Sunday, June 01, 2008

June's Song - Kodo

I do not have much to say about the Yoshida Brothers. Only that they have made a welcome effort to make the shamisen cool, frenetic and contemporary.

Why have Japanese musicians have found it so hard to incorporate traditional instruments into modern musical composition? China's composers, both classical and contemporary, seem to have had fewer problems insinuating qiu and other traditional instruments into modern compositions—or in using the traditional instruments alone for performances. Part of the problem is that traditional Japanese string instruments are plucked rather than strummed or bowed. However, the technique aspect cannot be the whole of it, for Indian and Pakistani contemporary music is rich with plucked sounds.

Of course, it might take an age to undo the damage wreaked on the nation's musical senses by enka orchestration.

Moody lighting and young dudes can help bridge the gap, as one can see in June's song "Kodō" by the Yoshida Brothers, on YouTube here.

2 comments:

koichi said...

poor enka :)

I remember listening to a CD of a band (can't remember their name, sadly) that played a bunch of (western) classical songs on traditional Japanese instruments...plus they gave it a kind of modernish feel. I'm really sad I can't remember their name - makes me want to listen again, but now I can't :(

Anonymous said...

The Yoshida Brothers are fun and they put a good-looking spin on the shamisen. (And they don't even work for Johnny's...) They have a great song called Storm that adds a neat techno beat and ethereal voice action.

Okinawan rock/pop band HY slips in the shamisen very well, although more so in their earlier work. Not so much in their last couple albums.

HY - Street Story (live)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iGi27UbRDmQ

(When I found that, I also saw that they played in Seattle last year. I can't believe I missed them....)

The Nenes (another Okinawan group, more traditional) also do a neat cover of No Woman, No Cry with traditional instruments.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bV3hGuAcgrY