free ebook version of this title will be available through Luminos, University of California Press's Open Access publishing program. Visit www.luminosoa.org to learn more. Louder and Faster is a cultural study of the phenomenon of Asian American taiko, the thundering, athletic drumming tradition that originated in Japan. Immersed in the taiko scene for twenty years, Deborah Wong has witnessed cultural and demographic changes and the exponential growth and expansion of taiko particularly in Southern California. Through her participatory ethnographic work, she reveals a complicated story embedded in memories of Japanese American internment and legacies of imperialism, Asian American identity and politics, a desire to be seen and heard, and the intersection of culture and global capitalism. Exploring the materialities of the drums, costumes, and bodies that make sound, analyzing the relationship of these to capitalist multiculturalism, and investigating the gender politics of taiko, Louder and Faster considers both the promises and pitfalls of music and performance as an antiracist practice. The result is a vivid glimpse of an Asian American presence that is both loud and fragile.
Drumming Asian America: taiko, performance, and cultural politics
2018. Angela K. Ahlgren. "With its dynamic choreographies and booming drumbeats, taiko has gained worldwide popularity since its emergence in 1950s Japan. Harnessed by Japanese Americans in the late 1960s, taiko's sonic largesse and buoyant energy challenged stereotypical images of Asians in America as either modelminorities or sinister foreigners. While the majority of North American taiko players are Asian American, over 400 groups now exist across the US and Canada, and players come from a range of backgrounds. Using ethnographic and historical approaches, combined with in-depth performance description andanalysis, this book explores the connections between taiko and Asian American cultural politics. Based on original and archival interviews, as well as the author's extensive experience as a taiko player, this book highlights the Midwest as a site for Asian American cultural production and makes embodied experience central to inquiries about identity, including race, gender, and sexuality. Thebook builds on insights from the fields of dance studies, ethnomusicology, performance studies, queer and feminist theory, and Asian American studies to argue that taiko players from a variety of identity positions perform Asian America on stage, as well as in rehearsals, festivals, schools, andthrough interactions with audiences. While many taiko players play simply for the love of its dynamism and physicality, this book demonstrates that politics are built into even the most mundane aspects of rehearsing and performing."
2012, by Shawn Bender. "With its thunderous sounds and dazzling choreography, Japanese taiko drumming has captivated audiences in Japan and across the world, making it one of the most successful performing arts to emerge from Japan in the past century. Based on ethnographic fieldwork conducted among taiko groups in Japan, Taiko Boom explores the origins of taiko in the early postwar period and its popularization over the following decades of rapid economic growth in Japan’s cities and countryside. Building on the insights of globalization studies, the book argues that taiko developed within and has come to express new forms of communal association in a Japan increasingly engaged with global cultural flows. While its popularity has created new opportunities for Japanese to participate in community life, this study also reveals how the discourses and practices of taiko drummers dramatize tensions inherent in Japanese conceptions of race, the body, gender, authenticity, and locality."
2005, by Heidi Varian. "Taiko drumming is an ancient sacred practice in Japan, originally used to drive away pests from rice fields and then to call to the gods in thanks at harvest time. Today taiko in Japan, and especially in North America, has evolved into a form of mental, physical, and martial arts training that combines rhythm, harmony, and movement. This book is for anyone who would like to try taiko or who is fascinated by the instruments, dances, and compositions of a typically powerful taiko performance. Contains an introduction to taiko history as well as resources for students. Heidi Varian is a longtime student of taiko and a taiko event producer. Seiichi Tanaka is founder and director of the renowned San Francisco Taiko Dojo."
The apprenticeship of embodied knowledge in a Taiko drumming ensemble
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